Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth & Tring Park

June 4, 2022 at 11:54 am (entertainment, estates, history, news, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , )

Some exciting news –

A little while ago I found David Shakespeare‘s work on the “Pregnancy Portrait” of Queen Elizabeth I. David has come across a photograph of Tring Park (Hertfordshire) during the Rothschild years — and his sharp eyes spotted, hanging on the Hallway wall, the very portrait I had found in a Smith Sister’s drawing, which quite obviously “copied” this well-known work:

Below is the sketch, enlarged to show only the “Portrait,” in pride of place between two Drawing Room windows — the image’s focal point as well as the room’s focal point, despite the loss of the fourth wall behind the viewer. This interior sketch surely dates to the late 1820s, during the Smiths’ early occupancy of Tring Park, their Uncle Drummond’s [Sir Drummond Smith] former country house, by that time sold out of the family – and yet rented again by his relations:

In my first blog post (written nearly ten years ago) I called this image “Mystery Lady and Deer” and I was seeking further information and had hoped for identification (see post “Have you seen this Lady?“). A few months later, I found the “Elizabeth I” image. As I wrote at the time, it was a “MAJOR Oh-My-Gosh!” moment (see “Mystery Portrait ID’ed“).

From time to time, I’m impelled to revisit old thoughts, old blog posts. I don’t recall what I was looking for — undoubtedly something to do with TRING — when I came across this discussion from David Shakespeare, on the very portrait in question!

It was the PDF that I came across first. Impressive scholarship! A member of the De Vere Society, David’s hour-long presentation on “The Pregnancy Portrait of Elizabeth I” (2018) is a must watch. I’ll include here a link to David Shakespeare’s entire YouTube channel.

As you might imagine, when I emailed the full sketch (the original is among the Austen Leigh papers at the Hampshire Record Office), David was intrigued enough to visit Winchester with great speed. What intrigued me was the ability to really see, thanks to his detailed photographs, what I have never seen in person. Heightened to darken the faint pencil lines of the original, for the first time, all viewers get a glimpse into Tring Park and the material lives of the Smith Family.

An ASIDE:

Tring was the first marital home for Emma and Edward Austen [the Rev. & Mrs. James Edward Austen Leigh], and the birthplace of their first children.

I have come across three sketch books by Fanny Smith (Bodleian Library, Oxford); one by next youngest sister, Charlotte Smith (Tring Local History Museum); and work of youngest sister Maria Louisa Smith. So there are “contenders” for the artist(s) of the two sketches of Tring Interiors at HRO (Hampshire Record Office). HRO presumes the artist to be either eldest sister Augusta Smith or next eldest Emma Smith. Without in-person study, and other artists’ work as comparison, I make no guesses.

Another ASIDE:

A related sketch book, of ten drawings, sold on eBay in November 2020 – the known contents of which (five drawings) closely mirror the Fanny-Charlotte sketches. Presumably, the sisters were sketching the same places together. Needless to say, I would love to know more about the current whereabouts of this eBay item, as would Tring Local History Museum.

I invite you to view David’s newest video “Update on the Pregnancy Portraits” (there’s a PDF as well) – where he not only tells about Tring’s missing portrait, but also offers fascinating insight, observations, and theories on the “original” portrait. And, yes, the plural word “portraits” is meant literally. For David would DEARLY LOVE to find the painting that used to hang at Tring, last seen during the Rothschild ownership.

Thrilling for me is David’s up-close-and-personal dissection of the Tring Drawing Room!! Including fascinating new information on the pianoforte seen on the left edge of the sketch. He will walk you around the room, before informing you about the “painting” seen in the drawing and the portraits – found and yet-to-be-discovered.

Join us!

