By Any Other Name

June 19, 2021 at 1:10 pm (diaries, entertainment, history, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , )

You might ask, given that I research people with the name of “Smith” – and Christen names like Charles and Mary, what name could possibly give me trouble….

Try: Jane Seymour.

Emma’s sister Fanny Smith was the first to marry a Seymour – the Rev. Richard Seymour the new incumbent to the living of Kinwarton (Warwickshire). They married on 30 October 1834.

The following year, September 1835, brother Spencer Smith married Richard’s sister Frances Seymour.

By 1845, not only had youngest sister Maria Smith married (his 2nd wife) the Rev. Sir John Hobart Culme-Seymour, but the Smith’s widowered brother-in-law Arthur Currie had married the widowed Dora (Seymour) Chester.

It was Maria who gave birth (in January 1851) to the JANE SEYMOUR I thought I was chasing. I had unearthed about a dozen photographs of a little girl and young woman – identified in a couple of albums, plus many more loose cartes-de-visite, which (I thought…) pointed to a certain “future” for the young lady portrayed.

I was wrong!

It’s tough, looking at my photographs of photographs – often done under inauspicious conditions of overhead lighting and cradled bound books – some out of focus; others the best that can be taken of the faded nothingness that now remains. Tough, too, to put together some faces that may be the same person – or some sibling – or someone totally different, just seen from an unusual angle that now has you comparing the straight or down-turned mouth, the curved or shell-like ear, the beak-sharp or the bulbous nose.

Such a one was the picture, only ID’ed on the rear with a date – “1877” – of a mother (presume) and frilly-frocked infant (christening?). The adult sitter looked like Jane Seymour – but cousin Jane never married, had had no children. The nose, here, looked sharper; the hair exhibited an mere half-inch of “fringe” (bangs they cannot be called), when in all other pictures there was only a center part and all hair pulled downwards and back. The face looked thinner, more sculpted, but then the face was bent downward, gazing at the child. The one thing all the adult photos had in comment was a clipped-short “side burn” above the ears – very similar to my own (because the bow of glasses sits right over this area).

Mother-and-Babe remained a “mystery” – for later ‘detection’.

Signature Maria L. Seymour

It was while looking through diaries – predominantly those written by Richard Seymour – for further information on the relationship of Mary Smith and Gaspard Le Marchant Tupper, that I came across mention of Richard’s niece, Jane Seymour.

Mary and Gaspard had married in 1861 – but the engagement was so fraught with angst and doubt, that I had to find out more. What I found out was that they initially had become engaged in 1858. I haven’t found out if they stayed engaged the whole time, or if it was on-off-on again. Although other diaries exist, some I don’t have access to, and Richard’s I have to take painstaking reads through microfilmed handwriting. Letters of the period can be hit or miss – and more have tantalizing hints than full-length histories.

But back to Jane Seymour.

This Jane was not the first “Jane” in the family. Of course – OF COURSE! – there were several, over many generations. Maria’s daughter was a “CULME-SEYMOUR” – the “Culme” coming from Sir John’s first wife. For a while, I thought only Sir John’s “Culme” children used the “Culme” name. Maria’s mail always seemed addressed to “Lady Seymour” (see a letter I’m desperately seeking – and from 1861!). BUT: If I looked closely, Maria and her daughters inserted “C” as part of their signature. But who else could the girl called Jenny Seymour and the young woman identified as Jane Seymour or Miss Seymour have been?

Remember I said that Richard mentioned JANE SEYMOUR in his diary…

In 1858’s diary.

The section that caught my eye mentioned Richard’s “Australian niece Jane Seymour”. She arrived in mid-December, having left Sidney, Australia on September 1st. – Dora (née Seymour) and Arthur Currie picked her up at Gravesend! The very Curries who inhabited High Elms, the estate *now* (June 2021) up for sale.

High Elms, estate of the Arthur Curries.

High Elms, estate of the Arthur Curries.

“Australian Jane” was the only child of Richard’s youngest brother, William (Willy) Seymour, who had emigrated, married an Australian girl in 1849, and died in 1857. I had presumed that she had stay Down-Under.

Nope…

Jane had a convoluted history. Her mother had remarried – at some unknown point – in 1858. This poor mother, born Sarah Avory and now Mrs. Pleydell-Bouverie, died in February 1859. Jane’s step-father died two years later, in February 1861.

But none of that mattered: little Jane Seymour had already sailed for England, arriving hardly two months before her mother’s death – which she could never have known about for another six or eight months.

What I do not know is the WHY Jane Seymour sailed from Sidney that September 1st of 1858!

