By Any Other Name

June 19, 2021 at 1:10 pm (diaries, entertainment, history, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , )

You might ask, given that I research people with the name of “Smith” – and Christen names like Charles and Mary, what name could possibly give me trouble….

Try: Jane Seymour.

Emma’s sister Fanny Smith was the first to marry a Seymour – the Rev. Richard Seymour the new incumbent to the living of Kinwarton (Warwickshire). They married on 30 October 1834.

The following year, September 1835, brother Spencer Smith married Richard’s sister Frances Seymour.

By 1845, not only had youngest sister Maria Smith married (his 2nd wife) the Rev. Sir John Hobart Culme-Seymour, but the Smith’s widowered brother-in-law Arthur Currie had married the widowed Dora (Seymour) Chester.

It was Maria who gave birth (in January 1851) to the JANE SEYMOUR I thought I was chasing. I had unearthed about a dozen photographs of a little girl and young woman – identified in a couple of albums, plus many more loose cartes-de-visite, which (I thought…) pointed to a certain “future” for the young lady portrayed.

I was wrong!

It’s tough, looking at my photographs of photographs – often done under inauspicious conditions of overhead lighting and cradled bound books – some out of focus; others the best that can be taken of the faded nothingness that now remains. Tough, too, to put together some faces that may be the same person – or some sibling – or someone totally different, just seen from an unusual angle that now has you comparing the straight or down-turned mouth, the curved or shell-like ear, the beak-sharp or the bulbous nose.

Such a one was the picture, only ID’ed on the rear with a date – “1877” – of a mother (presume) and frilly-frocked infant (christening?). The adult sitter looked like Jane Seymour – but cousin Jane never married, had had no children. The nose, here, looked sharper; the hair exhibited an mere half-inch of “fringe” (bangs they cannot be called), when in all other pictures there was only a center part and all hair pulled downwards and back. The face looked thinner, more sculpted, but then the face was bent downward, gazing at the child. The one thing all the adult photos had in comment was a clipped-short “side burn” above the ears – very similar to my own (because the bow of glasses sits right over this area).

Mother-and-Babe remained a “mystery” – for later ‘detection’.

Signature Maria L. Seymour

It was while looking through diaries – predominantly those written by Richard Seymour – for further information on the relationship of Mary Smith and Gaspard Le Marchant Tupper, that I came across mention of Richard’s niece, Jane Seymour.

Mary and Gaspard had married in 1861 – but the engagement was so fraught with angst and doubt, that I had to find out more. What I found out was that they initially had become engaged in 1858. I haven’t found out if they stayed engaged the whole time, or if it was on-off-on again. Although other diaries exist, some I don’t have access to, and Richard’s I have to take painstaking reads through microfilmed handwriting. Letters of the period can be hit or miss – and more have tantalizing hints than full-length histories.

But back to Jane Seymour.

This Jane was not the first “Jane” in the family. Of course – OF COURSE! – there were several, over many generations. Maria’s daughter was a “CULME-SEYMOUR” – the “Culme” coming from Sir John’s first wife. For a while, I thought only Sir John’s “Culme” children used the “Culme” name. Maria’s mail always seemed addressed to “Lady Seymour” (see a letter I’m desperately seeking – and from 1861!). BUT: If I looked closely, Maria and her daughters inserted “C” as part of their signature. But who else could the girl called Jenny Seymour and the young woman identified as Jane Seymour or Miss Seymour have been?

Remember I said that Richard mentioned JANE SEYMOUR in his diary…

In 1858’s diary.

The section that caught my eye mentioned Richard’s “Australian niece Jane Seymour”. She arrived in mid-December, having left Sidney, Australia on September 1st. – Dora (née Seymour) and Arthur Currie picked her up at Gravesend! The very Curries who inhabited High Elms, the estate *now* (June 2021) up for sale.

High Elms, estate of the Arthur Curries.

High Elms, estate of the Arthur Curries.

“Australian Jane” was the only child of Richard’s youngest brother, William (Willy) Seymour, who had emigrated, married an Australian girl in 1849, and died in 1857. I had presumed that she had stay Down-Under.

Nope…

Jane had a convoluted history. Her mother had remarried – at some unknown point – in 1858. This poor mother, born Sarah Avory and now Mrs. Pleydell-Bouverie, died in February 1859. Jane’s step-father died two years later, in February 1861.

But none of that mattered: little Jane Seymour had already sailed for England, arriving hardly two months before her mother’s death – which she could never have known about for another six or eight months.

What I do not know is the WHY Jane Seymour sailed from Sidney that September 1st of 1858!

Had the patriarchal arm reached across the globe, and over her father’s grave, to pluck the little girl from the bosom of her Australian family? Had the mother, stricken by some fatal illness (? – it’s a guess) already, made plans for her soon-to-be-orphaned child, plans that did not involve that child’s step-father? Or, had the Pleydell-Bouveries sought out this change for a child they no longer cared to care for?