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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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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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Downshire House, Roehampton

July 10, 2019 at 1:10 pm (estates, history, jane austen, places, travel) (, , , )

Downshire House 2017

Interesting, if brief, post by Roehampton University on the history of one of their buildings, Downshire House. This was once owned by Arthur Hill, 2nd Marquess of Downshire. It was the widowed Marchioness who engaged James Crump – a man who later went to work as her neighbor’s butler – to accompany two sons on a Continental tour. The Hill family have a Jane Austen connection, one that at the beginning of this year (2019) had news of a surprising eBay find: a photo album now owned by Karen Ievers.

I have so far found no references (prior to the Knight-Hill marriages) to indicate any relationship between the Hills and the Goslings, despite being near neighbors. Perhaps the Marchioness did not “associate” with the family of well-off bankers… Perhaps her residency in Ireland and at Ombersley Court meant she was so rarely in town that the Goslings had few opportunities to entertain her. I am *hopeful* (and yet doubtful) of finding reference to them in the diaries of the Hill daughters – but their tale is kept for a later blog post.

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Northamptonshire Past & Present

November 28, 2018 at 8:40 pm (books, entertainment, estates, history) (, , , )

“…because the Work is too hard for Women, it requires more strength than they are capable of, to raise Walls of Defence about a Lady’s Shape.” 

— Robert Campbell, The London Tradesman (1747)

regarding the fact that “stay-makers were always men”. “Stays were made of buckram, a thick, heavily stiffened, linen, difficult to cut and sew.”

The owner of the stays in this instance was Lady Langham of Cottesbrooke. On March 26, 1774, Lady Langham wrote of paying £1 16s to “Harrison” for “a pr of Stays”. The summation of Lady Langham’s London expenditures turns up in the eye-opening article by Judith Hodgkinson.

It is one article in back issues – now digitized (and continuing to add volumes) – of the journal Northamptonshire Past & Present produced by the Northamptonshire Record Society. [This particular volume is No. 62, from 2009.]

Northamptonshire Past and Present

Of course, Northamptonshire has Two Teen in the Time of Austen connections in being the location of Castle Ashby, home of the aunt and uncle of Emma Smith (later Emma Austen; and still later Emma Austen Leigh) – Lord and Lady Northampton.

I’ve even located a couple of related articles!

The first, “George London at Castle Ashby,” by the estate’s prior archivist Peter McKay. These are very early doings, indeed: 17th Century gardens. [article appears in No. 61 (2008)]

The second, also by Peter McKay, is brand new – issue 70 (not digitized; though the volume for sale) – “The Grand Tour of James, Lord Compton, 1707-1709.

The current issue also discusses such as Boughton House and Burghley House; a couple of locals – John Cope and the Rev. Henry Jephcott; as well as “Suffragettes and Suffragists in Northampton”.

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Jane Austen: Used book buyer?

November 23, 2018 at 9:49 am (books, estates, history, jane austen) (, , )

In the appendix to JANE AUSTEN THE READER (2013), (a link provided by Springer [the publisher]), the quotation “‘new books were luxuries but not out-of-reach luxuries’” for the “all-female Austen household” may be too narrowly focused when discussing the possession of books by Jane Austen.

Why limit the idea of “books” to new books and think of them as luxuries?

Certainly, a gifted book could have come Jane Austen’s way, and Olivia Murphy (the author) accounts for such volumes. Evidence, however, leans heavily on the Godmersham Library collection of Jane and Cassandra’s brother, Edward Austen Knight. As with any intake of books, some might have duplicated Edward’s own, been rejected or “regifted”, or sold on.

It is the sold on that provides the clue to my current argument: There were also auctions, used book shops, and disbursed collections (which may include titles that were missing volumes).

With the death of Edward Austen Knight in November 1852, a valuation and reassessment of the Godmersham Library logically would have been undertaken. There does exist – and Murphy discusses this as part of her argument – evidence dated ‘1853’. That these books came from Cassandra Austen, either directly or through her niece Cassy Esten Austen, is perhaps a bit of a stretch. And, of course, what was once Cassandra’s may have come from her sister, which is the whole point of the appendix, which is entitled “What Happened to Jane Austen’s Books?” To Murphy, the context of other titles housed in the Drawing Room (“the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer and the novels of Maria Edgeworth”) is more important than the changing of the guard in home-ownership.