Had the patriarchal arm reached across the globe, and over her father’s grave, to pluck the little girl from the bosom of her Australian family? Had the mother, stricken by some fatal illness (? – it’s a guess) already, made plans for her soon-to-be-orphaned child, plans that did not involve that child’s step-father? Or, had the Pleydell-Bouveries sought out this change for a child they no longer cared to care for?

Such a mystery remains to be solved, awaiting more information, other diaries, more letters.

One mystery that has been SOLVED involves the BIRTH DATE of Aussie Jane. I have found her baptismal information, which gives her date of birth. Given an 1849 marriage, I had presumed the birth of a first child in 1850. Jane Seymour, however, was born in MAY 1852 – which makes our little passenger a mere SIX YEARS OLD when she sailed from Sidney Harbor to Gravesend – and into the arms and the seemingly eternal care of an aunt she had never set eyes upon before: Dora Currie.

Dora’s step-children, Arthur’s children with his first wife, Charlotte Smith, were growing up – the youngest, Drummond Arthur Currie, had been born in 1840 and would attain his majority in a couple of years. Dora had married – after a long-fought-for marriage to the Rev. William H. Clinton Chester (her family disapproved of his slender means). They had married in August 1837, but by April 1841 Dora was burying her husband. They had had no children. Little Orphan Aussie Jane might have provided an opportunity too good for Dora to pass up. A small child to call her own.

The Curries are a branch of the family with very little archival resources. Charlotte had not lived to old age, but she had daughters – and the Smiths, as a group, seem a family that held very tightly on to items like letters and diaries, portraits and memories. So what happened to the items that Charlotte produced or received, and could figure to have been given over to any or all of her daughters – akin to the family letters amassed by Emma Austen, Fanny Seymour, and Maria Lady Seymour.

As you might guess, anyone with further information, please do contact me!

Richard’s 1859 diary speaks to his meeting the child. He was enchanted with his Australian niece, Jane Seymour.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Faint Faces Found

June 13, 2021 at 8:36 am (diaries, estates, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , )

I’ve been searching for several things lately, and usually come across something completely different in that kind of situation. Friday night proved to be no different.

I’ve been reading through old letters, first from 1840 (to go with a diary I’ve transcribed); then those from 1836 – a momentous, tragic year for the Smiths & Goslings, because of the deaths (by drowning) of Augusta and Henry Wilder, in a boat accident. I have recently come across two *new* letters, written in the aftermath of this family tragedy.

1840 was another year of loss – with the death of sister Charlotte Currie. And it was in the hope of (always a hope!)  finding more letters from Charlotte that I began reading letters to Charlotte, written predominantly by eldest sister Augusta Wilder.

It was while looking for any “hit” with Charlotte and Arthur Currie, that I searched for one of several addresses at which Arthur lived – and found that his old home, High Elms (Watford), is currently up for sale! It’s a MASSIVE 14-bedroom (7 bath) Grade II listed house:

Arthur settled here long after Charlotte’s death, bringing their children and his second wife, Dora (née Seymour; the widowed Mrs. Chester). The interiors are stunning (if “empty” looking in these photos). Take a peek now (before the listing disappears) – although the price is liable to keep it on the market for a bit of time – asking £7.5 million (it does come with 10 acres of land).

[Be advised: Arthur Currie of High Elms is far different from General Sir Arthur Currie.]

When High Elms was still called “Garston Manor” (from the 1890s until 2010), it was featured in a 2011 episode of Country House Rescue, the series hosted by Ruth Watson. I must see if I can find that particular episode…

Friday, I had also been trying to locate the diary (sounds like there is only one, but one never knows!) of Jane Eliza Currie – the wife of Captain Mark John Currie, Royal Navy, Arthur’s cousin. The one diary – though (great pity!) I’ve not been able to locate images of its written contents – covers the couple’s voyage in 1829 and stay (through 1832) in Australia — in quite a new settlement at the time, which is why she as well as he comes up in searches. I’ve had a brief look through Smith & Gosling letters and early diaries for Miss Wood (I don’t know if she went by ‘Jane’ or ‘Eliza’ – I find people referring to her by each of those; but what did she call herself??) and/or the Mark Curries Junior. Not successful there. Being out of England until their return in the 1830s, means there’s no hope (or very little) that Arthur and Charlotte would be mentioned by Jane Eliza – but one never knows. It is a new avenue to take a look down. What I have found is located at the Mitchell Library, NSW. And Currie just is not an easy name to search for — so much overtaken by a certain “General Sir”.

I have also been trying to remember who I had found – among the grandchildren? (not sure now) – whose death had been looked into via a coroner’s inquest. An accidental overdose. I remember a woman… Laudanum or Morphine… but the WHO escapes me, as does the date (19th century still? Early 20th century?). I thought maybe one in the Capel Cure family – and that was how I located my *FIND*!

