Lots of Anne Lister news

September 22, 2022 at 8:14 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, history, news) (, , , , )

Periodically looking for new books being published — especially with search terms women, biography, England — I recently found Jill Liddington’s As Good as a Marriage: The Anne Lister Diaries, 1836-38. Publication date is scheduled for May 2023 (Manchester University Press).

As Good as a Marriage joins the prior Liddington volumes:

  • Nature’s Domain: Anne Lister and the Landscape of Desire – which presents Lister’s 1832 journal entries
  • Female Fortune: The Anne Lister Diaries, 1833-36: Land, Gender, and Authority – which fits between the earlier book and the next volume of diaries

Of course Liddington’s publications build upon the Lister diaries published by Helena Whitbread:

  • I Know My Own Heart (aka: The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, volume 1) – featuring journal entries from 1816 to 1824
  • No Priest But Love (aka The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, volume 2) – the follow-up features Lister’s journals from Paris in 1824

All Lister fans are patiently awaiting Whitbread’s biography of Anne Lister.

At the very least, the paths of Mary Gosling & family and Anne Lister crossed via visits to the Ladies of Llangollen. Both visited Plas Newydd, the home of Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler.

The next piece of news concerns the upcoming ANNA LISTER RESEARCH SUMMIT.

This is a three-day extravaganza features topics like “Shew us the archives”; an update on the Transcription Project; studies of Anne Lister’s Reading Habits; “The Lister Moves”; and “Mining Laughs”. Check out the ENTIRE schedule of offerings on the SUMMIT website – where you can also REGISTER for this FREE conference, which runs October 14-16, 2022 (with videos uploaded to YouTube for those sessions that you miss). They meet over ZOOM and are time-zone friendly.

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Saying Goodbye to the Queen

September 19, 2022 at 4:54 pm (diaries, history, news) (, , , )

In 1818, Emma Smith noted the death of Queen Charlotte on the 17th of November. Emma’s diary tells us that she put on mourning,on the Sunday following (November 22). What stuck in my mind, and was brought to mind today – the day of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral – were Emma’s words written against the date December 1st:

Tuesday, Dec 1 After much consideration whether we should stay as Mrs Gosling proposed & see the Queen’s funeral at Windsor or go home it was settled that Mamma & Augusta should return to Suttons Wednesday & that I should stay at Roehampton till Monday 7th

Wednesday, Dec 2 Mamma & us besides the Goslings stationed ourselves near Hounslow Heath for the purpose of seeing the procession  it was very quiet  the hearse seven of the Queens carriages some mourners & a troop of lancers. from thence Mama & Augusta returned to Roehampton  they slept there & went the next day to Suttons. I went on with the Goslings to Windsor  they had secured a room in the Castle Inn  we dined there & about 8 o’clock the procession passed us. the road from the Castle to Frogmore was lined with soldiers every sixth man bearing a flambeau besides some of the cavalry & all the mourners  the Regent was Chief Mourner the Dukes of York & Sussex were also present  the whole sight was very grand. Mr & Mrs Gosling Elizabeth & Mary & I all laid down in a double bedded room. W:m & Bennett returned to Roehampton

Thursday, Dec 3 The Cavalry was reviewed before our windows. We walked into the Castle but they would not show it  then to Eton Coll & returned to Roehampton for dinner

To all those who paid respects

(click to watch BBC broadcast – over 9 hours of coverage)

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2/2/22 – Mary’s 222 Birthday

February 2, 2022 at 11:43 am (diaries, estates, history, jane austen, postal history, research, World of Two Teens) (, , , , , )

I simply could not let today pass without a passing nod at my first diarist, Mary Gosling — also know here as Lady Smith (following her 1826 marriage to Sir Charles Joshua Smith, baronet).

There could be NO harder name to “search” or “research” than a couple called Charles and Mary Smith!

And yet, the research has been GOLDEN.

I first found Mary’s earliest diary – a set of six trips taken between 1814 and 1824 – in 2006, when I was wishing to note down “authentic” sightings of the Ladies of Llangollen, Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler. I had visited their northern Wales home, Plas Newydd, in 2005. Mary Gosling met them! And she left her impressions of them. Well… less her impressions than notes of what others always said of them. I was QUITE disappointed, especially in the brevity of her thoughts — for, within a page, the family had DEPARTED Llangollen!

BUT: Mary herself began to intrigue me. Mainly, because the family members were shown around Plas Newydd and they spent about four hours with the Ladies, in their home. THAT one premise began EVERYTHING that has gone on since — from all the research into the Smiths of Suttons, as well as my interest in the Ladies of Llangollen themselves.

The results of all this early research:

  • Two Teens in the Time of Austen – this blog, so named because Mary’s sister-in-law, Emma Smith, my second diarist, married James Edward Austen. And Edward was the nephew of writer Jane Austen.
  • Ladies of Llangollen – a blog whose information, based on a website I created circa 2006, still needs additional work, but it currently hosts interesting artwork, book excerpts, and information on people who visited Plas Newydd — the GOSLINGS included — during the tenancy of Ponsonby and Butler, as well as after.

The Smiths took over my life – buried me under diaries and stacks of letters, stocked my brain with tidbits of personal and national (England) history, squinted my eyes in deciphering a myriad of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century “hands,” and made me spend my money and my time (not sure WHICH is more costly, in the end), in a never-ending pursuit after more knowledge. The nosing-around their lives has made and still makes me HAPPY.

by Frenchie (Photobucket)

With that thought, I wish Mary Gosling the HAPPIEST 222nd Anniversary of her 2 February 1800 birth. She graced the earth for only 42 years, leaving three youthful children, whose faint faces I have now unearthed. And she opened the door for a true glimpse into the past.

