Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister

July 17, 2017 at 11:05 pm (books, history, jane austen, jasna) (, , , , )

I just ordered a book I’ve waited several months for its publication (see what it is), and tonight I find another that “I can’t wait to read!”

Fanny Palmer Austen

We all will have to wait until OCTOBER – by which time it will be JASNA AGM time for those going to Huntington Beach, CA.

Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister: The Life and Letters of Fanny Palmer Austen, by Sheila Johnson Kindred is EXACTLY what I love to read – Fanny, the wife of Charles Austen (Jane’s youngest brother), was a “naval wife”. Letters exist which give voice to Fanny’s experiences in Bermuda, Nova Scotia, and (of course) England.

“Fanny’s articulate and informative letters – transcribed in full for the first time and situated in their meticulously researched historical context – disclose her quest for personal identity and autonomy, her maturation as a wife and mother, and the domestic, cultural, and social milieu she inhabited.”

“Enhanced by rarely seen illustrations, Fanny’s life story is a rich new source for Jane Austen scholars and fans of her fiction, as well as for those interested in biography, women’s letters, and history of the family.”

Hazel Jones (Jane Austen & Marriage) calls Fanny Palmer Austen an “unsung heroine” and she finds Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister “the first extensive study to focus on a man’s naval career from a woman’s perspective.”

To whet your appetite, sample some of Fanny’s letters in Deborah Kaplan’s book Jane Austen Among Women.

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Eton Schoolboy writes home

July 4, 2017 at 11:40 am (goslings and sharpe, history, people, research) (, , , )

Today may be the 4th of July, 2017 – but I have spent time at ETON in the early 1800s, reading letters home to Mamma. The writer is young RICHARD GOSLING, a cousin to my diarist Mary Gosling (aka Lady Smith). He was the younger son of Francis Gosling, the son of Sir Francis Gosling, knight.

One of the most puzzling things about this group of letters is a postscript written by Richard’s mother, Barbara Gosling née Baker.

Truthfully, I thought the archive must have mis-identified the writer. The hand is so “unformed”, so “elderly”. I thought for sure it must be Grandmamma!

BUT: Mary’s grandmother, who lived until 1809, wasn’t Richard’s grandmother…. And Richard’s granmother died in 1806.

Why “puzzling”, you might ask.

Because other ladies of this generation had the loveliest penmanship! Mary’s mother, for instance, had a flowing, easily-read hand. In comparison, Barbara’s hand looks “unschooled”. Reminded me a LOT of the penmanship of Sarah Smith, Emma Austen’s maternal grandmother.

And therein lies the puzzle. To know more of Barbara’s background and education, to assess how she and Francis came to know one another and marry may be something I never learn. Gosling items are thinner on the ground than Smith items.

Francis and Barbara Gosling married MUCH earlier than William and Eliza Gosling (my Mary’s parents). Francis and Barbara in 1777; William and Eliza nearly twenty years later in 1793.

baker-gosling marriage 1777 GM3 March 1777, Gentleman’s Magazine

So Barbara has a London address; Francis’ lists not his abode so much as the banking firm’s address – Fleet Street. But the family is often identified as “of Fleet Street” bcause of the family firm.

I sometimes refer to Richard’s father Francis (though being a ‘knight’ Sir Francis’ title did not devolve to his son) as Francis II. Richard’s brother therefore becomes Francis III. Thank Goodness for a name like Richard – instead of the trail of Francises and Roberts in this portion of the Gosling family tree. No guesswork required, in deciphering who was the letter recipient.

Richard was far enough down the chain of children to be of an age with the Gosling sons:

Gosling, Richard, s. Francis, of Twickenham, Middlesex, arm. Christ Church, matric. 27 Oct., 1814, aged 19; B.A. 1818, M.A. 1822, of Ashford Place, Middlesex, and of London, banker. See Etott School Lists. [10]

Mary’s brother William Ellis Gosling arrived, aged 17, at Brasenose College, Oxford in 1812. Her brother Robert, aged 18, arrived at Christ Church in January 1814. Richard, aged 19, arrived in November 1814. Bennett, aged 18, followed in March 1815. These last two were also at Christ Church, like Robert. The family visited William and Robert in college in the summer of 1814. Mary left a diary of this trip.

