Royal Archives: Sense and Sensibility sale, 1811

July 24, 2018 at 9:12 am (books, british royalty, history, jasna, news) (, , , , )

As a member of the Georgian Paper Programme – a group formed around the digital project that is presenting to the world the Georgian-era holdings of the Royal Archives in Windsor, notice came about a “JANE AUSTEN FIND“!


“A graduate student working in the Royal Archives… came across a previously unknown 1811 bill of sale from a London bookseller, charging the Prince Regent 15 shillings for a copy of “Sense and Sensibility,” says a New York Times article. It is (of course) entitled “Jane Austen’s First Buyer?” The date of the transaction took place “TWO DAYS before the book’s first public advertisement – making it what scholars believe to be the first documented sale of an Austen book.”

Having studied letters, like Mozart’s to the Prince Archbishop, _I_ am less critical of Austen’s dedication to the Prince Regent in her novel Emma. One showed deference in writing such during the period. And everyone was (and is) entitled to their own opinions about the Royal Family, including the Prince of Wales (Prince Regent) and his brothers. This, however, IS a GREAT highlight of a very useful collection – and rather unexpected, which is what makes it a true *FIND*. The NY Times names Nicholas Foretek, a first-year Ph.D student (history, UPenn), who was researching “connections between late-18th-century political figures and the publishing world.”

“‘Debt is really great for historians,’ Mr. Foretek said, ‘It generates a lot of bills.'” I have a feeling we’ll be hearing from Foretek in upcoming years, at JASNA AGMs.

* * *

READ: Nicholas Foretek’s blog post on the discovery of Jane Austen and the Prince Regent: The Very First Purchase of an Austen Novel [Sept19: updated link; but pictures might not load]
An alternate: Smithsonian magazine

WATCH: This recent Library of Congress Symposium features FOUR speakers talking about various aspects of the GPP (Georgian Papers Programme) project. (nearly 2 hours in length; includes an interesting Q&A session)

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Secrets from the Royal Archives

February 5, 2017 at 2:23 pm (british royalty, diaries, entertainment, history, news, people) (, , )

The Vaults are OPENING!

For some time I have been reading about the Georgian Papers Programme. I cannot say I am one to read timelines, and hadn’t realized until author and researcher Charlotte Frost sent me a link: The end of January 2017 produced the first glimpses of this five-year project, which unearths documents from the Royal Archives and the Royal Library at Windsor.

FABULOUSLY, the entire project will be free-of-charge and available Worldwide!

According to the recent press release, by the year 2020 350,000 documents from the Georgian period will be available to researchers, scholars and the general public alike – an estimate is that only 15% of the holdings has ever been published.


It is well worth the effort to find the BBC TV program George III – The Genius of the Mad King, which I found to be a fascinating peep into the early days of this “opening of the archives”. From researchers finding a lock of hair, to a look at Frogmore – the retreat of Queen Charlotte and her daughters, to the cries of Princess Amelia (above) through her letters.

Authorized by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, public access is through the cooperation of the Royal Collection Trust, King’s College London, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture, William & Mary, as well as other key U.S. institutions such as the Library of Congress, Mount Vernon and the Sons of the American Revolution.

  • Read Smithson Magazine’s article on seeing the American Revolution through the Eyes of George III

The documents NOW online are a treat to someone like me, with an eye for the Queen and the royal princesses: The Queen’s diaries have shown me, written in her own hand, that the Queen saw “Miss Meen the Paintress” on the 27 October 1789. This was a fertile period for Margaret Meen – and for her pupils, the four Smith Sisters of Erle Stoke Park, Wiltshire.

I’ve also read a letter from Queen Charlotte to her husband in which the Walsinghams were mentioned – these are relations of Charlotte Gosling (née the Hon. Charlotte de Grey, a daughter of Lord Walsingham; step-mother to my diarist, Mary Gosling). I’ve recently come across a small group of letters, some of which were written from “Old Windsor”, by Charlotte Gosling’s mother. It’s always exciting to find another side of the same conversation!

The digital items also include documents relating to Lady Charlotte Finch and the children of the royal nursery. I’m sure there are many Jane Austen fans who will LOVE to walk through the Georgian Menu Books. They run to 24 volumes! And include menus from Carlton House, Windsor, St. James, and the Brighton Pavilion. _I_ may even have mention of a few of those parties, in diaries and letters, by those who attended (a thrilling thought).

In short, there is MUCH to explore – and many more items to come!

“With Her Majesty’s full authority, the project is part of Royal Collection Trust’s objective to increase public access to and understanding of primary source material held in the collection.”


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Were the CROWDS as JUBILANT in 1796?

