Everyday Fashion in Found Photographs (book)

May 16, 2023 at 1:02 pm (books, entertainment, fashion, history) (, , , , )

Do you shop in “Antique Stores” – and see (sometimes…) tons of “homeless” old photographs?

Do you see old photographs pop on the screen in your eBay searches, even when you searched for something completely different?

Old cartes des visites are TINY. I purchased one of Admiral Sir Michael Seymour (the son, 1802-1887). It measures about 2.5 by 3.75 inches (depending if the backing is included) – about the SIZE of a CREDIT CARD.

So I know what author Lisa Hodgkins has been collecting – and now she shares her collection and superior knowledge of what she sees in these mini portraits with us average readers!

Everyday Fashion in Found Photographs: American Women of the Late Nineteenth Century, is Lisa Hodgkin’s tour de force. It’s new to me so I will reserve a fuller review for later, but I am caught up in the photographs and the written text wherein Hodgkins explains how the American Civil War era affected women’s clothing, even the textiles available (or homemade, when required). I love reading descriptions of known items like “the cage crinoline,” the “Zouave jacket,” and the ubiquitous mourning jewelry. Even when the terms are new to me, the STYLES will be recognized by (if nothing else) the film Gone With the Wind, for instance.

What, you might ask, is a blog about the Regency Era in England doing “gushing” over old photographs from the era of the American Civil War (and beyond)??

“Children!” is my one-word reply.

I recently found a drawing, done circa 1880s, that I believe is Mary Gosling / Lady Smith’s younger daughter, Augusta Cure. Augusta was the wife of the Rev. Lawrence Capel Cure, long-term clergyman for Abbess Roding (appears also as Abbotts Roothing), county Essex. NOW I am obsessed with identifying the sitters in two images of young ladies by the same artist – identified as C.M. Moffatt. I believe I know WHO the sitters were. Of course, those two drawings are LONG sold.

BUT what grabs my attention even more are the photographs of the 1850s and 1860s (a few beyond those dates too) of the parents — Emma Austen Leigh’s siblings — and children (Emma’s nieces and nephews; and the in-laws that came along in those decades).

In reading Hodgkins’ text, and seeing through her eyes the small details of the skirt-shapes or “military”-inspired stripes, I am SEEING these FAMILY photographs, too, with new eyes. Not just searching their faces, but also admiring details of their clothing. Three albums exist (plus loose images), and the albums typically DATE as well as IDENTIFY their sitters. So date is not as important – plus the family sitters are known to me by birth-year, so some can be dated through the presumed age of the sitter.

I also recognized, LONG AFTER, that the Jane Seymour, represented in a plethora of photographs, was NOT the daughter of Maria and John Culme-Seymour, but the same-named niece, daughter of John’s brother William, who had emigrated to Australia. This little Jane Seymour came to her father’s homeland as a child! She lived with Dora and Arthur Currie. The link is to a blog post in which I discuss this annoying mistake. Annoying because, while it is GREAT having a photograph (a number of them), I still do not have a photograph of Jane (Culme) Seymour! The ONLY child of Emma’s siblings I can’t say “I know what she looked like”.

Also annoying is that I FOUND, in a faded photograph, Mary’s two daughters – Mimi (Mary Charlotte) and Augusta Elizabeth, in the 1850s, but – until the drawing surfaced – I wasn’t QUITE sure I knew which sister was which. Although, my gut instinct has pretty much been confirmed. The sister standing is surely Mimi, while the sister seated is the younger sister, Augusta. I blogged about this *FIND* and provide the link to that post. I updated the link to UCLA for that image, but (finally) post it below. Their image is No. 143.

As you can see, it’s faint — but it is a photograph, glued into an album, by the pioneering photographer, Alfred Capel Cure, in 1854. “Fixing” images was problematic in the early days. It is better than no image whatsoever. Now, thanks to Lisa Hodgkins, I wish I could see the clothing and jewelry with the clarity that the two faces (especially Augusta’s) that meet our gaze.

Everyday Fashion in Found Photographs: American Women of the Late Nineteenth Century is a fabulous book, the lessons of which help even someone like me with women who lived “across the pond,” and whose war was the Crimean War instead of the American Civil War. HIGHLY recommended, so matter your interests in 19th century fashion.

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Coronation Day 2023

May 6, 2023 at 8:09 am (a day in the life, diaries, history) (, , )

As the reign of King Charles III begins, with the ceremony of CORONATION winding down, I pause to remind readers that Emma Smith and Mary Gosling, my TWO TEENS in the Time of Austen, attended the ceremony back in 1821. The newly-crowned king then, of course, was George IV.

On Sunday, 11 March 1821, Emma wrote in her diary:

Mary Gosling Augusta, Charlotte Gosling & I went to Portland Chapel – in the afternoon Mamma Augusta Fanny Eliza & I went to Westminster Abbey where (on account of the preparations for the coronation which we saw) service is performed in Henry 7th Chapel Mr Vaughan obtained entrance for us.