Of Mary Gosling’s three children – Sir Charles Cunliffe Smith; Mary Charlotte Smith; Augusta Elizabeth Smith – two married children of Capel Cure and Frederica Cheney. The Cure siblings make for heartbreaking reading in retrospect – five of the eleven children died before the age of 21. The main seat of the Cures, Blake Hall, is very familiar from the letters and diaries of the Smiths and Goslings. Of course Mary (Lady Smith) never lived to see these marriages of her children – she died in 1842 and the first marriage, Sir Charles Smith to Agnes Cure, occurred in February 1855. The next to marry, in 1857, were younger sister Augusta Smith and the Rev. Lawrence George Capel Cure.

[Elder sister Mary married in 1861, Major Gaspard Le Marchant Tupper, Royal Artillery.]

Since much literature that mentions the Capel Cure children does not mention all of them, I will list them here. You can find them in the 2nd volume of The Visitation of England and Wales (same place the Smiths of Suttons turns up):

  • Robert
  • Henry (died aged 7)
  • Frederica (died aged 10)
  • Alfred [the photographer]
  • (Rev.) Edward
  • Rosamund
  • (Rev.) Lawrence [married Augusta Smith]
  • Emmeline (died aged 19)
  • Agnes [married Sir Charles Smith]
  • Charles (died aged 8)
  • Frederick (died aged 14)

I have known of the photography work done – early in the “life” of photography – by Alfred Capel Cure. I have come across images of trees or estates – but Friday I spotted a LOT of PEOPLE. And when one album, digitized by UCLA, popped up a photograph of a portrait of “Sir C. Smith” by Ercole (whom I knew to have drawn Lawrence Cure), I slowed to savor each of the gentry portraits in Alfred’s album.

WITH SUCCESS!

A couple of photographs of Charles — whom I often still refer to, as his mother Mary did, as “Little Charles”. Mary, of course, was differentiating husband from son; I, on the other hand, know the son through the mother – and he was a child and teen in Mary’s lifetime. (Charles was born in 1827.) At least one album photograph ID’s him. Also ID’ed in a photograph is “Lady Smith and Miss Cure” – Alfred’s sisters, Agnes and Rosamund. Agnes and/or Rosumond (the only surviving girls) feature in a couple of group portraits, one of which surely includes Lawrence – it so resembles his Ercole portrait.

There are pictures of the exteriors of Suttons, Blake Hall, Badgers (a Cheney estate, which came into Alfred Capel Cure’s possession). So many familiar names. So many unknown faces.

Among the familiar names a faint and faded face identified as Lady Marian Alford. Lady Marianne Compton, as she originally was, was the eldest daughter of Spencer 2nd Marquess of Northampton (Emma’s cousin) and Margaret Clephane. There are a LOT of images – painted and photographed – of Lady Marian (Viscountess Alford) out there.

Alas, no one identified as Mr. and Mrs. Leigh or their children … – which might have unearthed some new images of Emma and James Edward Austen.

But, among the faint and faded, came a duo identified as “the Misses Smith” and dated “Badger, 9 Nov:r 1854“. And I knew I had found something “Completely New”.

I usually have a “feeling” about a *FIND* – including excitement and sureness of the “who” or “what”. I don’t know WHY, but I have almost no feelings on this portrait. Except of loving the sweet faces I see.

Maybe it’s because, named “the Misses Smith” – I’m not sure who is who.

think the elder sister is standing; the younger sister is seated. The standing sister is smiling, broadly. A ring and what looks to be a charm bracelet dangle are on her visible right hand. Her left hand rests on the chair in which her sister is seated. This seated sister has a quieter look, as if not quite “ready” for the camera. And yet, there is an attractive wistfulness that becomes haunting the more one looks.

When they posed at Badger, Mary Charlotte Smith was soon, at the end of November 1854, to celebrate her 26th birthday. Augusta Elizabeth Smith was a few months past her summer celebration of turning 24-years-old. That it IS them is not in doubt – the diary of their uncle, the Rev. Richard Seymour, notes welcoming them to Kinwarton just after their stay at Badger.

The sepia coloring of the album’s print continues strong, fading only along the lines of the gowns and around their hands. It is a remarkable souvenir of their day, (or stay), at Badger during the time of their brother’s engagement.

 

Permalink Leave a Comment

Aunt Emma’s Sidney House, Southampton

June 6, 2021 at 11:57 am (diaries, estates, history, places) (, , )

Found, yesterday, a few indicators hitherto unseen, concerning SIDNEY HOUSE (also spelled Sydney House), with the address of Peartree Green, Southampton. The first comes in an article by Jessica Vale (1983; Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club & Archaeology Society). Vale’s “Country Houses of Southampton” looks at aspects of several properties with familiar-to-me names – given that the Smiths of Suttons and 6 Portland Place had many ties to this general area of Hampshire. But for my purposes today it was the MAP that called upon my deepest attention:

There, indicated by a numbered “square” dot was Aunt Emma’s SIDNEY!