To get back to Barbara for a moment, with several “Mrs Goslings” listed among the output of certain painters, I long ago hunted down a photograph of a Mrs Gosling that is believed to be Barbara; the portrait is by Reynolds:

Gosling_Mrs by Reynolds

I thinkI went on the hunt for this portrait in order to clear up how a sitter’s ARMS are described – to an onlooker, Barbara’s arm could be described as the left arm; but a portrait would be discussed as if the viewer WERE the sitter: “right arm across the body“. Most do not give a first name, or ID the woman as “wife of …. Gosling”.

As you might guess, there are multiple “Mrs Goslings” done by the regarded portraitists of the day.

* * *

A bit of housekeeping: WordPress has obviously had an upgrade, which interrupted the “facebook” connection – and it won’t reconnect. After the run-around I went thru with AirBnB over the weekend – I am in NO MOOD. Will just say: why don’t websites TEST before they launch. And it’s not just websites – have had problems with Windows 10 AND with Office 365 for the iPad. Am utterly TIRED of being told they’re “ironing out bugs”. Do it BEFORE it impacts your customers!
(Rant over.)

 

 

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Goslings’ Bank Ledgers

June 22, 2017 at 8:13 pm (books, goslings and sharpe, history, jane austen, news) (, , )

Notice of a mid-May blog post by Barclays, the bank which (after an 1896 amalgamation with Goslings & Sharpe and several other banks) today is still doing business at the Fleet Street, London, premises of the family banking firm GOSLINGS & SHARPE. In Mary Gosling’s lifetime the partners included her brothers and father.

I’ve long known of the firm’s archives – quite intact after more than 200 years; Linda Slothouber, in researching her book Jane Austen, Edward Knight & Chawton: Commerce and Community, found that the Goslings’ ledgers included Edward Austen Knight‘s accounts.

JA-EAK-Chawton

It was QUITE heartwarming to learn, since I’ve never visited the bank’s archives myself, that my suggestion to Linda resulted in a good exchange after she contacted Barclays. Their archives is one of the places on my “little list” that I’ll get to some day. But, as the bank isn’t my main concern, books like Linda’s help fill in some blanks.

It’s also WONDERFUL to find a history like this dissertation by Gareth David Turner, “English Banking in the 18th Century: Bankers, Merchants and the Creation of the English Financial System.”

I’ll remind readers of a couple of old “finds” :

TODAY’s “find” is an on-going project, concerning the ledgers of Goslings & Sharpe: LEGENDS IN THE LEDGERS is Barclays’ blog post about their project. The post also has the best representation of the old business sign “the 3 Squirrels”:

sign_threesquirrels

Which THIS is not – click to their blog to see a full-color close-up.

The emblem exists even on firm checks.

The family diaries and letters seldom mention the firm – although Emma’s great aunt Mrs Thomas Smith had several meetings with William Ellis Gosling (Mary’s eldest brother) over her finances. Banking back then wasn’t just standing behind the counter, greeting customers!

One of the stories mentioned in the Barclays blog is the Great Beer Flood of 1814 (yes, you read that right…). “Millions of pints of beer” flooded the area around the brewery of Meux & Co. Goslings had a “voluntary account” that raised funds for victims of the catastrophe.

The ledgers of Goslings & Sharpe (though there were other partners, in earlier days, I will use the name most associated with the firm) come in at a whopping 654 ledgers! It is said, in a family letter, that Mr. Gosling was very reluctant to give his blessing for his eldest daughter’s marriage to Langham Christie because discussion of Elizabeth’s dowery came at the same time that the bank was paying out its dividends…

So I’m always keeping my eyes and ears open about the family banking concerns.