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The After-Life of Ann Jackson, Servant

January 20, 2022 at 11:49 am (diaries, estates, history, news, people, research) (, , , )

Quite some time ago, I found reference to “Bennett Gosling, Esq.” at the Old Bailey Online. His valet, Thomas Wenlock, was giving testimony in a theft case that had occurred in July 1839. I made mention of both Thomas Wenlock and Ann Jackson as having been part of Bennett’s household on the page “Servants-Clerks-Governesses.” For Ann Jackson, her employment seemed in the past.

Given that I have, (I think), ONE letter penned by Bennett Gosling – a brief note. Given that, among the Goslings, only Mary Gosling, Bennett’s younger sister, has left diaries – which, except for travels, are all daily diaries written after her marriage in 1826 to Sir Charles Joshua Smith, baronet (Emma Austen’s brother). AND given that only a handful of a household’s servant population manage to gain more than one mention in a person’s diaries (ie, there might be at least the hiring and/or the dismissal mentioned), SERVANTS are the hardest to construct any kind of roster. The early 19th century census, unlike our common “every ten years” really comes down to the 1840 census — and people were not always at home on Census Day. I once searched the census for Mary, Lady Smith – I had her birthday — Ancestry could NOT find her. I looked up her diary — she was in town (London) and staying at the Curries’ home (sister-in-law Charlotte and husband Arthur Currie).

Little did I know, at the time, that the age for Mary was incorrectly approximated in the census. In essence, I knew (and searched) too-specific information!

Anyway…

I was happy to find mention of Ann Jackson a few days ago. She turned up in an Australian database because she received a sentence of TRANSPORTATION at her 9 July 1839 trial. This *find* of a new-to-me website made me revisit what I had previously found at the Old Bailey.

The transcript of Ann Jackson’s trial can be read online. She was found to have in her possession disparate items from two households – the stays of Mrs. Pearse, for example, valued at 30 shillings; and two coats (valued at £4) of Bennett Gosling, Esq.

Arrest and trial records of the period tend to be rather sketchily transmitted. The policeman, Andrew Wyness, for instance, according to his testimony, follows the young woman, pushes open a door, and then confronts Jackson, demanding to know what’s in her bundle.

Was Wyness entering a residence? a rear yard? What had made him suspicious of Jackson, other than that he spotted her at “Four in the Morning”…

Wyness could not have known at the time that Ann Jackson would be found to have an alias – Maria Donaldson – though WHAT NAME she was using at the time of her employment with the Pearses (or Bennett Gosling) is not quite noted. Surely Wenlock had not known her under one name and come across her at the Pearses’ (where he lodged) under another, but which name she used when is anyone’s guess.

That she was indicted under the name ANN JACKSON leads me to believe this was her legal name.

Wenlock’s testimony that he and Bennett (“his master”) “went into the country” can only mean they spent the weekend at Roehampton Grove, before returning to banking duties on Monday. Sister Mary’s diary does not indicate a visit to Suttons that July weekend.

The Prisoner at the Bar was summarily sentenced after a brief self-defense. She was given Ten Years and Transported to Van Diemen’s Land. Ann Jackson was 23-year-old at the time of trial.

Jackson’s Australian history is picked up by the website “Edges of Empire Biographical Dictionary of Convict Women from Beyond the British Isles“, edited by Lucy Frost and Collette McAlpine.

Jackson sailed on the Gilbert Henderson, reaching Van Diemen’s Land on 24 April 1840. Steve Rhodes, in his write-up of her biography, supplies interesting details missing from the curt Old Bailey transcript. Born in South America, she had been raised in London. Rhodes believes her legal name to have been MARIA DONALDSON, and promotes a marriage to one Robert Donaldson with a marital home at 1 Tavistock Street, London. The marriage had produced at least one (living?) child.

Surely it is convict records that accounts for the fascinating PHYSICAL details:

Jackson “was a short woman at 4 feet 9 1/2 inches (146.05 cm) tall, had dark brown hair, hazel eyes and fair complexion, and her freckled nose was inclined to the right.”

Records record only a few personal details of her time in Australia. There’s a “case of misconduct” (no information) on 16 April 1842. The delivery of an illegitimate child a few months later, on 28 July 1842. She married John Sykes, “a free man”, in Hobart on 26 December 1843. Evidently in the marriage registry Sykes is described as a 25-year-old mounted policeman. Given the earlier indication of a marriage, Jackson is incorrectly described as a 26-year-old “spinster”. “There were three children known to be born to Ann Jackson”, writes Rhodes, though I am unsure if this includes the two prior children he had already established or not.

Also produced online is the BOOK, Women Transported: Life in Australia’s Convict Female Factories – a tie-in with a (2008) exhibition. Access the PDF catalogue and its essays by clicking on the picture (above). Essays include Gay Hendricksen’s WOMEN TRANSPORTED – MYTH AND REALITY; Carol Liston’s CONVICT WOMEN – IN THE FEMALE FACTORIES OF NEW SOUTH WALES; and Trudy Cowley’s FEMALE FACTORIES OF VAN DIEMEN’S LAND.

PLEASE NOTE: the website listed on the title page goes to a blog. The correct website address evidently is a “dot org”: https://femalefactory.org.au/ which will take you to the website for Cascades Female Factory (currently – early 2022 – closed for construction of a new History & Interpretation Centre).

Interesting reading in their evocative Brochure. There were five such “factories” in Van Diemen’s Land. And, yes, Ann Jackson’s name appears in the catalogue’s list of names.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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).

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