Adele: Someone Like You

July 22, 2012 at 5:12 am (entertainment, people, places) (, , , , , , )

Listening to this, it caught my imagination that so many of the words could (perhaps?) describe the feelings that might have run through Mary Gosling’s mind when it was announced that Charles Smith was to marry Belinda Colebrooke.

Charles proposed, witnessed by Caroline Wiggett, in Paris, near the end of the family’s year abroad (1822-1823). Charles and Belinda married in October, 1823.

I heard … that you found a girl and you’re married now… Old friend, why are you so shy?

For me, it isn’t over.

Who would have known, how bittersweet…?

Mary’s “someone like you” turned out to be Charles himself…

They married in July, 1826.

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Garrow in Essex (1829)

September 18, 2011 at 9:09 am (diaries, history, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This past weekend I’ve given myself a “filler” job – to read through the diaries of Charles and Mary Smith which overlap each other, namely, the years 1829 and 1830.

Charles Joshua Smith began his (extant) diaries July 1826 — on his wedding day to Mary Gosling, although you’d NEVER know it from his matter-of-fact comment about driving Mary to Suttons.

Mary’s (extant) diaries begin January 1829, following the birth of her second child, Mary Charlotte (called Mimi). That other diaries exist — or at least existed — I have no doubt. Charles may have destroyed his former diaries; a loss if the case – as they would have contained comments of his Continental and Russian travels (if going back to the early 1820s), his marriage to Belinda Colebrooke, her death, his engagement (about which I’d KILL to know more) to Mary Gosling in the spring of 1826. Mary’s diaries surely began far earlier than 1829, and given the “holes” in the series, her diaries must have been dispursed between her children – maybe even were resident at Suttons (sold mid-20th century) until the estate was sold out of the family. A couple mysteries still awaiting solution.

So only two years exist in which husband AND wife comment on their daily lives. A lot of illness — and more to come with the decline of Charles’ health (he died in January 1831); some visits to Suttons by Emma and Edward Austen. The marriage of Margaret Elizabeth Gosling, Mary’s elder sister, with Langham Christie, and visits to Suttons by the Smiths and Goslings; and visits to ‘Town’ by Mary, Charles and the children. Charles attends some agricultural courses; obtains new livestock and looks after farm matters; and does his duty at the Law Sessions.

It is March 1829, and Charles writes of travelling to CHELMSFORD (Essex):

“Judges, Chief Baron Alexander & Sir William Garrow; a heavy calendar  about 150 Prisoners, not many very heavy offences”

Sir William Garrow (died 1840), now judge at Assizes, would not retire until 1832.

Charles arrived at Chelmsford on 9 March (a Monday); the following day he writes of the Grand Jury being charged and that he “Dined with the Judges who seemed anxious to have another {unreadable} Sessions established”.

Wednesday, the 11th, was “all the morning” on the Grand Jury; he noted “A very full attendance”. Court was “dismissed” the next day (Thursday, the 12th) at noon.

Garrow first appears in Charles’s 1828 diary, when he is one of the Judges at the Chelmsford Assizes in July. Again the session ran Monday through Thursday. One prisoner (whose case Garrow did not preside over), John Williams, was sent for execution.

Garrow appears by name for the last time in December 1829, when Charles notes his Grand Jury work on Wednesday the 10th. By this time, Garrow, born in 1760, would have been 69-years-old.

Can’t wait for the third season of Garrow’s Law — in December 2011, I heard; will now relish it for yet another different reason: Sir William Garrow and Sir Charles Joshua Smith of Suttons actually met!

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Bright Star

October 4, 2010 at 8:09 pm (people, places) (, , , , , , , , , , )

A few weeks ago I rented the film Bright Star. Must admit to knowing  very little about the life of John Keats – and even less about his poetry. I was, however, interested in young Fanny Brawne. And what grabbed me from the beginning of the film was its “setting”: 1818, Hampstead! Which is the area (and era) in which Belinda and Harriet Colebrooke lived. Could the three ladies have met?? What intriguing ideas come out of such a thought!