 

 

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Mrs. Leigh Perrot’s Scarlets for Sale

June 18, 2017 at 9:59 pm (history, jane austen, places) (, , )

You, too, could inhabit the world of Jane Austen: her aunt’s house is For Sale:

Scarlets for sale

This is how the house looks on SAVILLS’ website.  Note that the property includes:

  • 4 reception rooms
  • master bedroom suite
  • 5 further bedrooms
  • 2 family bathrooms
  • 2 reception rooms to second floor
  • kitchen/breakfast room
  • cellar with bar/games room & wine store
  • detached double garage and office
  • gardens of about 1.25 acres

Oddly, the property seems to have acquired an extra ‘t’ – Scarletts – over the years. From the website’s “history”:

Scarletts is the major portion of a magnificent Grade II listed Georgian property built, in the 1760s for Mr & Mrs James Leigh Perrot, the maternal uncle and aunt of Jane Austen. They are reported to have formed part of an inner circle of relatives with whom the Austens regularly exchanged letters and visits. …. The house has a wealth of period features including high ceilings, original fireplaces, deep skirtings and ornate cornicing. It is elegant and beautifully presented throughout.

The front door, with fanlight over, opens to a handsome panelled entrance hall, which has a limestone floor and underfloor heating. The oak panelling is dated 1610 and is decorated with coats of arms of cathedral cities. This opens to a magnificent reception hall with an original oak parquet floor and sweeping staircase with oak balustrade, ornate spindles and risers. The main reception rooms are a delight and are light and airy with large sash windows and working shutters, original fireplaces with gas log effect fires, built-in shelves and cupboards, wood flooring, ornate plaster cornices, wall panels and ceiling roses. Double doors from the drawing room open to an orangery which was added in 2007 and has underfloor heating and doors opening to a wide stone terrace and ornamental pond.

The so-called guide price is £3.5 million, for over 7,000 square feet of space.

Scarlets_Austen Leigh

My interest, though, comes in the 1830s, when Edward and Emma Austen, newly named “Austen Leigh” moved in after Edward’s inheritance from his great-aunt Leigh Perrot. “Talk” of Edward’s inheritance became serious once Mrs. Leigh Perrot met his intended bride, falling in love with dear Emma and the Smiths – perhaps especially her Aunt Northampton (the Marchioness of Northampton).

Emma Austen, nee Smith

 

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Enjoyable Reads: Journal of a Georgian Gentleman

May 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm (books, diaries, history) (, , )

This won’t be a book review, per se, but a “CROW” about a book I recently enjoyed reading. (I’ll hope to ADD to this “Enjoyable Reads” category in the future.)

I bought The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman back in 2012; it was fairly new to the market at the time. I certainly _remember_ reading it, but feel that this recent read brought a new respect for Mike Rendell’s laying out of his ancestor’s life. Little asides, detailing “facts” of Georgian life, were speedily and deftly presented. They felt part of the story, so that taken as a whole, the book not only presents the life of Richard Hall, but presents English LIFE, as lived then.

hall-cover

Profusely illustrated. Mike is lucky to have a wealth of materials from Richard Hall; we readers are lucky that he shared.

Does not so much present the diary of the man, but the every-day experiences of Richard Hall and his family. Be it travel, finances, business, marriage – there is a lot that readers will learn about – and enjoy while reading – when picking up a copy of The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman: The Life and Times of Richard Hall, 1729-1801 by Mike Rendell.

 

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eBay: Gertrude Savile diaries

May 19, 2017 at 11:37 am (books, diaries, history) (, , , , )

Vicky alerted about the Kingsbridge (Devon) Oxfam‘s eBay auction of a copy of Secret Comment: The Diaries of Gertrude Savile, 1721-1757.

gertrude savile(NB: see eBay ad for pictures of actual copy up for sale; this is not theirs)

I am a BIG fan of this book – who doesn’t love a book over a Twitter feed; and Amanda Vickery’s short section of Gertrude Savile does the diarist such disservice! Anyone reading this book, Gertrude’s diaries, will know there is so much more to Gertrude Savile than a reputation as a mere constant complainer.