Such a mystery remains to be solved, awaiting more information, other diaries, more letters.

One mystery that has been SOLVED involves the BIRTH DATE of Aussie Jane. I have found her baptismal information, which gives her date of birth. Given an 1849 marriage, I had presumed the birth of a first child in 1850. Jane Seymour, however, was born in MAY 1852 – which makes our little passenger a mere SIX YEARS OLD when she sailed from Sidney Harbor to Gravesend – and into the arms and the seemingly eternal care of an aunt she had never set eyes upon before: Dora Currie.

Dora’s step-children, Arthur’s children with his first wife, Charlotte Smith, were growing up – the youngest, Drummond Arthur Currie, had been born in 1840 and would attain his majority in a couple of years. Dora had married – after a long-fought-for marriage to the Rev. William H. Clinton Chester (her family disapproved of his slender means). They had married in August 1837, but by April 1841 Dora was burying her husband. They had had no children. Little Orphan Aussie Jane might have provided an opportunity too good for Dora to pass up. A small child to call her own.

The Curries are a branch of the family with very little archival resources. Charlotte had not lived to old age, but she had daughters – and the Smiths, as a group, seem a family that held very tightly on to items like letters and diaries, portraits and memories. So what happened to the items that Charlotte produced or received, and could figure to have been given over to any or all of her daughters – akin to the family letters amassed by Emma Austen, Fanny Seymour, and Maria Lady Seymour.

As you might guess, anyone with further information, please do contact me!

Richard’s 1859 diary speaks to his meeting the child. He was enchanted with his Australian niece, Jane Seymour.

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Erle Stoke Park: The Well-to-do Party!

July 17, 2011 at 11:38 am (entertainment, estates, news, people, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

So much news, so much news — but I simply MUST post and share the following “find”!

Thanks to an Ancestry user, the following was posted — the Miss Smith cited can only be AUNT EMMA! (All her other sisters were married.) Emma would have been about 53-years-old. Joshua Smith had died in 1819 and the estate sold to the Watson Taylors, with the four Erle Stoke park daughters dividing the proceeds, by 1822 (if I recollect correctly).

August 20, 1827
Some Selected Reports from The Salisbury and Winchester Journal

Fete Champetre at Erle-Stoke Park.

On Tuesday last Mr.and Mrs.Watson Taylor gave one of the most splendid fetes ever witnessed in this county. The invitations were principally confined to Devizes and its neighbourhood, but many respectable families from different parts of the county attended; and the number of persons present could not altogether be less than seven hundred. The gates of the park were opened at two o’clock and the company began to arrive. The carriages drew up at the front door, and after passing through a spacious entrance-hall (the butler announcing the names as they entered) the company was received in the library in the most polite and affable manner by both Mrs.and Mr.Watson Taylor. They then passed into a beautiful flower-garden, where, after promenading for some time, they proceeded to the pleasure grounds. The excellent arrangement of the walks in these grounds (extending over 600 acres) and the order and care in which they are kept, excited the highest admiration. In different parts were stationed bands of music.

About three quarters of a mile from the house, and on an ample lawn, gently rising above the water which winds its course through the pleasure grounds into the park, was a temporary erection, 70 feet square, and of proportionate altitude. This erection was neatly thatched, and the pillars supporting it tastefully decorated with laurels and evergreens; within, and on the turf, four long tables, at which 500 persons could sit, were laid; and from the variety and fanciful arrangement of the viands, they had a most pleasing appearance. At a short distance, a room between 60 and 70 feet in length, with an excellent flooring , was erected for dancing, supported by columns decorated with wreaths of flowers and evergreens, forming a beautiful arcade, with a piazza on either side. In front of these rooms, on the lawn, was the principal promenade before dinner, and it is impossible to imagine a more imposing and fascinating scene. No one could view, without delight and rapture, the numerous groups of lovely females gracefully parading to and fro upon the lawn; whilst a few parties perambulated the various walks. Soon after 4 o’clock, the company repaired to the dinner-room, where there was an ample supply of the best viands, the choicest wines, and all the delicacies of the season. Confectionery, in great variety, was provided under the direction of Mr. Kemp, of South Audley-street, whose arrangements evinced great taste and judgement. The room for dancing was, in the mean time, lighted with variegated lamps, formed in festoons; and at half-past five o’clock quadrille parties were arranged, and quadrilles danced with grace and softened animation, to the music of an excellent quadrille band from Bath. Other parties separated to a distant part of the lawn, where the more rural country dance was kept up with great spirit; but the greater part of the company indulged in the pleasures of the promenade.