I can see the network of neighbors all around her, and will be better placed for putting names or “estates” into LOCATION, whenever I get back to work on Aunt Emma Smith’s diaries. (I find her looping handwriting a challenge at present.)

I had been hoping (once again…) to find drawings or photos of Sidney. Still hunting, I’m afraid. BUT: I did find the next best thing: a newspaper ad, which describes the house and its grounds.

Advertised as “TO BE LET” in the Hampshire Telegraph and Naval Chronicle on 28 April 1823, the area around the house is tantalizingly portrayed as,

“near Peartree Green, Southampton, — SYDNEY HOUSE, with Lawns, Shrubberies, capital Gardens, Hot and Green-houses, and a few Acres of Land, &c”

The dwelling consists of….

  • an entrance hall;
  • small library;
  • dining room;
  • anti, and large drawing-rooms;
  • three best bed-rooms and dressing rooms;
  • and six servants’ rooms

Detached, one finds…

  • the kitchen;
  • offices;
  • laundry;
  • brew-house;
  • and four-stall stable, coach-house, harness room, &c &c.

I am uncertain as to weather Aunt Emma answered this ad – or leased it later. Mentions of Sidney crop up in her 1826 diary – but, with the exception of a travel diary (trips in 1823 and 1825) no earlier domestic diary has yet been located for Miss Smith of Sidney. Family letters dating to her tenure at Sidney go back only to 1828.

Emma Smith’s father, Joshua Smith of Erlestoke Park (Wiltshire), once the MP for Devizes, had died in 1819. Emma, as the remaining unmarried sister among Joshua’s four “equal” heiresses, was quick to remove herself from Erlestoke. Family letters comment on the bare walls – devoid of Emma’s artwork, as she packed up. The tense situation was not helped by Miss Smith’s relationship with Amelia Macklin.

____________________________________________________

Further Reading:

____________________________________________________

If Aunt Emma DID respond to this ad, it was a Mr. Mecey (“All letters to be post-paid”!), Estate Agent and Auctioneer, Southampton that one applied “For particulars, and Tickets to view.”

Vale’s article includes, at the end, an appendix of the houses in the article. Sidney House is listed as “built c1790, demolished after war damage” in World War II. It does not give a year of demolition. I had once hoped that I had perhaps spotted SIDNEY when in the area some years ago. Guess not. . . A legacy report cites evidence on the 1949 Ordinance Survey Map of its demolishment by 1949, and confirms that two WWII bombs hit the general site.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Emma Austen and the Guitar

March 24, 2021 at 2:40 pm (diaries, entertainment, people) (, , )

Quite some time ago, musicologist Christopher Page contacted me over mentions in Emma’s diaries of the guitarist Trinidad Huerta. Page’s research now has been published as, The Guitar in Georgian England: A Social and Musical History.

Huerta was actually born a few months after my diarist Mary (her birthday: 2 February 1800); making him about a year older than Emma, when she reports hearing him and his (2nd) wife Angiolina Panormo (on the piano, and singing) at a morning concert in Newbury on the 27 March 1830. The Austens were young marrieds by then, and Newbury must have given Emma a pleasant memory of her “single lady” days, in London.

It was not easy to be a professional performer in the first quarter of the 19th century. Page notes “The travels of Trinidad Huerta reveal the movements of a solo guitarist who often looked beyond London (where he was well known) for his engagements.” Thus his ending up in Newbury, Berkshire.

In an email, Page wrote: “1830 marks the peak of the guitar craze in Georgian England as measured, for example, by the number of women seeking governess posts through advertisements in the London press, year by year, and offering to teach the instrument.”

Permalink 2 Comments

Half-a-Century Later

February 23, 2021 at 2:35 pm (diaries, history, research) (, , , )

Recently, I have been doing a little work on putting up information for Isadore Albee’s diaries. I put up names today from the FIRST HALF of her 1862 diary.

Spending nearly fourteen years on researching Emma and Mary – their lives less of “an open book” than a tangle of information (and a great deal of tangled information!) that must be teased and sorted – has taught me useful “tricks” that are coming in handy with Dora’s diaries. But, oh!, the differences!

Mary Gosling and Emma Smith, two young English women, from families who were Quite Well Off Financially, are (literally and figuratively) half a world away from Isadore Albee, in the rural neighborhood of Rockingham and Springfield, Vermont. Isadore has the Connecticut River in place of the Thames – but it’s just not the same.