May 2, 2015 at 10:08 am (british royalty, europe) ()

In 1796, my Smith & Gosling girls were mere shadows in their mothers’ eyes, but that January saw the birth of a prospective Monarch of England – a baby girl ultimately known as Princess Charlotte of Wales. Her end, in childbed, WAS cause for comment in the diaries & letters of the Smith & Gosling family. But it’s the little Princess’ birth I focus on today – on the heels of the announcement from Buckingham Palace of a Princess for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

princess charlotte


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Queen Charlotte’s Brooch

January 4, 2014 at 11:33 am (british royalty, fashion, history, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , )

I’ve been crafting some “mini-biographies” of the Smiths & Goslings lately; one gave a short history of Charlotte Gosling, Mary’s younger (half-) sister. One of the thrilling stories about her occurred early in her life: her Godmother was England’s Queen Charlotte! It is doubtful that her name derives from the Queen; Charlotte Gosling’s mother was another Charlotte, the former Charlotte de Grey. But the connection undoubtedly could not have hurt, and it is possible that Charlotte (de Grey) Gosling was named for the queen: her father, Thomas 2nd Lord Walsingham, was Groom of the Bedchamber during the 1770s (his daughter Charlotte born in 1774).

Charlotte Gosling’s niece, another Charlotte — Charlotte Christie — remembered that when baby Charlotte was christened, her godmother the Queen gave the elder Gosling girls each a brooch, with her likeness. What could have happened to such treasures?!? What might these brooches have looked like? Searching, I found one that _I_ wouldn’t have minded being gifted with, by my sister’s godmother.

queen charlotteQueen Charlotte
J.H. Hurter, 1781
enamel, copper, gold, rubies, pearls

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Georgette Heyer’s BATH TANGLE

July 24, 2013 at 9:54 am (books, british royalty, diaries, history, news) (, , , , , , , )

Now, I was rather pleased to see the portrait of Spencer Compton (Emma’s cousin; later the 2nd Marquess of Northampton) gracing the cover of a recent edition of a Georgette Heyer novel. Even so, it was a bit of a curious find when, searching for Lady Smith-Burges (Smith-Burgess is common, but not the lady’s spelling), I stumbled upon this serialization of Miss Heyer’s Bath Tangle in THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY, 3rd installment of 6 in the issue dated 13 April 1955. Heyer mentions the rumor of the marriage of Lady Smith-Burges to Lord Poulett!

heyer_smith burgess

Lady Smith-Burges was the widow of Emma’s great uncle Sir John (brother to Emma’s maternal grandfather, Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park). Indeed the couple married in the summer of 1816, the time period for this novel.

But why on earth would Heyer chose this couple?

You can see through my new Smith&Gosling Timeline what was happening in the Smith family c1816.

Susannah Praed Smith also made note of the upcoming events in her diary:

Thurs:y 18th Mr Smith was obliged to go to Town on business – and we received a letter from Lady Smith Burges to tell us the day was fixed for her Marriage with Lord Poulett and to desire us all to be present at the ceremony = on account of its taking Place the 23d – we thought we had better go to London the day before – &

Mond:y 22d we left Bersted very early – got to Norfolk St before five OClock – found Mr Smith at home expecting us –

Tues:y 23d The Duke of Clarence dined with us – and in the Evening H: R H: went with us to Picadilly – as he was to give her Lady Burges away….

Ah, ha! The Duke of Clarence, of course, was the future King William IV; undoubtedly, their marriage was BIG news in 1816, and Heyer used it to advantage.

heyer_bath tangle

You can read the entire serialization at TROVE:

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Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

June 2, 2012 at 6:49 am (british royalty, history) (, , , )

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Knit Your Own Royal Wedding

July 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm (books, british royalty) (, , , , )

Gotta Love It!

In honor of the Royal Couple’s North American Tour, I post the book that elicited so many chuckles when I spotted it:

William and Harry are somehow dead ringers. And I just LOVE the Corgis!

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Princess Charlotte’s Dresses – Royal Wedding, 1816

April 30, 2011 at 11:57 am (british royalty, fashion, news, people) (, , , )

The day after the wedding of the Princess Charlotte of Wales to Prince Leopold, the following ran in The Morning Post:

“According to our promise yesterday, we submit the following description of the elegant Wedding Suits, &c. of her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte, executed by Mrs. Triaud, of Bolton-street, Milliner, Dress, and Court Dress Maker, by appointment, to her Royal Highness: —

1. The Wedding Dress, composed of a most magnificent silver lama, on net, over a rich silver tissue slip, with a superb border of silver lama embroidery at the bottom, forming shells and bouquets; above the border a most elegant fulling, tastefully designed, in festoons of rich silver lama, and finished with a very brilliant row of lama. The body and sleeves to correspond, trimmed with most beautiful Brussels point lace, in a peculiarly elegant style, &c. The manteau of rich silver tissue, lined with white satin, trimmed round with a most superb silver lama border, in shells, to correspond with the dress, and fastened in front with a most brilliant and tasteful ornament of diamonds. The whole of the dress surpassed all conception, particularly in the brilliancy and richness of its effect. Head dress, a wreath of rose-buds and leaves, composed of the most superb brilliants.”

