Week of 8 December…1826

December 10, 2008 at 10:42 pm (a day in the life) (, , , )

As we prepare for the Christmas season (some of us avoiding the crowds and the shopping as best we can…), it is interesting to take a look at some of the early diaries – for instance, Charles’ diary from the first Christmas he and Mary shared together.

That particular year, December 8 was a Friday. Charles has been away – on a shooting party (‘very great sport’, he reported on the 7th), and returns to welcome his younger brothers Spencer and  Drummond, who also arrive at Suttons: ‘found Drummond looking well  Spencer surprised us having passed his examinations at Oxford.’ The following day he notes that Mary departed for Roehampton – this the estate of her father, Roehampton Grove. Charles doesn’t mention church on Sunday, but a visit to Skreens is noted. Skreens is the Bramston estate, a neighbor of Suttons. Then he’s off to work: Monday sees a Grand Jury convened. Charles dines with the two judges. As a landowner, he of course is a magistrate. The 12th: ‘Grand Jury – War declared with Spain to protect Portugal.’ The 13th: Returned to Suttons  the Edridges still there  Mr Cannings speech. More shooting on the 14th and only the next day, Friday the 15th does he say ‘Went to Roehampton’.

Emma’s diary fills in some of the details, as she too visited Chicksands, the estate at which the shooting party stayed. She gives the reason for Mary’s early departure: ‘Milder {ie, the weather}  Mary Mamma & I left Chicksands  Charles staid for one days more shooting & Fanny remained instead of Mary that the latter might be present at the giving away of clothes to the poor’. This was an exceptionally important function of a lady of the manor, as well as her daughters. Mary undoubtedly had people to whom she yearly provided warm clothes and this December, the first of her marriage, she evidently wanted to remember those whom she had cared for over the last ten or so years. Drummond is ‘just in the 5th form’, Emma declares. The Smith ladies proceeded to Suttons where, on the 8th ‘The Poor people came for their clothes.’ The ladies then entertained the Edridge girls, Elizabeth and Charlotte. She too says ‘In the afternoon Spencer arrived unexpectedly after taking a good degree last Saturday’.

Mamma Smith visits her sister-in-law (the children’s ‘Aunt’ – the only name by which Judith Smith is known to the youngsters), who is unwell. Interesting weather – how very like Vermont: ‘The first part of the week cold  the latter part mild’. Charles, as we know from his own diary, ‘went to Skreens for the Assize at Chelmsford  the accounts of Uncle Thos. this week are much the same’.  Poor Thomas Chute would live through the holidays, but not see much of 1827… The 13th: Charles returned from Skreens  Joseph was rather hurt by the gig going over his leg  The Edridges went away– Mild & bright  The accounts of Uncle Thos. much the same  his pulse is good’. The 14th, Emma, too, mentions the political situation: ‘we heard that the English are going to assist the Portuguese against their rebel countrymen who are supported by the Spanish — & troops are embarking for Portugal’. While Charles departs on the 15th for Roehampton – his father-in-law, according to Emma, stops at Suttons en route from his own Essex estate of Hassobury! He remains a couple days.  …And so will we.

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