The Duchess of Richmond’s Waterloo Ball

June 14, 2015 at 7:38 pm (entertainment) (, )

After reading about Jane Austen’s pelisse, in looking for an article listed in Davidson’s bibliography and notes, I stumbled upon this website

duchess of richmonds ball

discussing a CURRENT recreation of the Waterloo Ball of 1815. In blogging about the Pelisse, and putting off the ball a day – I am too late! for it took place yesterday.

I will have to consult some diaries – see if ANYone my Smiths & Goslings knew attended…

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Old Sir John’s young love

May 29, 2015 at 5:22 pm (diaries, history, news, people, research) (, , , , , )

A year later, and I am still transcribing letters from last spring, last fall. While other items wait, and more items come in.

Gotta LOVE it and HATE it.

So, a few days ago, I was back to transcribing letters from a collection in New York; late letters of Mamma (Mrs. Augusta Smith, Emma’s mother). I am trying to write about the 1810s and here am I immersed in the 1840s. BUT this news is too good not to share!

It’s also a bit of a head-scratcher.

Mamma’s youngest daughter, Maria, I already knew was the object of pursuit by her brother-in-law’s brother. The Rev. Richard Seymour wrote in his diary that his elder brother the Rev. Sir John Culme-Seymour had begun making inquiries about young Maria Smith. I wrote about Richard’s diary entries for The Chronicle (publication of the Berkhamstead Local History & Museum Society) last year:

“Letter from Dora in w:h she tells me that J: had divulged to her his g:t admiration of & strong penchant for M – and leaves me to act upon her information.”

Of course _I_ knew – from history, as well as Richard’s diary, that Maria accepted Sir John’s proposal. There were already two Seymour in-laws; Sir John made the third! Maria (born in 1814) accepted Sir John in the fall of 1843. He was a widower whose wife had died in 1841, leaving him with three children. It was Richard’s use of the word “penchant” which has always made me sit up and take notice.

And now this undated letter of Mamma’s…

Mrs Smith wrote in terms of “he” and “she” and at first I was guessing the name of the couple she described. Could it be…??? Surely it was some one else.

“I ought almost to apologize for not having written sooner… I had nothing to tell but conjectures”. “He was in high spirits & talked a good deal…. After that, he became a little graver & she perceived it, & told me her suspicions. She was still in a doubtful state; could think of his age, &c.”

Mamma, ready to let the “she” decide for herself, then plays with her audience, like a cat plays with a mouse – describing minute changes in attitude, attention, spirits, in both “she” and “he”.

“I am told he was dreadfully nervous, could not sleep, & was almost desponding.”

Then, she reports: “in the most respectful & timid manner he made known his attachment, dreading her answer”. The expected outcome is chronicled, but with an odd interjection: “When he had obtained her consent, he was indeed happy: his Family say, he never was in love before. He had been fearing me; & when they came home… you may be sure I received him most kindly… his age & his grey hair are no objections to me: it was the same case with my own dear Husband”.

Finally, she divulges the “she”: MARIA!

Maria Culme-Seymour2

So it IS Sir John who had the grey hair and a great age (he was closing in on 43). Mrs. Smith’s memories of her own youthful marriage to a widower tore at my heart – but back up even more and you’ll see the sentence that causes me concern: “his Family say, he never was in love before.” How can a widower’s family EVER so blot out a first wife??? And who makes up this “family”? — the in-laws (mother, sisters) of the very person Mrs. Smith is writing: her own daughter Fanny Seymour!

Thoughts now crowd into my head that had never been there before – about Sir John; about his first marriage to Elizabeth Culme (he took her name, with his own, by special license); about his penchant for little Maria Smith. Clearly, Sir John — who tackled Mrs. Smith when his brother Richard was looking to marry Fanny (a proposal by proxy) — was a man with a lot to offer, and yet had not the confidence to directly pursue his aims. But what is the meaning behind the words Mamma says came from his own womenfolk? Only time will tell. One source would have been Richard’s diary – but pages and passages are missing in the early years; and these passages may have covered the betrothal of John to Elizabeth.