In 1860s Vermont, Dora’s trips take her to Derby (near the Canadian border) and into New Hampshire, there’s no London Townhouse to occupy, as with the Smiths and Goslings, where a “season” of entertainment, lessons, exhibitions, and friends may be enjoyed.

Dora works; she laments her need to work – or otherwise starve. At times, she seems to do paid millinery work (following in the footsteps of an elder sister); but she also seems to work (at times) in a local store and “living in” for a short period with local families. This, while trying to educate herself.

Emma and Mary might have sewn – usually items distributed among the poor of their parish – but they didn’t have a need to account for monies coming in AND going out (though Emma did, at times, keep tallies of her spending). The Albees were on a far lower economic stratum than the Smiths and Goslings. And Vermont, in the 1860s, was no 1810s Essex or Surrey, never mind London.

A major difference, to me as a dispassionate observer, is the differences in their diaries. If I thought Mary and Emma had small diaries (about the size of an 8 x 5 index card), Dora’s diaries are even tinier! A half-a-century, and half-a-world away (United Kingdom versus United States), the personal items of three “twenty-somethings” are as different as their writing implements: Emma Smith, for instance, wrote the bulk of her diary (all the entries) in INK. Tougher on her, I’m sure, but easier on me as her transcriber. Dora Albee’s entries are totally in pencil. The most noticeable difference comes in SPELLING. Emma’s is consistent, and usually correct. Dora’s tends to have a phonetic basis for some words, though others are probably just too-hastily-written. In either case, her diary is more of a challenge, when transcribing, to make out words, to make sense of sentences.

Some words, however, live in the ear – “surpose” must be indicative of her pronunciation of suppose. And one phrase, “down street”, is used by locals in areas of central Vermont to this day. Such was never a phrase I heard (or used), here in northern Vermont.

But it wasn’t all work for Dora Albee. She mentions a “singing school”; and a concert or two at which she and other “singing” students performed. She comments, too, on the typical Vermont weather that still exists in my own life – the crusty snow in winter, the muddy paths in spring. There are sledding parties and sleigh rides, music and plays, visits to and from young friends. She mentions illness and death much more often than Emma – for instance, Dora’s sister (and later Dora herself) join in the “watch” over the ill, much like Mary Lloyd Austen “watched”, with Cassandra Austen, during Jane Austen’s last illness in Winchester.

So, although far apart, in distance and time, some things – especially for women – remain remarkably “same”. Especially, the written notices of marriages, babies, illnesses, and deaths. Dora had it tougher, experiencing the deaths of young men and women in her social circle. And she knew so many young men who left the comfortable arable acres and woods of Vermont for Civil War battlefields and military camps.

Permalink 2 Comments

Explore Barbara Johnson’s Fashions

December 27, 2020 at 10:44 am (books, diaries, entertainment, fashion, history) (, , , , , , )

Serena Dyer has posted her article, “Barbara Johnson’s Album: Material Literacy and Consumer Practice, 1746-1823,” from Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies (2019) on her Academia account. This will give readers a taste of her current (edited) volume, Material Literacy in Eighteenth-Century Britain: A National of Makers (co-edited by Chloe Wigston Smith), as well as her upcoming Material Lives: Women Makers and Consumer Culture in the 18th Century.

Barbara Johnson’s book, called in its publication A Lady of Fashion: Barbara Johnson’s Album of Styles and Fabrics, is a title – photographed when it was being conserved – I had long been on the lookout for – but it’s a title that can be harder to find (and pricey). Natalie Rothstein‘s introductory chapters are fascinating. Dyer builds upon this foundation.

According to blog posts, it took me about four years to finally take the plunge and purchase it (2008 to 2012). I see I first blogged about the Album on 27 December 2008 – a prior year’s “today”!

Sewing clothes, but never one who ever looked into the construction of 18th- or 19th-century fashion, I still haven’t delved into this book in a way some friends have done. It’s size is tremendous – analogous to its beginnings as an accounts ledger – and presented as “life-size.” This past summer, when shifting around some tables, chairs, books, it found a new home on the second floor of the house – a bit more accessible, but still put to one side.

Dyer’s reintroduction makes me think to pull the Album off the shelf once again. And I’m waiting for February 2021, and Dyer’s new book (sorry, but the current book is out of my price range).

Permalink 1 Comment

Tales from the Bodleian: Manuscript Diaries

December 17, 2020 at 12:27 pm (diaries, history, travel) (, , , , )

As you might guess, DIARIES and LETTERS have a fascination for me. Sketches and drawings, too. If they’re English, and of a certain date, I begin to wonder: Could it be related to the Smiths and Goslings??

These are NOT related, but the twin tales told of IDENTIFYING these diaries are FASCINATING. And (I can attest to similar searches) very true to life for a researcher.

