Judge a Letter by its Cover

January 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm (people, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

When Craig from Australia — a most helpful Smith&Gosling “fan”! — wrote about a letter he found, the tell-tale tidbit that attracted me was hearing that it was addressed to the Marquess of Northampton. Its dating, to 1824, meant to the first Marquess — husband of Mamma Smith’s sister Maria, father to Lord Compton (the 2nd Marquess) and his sister Lady Elizabeth Compton (later married to Charles Scrase Dickins).

The idea that came into my brain while corresponding with Craig was that, although his find might be addressed TO Lord Northampton — the enclosed LETTER might very well be addressed to someone else!

My evidence?

At the Essex Record Office, there is a small set of letters, written by “the children” — as Emma referred to her two youngest sisters (her younger brothers were in school), Charlotte and Maria — but the girls, while addressing their letters to eldest sister Augusta and to Mamma, addressed their envelopes to “Le Chevalier Charles Smith“!

Obviously, therefore, the “head of the household” was the letter recipient whenever letters were sent Poste Restante or to be called for at, say, the offices of the family’s foreign banker.

Just one exceptionally interesting “find” while delving back in time nearly 200 years. Stay tuned for more!

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Where there’s a WILL

November 21, 2010 at 12:52 pm (a day in the life, fashion) (, , , , , , , , , )

Yesterday, rather bored and wanting something to transcribe rather than write (I’m slowing working on my book about the Goslings & Smiths; a book review is due in a month, which is more or less done), I purchased and downloaded two wills – for Charles Joshua Smith and his wife Mary (Gosling) Smith.

One interesting feature of Charles’: he named Mary the guardian of his children — as long only as she remained his widow! If she remarried, then guardianship of the three (Charles Cunliffe Smith, Mary Charlotte Smith, Augusta Elizabeth Smith) was shared with Charles’ mother (Mrs Augusta Smith) and his brother (Spencer Smith).

Mary never did remarry; although she only outlived Charles by 11 years.

The “fun” thing about Mary’s will are the ‘trinkets’ (the name she applied) gifted by her to various relatives. Today I focus on that given by her to Charlotte (Smith) Currie — or I should say intended by Mary to go to Charlotte; Mary outlived young Charlotte by two years. The Codicil in which these items were given is dated 29 September 1834 (Mary died in July 1842).

So what had she intended Charlotte Currie to have as a memento? “A bracelet with Swiss Landscapes in enamel”. That I’d LOVE to see!!

So I looked up some images of 19th century, Georgian Swiss enamel jewelry. The only “landscapes” I found were those made into pins, and dating much later than 1830s. But isn’t this specimen, from c1850, gorgeous:

This bracelet could be closer to what Mary may have owned — possibly something she bought while abroad in 1829:

This, of course, is floral rather than landscapes, but this is described as being c1840, and so is more in keeping with what Mary may have purchased.

Mary’s 1829 diary was the first seen when comparing the handwriting of  “Lady Smith of Stapleford Tawney” (as the microfilm termed her) with that of Mary Gosling; they were a match! And the first words read in that 1829 diary?

Hausmadchen zeigen sie mir eines Bettzimmer“; above which she inserted “wollen sie mir zeigen“, which is a bit more “Would you mind showing me a bedroom, Housemaid”. Obviously, a phrase written down to prepare for this trip abroad.

I must admit, that reading of these gifts (mainly jewelry, but also some token gifts of money) made Mary seem that much more “solid” for some few moments; these items trinkets, as she said, of her existence — and her esteem for those left behind.

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