Henry Austen, Banker

January 7, 2012 at 10:06 am (books, history, jane austen, jasna, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Henry Austen, seen in this portrait later in life, after he took holy orders, was once a banker.

In the late 1990s, Clive Caplan wrote two biographical articles for Persuasions on Henry:

          • “Jane Austen’s Soldier Brother: The Military Career of Captain Henry Thomas Austen of the Oxfordshire Regiment of Militia, 1793-1801,” Persuasions, 18 (1996): 122-43.
          • “Jane Austen’s Banker Brother: Henry Thomas Austen of Austen & Co., 1801-1816,” Persuasions, 20 (1999): 68-90.

I am especially interested in obtaining information from the later publication:

In the Fall, Iris Lutz, JASNA president, spoke to our JASNA Vermont group Iris was speaking about the estates and homes in Austen’s life. Surprisingly, COTTESBROOKE came up. This was the property of the Langham family. (the link will take you to the Two Teens blog post about that talk and Henry Austen.)

The Langhams’ property figure in my research because of Langham Christie, who married Margaret Elizabeth Gosling; he eventually inherited Glyndebourne (yes, that Christie family…).

Of course all these bankers must have “known” each other — but I’ve never yet come up with definitive evidence of Henry Austen interacting in any way with the Goslings (Goslings & Sharpe) or the Curries (Currie & Co). I once posed the question to Maggie Lane, but the Gosling name was totally unfamiliar to her.

I joined JASNA only a handful of years ago; online databases that include Persuasions go back to 2000 — so just after all those juicy articles about Henry Austen. It is the online versions that the large library I have access to, the Bailey-Howe at UVM (the University of Vermont), has in its “collection.”

What’s a girl to do?

  • If any reader out there — a member of JASNA or just near a big library — can put a finger on the 1999 article, can you peruse it for me, or get me a copy (I know: it IS a lot of pages). {contact information is found on “the author” page}

FEB2012 update: Many thanks to Cathy Kawalek (of ArtsResearchNYC) and Kerri S. for helping to track down “Jane Austen’s Soldier Brother”.

MAR2012 update: Thanks — yet again! — to Cathy Kawalek of Arts Research NYC for the second part of Clive Caplan’s wonderful study of Henry Austen.

Reading about Henry’s life-struggles makes me realize yet again that what the Austen literature desparately needs is an all-encompassing AUSTEN FAMILY biography. Alas: no mention of other banking firms, which had been one slim hope I had held. Can’t wait for the Louisville AGM in a few years… for its focus is Living in Jane Austen’s World. I’d love to see some biographical studies – Yeah!

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Henry Austen & Cottesbrooke

September 27, 2011 at 8:40 am (estates, history, jane austen, jasna, people, places) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I am not one to speculate on Jane Austen’s novels — certainly not on what estates (IF any were in mind) might have served as prototypes for estates in her novels.

But Sunday (25 Sept 2011) our local JASNA-Vermont chapter hosted a talk given by incoming JASNA president, Iris Lutz. I first corresponded with Iris about five years ago when starting to think about getting up a chapter in the state — Iris was VP for Regions then. She put me in contact with Carol from Montpelier — who had had a similar idea and that was how JASNA-VT got off the ground.

Iris’ illustrated talk centered on the houses — in life and fiction — she had researched and/or seen in her travels. No mention of The Vyne, which was a bit of a surprise, seeing as it is highly accessible (it’s a National Trust property); but there were wonderful photos of the likes of Godmersham (the Knight estate in Kent) and Ibthorpe (home way back when to the Lloyd family; recently sold so it’s up in the air whether subsequent JASNA tours will be able to go visit the home). I thought a great talk could be made on Godmersham alone — the fabulous interior decoration in conjunction with Austen’s comments from her letters about the house or her stay(s) there.

Then an image flashed on that looked oh-so-familiar: It was Cottesbrooke! An estate that is a bit related to this blog’s research as it once was in the Langham family. And — as you might guess from the name — Langham Christie was  related to the Langhams of Cottesbrooke.

A friend to the Langhams of Cottesbrooke turns out to have been Henry Austen, Jane’s soldier-banker-clergyman brother.

Now, I always imagined some “knowledge” of Henry Austen by the Goslings — seeing as both were in banking. In Philadelphia, at the 2009 JASNA AGM, I had asked Maggie Lane, a writer on the Austens, if she had ever come across the Gosling name (or Goslings & Sharpe) when researching Henry; she had no recollection of the name.

Working on some separating writing (an Austen book chapter), I dug out my Le Faye copy of a bio on Austen cousin (and later Henry’s wife), Eliza de Feuillaide, I spotted Clive Caplan‘s 1998 article on Henry Austen as banker. So the hunt is on for this issue of the journal. Does Caplan find any Gosling & Sharpe? Does he mention the Langhams of Cottsbrooke? Time will tell.