On the 14th, she records:

As it was determined we should go to the drawing room we this day chose our dresses

And then:

22 Th   Mr Langham Christie, & Mrs Thompson called here, Uncle & Aunt Northampton Elizabeth Mamma Augusta & I went to court (without hoops) Mrs Bonham Rosabelle, Miss Walfond (& a friend) Miss Devall Belinda, the Goslings, & Mrs Sandoz, Miss Clephane & the little Comptons came to see us dressed we set off between 2 & 3 & were presented to the King between 4 & 5 (all but Eliz:th & Uncle N- who was presented last year)  In returning home we went to see Harriet Colebrooke & Miss Cooke & Elizabeth Gosling came to see us. Aunt was staying in town at Miss Devall’s & came to see us dressed before we went  Mr Colebrooke & Belinda dined here afterwards the Northamptons Eliz:th Mama Augusta & I went to a party at Lord Arrans

It was not until the END of JUNE that Emma comments:

The preparations for the coronation outside the Abbey are very extensive  Mr Vaughan took us in the Abbey where the works are going on briskly & by good luck we saw Westminster Hall

On the 4th of July, she comments about her uncle, Lord Northampton, the Marquis of Northampton:

We heard of the Northampton’s intention of returning from Switzerland (where they had joined Aunt Frances who was living at Berne) in order to be present at the approaching coronation

BUT (she tells us on the 14th), “they returned to England from Berne for the coronation & intend returning abroad as soon as it is over”.

Her diary for Coronation Day:

19 Th   We got up by 12 AM  Mamma Augusta & I set off 1/2 before two with the Goslings to go to the Coronation. The Northamptons set off rather later & Fanny went to the Abbey with Mrs Sandoz & some of the Goslings  Miss Pond (who was in town & to whom Mr Vaughan gave a ticket for the Abbey) went by herself. We first went into the Hall where we saw the procession marshalled. The Queen tried in vain to gain admittance – About eleven we quitted the Hall for the Abbey & returned to the Hall while the ceremony of hommage was performing about [blank]            o’clock – Mrs Gosling & Eliz:th were parted from us on first leaving the hall. returning there Mr Blunt & Bennett joined our party . After the Banquet. Champion &c we went down into the Hall & then waited in the house of Lords for our carriage till near one o’clock —

The whole went off charmingly

George IV (1762-1830) entered Westminster Hall at 10.30 AM on Thursday 19 July 1821, almost half an hour late, to join the assembled court. From here there was a large procession to Westminster Abbey, with George arriving at the West Door at 11.00 AM. The coronation service lasted 5 hours and afterwards the procession led back to Westminster Hall for the last coronation banquet held in England.



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Octavia Cox on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice

April 14, 2023 at 5:35 pm (books, entertainment, history, jane austen) (, , , )

A few days ago I found the Youtube channel of Dr. Octavia Cox. I’m still working through the lectures (in length, they vary from 15-minutes to over 40-minutes), but what a revelation to hear a succinct and well-focused lecture on, for instance, the English Class system as Jane Austen would have recognized it. The first lecture, “What CLASS are the Bingleys? Caroline Bingley and the Gentry – Jane Austen and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE,” delineated well beyond the Bingleys – formerly “in trade” and now, with father Bingley’s hard work, in a position to join the landowning “gentry” – if only Brother would purchase an estate! (Not rent, or “let” as they say in the UK, as he has done with Netherfield.)

Dr. Cox touches on the aristocracy (Lady Catherine, anyone?), the clergy (Mr. Collins, of course!), and the dear Gardiners. A highly interesting section covers Cheapside, financial heart of England.

Dr. Cox’s “Close Reading” encompasses other authors – Brontë and Keats, for instance. ALL THINGS CLASSIC LITERATURE, as the channel is named.

But I will center this post on her Austen offerings. The link attached to the picture (above) will bring you to Dr. Octavia Cox’s Youtube channel’s list of videos. Below are a few of Cox’s Austen lectures that I have either watched or intend to watch soon.

Of course, there are lectures covering Sense and SensibilityMansfield ParkEmma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey, too. Plus – like “Austen’s Wit,” above, some non-novels lectures. These include stories from the Austen juvenilia,  Austen’s free indirect style, and even Jane Austen and “sales & profits.”

The weekend is upon us. Enjoy!

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A writer reading

March 25, 2023 at 2:50 pm (books, diaries, history) (, , , , )

There are times when I wish I could simply sit and read a good book about the Smiths and Goslings! I, more than anyone, knows the tough situation of TOO MUCH INFORMATION (“TMI”). It’s terribly daunting to have archival manuscripts from approximately the 1780s to the 1880s to sift through. And, (of course), there’s the fervent desire to FIND EVEN MORE. But: to cozy up, with book and tea, absorbing information instead of interpreting information…. HEAVEN!

I love reading publications of letters, diaries, anything relating to women’s history, Britain, 18th or 19th century especially. This morning, earlier finding a sunny spot (now it’s rather back to overcast, which can make for very depressing days…), I was reading Jill Liddington‘s newest ANNE LISTER book, As Good as a Marriage: The Anne Lister Diaries 1836-38. The two ladies are rather “bumping along” at this point in the transcription. Maybe Ann Walker would have been happier had Anne Lister moved in with her. A PLACE (yes, something MORE than just a “room”) of one’s own is EXCEPTIONALLY important to some of us. Anne Lister would NEVER have done that, of course. But as I’ve recently had a relative living cheek-to-jowl with me, I can understand that Ann Walker’s “low spirits” – depression, in some form, certainly – could also stem from the fact that she and Anne have not “set up house”, but she (Ann) has moved into the Listers’ home. Nothing is “hers” – everything is “Lister” property, “Lister” layout, “Lister” servants. “Lister” business concerns. But “Walker” money, often — though Ann is magnanimous enough to rip up what seems to be an IOU sort of document.

