Plot Thickens: Clarissa Trant

June 25, 2012 at 10:06 pm (books, diaries, history, jane austen, people) (, , , , , , , , )

I love the Clarissa Trant book because she treats the same period — she was born in November 1800 — as Mary and Emma lived through. Yet she lived a life far different from the average English girl.

So, flipping through I thought it wonderful to read about what made a young man “shine” in her eyes (see previous post on Charles Boyle). Then, reading the introduction over again afterwards, the realization comes that if John Bramston had proposed to Charlotte Smith, Clarissa Trant, too, had an earlier proposal:

“Clarissa was often wooed but hard to win.” C.G. Luard, the editor, continues, “I have counted twelve suitors and there are indications of more. She had a strong sense of the fitness of things, and we find her haughtily refusing a rich widower, on the one hand, and her friend Charles Boyle — whom she greatly liked and admired — as too exalted for her, on the other hand.”

Clarissa DID head towards the altar, however, with a Colonel Cameron. As with some of the Seymour siblings who married into the Smith family, there was family contention over money. According to Luard, once the settlement negotiations broke down, the “young man seems to have made no sort of fight for Clarissa”. Like many an Austen heroine, Clarissa Trant’s father — a career military man in the age of the Napoleonic Wars, had no fortune.

I was lucky enough to quickly peek at Clarissa Trant’s early diaries: they are microfilmed as part of the same series “Women’s Language and Experience“, part 5, Essex, as Mary Gosling/Lady Smith’s diaries!

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Bramston of Skreens

July 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm (books, estates, news, people, places, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , )

Happy are the days when you pull out an old book and find a new “find”! Years ago I got the Journal of Clarissa Trant. I had long known she married John Bramston, the young son of the Bramstons of Skreens who came and went with such frequency through the diaries of the Smiths of Suttons. Last night, I pulled out the Journal once again, to see what Clarissa had to say about her upbringing — though done mainly on the Continent, it was far different from anything the young Smiths knew.

Looking at the list of illustrations today I was surprised to be “reminded” that the Journal ends with words about her marriage — and a portrait of young John Bramston!

So here a new portrait enters our little blog family:

The Journal puts the portrait as c1826, and assumes it was done during a trip to the Continent.

John Bramston is an interesting figure in the Smiths history because he seems at one point to have been attached to Emma’s younger sister, Charlotte. He seems to have withdrawn, causing the Smiths a bit of… hmm… how shall I put this? to be a bit peeved at him…

Four years ago, when at Duke University, I looked at the unpublished diaries of Clarissa Trant Bramston, hoping for SOME comments about the Smiths; I found nothing. Did the junior branch of the Bramstons fall out of favor with the Smiths? Did John’s wife not associate with his old friends, and their neighbors? Some questions are still yet to be answered.

To see other portraits, gathered mainly from online sources, see PORTRAITS.

A nice little web history of Clarissa Trant can be found here.

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