JA Reader

Click on the link here and then on the PDF for the section “BACK MATTER” (pp. 177-231) to read: Appendix: What Happened to Jane Austen’s Books?

* * *

A ‘rare’ instance of Jane Austen commenting on contemporary books, thru the parody of writing to “Mrs. Hunter of Norwich” (in actuality, Austen’s niece Anna Austen), in 1812, was up for auction in 2017. It sold for £162,500 (estimated by Sotheby’s to fetch £80,000-£100,000). A news story produced at the time (July 2017), “A Cache of Jane Austen’s Charming Letters.”

 

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Eastwick Park, Surrey

June 5, 2018 at 11:36 am (chutes of the vyne, estates, places, research) (, , )

This is in answer to the comments of “Chaz” on the post “Putting a Face to a Name“; the tidbits seemed just too long for inclusion in a “comment.”

Eastwick Park cropped up a several times in the family letters. What caught Chaz’s eye was their comment about the estate when owned by “Mr. Basilgate” (sic) (whom Chaz writes about, see Prinny’s Taylor).

It wasn’t until I translated a French letter that I realized the part Eastwick played in the young lives of the four Sisters of Erle Stoke Park (which I really need to begin spelling Earl Stoke Park – for that was Joshua Smith’s consistent spelling of his estate). Since that time, I’ve found further letters, all of which wax nostalgic. I have not pinned down when the Smiths lived there, but it would have pre-dated the re-development of Earl Stoke, which began in the later 1780s. The girls were born between the years 1767 to 1774, yet even Emma (the youngest) wrote fond memories about Eastwick.

To see photos of Eastwick, c1904, see the Francis Firth website: Photo 1; Photo 2.
No 2 rather reminds me of Tring Park, Uncle Drummond’s place, before the Rothschilds enlarged it.

new matrimonial ladder_possession

And now for the whisperings of the Earl Stoke sisters and their mother:

1 Nov 1796 (Lady Northampton)
“I am obliged to Miss Black [an artist] for her remembrance . . . ; should you write to her remember me to her. I cannot forget the many pleasant days I have spent with her at Eastwick, & the many chearful mornings in George St [their London home]  She certainly endeavoured to please her pupils.”

18 June 1801 (Mrs Sarah Smith)
“we spent most part of the Mornings in visiting all the neighbourhood & Eastwick rides”

3 July 1801 (Emma Smith)
“As for seeing Eastwick, my Father went & walked all over it, but we did not; having been over it two or three y:rs ago . . . ; I think I told you Mr. Lawrell has bought it — –. The Country is so pretty on every side of it, that I even now almost regret Surrey.”

29 Sept 1802 (Eliza Chute) [translated from French]
“I made an attempt to see Eastwick again, the scene of my childhood, which seemed to me to be the happiest time of my life, but which I did not consider so then, as the view was spread far and wide over the future, which the imagination was pleased to embellish, and to adorn with its most amusing colors: I would have found much pleasure in traversing the rooms which I remember so well, and which at every step I would have recalled different circumstances, but Mrs. Lawrell was not at home, and I was afraid to ask to see the house, fearing that it might seem impertinent: the outside, however, very much interested me, and it was with regret that I went away; Augusta, who was bolder, entered the house. I met Mrs. Lawrel [sic] at Mr. Sumner’s, she told me that she was very angry that I had not done the same; that there were not many changes, but that they had a good deal of reason, and were quite important, and very judicious, as it seems to me. The park must also be enlarged & the manner of entry totally different; on the other hand, it was quite ugly, nothing but a short avenue leading to the house.”