_I_ wouldn’t have been happy. And (in truth), such situations (my own, and Ann’s in the far past) always make me think of a long-ago co-worker: He moved into his lady-love’s house. Another (male) co-worker commented: Nothing is “his”; it’s all her furniture, placed as she likes it – no ROOM for “his stuff”. It was a while later that they sold “hers” and purchased “theirs”.

Living “together” is tough!

No wonder Anne dreamed of travel, and maybe that is what Ann also dreamed about. Rather than sitting around the house or being confronted with and consumed by land business, Ann preferred seeing new places, meeting new people! I can’t help but wonder: Maybe Ann just wanted a bit of “company” so as not to be ALONE. She indicates, more than once, that her aunt (Ann Walker, senior), was the one not wishing to have Ann as a “companion” in her home – but Aunt Ann Walker then went through “companions”. There IS something to be said for the CHOICE to ask someone to stay; or ask them to depart.

Devastating to read Anne’s comment that the Shibden servants don’t like Ann. How I feel for Miss Walker! Rather an unwelcome “stranger” in what purports to be her “own” home. Wish there were more from her pen during these months of 1836. It cannot be discounted that in moments (or days) of “being low” Ann Walker was indicating her own need to be given a bit of SPACE.

I must admit, I often “root” for “The Other” over and again. Cassandra Austen, lost in the fame of her sister Jane Austen. Dorothy Wordsworth, seen by some as the lesser light of her brother William Wordsworth. I know there’s someone I’m forgetting… Ah, yes! Emily Dickinson‘s sister – Lavinia Dickinson; and I’ll even include their sister-in-law Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson. From the TV series, Gentleman Jack, I would also include Marian Lister. LOVE HER! (Especially the more she annoys her sister Anne. And swipes are even detectable in AL’s diary entries once Marian leaves Shibden.) Of course these women are typically pushed aside because of a lack of primary materials. (Though Dorothy Wordsworth is beloved BECAUSE of her journals and letters.)

For Ann Walker, thank goodness for websites like IN SEARCH OF ANN WALKER (“ISAW”). The link here will bring you to a Comparison of the DIARIES for Ann Walker and Anne Lister, covering the time between the 4 June 1834 and the 19 February 1835. “ISAW – is a collective of researchers, transcribers, administrators and writers whose mission is to tell the full and true story of the REAL Ann Walker.” Check out ISAW’s Ann Walker “booklet” – 37 pages in a PDF (2022).

Reading Liddington’s new book, I am of two minds about comments whereby Anne Lister is “correcting” or “adding” punctuation to Ann Walker’s letter to her sister [25 May 1836], which is noted in code, or otherwise reading Ann’s letter to her sister [1 June 1836]. Was Anne Lister intruding upon Ann Walker’s privacy in her own correspondence, or did Ann invite Anne, who then (maybe) added her sentiments to Elizabeth Sutherland. In my own research, there were people who considered their letters to be PRIVATE (even if an individual letter didn’t exactly “say much”). NOT to be shown to others, NOT to be read out at the breakfast table. Others might indicate a truly PRIVATE passage by writing such before continuing the letter. A hint to SKIP over this section, or pause to read it to oneself first. (Lest someone mentioned be listening!)

Mary Gosling (Lady Smith) is one of these strictly PRIVATE people. Her letters are rarely earth-shattering, although her youthful letters are more characterful. In later letters, where the “heir” of Suttons – her son Charles – is a topic of conversation more often than not [think about it: her four-year-old child inherited their home], Mary is constantly apologizing for things, second-guessing herself, and seeking the advice of (especially) Mamma.

Whereas the Six Smith Sisters cheerfully passed around their letters, written to one, sent on to the next – often with greetings attached from that “interim” recipient, and sent on to yet another sibling.

I don’t know enough about Ann Walker’s correspondence to place, in context, the diary entries whereby Anne knows the contents of Ann’s letters, but you can bet Ann is NOT reading Anne’s letters to the likes of Mariana Lawton!

And what does Ann think when Anne is scribbling away in those diaries? _I_ couldn’t write if someone nearby knew I was sitting down to scribble my thoughts. Nor could I stand knowing that someone in my household was scribbling about ME.

By the way, Leila Straub has contributed to ISAW a fascinating look at the handwriting of Ann Walker, and the resultant letters.

For me, Anne Lister (and Ann Walker) come alive in moments like this, noted 29 May 1836. Says Anne’s diary:

“Mr. Wilkinson … preached 28 min[utes] … I was asleep almost all the while…”

Not many would confess such! Needless to say, the 29th was a SUNDAY.

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Emily Shore in Manuscript

March 8, 2023 at 7:28 pm (books, diaries, history, news, people) (, , , , , , )

A reader recently alerted me to news of the 2022 New York Antiquarian Book Fair having shown TWO manuscript volumes of the Journal of young Emily Shore  Born in 1819, Emily died of consumption in 1839. The Shores were related to the Mackworth Praeds, which family included Susannah Smith, herself a diarist, and the politician and poet Winthrop Mackworth Praed. “Sue” Smith (as I call her) was the wife of Thomas Smith of New Norfolk Street, London and Bersted Lodge (in Sussex), and the great aunt of Emma Smith / Emma Austen Leigh (one of my Two Teens). The bookseller had, back in April 2022, called the re-emerged journals their “star item” at the Fair. INDEED!