At least Richard’s diaries are already transcribed… Now I just have to find the time to re-read them, with an eye to deciphering the past and future of Sir John Culme-Seymour.

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Meet me in LOUISVILLE – JASNA AGM 2015

February 21, 2015 at 12:31 pm (jane austen, jasna, research) (, , , , , )

The list of breakout speakers for the 2015 Annual General Meeting of the JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA is up. Under the banner title of “LIVING IN JANE AUSTEN’S WORLD”, breakout speaker topics are diverse, and fascinating.

ja world

In the appropriately-named novel Emma, Jane Austen wrote of a marriage – that of Miss Taylor (Emma Woodhouse’s governess and dear friend) to Mr Weston, that resulted in the birth of a child! and a woman’s lying-in or “confinement” is the topic of my breakout talk, taking place in the Saturday, October 10th “D” session.

As before, that means _I_ miss some great speaker, such as: Sheryl Craig (whom I know) on “William Wickham”; Kristen Miller Zohn (whose AGM talk on miniatures I so enjoyed) on “silhouettes”; and Sue Forge on “London High Society” – which readers of this blog will know, I consider my Smiths & Goslings to be, if not “movers and shakers” in society, at least “prevalent” among the party-goers. And here’s why:

Of course, as an AMG participant, I must also pick speakers to hear. Too many to choose among!

Do I hear about Jane Austen’s ideas on being “Past the Bloom” (Stephanie Eddleman) or “A Quack or Dr. House” (Sharon Latham)?? When, equally, I’d dearly love to learn about Embroidery (which I used to enjoy) (Julie Buck)… or Estate Tenants (Linda Slothouber)… or Austen family cookbooks (Julienne Gehrer)… or Village Life (Sara Bowen)… or the treatment of poor George Austen, Jane Austen’s sometimes-forgotten brother (Bridget McAdam).

And that’s only the FIRST session!  Good thing there are several months to think over the possibilities.

I’ll say more, at a later date, about my topic — “Who could be more prepared than she was?”  True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in early 19th Century England — at a later date, but will take the time to say that many of the letters & diaries excerpts come from the copious examples of this Smith & Gosling research. From the “bantling” born in 1790 — the future 2nd Marquess of Northampton (Emma’s cousin “Lord Compton”), to the Confinements of Emma Austen herself.

And, no, I won’t forget Mrs Weston!

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Lymington History

October 17, 2014 at 1:44 pm (books, entertainment, history, places, travel) (, , , )

IMAGINE: a letter saved for a good 170 years, in which the chief topic of conversation is a “commission” to buy the letter writer “six or eight pounds” — at the reasonable cost (evidently) of 6 pence per pound — of EPSOM SALTS!

The letter is undated – and there are several contenders for the “Miss Smith” of the letter’s direction and salutation, depending on the date of the letter.

A bit of a catch-22 that.

Without a definitive person OR date I cannot fix on a tentative date OR person!

But within the letter is the mention of a place: LYMINGTON. That being the one place that has the BEST Epsom Salts for this incredible price.

Give the date of the letter must be within the first half of the 19th century, I did wonder if perhaps this was a phonetic spelling; “Lymington,” however, MUST be correct – for the exchange of goods is directed to take place at Aunt Emma’s home in Southampton; and indeed there is such a place – on the coast – as Lymington, within 50 miles of Southampton.

Finding their tourist website, I also found – and this is why I’m posting – their page on Lymington History.

tour isle of wight

And look at the GOODIES found there:

  • Tour to the Isle of Wight (1790) [title page above]
  • History of Lymington (1825) [by David William Garrow]
  • Picturesque Companion to Southampton (1830)
  • Notes from a Pedestrian Excursion (1832)
  • … and MORE!

They also provide links for historical maps of Lymington and some interesting and useful descriptions of the environs (for instance, on the Lymington Marshes, c1840).

The main page has a walking tour (“A Walk around Lymington”) as well as a nice page (with maps) on “Along the Solent Way”.

