Victoria’s Costume Ball, 1842

January 22, 2018 at 8:03 pm (entertainment, fashion, people) (, , , )

May 12, 1842 – and we are in the room with Prince Albert and Queen Victoria at the Plantagenet-inspired Bal Costumé:

Victoria_Ball 1842_2

I had spent the weekend working, reading through letters from 1840 through 1843. This was the opportunity to refining the dating of a few letters, as well as fixing some portions of transcriptions.

One hitherto “undated” letter mentioned what I had read in two other letters: the Queen’s Ball. This helped to definitively date the third.

Playing in the background was the ITV (“Masterpiece”) presentation, Victoria – starring Jenna Coleman. When the TV show began to discuss a costume ball, my one thought was: Is that Maria’s “Queen’s Ball”?

I went back to 1842’s group of letters …

Emma Austen’s youngest sister Maria Smith was writing to middle sister Fanny from London:

“on Thursday Ev:g is the Queen’s ball, so we must return to see Eliza dressed in her old fashioned satin brocade dress – a present from Parsloes, & Mrs Leigh Perrot’s hoop … she has been a little perplexed what to wear on her head – weather a little black velvet hat – or what.”

When I first read this, the *thrill* was to think that Mrs. Leigh Perrot’s court “hoop” had long outlived her (James Edward Austen Leigh’s great aunt had died in 1836). And also a query as to WHY Eliza Le Marchant (Emma’s younger sister) had the use of it.

That the Fanshawes were staying with the Le Marchants explains the comment that Eliza’s dress was “a present from Parsloes,” which was the name of the Fanshawe estate in Dagenham. Mrs. Fanshawe had been born Catherine (or Katherine) Le Marchant.

When Maria next wrote to Emma (as far as extant letters go), she gave a description of Lord Alford (who had married Lady Marianne Compton and was therefore a close relation) costumed as “Caesar Borgia – duke of Valentia … from Raphael’s picture, with one striped black & white leg, & one slashed sleeve”.

Eliza wrote a lengthy letter describing the evening – but that letter is still “missing“.

Victoria_Ball 1842

Eliza and Denis Le Marchant planned to bring young Maria to the upcoming Drawing Room. Maria, who had met Queen Victoria before her marriage, wanted to attend a Drawing Room where Prince Albert was at her side. “In all probability this will be the last time in my life that I do anything so gay,” admitted Maria.

In my very first blog post (June 1, 2008) I described Emma and her sister-in-law Mary as “two ordinary girls”. Thank goodness that ordinary lives back in the 19th century included so many diaries and letters. And Fancy-Dress Balls!

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Sotheby’s Silver Secret

May 22, 2016 at 8:03 pm (entertainment, history) (, , )

Click on the photo to read the history behind this pair of Candelabra, dating from the era of George IV – They once belonged to Denis and Eliza Le Marchant! Oh, the parties this pair must have witnessed…

Le Marchant Candlesticks

Sold at auction in December 2007, the price as the hammer dropped was £94,100. Do not hesitate to take a closer look with the “zoom” feature.

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Elusive Eliza Smith (Sarah Eliza, Lady Le Marchant)

March 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm (news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

GROAN!

The ever-so-obliging Charlotte Frost, author of the new biography on Sir William Knighton, a Regency-era physician (include among his patrons, the Prince of Wales), consented to do a little research for me while she was consulting the Parliamentary Archives on her own behalf. What she turned up, however, was not quite what I had expected…

In the papers of Denis Le Marchant (at the archives) is a line item entitled “Photographs of Le Marchant family members“. The description reads: Four photographs entitled “Ewhurst, 1874, early photos of Le Marchant family”: Eliza Le Marchant, W G Le Marchant, H C Le Marchant and E T Le Marchant.

For a couple of years I’ve had dreams of seeing Eliza, Miss Sarah Eliza Smith, Lady Le Marchant.

Alas, alas… be careful what you wish for!

The foursome photographed individually are … all … CHILDREN! Not one “older” lady among them!