Emily Shore’s journals were published by her sisters, twice, in the 19th century. The 1891 edition and 1898 edition differ, especially in the inclusion of family images (Emily was an accomplished artist). The newest edition came out in 1991, edited by Barbara Timm Gates.

Published to celebrate the centenary of its first publication, Timm Gates’ introduction speaks to her search for the ORIGINAL Handwritten Manuscripts. One of Emily’s sisters had actually willed the manuscripts to the British Museum. Says Timm Gates, “My jubilant friend writes, ‘Arabella Shore died 9 Jan. 1901 and left a will dated 5 Aug. 1899 with a codicil including these welcome words, “I bequeath the manuscripts and drawings of my sisters Emily and Louisa Shore to the Trustees of the British Museum to be preserved in the department of manuscripts”.'”

Alas! The British Museum had no record of the bequest. Dead End!

Of course, the loss of Emily’s materials is compounded, in my mind, by the loss of sister Louisa’s material as well.

Timm Gates had little choice but to republish the material as presented in the 19th century – but she also found, as her book went to press, that original volumes did EXIST. In the collection of the University of Delaware, (the link is their Finding Aid), are THREE manuscript Volumes. Out of twelve volumes, Delaware holds Nos. 7, 10, and 12: VII (6 Oct 1836-10 Apr 1837); X (14 Apr 1838-5 Jul 1838); and XII (16 Dec 1838-1 Jul 1839). Emily died six days later, on July 7th.

The University of Virginia, publisher of Timm Gates’ edition of the journals, now has updated their website offering to include free OPEN ACCESS to the Journal of Emily Shore. They also provide an up-dated transcription of two of the three Delaware volumes (Nos. 7 and 12); a “combined edition,” which incorporates the manuscripts of Nos. 7 & 12, as well as the “Centenary Edition” complete; some illustrations from the manuscripts are also included.

The most thrilling to see, as an owner of the 1991 book edition (thanks to a gift) are the new transcriptions. Which, now that two more volumes have appeared, begs the questions: Where have the “new found” volumes gone to? and Will Virginia be able to transcribe them (and the Delaware vol. 10)? The University of Delaware has a lengthy biographical offering for those who have not yet discovered Emily Shore.

Jarndyce Books, the UK bookseller at the NY Antiquarian Book Fair in April of 2022, had up-for-sale volume 1 (5 Jul 1831-31 Dec 1832) and volume 2 (1 Jan 1833-7 May 1833). “Entirely written in Shore’s distinctive small, neat, and easily readable hand, these volumes are a remarkable rediscovery more than thirty years after the only other known surviving volumes were sold. …. [H]er wit and intelligence – even in these early volumes – shines through each page.”

BUT the diary is not the sole item to have resurfaced. Part of a Shore novel came up for sale at Bonhams in 2004. Delaware has it in its collection! The manuscript, purchased in 2008, presents chapters 10 to 22 of Emily Shore’s novel “Devereux.”

Of course, one wonders why the University of Delaware didn’t purchase the two volumes (to join their three volumes) – was it the cost? Asking price at the book fair was advertised as $85,000.

So where, oh where, have Emily Shore’s Journals vols 1 & 2 gone?

* * *

In pulling up LINKS for this article, I found a reader who has posted YouTube videos connected to the Journal of Emily Shore:

Happy International Women’s Day (March 8th) and welcome to Women’s History MONTH!

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Illustrating Mamma’s Diary, 1805 (part 3)

March 1, 2023 at 8:00 pm (diaries, estates, history, people, portraits and paintings, research, smiths of stratford) (, , , )

One of the most difficult parts of researching the family of Emma Austen is the fact that Emma’s parents were BOTH named “Smith”. Hard to winnow out relations and non-relations, with so common an English name as SMITH.

Mrs. Charles Smith – Augusta Smith, senior – “Mamma”. She has, from the beginning, been easy to track, because her father, Joshua Smith, was a Member of Parliament (for Devizes) and a landowner. The estate itself causes problems. Spelled Erle Stoke Park; Erlestoke Park; as well as Earl Stoke Park. Alas, the estate exists, and yet doesn’t. The fabric of the building sustained a fire. The estate is now known as HMP – His Majesty’s Prison – Earlstoke (Wiltshire).

Mr. Charles Smith of Suttons – “Papa”. He had one living sister. The Smith of Suttons children called her “Aunt”. This simple appellation has caused others to mistake her for one of several other aunts. But Aunt Northampton, Aunt Chute, Aunt Emma (all are Mamma’s sisters) are accounted for. It is JUDITH SMITH who is forever and always called, simply “Aunt“.