Starting “today” (19 May 2017), you’ve 8 days to bid — and remember, profits go to OXFAM, a very worthy charity.

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An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman

May 13, 2017 at 12:22 pm (books, diaries, history, news, people) (, , )

More than a decade ago I worked on a typescript of a diary; this now has been turned into a book by the Saint Michael’s College (History Department) professor I used to work with, Dr. Susan Ouellette.

An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman: The Journal of Phebe Orvis, 1820-1830 tells – in her own words – the story of Phebe Orvis, born in Vermont and educated in Middlebury; her marriage to Samuel Eastman settled them in Upstate New York. So, geographically, the diary is much involved with the area near where I live.

Thanks SUNY for providing a review copy – it arrived in yesterday’s mail! So keep on eye out for my review.

It’s a HUGE book (10 x 7 format; 380 pages). Includes a half-dozen essays, that extract and expound on information from the diary; and then the entire journal transcription is presented.

Extraordinary Ordinary Woman

I include the Table of Contents:

Introduction

Part I. “The sweet, single life”

1. “A delightful prospect of my Nativity”

2. “I conclude there are some strange intentions”

3. “rendered . . . more ignorant than others”

Part II. “New modes of living among strangers”

4. “perhaps the partner of his joys”

5. “Retired, much fatigued”

6. “He cumbers the ground no more”

Conclusion. “beneath the spreading Oak and Hickory”

The Journal
Maps
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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End of an era

April 30, 2017 at 2:19 pm (diaries, history, jane austen, research) (, )

Ten years ago I began on the journey, looking into the lives of Two Teens in the Time of Austen. An early blog post or two will explain for those interested in the seeds of this flowering and flourishing research.

BUT: had one thing been missing, this never would have gotten off the ground.

The one thing was the filming of Mary’s adult diaries in the microfilm series “Women’s Language and Experience” by Adam Matthew Publications [scroll to the bottom of that page to see the links to the series].  This was a major undertaking. Filming archival records from UK repositories took six series:

series 1: Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire County Record Offices [16 reels]
series 2: Birmingham Central Library and Birmingham University Library [24 reels]
series 3: Suffolk County Record Office and Cambridge University Library [25 reels]
series 4: National Library of Scotland and National Library of Wales [26 reels]
series 5: Essex Record Office [20 reels]
series 6: Wiltshire, Somerset, and Hampshire Record Offices [26 reels]

mary_emma_entry

You do the math: a huge undertaking for any library to BUY (and store) 137 reels of microfilm!

Now, as of April 12, 2017, the company is no longer filling orders for microfilm; Adam Matthew’s digital arm is aiming for those “primary sources with a board appeal”. Uh-oh… I would be the FIRST ONE to say ‘yay’ for “digital” – it’s easy to search, the images are (potentially) photograph quality rather than microfilm quality, and presumeably a subscription is how they are purchased: no special machines or storage required.

BUT: the same information isn’t going to be available. Which means no one ELSE will be obtaining such a series as Women’s Language and Experience.

I first put a diary from Duke University archives written by Mary Gosling together with diaries from “Lady Smith of Stapleford Tawney” because Adam Matthew Publications put a little bit of information about Lady Smith online. She was the daughter of a banker. Well, I had a visit by Mary Gosling to the Bank of Ireland, in company with her father! The Goslings left from Roehampton; Lady Smith’s father was known as “of Roehampton and Fleet Street”.

It took a trip to Virginia (who has FIVE series? very few libraries) to confirm my suspicions and an interlibrary loan of the three reels from Duke University to work on obtaining every word Mary Gosling, also known as Lady Smith, had written as an adult; her diaries now housed at the Essex Record Office. These microfilms were invaluable, as each entire diary – from cover to cover – was filmed. So all of the ‘extras’ that are PRINTED in the purchased diaries, from Birthdays of the Royal Family to tax tables, were included. I’ve never paid nor photographed these materials. But I printed them out in their entirety from the microfilm.