The newspaper then goes on to describe eleven other dresses! They then pronounce, “Our limits will not permit us to proceed farther; but it suffices to say, that several other dresses, equally rich and beautiful in effect, but too numberous to be described, complete this part of her Royal Highness’s marriage suits.” Those curious to see the entire list: email me, or post a comment here with your email address.

“The three following were among the other numerous and splendid dresses for the occasion, particularly admired, which were also executed by Mrs. Triaud [my! she was one busy lady]:

Lady Emily Murray [a description follows]
Lady Elizabeth Montague [ditto]
Mrs. Campbell [ditto]

The reader is then treated with a run down of the costumes of some luminaries present: Princess Augusta, Princess Mary, Princess Sophia of Gloucester. The Marchioness of Winchester, the Dowager Countess of Pembroke, Lady Radstock, Lady Isabella Thynne; Lady Mary Paulett, The Hon. Mrs. Courtny [sic] Boyle, Mrs. Courtnay Boyle, Mrs. Adams.

Now, Lady Mary Paulett is of interest: this young lady was the daughter of Earl Paulett (also found it spelled Poulett) — he would quite soon wed the widowed Lady Smith-Burges! It must be remembered, that the Duke of Clarence would give that bride away. Oh…, what family members (whom I do not know attended) might have attended the wedding of the Princess Charlotte then?!

The gentlemen take up far less room in the article (of course!) – their costume consisting of many military uniforms or velvet suits. Among those mentioned: The Prince Regent (how could he not be?!), The Dukes of York and Clarence, the Prince Coburg; the Marquis of Hertford; Edward Disbrowe; Viscount Lord Lake, Robert Chester, the Rt Hon. Charles Arbuthnot, the Marquis of Cholmondeley, and the Hon. C. Percy.

There are Disbrowes who show up in my research; who could this particular Edward be? He is described here as the Vice Chamberlain to the Queen, and (though it sounds so funny) is described as in “A suit nearly the same as the Marquis of Hertford.” No one would dare write such about two ladies!

NB: I received today a curious little email, dated April 29th, sent from the Blackberry of a British acquaintance who claimed to have “been at a certain wedding”. Really? More details, if I get them!

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Royal Wedding, circa 1816

April 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm (a day in the life, british royalty, fashion, news, people) (, , , , , , , )

Hmmm… many Jane Austen sites have had a similar idea: to focus on the “wedding of the century” in Jane Austen’s lifetime, that of the Princess Charlotte to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg in May 1816.

To read those accounts, see Austenonly; Jane Austen’s World; The Regency Fashion Page; Princess Charlotte’s page on Wikipedia.

All give detailed accounts of the princess’ wedding dress. So I guess I won’t go there! Although it was hearing that the dress was “on display” which interested me in the first place.

But, with a little digging, Smith&Gosling can offer some “timely” insight from sources more in the know: The Princess Charlotte was mentioned in the letters and diaries; at least once with some amusement in a letter written by Emma Smith.

* * *

A brief “book break” —

Here is a slightly unusual book on the Princess: Mrs Herbert Jones’ The Princess Charlotte of Wales: An Illustrated Monograph (1885).
The Memoirs of the late Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales and Saxe Cobourg (1818).
The Life & Memoirs of Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte (1821).
Royal Correspondence, or Letters between her late Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte and her Royal Mother, Queen Caroline (1822).

* * *

And on to Emma Smith!

Mary Gosling’s girlhood diaries are of travels; so far (maybe…), there is nothing “daily” prior to 1829. Emma Smith, however, began keeping a daily journal in 1815. Youthful Mary is perhaps a loss when it is realized that her youngest sister, Charlotte, had as godmother QUEEN CHARLOTTE!

Emma, at this stage in her life, makes a nice reporter. Why? because she had met (and corresponded with) one of the daughters of the Duke of Clarence (the future William IV). The Duke and the Miss Fitzclarences even attended a gathering, to which Emma went in May 1815, at her aunt Mrs Thomas Smith’s home. Surely Mary and Elizabeth were the “two Goslings” who accompanied Mamma, Augusta, Emma and Fanny.

But let’s focus on weddings. From Emma’s 1816 diary:

Friday 3 May The princess Charlotte was married to the Prince of Saxe Coburgh. The ceremony was performed at Carleton house & afterwards they went to Oatlands.

Wednesday 29 May Mama & Augusta dined at Mrs Gosling’s then they went to the Ancient Music where they saw the Princess Charlotte & the Prince of Saxe Coburgh I drank tea with the Goslings

Monday 22 July The Princess Mary married the Duke of Gloster a very sumptuous wedding at the Queen’s house. they then went to Bagshot

Tuesday 23 July Lady Burges was married to the Earl of Poulett at her house Picadilly  There were about 18 people at the wedding the Duke of Clarence gave her away

Lady Smith-Burges was Emma’s great aunt, the widow of Sir John Smith-Burges (he took his wife’s name), brother of Sir Drummond Smith and Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park.

more soon (including Emma’s rather amusing letter…)

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