And it is Aunt, who, by 1805, had a quartet of three nieces and a nephew: Augusta (junior), Charles Joshua, Emma, and Fanny, all of whom visited the Smiths at Stratford, Essex. Judith’s mother was still alive, and the two lived together. Mamma sometimes denotes them as “Old Mrs. Smith” and “Miss Smith,” and they are usually noted together. Aunt remained a “Maiden Aunt” all her life. Judith was born in 1754 and was two years older than her brother, who was significantly older than his (second) wife. Augusta, senior had been born in 1772, and was 26 years old at the time of her 1798 marriage; Charles would turn 44 in September of that year. He welcomed his first child – Augusta, junior – in February 1799.

Mamma – who was super close to her own sisters, Maria (born 1767) [Lady Northampton]; Eliza (born 1769) [Mrs. Chute of The Vyne]; and Emma (born 1774) – took a while to cozy up to her sister-in-law.

But Judith had relatives of her own, more SMITHS, of course!

One family, mentioned in Augusta Smith’s 1805 diary, is the Smiths of Malling. Always denoted by the designation “of Malling,” their matriarch is a third portrait in artist John Downman’s albums, “First Sketches of Portraits of distinguished persons,” held at the British Museum. You can see them online, digitally presented. The “Study for Mrs. Smith of West Malling, Kent, 1805” can also be viewed on the BM website.

Mrs. Smith of Malling presents an interesting case of a young woman, eventually the sole heir of her parents, who seemingly married “for love”. Her full inheritance came through the death of her brother. The Monument Inscription in Meopham gives the unfortunate particulars:

Hither soon followed them
their son WILLIAM, the heir of their fortunes
and their virtues; a fair inheritance:
but alas of their mortality too.
which lot befel him at the early age of 28
April the 12th 1761
‘He died of the small pox
unhappily procured by

Known as “the heiress of Camer,” Katherine (or Catherine) MASTERS married William SMITH of Croydon. Through her came her father’s estate of Camer.

And with her came a slot in the family vault for her husband.

As Downman noted, Mrs. Smith of West Mallling was a widow with numerous children. Her husband died in 1764, aged only 44. He (and his family) are buried at Meopham (in Kent). I have found two sons and two daughters of the reported six children (three of each sex), “all in their infancy,” who remained at the time of their father’s death.

  • Rebecca: born 1750, she died in 1802. Mamma mentioned her death in her diary – it was Rebecca’s obituary that enabled me to find more information on the family as a whole. Her obituary says she died after a lengthy illness (which could indicate cancer);
  • Catherine: born 1752, she died in 1777;
  • George [of Camer]: born 1757; he died in 1831;
  • William [of Fairy Hall, Kent]: born 1759; he died in 1830.

William Smith (senior) was related to Charles Smith’s father – Charles Smith of Stratford (Essex), who wrote on the Corn Laws (he died in 1777). His widow, “Old” Mrs. Smith of Stratford, lived until 1808. From Augusta Smith’s diaries, including this one of 1805, “Aunt” (Judith Smith) often visited the Smiths of Malling, and she must have lost a good friend in “Miss Smith of Malling” (Rebecca), when she died.

A 1940 article by Edward Croft Murray from The British Museum Quarterly (vol. 14, no. 3; pp. 60-66) describes these Downmen albums – and gives their background history.  The albums, “not sketch-books in the strict sense of the word,” are where “the artist mounted his delicately drawn ‘First Studies’ … with their dates, the names of the sitters, and usually some comments on them, all in his [Downman’s] own handwriting.” Anyone looking at the BM images can see the truth of that statement, but it is mind-blowing to learn:

  • “These albums were originally arranged by Downman in four series, more or less in chronological sequence, each series containing four to eight volumes, and each volume between about twenty-five and thirty-five drawings“;
  • Series i is said to have been sold previously [before 1825-1827] and the original eight volumes belonging to it dispersed, some of them having been broken up and their contents scattered even further among various collections”;
  • “Vols 1 and 3 of this Series [Series i] however, are still intact, and were sold .. at Sotheby’s on 15 February 1922,  passing eventually to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, in 1938″.

The Fitzwilliam provides a physical description of an album in their collection as, “Red leather coverboards with gold tooling. Green end papers and boards. 61 sheets in total including 26 protection papers [these are usually “tissue-like], bound in. Pages are gold edged. Contained 30 drawings, each laid onto the recto of a folio sheet.”

Downman himself said the albums denoted his “pleasant Employment of many Years; and in this assemblage of Portraits, you will see how different Fashions change ….” He admitted that he had “no Idea of a Collection ’till I found insensibly the Accumulation.” Indeed! Can you imagine the ENTIRE collection as he and his daughter Isabella Chloe (later Mrs. Benjamin) knew it???

Ah, the “lost” portraits! I second the author’s wish for a publication of ALL extant drawings.

Further information, related to the Quarterly article:

By the way, the Sir Robert Cunliffe of Acton Hall, Wrexham, mentioned in the articles, was a relation to Mary Gosling – with Emma my “Two Teens in the Time of Austen” – through her maternal grandfather, Sir Ellis Cunliffe.

For the woman born Katherine Manners, Mrs Smith of West Malling: her heirs “founded” the familial line of “Smith Masters” and “Masters”. Downman painted in 1805, and Katherine Masters Smith died on 6 February 1814, aged 86 – meaning she had been born circa 1728. No wonder Mamma Smith thought of her as “Old Mrs. Smith of Malling.”

The family who outlived Katherine called her “their excellent mother.” Downman, a West Malling neighbor, must have agreed with that assessment. He wrote below her portrait that she “well managed” her family.