Women’s Language and Experience offered up some wonderful diarists, including Edith Baring-Gould (series 2), Hester Thrale Piozzi (series 4), Clarissa Trant (series 5). SOME are so tantalizing, for instance a 1790 “Travel Journal of a Young Lady” (series 4) – SO many in the Smith and Gosling family could have written such a journal! But with no library within easy driving distance, it is not like I will ever find out more about this “unnamed” writer.

There’s simply too much one could research within Women’s Language and Experience.

And a downside to digital: it’s not like individuals can now access any more material than before. Even “trials” are only open to faculty and libraries. So don’t think that a small cri de coeur didn’t escape my lips when I first spotted the news of the demise of microfilm from this company.

I am firmly convinced that without Women’s Language and Experience, I would never have found HALF of what I have found about Mary Gosling and Emma Smith. Thanks go to the Essex Record Office for letting the diaries be filmed in the first place!

It was reading Mary’s entry (above), sitting in the library of Old Dominion University, that made me wonder who Emma was – And anyone reading this blog will know what a major player she has become.

Emma’s baby was christened at
Tring Church by Mr Austen, “Cholmeley”
Mr Knight, Charles, and Mrs Ligh [sic?]
Parrot [sic?] were the godfathers & godmother

Readers who know their Jane Austen will recognize (as I did back in 2007)

Mr. Knight = Edward Austen Knight, Jane’s brother
Mrs. Leigh Perrot = the owner of Scarlets; Jane’s aunt
Mr. Austen = James Edward Austen (James Edward Austen Leigh), Jane’s nephew
Cholemely = Jane Leigh Perrot’s maiden name; Emma’s first-born

 

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Future Plans

April 6, 2017 at 9:45 am (diaries, history, jane austen, people, research) (, , )

Same sitting, different poseIt seems like ages since I wrote about my own research – though that is NOT to mean I’ve been idle. Indeed I’ve been “beavering away”!

beaver

A GREAT influx of letters (diaries too) from several different “deposits” has kept me at the keyboard, transcribing. I try NOT to read a letter or diary until I transcribe it. Bad Luck thoughts make me wonder if I won’t later be able to decipher some word that I easily read earlier! Oh, that would be the worst. So, it’s in the act of transcribing that I LEARN the contents.

I also have a habit of leaving the really hard letters to absolute END. If it’s crossed… If it’s illegible…  If it’s a poor image… I leave it till all the easy letters are DONE.

Given that plan of operation, haven’t I found a JEWEL or two among those waiting to be deciphered and read! But that’s news for some next blog post.

I wanted to say here, however, something I wrote recently in an email, about this project, for it brings up a very important point about the decades the project actually covers, which is roughly the 1790s through the 1840s.

I used to use 1842 as an end-date. Mary Gosling, my original diarist – and one of the Two Teens in the Time of Austen (the other being Emma Austen) – died in July of that year. So when first in Winchester, I tried not to look for later material.

By the time I returned to the UK (seven years later), I was willing to go beyond that – but pretty much held to the idea that the end of Mary’s life brought my telling of their story to a close.

THEN: in the summer of 2015, I found photo albums!

Since photography become a norm in and after the 1850s, there was no photo of Mary (Lady Smith). A surprising number of her in-laws, however: Spencer Smith and his wife Frances (née Seymour); Arthur Currie and his second wife Dora (also née Seymour); Richard and Fanny Seymour; and more Seymour siblings. A photo of Eliza Le Marchant (Lady Le Marchant; née Smith), and the familiar face of Sir Denis Le Marchant. Only one photo of Emma Austen Leigh – which I had already seen in a book. The one photo of her husband, James Edward Austen Leigh, was quite evidently the same sitting as the companion photo in the book, but a different pose, so slightly “new information”.

What REALLY got into my brain, however, were images of the CHILDREN! The albums can be traced to members of the Spencer-Smith family. I.e., children of Emma’s brother Spencer Smith – the hyphenated last name differentiated his children from children of their brother Sir Charles Joshua Smith (2nd baronet).