Charlotte kindly photographed the backside of them as well, and indeed they are ID’ed with the initials seen above. Maddeningly, someone seems to have “shrink wrapped” the pictures, along with the “envelope” they had once been kept in, which is attached to the backside. The writing on the back of the photos seems to read: W. Le M [this one cut off by the envelope; all you see is W L and part of the upper tail of the M]; H C Le M; and E.T. Le M — the fourth, a robust little boy — is entirely hidden by the envelope. He certainly is not “Eliza”!

The envelope reads:

Ewherst 1874 [looks more like Ervhist!]
Early Photoes [sic]
        of
[sth crossed out] E Le M
                                WG   ”   ”
                                H  C  ”    ”

So who even came up with the idea that any represented an Eliza?? And who is that fourth child?

Searching (for I had known all along the others were probably children, for the initials did not fit Eliza and Denis’ own immediate family), I find the following people:

  • Sir Edward Thomas Le Marchant, 4th bart (b 1871)
  • William Gaspard Le Marchant (b 1873)
  • Herbert Carey Le Marchant (b 1875) [which makes no sense with Ewhurst 1874… so somebody’s incorrect!]
  • and no mention of their daughter

These being children of the son of Denis and Eliza, Henry Denis Le Marchant (b 1839) and the hon. Sophia Strutt.

The Debrett’s of 1879 describes “Widow living of 1st Baront — SARAH ELIZA (Lady Le Marchant), da. of Charles Smith, Esq., formerly M.P. for Westbury; m. 1835 Sir Denis Le Marchant, 1st baronet, who d. 1874. Residence, 2, Easton Place West, S.W.”

Eliza, Lady Le Marchant, died in 1894.

Needless to say, I’m still on the HUNT for a photograph of the Elusive Eliza.

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Happy 2012!!!

January 1, 2012 at 11:52 am (entertainment, research) (, , , , , , , )

Mary, Emma and I wish everyone

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I’m looking forward, in 2012, to acquainting readers with the history of the Smiths&Goslings – they lived through SUCH an extraordinary period. I light to think of my girls (born in 1800 and 1801) as going from the horse and carriage age, through the steam age and into the train age. Plus they knew and met some extraordinary people.

Yet it is their own histories, the every-day lives they and their families and friends lived that remains most compelling.

Their stories can only be told through their own words, bolstered by media reports extant public evidence, and illustrated by their own images and artwork.

I was reading some letters from 1825 — an important year, in that Belinda Colebrooke, Lady Smith (Charles’ first wife) died in January; Emma’s diary for that year is missing — and came across one from Mamma Smith, it is simply signed; just:

ASmith

I can well imagine some letters out there, which people have little idea who wrote them, or who they were written to. Especially if a letter is mailed to Miss Smith! For one letter I recently read, had Emma apologizing to Fanny for addressing her letter as usual, to Miss Fanny Smith — when she now (thanks to Augusta’s marriage) deserved the title Miss Smith.

It is really easy to see, from the list of items at the Hampshire Record Office, how several items passed to Emma. Therefore, other items — earlier Mamma Smith diaries; later Aunt Chute diaries — must have passed to Eliza Le Marchant, to Fanny Seymour, to Maria Culme-Seymour. Perhaps even to Spencer Smith, the sole-remaining brother.

I also like to think that some of Mary’s items still exist – perhaps subject to dispersal by her sister Elizabeth Christie. Those items at the Essex Record Office I think once belonged to her daughter Augusta, Mrs Lawrence Capel Cure.

So here’s some wishes for some new items — either in Archives (but unknown to me, like the wonderful Macklin Album, brought to my attention recently by Robin Jenkins) or in dribs-and-drabs in someone’s private collection. I’ve Richard Seymour’s diaries to work on, and some diaries and drawings that are across the country to investigate more fully.

I hope readers will comment and interact! You are my lifeline, sometimes — and I appreciate the friends I have made through this blog.

As they say in Austria — for the radio plays the Vienna New Year’s Concert: Prosit Neu Jahr!!

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