* * *

Part 1 of the series Illustrating Mamma’s Diary, 1805

Part 2 of the series Illustrating Mamma’s Diary, 1805

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Illustrating Mamma’s Diary, 1805 (part 2)

February 11, 2023 at 5:49 pm (history, jane austen, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , )

Since I was a bit long-winded yesterday, I now continue with the Smith portraits by John Downman (1749-1824), digitized at The British Museum. For Part 1, click link and read how & why I was looking through these images.

In 1805, Mamma Smith (Augusta Smith, senior) was a young bride (married 1798), with four children. Her fifth – Spencer, would be born in March of the next year. Few letters exist, but Mamma’s diary for that year DOES exist. I love her diaries; she always summed up the year (personal as well as “public” news) at the end of the volume – and sometimes one learned what she did NOT write in the journal area. For instance, at the summation of 1805 we learn that Mrs. Smith miscarried in March. When noted within the journal, she would always express such delicate thoughts in French. The “fausse couche” is found, noted on 17 March, a Sunday.

March is filled – since everyone was, as always, in London – with Card Parties and Concerts. Her parents are both alive and active. The children are in good health. Her very good friends, Mrs. Gosling, neighbor next door at No. 5 Portland Place, and Mrs. G’s sister Mrs. Drummond Smith (technically Mamma’s Aunt), are both in their graves – December 1803 and February 1804, respectively. These were daughters of Lady Cunliffe. Widower William Gosling (with his own clutch of little children) is found as a frequent visitor – or host of small dinners. Mr. Charles Smith (her husband) is the one she shows attending just such a dinner and a concert at the END of MARCH. She must therefore be convalescing. On the 29th a new milestone is mentioned: The Smiths marked being married seven years, “very happy ones”.

The evening before, Mr. Smith attended an Assembly hosted by his Aunt by marriage. The widowed Lady Burges went by SEVERAL names in her lifetime. Her birth-name was Margaret Burges (daughter and heiress of Ynyr Burges). When she married Augusta senior’s uncle John, she became yet another “Mrs. Smith” (has to be one of the hardest names to trace correctly, or even differentiate within such a vast family – with, it must be said, SMITHS on both sides!). The couple had married in 1771. In June 1790, by Royal License, they took the name Smith-Burges. In May 1793, with a baronetcy, they were now styled Sir John and Lady Smith-Burges. The family, however, seem to have often referred to her as “Lady Burges“, especially after Sir John’s death in 1803.

Margaret, born in 1744, was ten years younger than her husband. With little information to go on, there is too little to speculate whether she was looking for a second husband, or if one simply appeared. In July 1816 she married John 4th Earl Poulett.

Whew! so many names for the SAME woman!

Lord Poulett was a dozen years younger, but even he soon (1819) left her a widow. Poulett’s first countess left him his heirs; he and Margaret had no children – nor did she have any with John Smith.

In Downman’s albums, volumes entitled “First Sketches of Portraits of distinguished persons,” there is one portrait denoted “Study for a portrait of Mrs Smith, 1787“.

As usual, the “Mrs. Smith” would be tough to identify any given sitter. There were too many, related and unrelated to each other.

But it is Margaret Smith-Burges’ last appellation – by which she went for nearly another twenty years (she died in 1838) – that catches my eye and and fires my imagination.

I swear, there are times that the handwritten name, in Smith-related letters or diaries, often LOOKS “Paulet”. Trouble is, this was a familial name – of Lord Bolton’s family, and often spelled POWLETT. For instance, Thomas Orde-Powlett, 1st Baron Bolton – mixed up with the Dukes of Bolton (and even Jane Austen’s Hampshire family), but I leave you to “google” the family. I’ve not looked very hard, but I do not believe any “Mrs. Smith” held the title “Lady Paulet”.

The “Lady Paulet”, in association with the name Mrs. Smith — not, as the Curator Notes seem to posit, a “re-attribution,” but a true secondary attribution, to my eyes, leads me to believe I’ve the answer to THIS sitter’s identify.

The pencil, although it mistakes “a” for “o” and omits one “t,” misspells POULETT, giving, after 1816, Mrs. Smith’s last appellation. I believe BM’s sitter to be Mrs John Smith, AKA Margaret Smith-Burges.

Click the photo to be taken to the full portrait at The British Museum. But compare the face and profile to this profile (c1786):

And this face – an 1805 etching:

Both can be found on the Two Teens in the Time of Austen’s page, PORTRAITS & PEDIGREES.

I don’t think I’m wrong.

Do you ????

(I’d welcome thoughts on both sides of the argument.)

The artist of the etching – at the National Portrait Gallery, London – is Robert Cooper; the work’s artist is “unknown”. Given that Downman’s sketch is profile, it’s unlikely he would have produced a full-face official portrait. So it’s doubtful he produced the original image that the etcher etched. But, I will keep my eyes open.

She can also be seen, at NPG, in a lengthy (literally, it’s over 84-inches long) picture, “The installation-supper as given at the Pantheon, by the Knights of the Bath on the 26th of May 1788.” It’s difficult to identify what she LOOKS like (small image), but the NPG website makes it possible to pop up a little box around her — she appears towards the right end, back to the audience, with a plump bum (blame it on the clothes), dressed in pink with white. The thin stick of a man beside her is ID’ed as Earl Poulett. Which, the more I think about it, probably means the Countess depicted is his first rather than his second wife…. Sophia Pocock married John Poulett in 1782; she died in 1811. Hmmm…., should drop a note to NPG’s website, marking the mis-attribution. The cartoon is by James Gillray.