So one son, whom I can trace in photos from youngster to young man, came to carry the name Spencer Compton Spencer-Smith. A bit of a tongue-twister without his middle name! He later adopted his wife’s name, so that late in life he was Spencer Compton Hamilton-Spencer-Smith; a Hamilton-Spencer-Smith son became the 5th baronet, after the death of Charles grandson Drummond Cunliffe Smith.

The twins, Orlando Spencer-Smith and Gilbert Spencer-Smith, are present in almost the same frame of life-span. From youngsters, they become men as the pages turn.

Of the sisters, photos of Dora Spencer-Smith especially, but also Isabella and Augusta, are QUITE prolific. As Mrs. Jenkyns, Dora has a Jane Austen connection all her own: her son married a grand-daughter of Emma & Edward Austen Leigh.

Two cousins have worked their way into my heart because of the photo albums. Daughters of Fanny and Richard Seymour, “Emma and Fanny” grow up before my eyes! It helped that another source had this youthful duo in a family portrait that included their mother – the first photo I ever saw of dear Fanny Seymour (Mrs. Richard Seymour), taken in the 1850s.

There are also, of course, portraits of the Austen Leigh children! So I could confirm a Silvy portrait found online WAS young Mary Augusta Austen Leigh. Same sitting, different pose. And I found Amy Austen Leigh (aka: Emma Cassandra Austen Leigh), whom I had never before seen.

The Currie children and LOTS of various Seymour children – so most of Emma’s nieces and nephews were present. Seeing them all (and having to sort out all those Seymours!) made me more amenable to reading their letters too. So, I’ve slowly expanded my collection of letters through the 1840s and upwards to the 1880s. I’ve gone back to fill in holes, and have more holes to fill. And I’m still searching for material, especially early letters (1790s through 1810s).

Along with the albums, I found ONE letter that really resonated with me.

It was one of those SUPER-crossed, dense, thickly-inked letters. The writer apologized for not taking a bigger sheet of paper, as, in the end, she had too much to say. If ithe letter had been less crossed, I would have gotten to it much earlier! It convinced me I had hitherto overlooked the true, definitive “end” for my project.

BIG “Ah-HA!” moment.

The touchstone became Mamma, Mrs. Charles Smith, Augusta (senior). And the “ah-ha” was the last moments of any member of the Smiths living at No. 6 Portland Place.

Mamma’s 1845 death set her children (metaphorically) adrift; without the London home that had belonged to her, their leave-taking created a pause for reflection. And that leave-taking becomes the event that closes my set of books dealing with Two Teens in the Time of Austen.

To get back to the emailed thought. I told my correspondent:

“Digging about the 1850s, tho I really need to concentrate on the 1810s. It seems SUCH a different world… there’s a lightness to their lives when the children WERE children, that has darkened once they’ve grown and had children of their own. I find them such a thoroughly fascinating family.”

and I hope YOU, dear Readers, feel or will come to feel the SAME about the Smiths and Goslings. They were truly living a dream during the Regency – with travels, trips to exhibitions, evenings at the opera. Some were crossed in love; most married, had children of their own, experienced heartache as a family. Luckily for ME they also remembered, reminisced, and wrote – including those books published by the Austen Leighs: about Early Days of the Vine Hunt (1865), a Memoir of Jane Austen (1869; expanded 1871), and Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters: A Family Record (1913). Especially dear to my heart is the biography of her father written by Mary Augusta Austen Leigh (1911), for Emma and her family figure LARGE in that book. It also drops some tantalizing hints about missing letters and diaries…

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International Women’s Day (March 8)

March 8, 2017 at 2:35 pm (books, diaries, history) (, , )

Readers of Two Teens will see a familiar face when they check out Wikipedia’s homepage today, during International Women’s Day, Norfolk diarist Mary Hardy:

Hardy

Mary Hardy is well-represented in Margaret Bird’s excellent transcription, a vast 4-volume set (with an extra volume of out-takes) which is packed with informational notes and evocative illustrations. I am patiently waiting for the companion volumes.

Mary Hardy appears in the following Two Teens in the Time of Austen posts:

CELEBRATE Women!!

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