I will agree with my friend Hope, in admiring the costumes — though are we really to believe that three years go by and Keats as well as his friend Brown are still wearing the same clothes? That got rather tedious, I must admit.

So, in wanting to find out more than this film offered about Fanny, I went to the library to pick up the old biography (the only biography), which I’m about half-way through: Joanna Richardson’s Fanny Brawne: A Biography (1952). It’s a slim volume, but has some source material no one will ever duplicate: the author spoke with Brawne’s grand-daughter.

Gale Flament, in a master’s degree thesis (2007), examines the MATERIAL goods Fanny has left behind: her fashion plates and (more importantly) samples of her needlework. The biographical material might have benefited from a good editing, but as evidence of some wonderful investigation among such thankfully-preserved materials from this time period, I recommend Flament’s writing, which is available online via pdf.

One thing that struck me: Fanny paying for the letter the mail carrier delivers to her door! People forget that before the advent of stamps it was the recipient who paid for letters – dependent upon weight (number of pages) and distance. The film did a pretty good job at making a letter look like a letter of that era – though I am wondering about that single postmark…. Postal History enthusiasts can fill us in on that, if they’ve a desire to help out!

In coming months I’ll be paying a bit more attention to post marks, as I prepare an upcoming article. So any books on the subject, or reliable websites — do let me know.

Anyone with some other interesting bits on Fanny Brawne — or anything that ties her to my Colebrooke sisters, do drop me a line. Kind of fun to envision them all at the same little dances and dinners! Sometimes, indeed, truth is stranger than fiction.

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The Baillie Connection

March 23, 2009 at 9:48 pm (people) (, , , , , , )

My dear Miss Colebrooke

I write to you in place of my Sister who is not well to day. She received your note on Sunday forenoon, and sent a person to Grosvenor St: early on monday morning to catch Dr Baillie before he should be gone out, and received an immediate answer.—- In this he desires her to inform you, that he will make an early arrangement to see Mrs Lee, after he is informed of her return from Brighton, in order to give his opinion of her case….

My sister & I were very sorry on reading your note to find Mrs Lee has been & continues so much an Invalid. I hope it will please God to restore her again to perfect health after all her suffering. I called this morning at Branch Lodge & learnt that you are expected home today….

With All kind wishes to your Invalid & to you & your Sister & the Miss Lees, in which my Sister joins me heartily,

I remain, my dear Miss Colebrooke

most truly yours

J Baillie

Red Lion hill
tuesday morning

colebrookeImagine my surprise finding this undated letter among those in the 2-volume set of The Collected Letters of Joanna Baillie! That it was sent to Miss Belinda Colebrooke I have no doubt. According to Emma Smith, the Colebrookes were residing in Hampstead at a place Emma calls Branch Hill Lodge; Miss Baillie addresses her letter, thusly:

Miss Colbrook
Branch Lodge

Mrs Lee, with whom the Colebrooke girls lived after their grandmother Lady Colebrooke died, and herein referred to as the ‘Invalid,’ is the topic of Emma’s February 4th 1820 diary entry:

Belinda & Rosina Lee came to see us for a minute in their way to Hampstead where they were going from Brighton in order to prepare the house for Mrs Lee whose sad state of health made them very unhappy

Rosina, along with Eleanor and Jemima, was the daughter of Mrs Lee. I’m still tracking down information on the Lees, who seem to have hailed from Scotland (probably Edinburgh).

I have long known the Smiths knew Joanna Baillie (Emma and Belinda visit her and her sister Agnes the following March); this is the first indication of a letter to Belinda.

A book, on the Colebrookes, that may be of use is

Sola bona quae honesta: The Colebrooke Family, 1650-1950
By Malcolm Sutherland
Edition: illustrated
Published by Sawd, 1998
ISBN 1872489206, 9781872489209
72 pages

If anyone can tell me about its contents concerning Harriet and Belinda, please contact me.

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