Of course, in 1788, Margaret’s name was merely “Mrs. Smith,” and not the Countess Poulett.

Goodness! I’ve chatted on – and still have a lengthy discourse to share on my other “Mrs. Smith” *find*. I will make a Part 3…

* * *

Part 1 of the series Illustrating Mamma’s Diary, 1805

Part 3 of the series Illustrating Mamma’s Diary 1805


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Illustrating Mamma’s Diary, 1805

February 10, 2023 at 10:21 am (history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , )

After posting news of the portrait of Percy Currie (née Gore) [see “New Portrait: Percy Gore (1794)“], Douglas contacted me and we’ve had a wonderful verbal exchange over portraits of Percy the Mother (Mrs. Currie, in Smith family letters and diaries) and Percy the Daughter, Percy-Gore Currie, (later, the wife of Bishop Horatio Powys).

Percy Gore Currie (by Russell 1794)

Yesterday, Douglas sent me back to the Collections website at the British Museum. He had found a portrait image of Percy’s husband William Currie, 1796 (died, 1829).

See the other two Curries in the same album:

The artist is John Downman – whose distinctive style is immediately recognized in these swiftly-composed and lightly-colored portraits. There are THREE CURRIES in these albums. But I must say, originally I presumed the Curries had owned an album of drawings by Downman of their family members., which now was to be found in the collections of the British Museum. Indeed, no! The albums (multiple volumes) were Downman’s OWN ALBUMS of preliminary sketches of (as he evidently named them) “First Sketches of Portraits of distinguished persons.” THAT fact changed the way I thought about the works. AND it made me look more closely at the information the British Museum included with each of them.

A few notes about the Downman drawings and the Curator Comments.

William and Percy married in 1794. So her portrait’s identification must have been put in retrospectively (there are further lines, in different hands, but I mean the original pen identification) – it identifies her as “their Sister-in-law” and calls her Mrs. Currie.

(What can “THEIR” mean when one portrait is Percy’s sister-in-law but the other is Percy’s husband? Were there – are there – more family portraits??)

Also, the Curator Notes assume “Miss Currie” to be Elizabeth (born 1774). The Notes are correct in saying there were FIVE Currie daughters, but the title MISS Currie would only have gone to the ELDEST (unmarried) daughter. That honor belongs to Magdalen Currie, who never married. She appears in Emma Smith’s diaries and in family letters as “Miss Currie,” whom the Smiths of Suttons visited often. Brother William (the eldest son) was born in 1756; their parents Magdalen Lefevre and William Currie [died 1781] had married in 1753. Magdalen the daughter, their oldest child, was born September 1754. She retained throughout her life the title of “Miss Currie”.

[Note: alternate spelling: Madaleine, though was it used by the Lefevre or Currie family?]

Further  thoughts dawned as I looked more closely at the Trio of Portraits: Percy’s drawing is dated EARLIEST. 1791 versus 1796 for the Currie siblings. Undoubtedly, she (or her family) found Downman first, and others followed her lead. It is always illustrative, when one member (or, in this case, potential member) of a family has their portrait painted, taken, or photographed: WHAT OTHER family then did the same?? is always my first thought. Silvy, the photographer, is one whose studio books illustrate several members of the greater Smith & Gosling family. Edouart, the silhouettist, produced a lengthy list of silhouettes – but his own studio albums for the period were lost. Where HAVE the originals gone? You can peruse the list yourself by looking at “Where are these items?

So who else might have used the services of John Downman??

Once I realized that, I had incentive to seek more of his sitters. No Goslings (boo!), and no Smiths of Suttons family (boo, too!), but SMITH did pull up a couple of interesting images!

This preamble has grown to such a length that I will make a Part 2 of this post. In the meantime, I will leave you with Williamson’s book on JOHN DOWNMAN – which sets out his sitters, including the three Curries (page 135).

* * *

Part 2 of the series Illustrating Mamma’s Diary, 1805

Part 3 of the series Illustrating Mamma’s Diary, 1805

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Face of a Neighbor

January 16, 2023 at 12:19 pm (estates, fashion, history, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , )

Inevitably, whenever _I_ find something up for sale, the sale is LONG past.

Same applies for this portrait of Joanna (Miss Cure). By the time the painting was done, circa 1850, she would have been Mrs. Philips of Heath House, Staffordshire. (She married in 1826.)

The original auction took place in April 2022, at Mellors & Kirk (see the catalogue, which currently still has pictures of the items).

A secondary sale of the portrait has also taken place (with a subsequent “hike” in price).

Emma’s diaries include visits to and from “the Miss Cures” –  Joanna Freeman and Mary Caroline, the two daughters of the Capel Cure who died in 1820. Visits took place both in London and at the Cures’ home estate in Essex, Blake Hall, a “neighbor” to the Smiths’ Essex estate of Suttons. Children of their brother Capel Cure (who died in 1878) married children of Mary and Charles Joshua Smith in the mid-19th century: Augusta Smith married Lawrence Capel Cure; her brother Sir Charles Cunliffe Smith (baronet) married Agnes Capel Cure.