 

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In Nelson’s Navy: Seaman Hodge

May 3, 2012 at 6:35 pm (books, diaries, history, jane austen, news, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Searching for letters and manuscripts (I need to tap into the network of people who buy/sell letters – I want MORE scans of MORE letters!), I came across old information – but it’s too good to miss passing along to readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen — for what did Jane Austen follow with great intensity, but the exploits of the Royal Navy. Specifically, of course, the movements of her Sailor Brothers.

It seems we are still – 2/3 years later – in the dark about the purchaser of this little gem: See this wonderful post by Joan Druett.

Joan also fills in the background of the Diary of Seaman George Hodge. In 2009 – and you can find many press stories about this – the diary was put up for auction through a firm in Portsmouth, New Hampshire [so close to my home in Vermont!].

As you can guess from the above illustration, Seaman Hodge was an able artist as well. So I join the cry, if a bit late then at least with some earnest shouts: Please Publish the Diary of George Hodge!

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No 5 & No 6 Portland Place Alive and Well

April 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm (carriages & transport, estates, goslings and sharpe, history, london's landscape, news, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

MUCH has been happening in the past week, some diaries, some letters, some images have been turning up. Many, MANY thanks to those collectors for contacting me!

But the news I really want to share is the fantastic news that the Smith & Gosling homes in “Town” (ie, London) still exist!

Toby in Essex confirmed that indeed a renumbering had occurred and he had proof that No. 28 was once designated No. 5 Portland Place. The rather chuckle-worthy remainder of the story? Today No. 28 is the Royal Institute for Public Health and Hygiene!

On the “well-what-do-ya-know” front is, the Royal Institute has rooms for hire — and pictures are online! It’stheAgency offers some photos and hiring info. Square Meal has further photos and 360-degree virtual tours of the rooms. Another site had floor plans (showing the size of each room – a bit of a challenge for me: all in meters rather than feet and inches), but I can’t put my finger on the URL at the moment. UPDATE: Here’s the link at Chester Boyd.

THEN came the map, dated 1790, sent by Mike in Surrey. It clearly shows that No. 5 was next door (as I always hoped) to No. 6 — so Mary Gosling (at No. 5) truly did marry the “boy next door” — Charles Joshua Smith at No. 6!

Am I surprised to see numbers in the 60s across the street… Not really. I encountered as much in Paris years ago, when searching for an address so I could pick up the key to the flat I had rented. And yet, the numbering is NOW what I would recognize as typical (ie, like the street I live on): all the odd-numbers are on one side and all the even-numbers are across the street. Therefore, if No 5 is now No 28, then No 6 is now No 30 Portland Place.

If you’re in the area, stop and gaze at the windows that used to find the Smiths and Goslings as inhabitants. Close your eyes, and hear the clomp of the horses’ hooves as the carriage pulls around the corner, from the mews. Maybe when you again open them, you will see Papa — Mr. William Gosling, come out in order to be driven to his banking firm, Goslings & Sharpe, on Fleet Street, at the Sign of the Three Squirrels!

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“Another Emma”: Emma Wedgwood Darwin

February 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm (diaries, history, news) (, , , , , , , , , , )

It is amazing all the websites, books, etc I’ve collected/seen/consulted — and then “forgotten”. It was while putting in the Carlyle Letters (see the Browing Letters post) – for I am very interested in Jane Welsh Carlyle – that I began to cast my mind back: What else had I forgotten I loved??

Then I recalled finding a site with Darwin letters. As you might, however, have guessed, I’m less interested in Charles Darwin and more interested in his wife, Emma. And what did I spot but EMMA Wedgwood / EMMA Darwin’s diaries! How could I have missed those before…

Once you spot such drawings as this one above, you just have to look through them. This is a page from Emma Darwin’s 1840 diary; someone’s costume, or else an idea for herself, must have caught Emma’s eye; the diary evidently a handy place for a quick “scratch”.

Emma Wedgwood (yes, that Wedgwood family!) was born in 1808 — so right in the midst of all the Smith & Gosling children. Her earlist extant diary dates to 1824; she lived, and kept diaries, until 1896. There are a few diaries from the 1830s; fewer holes during the 1840s; and complete runs from then on.