Throughout the evening, ices and refreshments of every description were distributed in abundance. Variegated lamps forming two large stars, and various festoons in different parts, illuminated the walk leading from the ball-room to the gate at the entrance of the village of Stoke, at which place the carriages were brought up : and it was between nine and ten o’clock before the great bulk of the company thought of separating.

The day will never be forgotten by those who were present; the extreme affability and politeness of Mr.and Mrs.Watson Taylor excited an impression that can never be effaced.

Silk hats, ornamented with flowers or feathers, were generally worn by the ladies; amongst the company were observed, the Hon. Captain, Mrs., and Miss Bouverie; the Hon. and Rev. Canon, and Mrs. Bouverie; the Hon. Mrs. Harris; Sir J.D. Astley, bart. M.P. and Miss Astley; Sir Edward and Lady Poore, and 2 Mr. Poores; Mr. and Mrs. Estcourt and family; Mrs. and the 2 Misses Pearse; Mr. and Mrs.Clutterbuck; Mr., Mrs. and the Misses Locke; Mr. Phipps, Mr. E. and Miss Phipps; Mr. and Mrs. L. Phipps, Mr. and Mrs. Scott, with Miss Jephson; Mr. and Mrs. Salmon, Col. Wroughton, Capts. Montague, Capt. and Mrs. Macdonald, Capt. Tayler, Miss Smith (the daughter of the former proprietor of Erle Stoke Park), Mr. and Mrs. T. Moore, the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Bowles, the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher; Mrs. Archdeacon Fisher; Mr. and Mrs. Ernle Warriner, of Conock; Mrs. and Miss Puget (the widow and daughter of the Admiral of that name); the two Misses Penruddocke; Mrs. and Miss Biggs of Stockton; Misses Salisbury, Col. and Mrs. A’Court, Mr. and Miss Ludlow of Heywood-house; Rev. Dr. and two Mr. and Miss Starkeys; two Mr. Awdrys, and Miss Awdry, of Notton; Rev. Jeremiah; Rev. A. and Mrs. Smith, of Old Park; Mr. and Mrs. Collings, of Sandridge; Dr. Headley, the Mayor of Devizes, and his family; and almost every respectable inhabitant of the town, with several families from Warminster, Melksham, Lavington, &c. Mr. Watson Taylor, with his accustomed attention, sent into Devizes on the following morning, to ascertain the safe return of his friends.

Between 40 and 50 pair of horses were ordered from the Bear Inn alone, upon the above occasion; and the excellent arrangement of the carriages, and the personal attention of Mr.E.Parsons, reflects great credit on him.

***

How must Aunt Emma have felt, revisiting her old home? Or, had she returned time and again in the past decade? Time may tell, as more primary material surfaces – especially about the movements of Aunt Emma.

And what about our Host, Mr Watson Taylor? Ah… That I can more easily answer.

The following comes from Art of England (1930) and has a section on the “Sale at Erlestoke” in 1832:

This [sale], however, was forced upon Watson Taylor, who, after long enjoying a princely income, had failed with liabilities of £450,000 owing to the depreciation of his property in the West Indies. The pictures and furniture of his town-house in Grafton Street came under the hammer in June, and on July 9th Robins commenced a twenty-days’ sale at Erlestoke Park, which is about six miles from Devizes. For the preceding fortnight everything had been on view to the buyers of the ten-shilling catalogues of the four thousand lots. These catalogues were compiled by W.H. Pyne, the artist, and were said to be the bulkiest publications of their kind ever issued. During the days when the house was open to the public special coaches were run by the hotel-keepers from Devizes and Salisbury to Erlestoke and the sale caused as much sensation in Wiltshire as that at Fonthill nine years earlier. Beckford, who came from Bath to see the house and its contents, declared that they exceeded Fonthill in magnificence, and expressed a wish to buy a Paul Potter — one of the finest pictures in the Erlestoke collection…. At Erlestoke, Robins gave his word that everything offered belonged to Mr Watson Taylor and that no reserve price was placed on any of the lost in the sale.

Sir Robert Peel, who was very much interested in Watson Taylor’s pictures, came down with Lady Peel from London to Devizes and stayed a night at the Black Bear (the inn once kept by Sir Thomas Lawrence’s father) in order that they might go over the house early on the following morning, before the admission of the public. A similar privilege was granted to Wilkie…”

Without a reserve, some of the items went for much less than hoped, for instance: “Two thousand guineas were expected for a pair of console tables, inlaid with precious stone and mounted in ormolu, but they were knocked down for five hundred and eighty guineas to Hume, the dealer, who had sold them to Watson Taylor…”

(Some things still change hands: Bonhams has had some Watson Taylor’s furnishing for sale recently.)

***

Read The Bear Hotel‘s history (“Wiltshire’s historic gem”):

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