The earlier (2015) blog post is very Austenian in its title:

The second, by the same author – Mike Webb – was the one I clicked on first because of its drawing of the young lady holding a pail (or a bag?; 2017 blog post)

You will see a TREND here: once “anonymous” diaries that, with some work, have revealed their writers to posterity, 200 years later.

I wish both (or either) were “in print” and available to READ. The Bodleian Blog also makes me wish I were near Oxford, and able to delve in their wonderful archives in person.

 

Permalink 2 Comments

Isadore Albee’s Civil War Diaries

November 26, 2020 at 7:55 am (books, diaries, history, news, research) (, , , , , )

Whether Isadore Albee gets her own blog or not, I want to talk about her – and will do so here.

A very recent purchase, the Civil War diaries of Isadore Albee (her father spelled his name Allbee), is EXACTLY the project I have long sought. Past purchases have tended to forward my main research, into the Smith and Gosling family — presented online as “Two Teens in the Time of Austen” because Emma Smith married James Edward Austen (later Austen Leigh) AND Mary married Emma’s eldest brother Sir Charles Joshua Smith, baronet.

Isadore – I tend to think of her as ‘Dora‘ (which may or may NOT be what she called herself; I’m still hoping to find that out) – was a “known object” when I purchased the diaries. The seller’s ad had boasted a plethora of characterful excerpts, which caught my eye and fired my imagination. Dora wrote of her everyday life during a period, 1862 through 1871, important to American history, a period of change and national turmoil. That “era” called to me, as it does to many.

Dora is a female diarist. Typically, men‘s war diaries have been preserved for posterity, so Dora’s are a welcome breath of fresh air. Dora is young – she records her 21st birthday in May, 1862. It’s recorded as a day of “no preasants” (sic) and given over to the first effects of “scarlettina.” Dora’s typical “luck”….

The BIG inducement, compounding “female diarist” and “Civil War era” into a trifecta: Dora lived in Springfield, VERMONT. My home state!

I’d *LOVE* to direct you to a new blog. But I may simply delete what I began on WordPress. I liked the blogging platform, as it was; I despise what it is now.

I haven’t yet made up my mind if Dora will somewhat “share” space with my Two Teens or not. It’s a departure in so many ways, AND YET somewhat related – in terms of being a research project.

Isadore Albee's 1870 & 1862 diaries

After fourteen years of researching English diaries and letters, finding related biographies and related artwork, visiting estates now turned into schools or cut into condominiums, there are “challenges” in working on a set of diaries from Vermont. The Smiths & Goslings were important people, wealthy people; they owned estates; they lived in London during “the season.” Traces of their faded tracks pop up in newspapers. The popular literature of their day, monthly items like Gentleman’s Magazine and the Annual Review, are go-to places for a wealth of information on their (wide) circle of English landed gentry.

For Dora‘s diaries, I’m down to a small local newspaper (not digitized) and the U.S. Census. Dora’s friends and presumed neighbors are sometimes only mentioned by first name; it’s my assumption that they are young ladies, like herself.

Mary and Emma, on the other hand, always cite people in a VERY formal manner. Young friends (and even relatives) always are designated by first and last name. Only their own immediate family members rated a first-name-only. Finding information on the many, many servants of their world has been tougher; they, too, could be first name OR last name only.

To confuse the average reader, though, those next-door neighbors were interrelated even before Mary’s marriage to Charles in 1826.

Emma, for instance, differentiates between her sister Charlotte and Mary’s sister Charlotte Gosling. Family also had two Carolines (Caroline Mary Craven Austen and Caroline Wiggett [later Caroline Workman]). In later years, there were not only Mrs. (Augusta) Smith and her eldest daughter, Augusta; but Mary had a daughter named Augusta. Emma had a daughter named Augusta. Fanny had a daughter named Augusta….

You get my drift…. A LOT of duplicate names. Even marriages brought in new but similarly-named family members. Emma’s sister Fanny changed her name from Smith to Seymour a few months before their new sister-in-law, Frances, changed her name from Seymour to Smith. To confuse things, Frances seemed to have been called ‘Pam,’ at least in her girlhood, by her family; though the Smiths always referred to her as Frances. Whereas Fanny was never known as Frances, except in a very youthful letter. Fanny’s husband, the Rev. Richard Seymour, referred to his cousin (and eventual sister-in-law) as “Dora K.” because he also had a sister Dora. Cousin Dora Knighton was the daughter of Sir William Knighton – an important personage known to the Prince of Wales / Prince Regent / King George IV. Lady Knighton’s first name was Dorothea, thus the sprouting of other ‘Doras’. Though, of course, not for my ‘Dora’ Albee.