Don’t neglect the printed materials of the diary-series; they can quite be of use to the historian – with things like postal rates, or even when an eclipse is expected. {note: I do not think all beginning/end materials have been included, so savor those which have.} Then there are the unexpected, like this handwritten addendum in 1894 for a “knitted jacket”! Ah, a woman after my own heart…

{a word of advice: Use your browser’s “history” or the back arrow to get back to the index of diaries. “back” will move you back a page in the diary you are viewing}

I am reminded to mention The Darwin Correspondence Project, and also that Emma was a friend of my dear Ellen Tollet (a book I highly recommend).

Was this 1824 diary an 1823 Christmas gift?

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How do I love thee: The Browning Letters

February 15, 2012 at 7:02 pm (history, jane austen, news, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

A great new website is up and running, featuring the letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning. Baylor and Wellesley have teamed up to present actual images of the letters in their collections. Hurrah, hurray! The letters are “browsable and searchable by date, author, and first line of text.” Other research centers and universities, with Browningana holdings, are being asked to join the initiative — so who knows how much this will grow as time passes.

Wellesley has the original 573 “love” letters (beginning “10 January 1845, with a letter address to ‘dear Miss Barrett’ and continued until a week after their marriage…”).

Here is Elizabeth’s letter dated 11 January 1845 – all eight pages are represented individually; as well as the two sides of the envelope! Scan the page, enlarge the image, move on to a full-screen view – complete with typescript, or have text alone:

Postal historians must be getting their first looks at such as this 11 January 1845 envelope:

The New York Times gives a fine overview in this article by John Williams; but I highly recommend you simply immerse yourself in the world of working with primary materials such as manuscripts (ie, the Austen Fiction Manuscripts Project), diaries, and letters like these. A true gift of a web collection!

* * *

This blog has featured a couple of other “project” websites. The ones that come to mind are:

Happy to hear about projects — ongoing, proposed, or up-and-running — from readers!

UPDATED: How could I forget these sites, which I use but evidently haven’t mentioned on this blog:

* * *

These digitized letters are as authentic online as if you pulled them out of an evelope

 — Darryl Stuhr

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Judge a Letter by its Cover

January 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm (people, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

When Craig from Australia — a most helpful Smith&Gosling “fan”! — wrote about a letter he found, the tell-tale tidbit that attracted me was hearing that it was addressed to the Marquess of Northampton. Its dating, to 1824, meant to the first Marquess — husband of Mamma Smith’s sister Maria, father to Lord Compton (the 2nd Marquess) and his sister Lady Elizabeth Compton (later married to Charles Scrase Dickins).

The idea that came into my brain while corresponding with Craig was that, although his find might be addressed TO Lord Northampton — the enclosed LETTER might very well be addressed to someone else!

My evidence?

At the Essex Record Office, there is a small set of letters, written by “the children” — as Emma referred to her two youngest sisters (her younger brothers were in school), Charlotte and Maria — but the girls, while addressing their letters to eldest sister Augusta and to Mamma, addressed their envelopes to “Le Chevalier Charles Smith“!

Obviously, therefore, the “head of the household” was the letter recipient whenever letters were sent Poste Restante or to be called for at, say, the offices of the family’s foreign banker.

Just one exceptionally interesting “find” while delving back in time nearly 200 years. Stay tuned for more!

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Sad Day at Suttons

January 14, 2011 at 11:05 am (a day in the life, people, research) (, , , , , , )

The year was 1831; Charles was only 30 years old and had endured some horrific medical procedures (never mind the mercury-laiden medicines!). I will post some information about this “last illness” of a vital young man, as well as some of the questions that remain on what precipitated the entire episode, at a later point.

{note on the obituary, which was published in Gentleman’s Magazine: Augusta Smith’s eldest sister was Maria the dowager Marchioness of Northampton, but Lady Dunsany was actually a paternal AUNT to the four Erle Stoke sisters Maria, Eliza, Augusta, and Emma. Charles’ father, Charles Smith of Suttons, pre-deceased his uncle by marriage, Sir Drummond Smith — which is how the title devolved upon Charles Joshua. Charles left three children at his death: Charles Cunliffe Smith, Mary (called Mimi by her mother), and Augusta.}

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