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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Another LOST Face

June 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm (news, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , )

Surfing, I found mention of a Sotheby’s sale — 7 June 2006 — which had this miniature (by George Engleheart) of the 1st Marquess of Northampton:

[Note how much it looks like the miniature held in Philadelphia!]

The truly s-a-d part: the Sotheby’s catalogue has only THIS image although the reverse of this miniature is also of interest to this blog; as well, a SECOND miniature was sold as part of this lot (#304). [I can also say, take a look at lot 307 — which is a gorgeous miniature of the two Compton children, cousins to the Smith of Suttons children; but I say little about that one here because I had found that piece long ago…]

Anyway, the catalogue has this to say of the Marquess’ miniature:

“DESCRIPTION he with powdered hair en queue , wearing a blue coat, yellow waistcoat and a pleated jabot, sky background, within a plaited hair border, the reverse a portrait of his mother-in-law: Mrs Joshua Smith by Mrs Anne Mee circa 1795, with powdered and curled hair, wearing a white gown, sky background, gold frame.”

ARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!! to see the description and NOT the portrait just kills me!

The amazing thing (the more I think about this piece) is that the two miniatures are done by two different artists. At some point I can only imagine that Maria (the Marchioness), set two portraits – one of her husband and one of her mother – in one “frame”. The HAIR seems to be two different colors (which must have been something to plait…) and must be from two different people: husband and wife? daughter and mother? I include below the Philadelphia miniature of the Marquess, so the hair might be compared:

EXCEPTIONALLY blond here; and obviously NOT the exact same picture (although also by Engleheart).

Sotheby’s gave a reference, and I’ve found the book on books.google – George Engleheart, 1750-1829: miniature painter to George III. Check out some of the other sitters: I see LADY CUNLIFFE, surely Mary, the “relict” of Sir Ellis (the year painted 1782, so without a first name, it’s impossible to know for sure from this one source, but my find of Mary being sold in a 1980 auction it MUST be the same piece). And there is mega-mention of the GOSLING family! Oh my gosh, look at them all:

under 1785: Miss Gosling   [could this be William’s sister, the future Mrs Gregg?]

under 1787: Mr Gosling

under 1788: Mrs Gosling

under 1790: Mrs Gosling, Sen.

under 1793: Mr Gosling

under 1805: Mr Gosling

Oh! this is maddening! no first names, only dates of marriages to guess who “Mrs Gosling Senior” might have been. Another KILLER!

At the back of the book, there is an index of miniatures and their owners (in 1902!), and there we see SOME of the first names: a Mrs RODWELL, of Eaton Square possessed those of FRANCIS and BARBARA GOSLING. But that only accounts for TWO out of SIX miniatures! Because of the dates one might guess this pair to be those painted in 1787 and 1788 (Francis Gosling II married Barbara Baker in 1777).

Mrs Gosling, Sen. I would all along guess to be William’s mother, the former Miss Houghton; but that might just be a “hopeful” guess…

Either of the other two could be William — or some other Gosling. Maddening! Maddening…

There are various Christie’s (though I cannot claim the Rev. Mr Christie to be of this family), various Colebrookes (ditto the idea that probably not all are relatives to Sir George Colebrooke).

Also maddening is that the Anne Mee miniature of Sarah Smith gets so little attention! If anyone has any picture of this work (yes, someday I will contact Sotheby’s to see what THEY have), do contact me.

Mrs Mee has several “little biographies” in this link (a Notes & Queries), and includes comments by none other than Algernon Graves!

To finish this post, I just comment on the second “missing” portrait, part of Lot 304:

“and another miniature of his wife Maria, Marchioness of Northampton, circa 1795, with powered and piled hair, wearing a white dress, cloud and sky background, cracked, gold frame, glazed hair reverse”

This last is also (I believe; swear I saw it somewhere) by Mrs Mee.

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