One problem with the portrait, the plaque of which identifies the sitter as “Joanna Capel-Cure, 1797-1858” (which ARE the dates for Mrs. Philips), is the youth of sitter in a portrait purportedly painted in 1850. The only two “Joannas” in the family tree at this time were the sister, Joanna Freeman Cure (Mrs. Philips) and mother Joanna, born Coape (her sister Frances married William Smith MP) [the Smiths’ daughter Frances married into the Nightingale family].

Joanna Freeman Cure would have been 53-years-old in 1850. This youthful girl, with a come-hither gaze, displays no whiff of middle-aged Victorian matron.

Capel and Frederica Cure had four daughters:

  • Frederica Mary, who died in 1835, aged 10;
  • Rosamond Harriet, the surviving eldest sister (born 1831) [same Silvy portrait at Paul Frecker]
  • Emmeline, who died, aged 19, in 1854 (born in 1835)
  • Agnes Frederica, the youngest sister (born in 1836).

It’s hard not to wonder if the plaque wasn’t added, erroneously, at a later date. IF it were originally identified as “Miss Capel Cure” – that could point to Rosamond. Yet photographs of her, taken by her brother Alfred in the 1850s, shows a broader chin, a heavier face.

It is possible that Mrs. Philips acquired a portrait of her deceased niece, Emmeline. There also exists a later Cure-Philips intermarriage: ROBERT Capel Cure’s son Ernest married John Capel Philips’ daughter Frances Margaret.

Thank goodness for HEATH HOUSE!

Back in 2009 the estate was up for sale. Ruth Watson visited, as part of her show Country House Rescue. This Heath House episode is online. Forward to 2023 and the estate has sold – thus the 2022 auction of items! The TV show offers an interesting look at two generations – one only too happy to be rid of their “white elephant.” Viewer comments are enlightening. And the video – showing a magnificent house and grounds (if run-down) – is priceless for filling in with a true portrait of Mrs. Philips née Joanna Cure.

At the VERY least, here is the face of Emma Austen’s neighbor, an intimate of Emma’s youth in Essex and London. As the woman behind the building of Heath House (and probably behind much of the furnishings that came via their grand tour while the house was being built in the later 1830s), the portraits of Joanna and her husband John Burton Philips were prominently hung – you will spot them several times if you view the video. Are they still owned by the Philips family? And who is the sitter of the portrait at the head of this blog post?? WHERE does “she” live now? I would love to hear more…

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New Portrait: Percy Gore (1794)

December 4, 2022 at 10:55 pm (history, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , )

Emma writes much of her Currie cousin, little Percy-Gore Currie. Sister Fanny Smith stayed at East Horsley with the William Curries during part of the long illness of patriarch Charles Smith in 1814.

So today it was thrilling to see an image of Mrs. William Currie, (née Gore), people with whom Fanny passed several weeks, not knowing (she was only 10 years old), that she had seen the last of her dear father.

An early letter, written in October 1813 from Horsley was a JOINT letter, semt to Fanny by Papa as well as Mamma. While all the siblings kept various letters of Mamma, few letters survive from Papa Smith. The few that do, written to his children, present a doting, loving father. Unfortunately, he never met nor saw his youngest child, Maria — born days after his death.

In October, 1813, Papa tells Fanny that the countryside around East Horsley (Surrey), the Curries estate, is “delightful” and that Mamma is particularly drawn to it, having spent “the early part of her life” hereabouts. He equates the age of Mamma then as being about the age of Fanny now. So a young girl indeed. Mamma was born, the third daughter of her parents (Joshua and Sarah Smith, of Erlestoke Park, Devizes) in 1772. So the time would be around 1782, a good twelve years before Miss Gore joined the family.

Since Mamma’s 1814 letter to Fanny asks her to give “My love to Mrs. Currie,” it is probable that Mrs. Currie received an additional letter (not located, alas!) telling her of Mr. Smith’s death – and asking her to break the news to Fanny.

Percy, Mrs. Currie, would have been twenty years older than the powdered, willowy woman we see. But the face is kindly, and quietly reassuring. Fanny would have had as playmate Percy’s daughter, Percy-Gore, about two years younger than Fanny.

The portrait, by John Russell, is described in its 2015 auction offering, as “pastel with touches of gouache on paper; 35 11/16 x 27 3/4 inch). You can read the description for yourself at Bonhams.

Neil Jeffares’ “Pastellists before 1800” has a short write-up; it seems to intimate that the portrait did not sell in 2015 and was relisted the following year (at a lower estimate), when it evidently sold.

I cannot say ENOUGH about how seeing people from my research project spurs me on to dig deeper. I began – and this was how I found Percy Currie – in looking for information on her daughter Percy-Gore, for I found that she married into a family whose eldest siblings were greatly admired for their musical talents by eldest sibling Augusta Smith. Now I have the task to look up BOTH Mother and Daughter, and to see what the letters and diaries of the Smiths have to say about the Curries. Of interest, too, of course, is finding more about East Horsley, especially as Mamma Smith once knew it so well.


The British Museum has put up an image of a “Mrs. Currie” by Downman (dated 1791, which would be three years before her marriage), makes me wonder: IS the sitter Percy Gore?

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