I’ve already begun a family tree for Dora: her only brother died when a toddler, and she talks most about her elder sister, Jane, and younger sister, Sophia. I have yet to figure out if “Bessie” in 1862 is “Lizzie” in 1870, and whether both refer to her sister Elizabeth. The family tree includes eldest sister Gratia (who married in 1850 and moved to Iowa a decade or more ago) and one who married only in 1860, Ellen.

But I’m used to sorting out people. In “Two Teens,” there are THREE Emma Smiths! Besides my diarist, Emma Smith (Emma Austen), there is: “Aunt Emma” (who never married), Mrs. Smith’s youngest sister, and great aunt Emma Smith (later Lady Dunsany), a sister to grandfather Joshua Smith. Lady Dunsany married late in life, and, from what I’ve found, was as loquacious as Miss Bates (in the Jane Austen novel, Emma).

My prime interest in the Civil War diaries is Isadore Albee, herself.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Where have all the Bloggers gone?

November 25, 2020 at 9:55 am (diaries, entertainment, history, news, research, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

This blog post will be a departure.

I have a new project, and one that I had *wanted* to talk about, get input on, and just share. My frustration, though, comes from trying to create a new “blog”.

I created all three of my blogs QUITE some time ago. They are:

  • Two Teens in the Time of Austen – my main research, which looks at the family of Emma Smith and Mary Gosling. The two women were born in 1801 and 1800; Emma married the nephew of writer Jane Austen in December 1828. This is all-consuming, covering from the 1790s through the 1840s (and beyond). They are the subject of my book for Kindle, “Random Jottings,” which is based on blog posts that discuss the extended Smith & Gosling family and other aspects of research.
  • Georgian Gems, Regency Reads, Victorian Voices – gives me a place to discuss PRIMARY materials, be it published (books) or online. This pretty much covers my major interests of 18th and 19th century letters and diaries from England. I do diverge every once in a while – to the U.S. (where I live) and Canada (near neighbor). The time period can also migrate into the 20th century. And I am a BIG fan of the travel narrative – so other countries do sometimes appear.
  • The Ladies of Llangollen – is based upon a former website, begun after a 2005 trip to Llangollen, and a visit (of course!) to Play Newydd, home to Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler – known as the Ladies of Llangollen. It was in finding an 1824 diary by Mary Gosling, in which she recorded meeting the ladies, that I discovered the first tidbit belonging to my Two Teens in the Time of Austen project!

My favorite “WordPress theme” remains that used for THIS blog. A sliver of an area for text, bits off to one side that allows readers to visit other pages and gather more information. Overall, the blog serves as a place to focus readers’ attention on the project; as a consequence, it mentions my publications (see About the Author). In the past, the blog bought to my attention several *IMPORTANT* items of research — mainly letters, but also at least one diary. I keep hoping for MORE, along these same lines. Am I being “disappointed” because there’s just no more material to unearth? Or, is it that blogs and bloggers are tired things from the past?

Mine is not an image-heavy subject. Images, generally, are items found on the internet that have become part of my research. Of course, in the days of DIGGING for more information, discoveries led to things that I wanted to crow to someone about – and I took to blogging. But research also makes one hug “finds” close to the chest…

Mary Gosling’s initial diary led me to search for more information about Ponsonby and Butler. And when DIARIES and LETTERS make up 98 percent of my material, it’s easy to also talk about books and websites that have been unearthed, thus the third blog sprang into existence.

As the “Smiths & Goslings” became more reading, deciphering, thinking and less discovery, it wasn’t always EASY to find something I wanted to talk about. Add to that changes to WordPress that have begun to drive me crazy – well: the whole together accounts for lots of silence.

But in trying to launch a new site for a new project, I’ve really thought: Why Bother? “Blogging” seems not supported here at Wordpress any more. My choice of a “theme,” for instance, has stopped me in my tracks. I thought I’d have FUN trying to decide! In the past themes were dazzling, like the blaze of color and swirls used for the “Ladies of Llangollen,” or the sustained quiet of maroon and black background for the “Regency Reads” site.

The day before yesterday I only saw WHITE backgrounds; strips of BLOCK photographs followed by BLOCK text; and what I picked came with a HOMEPAGE and a BLOG.

There once was a time – when the Ladies of Llangollen site was being re-created, because it had originally BEEN a website – when I would have welcomed a “homepage” kind of site. I’m not re-building it a THIRD time…

The new site, the one I would like to create…, where I could drop tidbits as I discovered them, calls out for intimacy. Instead, (DARE I say it?), EVERYthing is full-screen, so f’ing WHITE, and BLOCK-LIKE. _I_ have done better, in the past (ie, before WordPress) with NO “templates,” in creating websites with more style than these static “scroll down” sites. Maybe WP keeps the good stuff for paying customers – but after this “Gutenberg” upgrade, frankly, I give up ever wishing to pay.  I had thought of converting THIS site (mainly to get rid of the *gross* ads that show up; if you’ve seen them, you know which I mean). I don’t CARE anymore.