Iris’ talk intimated that someone somewhere had the idea that Cottesbrooke might have served as a basis for Austen’s depiction of Mansfield Park. I personally doubt she “based” too heavily, although aspects might certainly have been used about ANY estate for any of her fictional places, but the idea is intriguing. Lots out there on the subject, I now find:

Facebook and AustenOnly are the main sources. Cottesbrooke Gardens get a nod from the Telegraph. You can find more mentions of the possible Mansfield Park-Cottesbrooke connection by searching for the two together.

* * *

 27 September 1801

on this day was born Emma Smith

who married James Edward Austen, later Austen Leigh

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La belle assemblee, or Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine

May 1, 2011 at 11:22 am (books, fashion, news, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

La Belle Assemblée (1806-1868) (also called Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine)

This magazine is exceptionally difficult to find within books.google: it may be the accent in Assemblée; there are issues out there, but not easily found with its title! I’m doing my best to flesh out the copies, and actually just found a few *new* ones yesterday!!

Charlotte Frost, whose interview about her biography on Sir William Knighton can be read on this blog (part 1, part 2), actually gifted me with a bound copy of volume July thru Supplement for 1818. Wasn’t that kind of her. That volume is  found online (see below).

So what has interested me, seemingly all of a sudden, in this periodical. I found a “relation” to members of family. Oh, the story is long (have a seat, grab a cup of tea):

The portrait seen here, of Lady Langham, wife of Sir William, appears in the January 1809 issue of La belle assemblée. The brief bio that appears quite clearly speaks of her in the present-tense:

“LADY LANGHAM, whose portrait, from the celebrated pencil of Hopner,…is the only daughter of the Hon. Charles Vane, by Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Wood, Esq. of Hollin, in the County of York. Her Ladyship is married to Sir William Langham Bart. of Cotesbroke [sic: Cottesbrooke], Northamptonshire.”

Some Baronetages list Lady Langham as having died in 1807! Even a private family publication, The Christies of Glyndbourne (where she is ID as Elizabeth FANE), gives her death as 1807. An old copy of Debrett’s is surely more correct, given the above January 1809 bio, in saying that she died in November 1809. Yes, this vibrant young woman was soon taken from her family, aged only 29.

The rather curious-infuriating part: her widower seems to have REmarried in May 1810! Where are the stout-hearted fathers and widowers like William Gosling, who wait YEARS before remarrying???

Sir William’s second wife is quite probably the LADY LANGHAM Mary Gosling/Lady Smith refers to: she was the former Augusta Priscilla IRBY, only daughter of William Henry Irby and therefore the niece of Frederick Lord Boston. Mary’s stepmother Charlotte de Gray (Charlotte Gosling)’s maternal grandfather was the first Lord Boston; Mary’s diaries are sprinkled with Irbys.

But “Langham” should also be a name familiar to readers of TWO TEENS: Langham Christie, the husband of eldest Gosling sister, Elizabeth. Indeed, that same older Debrett’s lays out the intersecting Langham of Cottesbrooke Baronets (no sons often meant the title went — time and again — to a nephew or uncle or sibling, so it jumps around a LOT). Langham Christie’s grandfather, Purbeck Langham — who married Elizabeth Lawton and had among his children Langham’s eventual mother, also named Elizabeth — was the brother of the 2nd and 3rd Baronets. The 4th Baronet’s grandson became the 8th Baronet and was the Sir William who married our lovely lady shown here. (SEE! we did return to her, in the end…).

Ah! I forgot to mention: Elizabeth Lawton’s sister JANE LAWTON married the 8th Earl of Northampton — and this, (of course), is the family from whom Emma’s cousin Spencer, the 2nd Marquess Northampton, descends. Oh, such interweaving of little family histories. No wonder Langham and Charles Christie were so around the Smiths: they were in turn related to Smith relatives (the Comptons of Castle Ashby). The Christies of Glyndebourne was the first to drop that little piece of info into my lap.

Very interesting to see this engraving of the Hopner portrait, for it SO reminds me of portraits by Vigée Le Brun (see, for instance the 1791 portrait of Hyacinth Gabrielle Roland, at Bat Guano – the wonderful site dedicated to this artist). You can see her self-portrait at the Kimball Museum, in Fort Worth, Texas! (Fort Worth is the site of this autumn’s Annual General Meeting, or AGM, for the Jane Austen Society of North America.)

* * *

This page is NOT being updated; see link for La Belle Assemblée’s page

So, in a VERY long-winded way, this post introduces the numbers of this journal that I HAVE found online. Enjoy!

February-July 1806; August-December 1806
*new find!*
January-June 1807; July-December 1807 (same issue at Internet Archive)

January-June 1809; July-December 1809
January-June 1810 (alternative link to issue ); July-December 1810
January 1811 (supplemental); January-June 1811; July-December 1811
January-June 1812; July-December 1812

July-December 1814 *new find!*

January-June; July-December 1818; January-December 1818 (Internet Archive) *new find!*

New Series:

January-June 1820

January-June 1823 *new find!*

July-December 1830

January-June 1832
January-June 1833; July-December 1833
January-June 1834; July-December 1834
July-December 1835
July-December 1836 *new find!*

January-June 1837

January-June 1850

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