 

 

 

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Putting a Face to a Name

May 2, 2018 at 2:13 pm (diaries, estates, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , )

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to *share* a *find* with Two Teens in the Time of Austen readers! With the amount of material I’ve unearthed over the past ten years, although bits and pieces turn up, a lot of my time lately is taken up with processing what I have. Photography of archival material means that I’ve a backlog of items awaiting transcription.

So a wonderful surprise to find a photograph of someone who plays a small role in the Smith & Gosling history.

Emma’s brother Sir Charles Joshua Smith had two wives. My second diarist (the other being Emma herself) is Mary Gosling, the second Lady Smith. Charles’ first wife (she died in childbirth) was Belinda Colebrooke. She and her younger sister Harriet Colebrooke were the focus of an intense Chancery battle – at one point it even came to blows, at gun-point, on the windswept heath as the sisters approached London in a carriage overtaken by their mother and two hired thugs.

Such actions gave the family pain and heartache, and (of course) made the papers – which is how the likes of historians can learn about so much that took place two hundred years ago.

It is rather a surprised, despite the wealth of the Colebrooke girls, that they were so accepted by “Society”. The crux of the Chancery case concerned which “side of the blanket” they were born on. Thus the odd ages that some materials list for the girls (rounded down to make them younger, and indisputably born after their parents’ marriage). The court case actually pitted family against family (as was so often the case – see for instance Jarndyce v Jarndyce in Dickens’ Bleak House): Belinda’s paternal uncles were on two different sides. Their father, George Colebrooke – son of Sir George and Lady Colebrooke (the half sister of the Smith’s maternal grandmother) – had died months before his father (both in 1809). The baronetcy went to a younger brother, therefore. Legitimate heirs, though, could inherit Mr. George Colebrooke’s fortune; and their mother could claim her share while her children were under-age.

The case went on, in one form or another, for decades. (Even after Charles’ death, in 1830.)

Harriet Colebrooke died in January 1822, after a lengthy illness (heart disease; perhaps consumption). She hadn’t even reached her twentieth birthday. Belinda was inconsolable; their uncle, Henry Colebrooke – who had been overseas, wasn’t even aware of Harriet’s death. He first heard when he landed back in Britain.

A few sentences in a few letters fleshes out Harriet’s life. At one point, she seems to have been attracted to Charles Smith! He seems to have been uninterested. Perhaps he already held out hopes for attracting Belinda – though in the period before her sister’s death, Belinda was already engaged, to a young man of whom the family did not approve. There was more fodder for the courts!

WSumner

William Holme Sumner

It seems, however, that Harriet did have a young man wanting to marry her. A “deeply hidden” sentence in a letter made me take a look at ALL the occurrences (noted in Emma’s meticulously-kept early diaries) of visits by a certain young man named William Sumner.

A Most Frustrating Letter! The important passage, written in light red ink, is crossed against a dark black ink. AND: the paper bleeds through from the other side, giving three handwritings to choose between: strokes of black ink, the shadow of the backside, and the scrawl in red.

IF I read the passage correctly, the sticking point may have been the young man himself: Charles intimates that the “W. Sumner” needed “to make up his mind.” This in a letter, written during Charles’ grand tour, in 1820. William would have been about 22-years-old; Harriet only 16 or 17. Whether Harriet’s illness or the Sumner-heel-dragging intervened, the marriage never took place.

The Sumners – who had purchased (c1770) the estate HATCHLANDS from the widowed Frances Boscawen – were known to Emma’s family. The father, George Sumner, a Member of Parliament, turns up in Smith family letters, and even earlier in diaries of Mrs. Smith and her sister Mrs. Chute. So it was with a bit of _pleasure_ to realize the connection that was developing between the Colebrooke-Sumner children. As more items come to light, I hope to uncover more of their story.

But it’s the photograph of William Sumner (above) that I wanted to mention in this blog post.  Being photography, William would be at least forty years older than the young man who pursued Harriet Colebrooke during the waning years of the Regency.

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