So, my question is: Where do all the BLOGGERS go?

My research does not fit in with TikTok or Instagram (it’s not visual). I quickly lost interest in (though I have several boards on) Pinterest. Never been a great fan of the Facebook craze, but to satisfy WP, I did open a site for “Two Teens in the Time of Austen: Random Jottings.” I want to “SPEAK”, not post pictures never mind share details of my life. (THAT is no one’s business.)

The idea of “tweeting” about my latest project is possible, but (as you can see by this LONG blog post), what I _LIKED_ is what I once _HAD_.

Why does a platform decide to “new and improve” into something that offers users less than it used to do? Would it have troubled WordPress so much to ask: Do you want a website? Do you want to blog? And tailored things to each specific group. Someone selling product is not going to want the same thing as I do for a research project. Someone who wants to share with the wider world their photographs or drawings is not going to need the same construct, for instance, as I have built for this “Two Teens” project.

My question now is: Will some new text-loving platform arrive to take WordPress’s place?

(If you can answer that, please: Post a Comment.)

Permalink Leave a Comment

Life & Times of Georgiana Jane Henderson

October 9, 2020 at 12:58 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, history, news) (, , , )

You know that I *LOVE* to hear about new books, but to hear of one from a writer with whom I’ve been in correspondence has to be extra special.

Susan Bennett‘s new book is A Thankless Child: The Life and Times of Georgiana Jane Henderson (1771-1850). Her prior publication, ‘I awleis admired your talent’: The artistic life of Georgiana Jane Henderson (née Keate) (1771-1850) (MA dissertation, published in Germany) also presents aspects in the life and times of Georgiana Keate Henderson.

Bennett A Thankless Child

I first learned about Georgiana five years ago; her diaries mention some Goslings!

In an early email, Susan mentioned a print, based on work by George Keate (Georgiana’s father), of HALL’S LIBRARY, Margate ( click to see it at The British Museum). Mrs. Gosling did have a book by Keate in her library (her book plate being attached). And the names attached to an entry in Georgiana Henderson’s diary all point to Mrs. Gosling (née Elizabeth Houghton), my diarist Mary’s paternal grandmother: “Mrs. Gosling with Mr. and Mrs. Gregg brought Miss Norford from Langley about one o’clock – they left us again at three“. The entry dated: 15 September 1803.

Mrs. Gregg would be Mrs. Gosling’s daughter, the former Maria Gosling, accompanied by her husband, Henry Gregg. Miss (Annabella) Norford shows up twice in Gosling letters, and does seem typically in company with this Mrs. Gosling. Langley was the Gosling’s old family estate. (William Gosling, Mary’s father, much preferred his own estate – Roehampton Grove – to this estate of his parents.)

There is a slim possibility that “Mrs. Gosling’s” is Maria Gregg’s sister-in-law, Eliza (mother of my diarist Mary Gosling), who would live only another three months….

You can imagine how *thrilled* I was to hear of these tidbits!

I’m only now thinking: Miss Norford, friend of Georgiana, must have been visiting the Goslings (at Langley) [that a given] and was perhaps being brought to Georgiana’s home for a stay (so that only Mrs. Gosling & the Greggs departed). A lady did not travel alone, and from what I’ve read of coaching inns and coaching yards during the Georgian period, _I_ would be happy to have company (male or female) for any “change horses” stops.

Of course, it is possible that ALL traveled back to Langley. To know the whereabouts of Annabella Norford may be answered by Susan’s book!

Susan was hoping that the Goslings had perhaps mentioned Mrs. Henderson – but I’ve so far uncovered little “Gosling” archives (especially in comparison to the Smiths). Revisiting old emails makes me wish I could find more, and earlier, items.

Susan was lucky enough to find references to Georgiana Henderson in the superb online diary of Fanny Chapman.

In an early invitation to correspond, Susan Bennett included this vivid description of her research subject:

Georgiana was the only daughter of George Keate, an amateur artist and poet, who was known to most of the artistic and literary circles of the day.  He (and therefore Georgiana) could count David Garrick, Angelica Kauffman, John Russell, Charles James Fox and Robert Adam among their close circle of friends.   Georgiana married John Henderson (also an amateur artist) who was an early patron of J M W Turner and Thomas Girtin.

The diaries I work with are similar to those Susan used as a source: Visits and Visitors. I can’t wait to read her biography of Georgiana Jane Henderson. Buy it thru several sources: Amazon, Amazon.uk [=sites offer a preview of the book], or Lulu.

Permalink 1 Comment

Next page »