Sister Act – the Culmes of Tothill

July 11, 2021 at 1:16 pm (history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , )

While searching one of my favorite searches – John Hobart Culme Seymour, a good search because it’s a long name, an “unusual” name, and does often bring up something about the Rev. Sir John Culme Seymour instead of children or (what’s worse!) junk results – I found a most useful and interesting article.

The name “Culme” turns up a 2017 local history article in the Sid Vale Association‘s journal “Past, Present, Future”.

It seems the Sidmouth Museum has a little sketchbook – something acquired in the 1970s – once belonging to Fanny Culme, the sister of Elizabeth Culme, the first wife of Sir John Seymor, and the 2nd “Lady Seymour” (following John’s own mother).

The article is illustrated by two watercolors (evidently dating to c1819) of the area around Sidmouth; and – most tantalizing – a self-portrait of Frances Goddard Culme, aged 17. The article, by Rab and Christine Barnard, is called, invoking this self-portrait, “The Girl in the Mirror” (see pp. 34-35).

It is most interesting to me, as a researcher trying to track down such items as sketchbooks and portraits, to read that when it was first acquired, the book was thought to belong to someone named “Fanny Coulter.” By the time the book was catalogued the last name had been guessed at as “Culine.” One can readily see in the lumps comprising the “m” of CULME how this could have segued into the odd name of Culine – but thank goodness someone recognized the girl’s real identity!

The opening tale, too, indicates how spread out research items can be. Even local museums getting in on the act, which I hadn’t always anticipated, although I did recently learn of a sketchbook by the Smith sister Charlotte Judith Smith existing in just such a local museum collection in Tring. So, my eyes have been opened – but when fingers have to do the walking, the search is trebly difficult without someone prompting discovery with a well-timed “here’s what we (or I) have . . .”

Church, Kinwarton, Warcs.

I can add a bit of clarification to the assumption about Elizabeth Culme’s marriage. She and John Seymour married in April of 1833. I suspect that they performed a marriage visit to her family in May, thus the cry of “For Auld lang syne” from her sister. (Although Fanny also may have visited Elizabeth and John, an opportunity to see where her sister would be living.) I could relay more information if John’s brother Richard Seymour had made comments about their whereabouts, IF there weren’t pages cut out of Richard’s diary about the time of this marriage (mid-April is missing), as well as dates around mid-May.

There seems to have been a ‘stall’ in the engagement in early March 1833, but Richard is not specific as to the “obstacle” nor to the nature of Elizabeth’s “promise”. Richard received news, from his sister Dora (who was undergoing her own romantic tribulations…), a few days later that “Miss Culme had set aside her [……]” [=single word cut out here; I think it must be promise]. Since whatever Miss Culme set aside made the marriage ready to move forward, it cannot have been a promise to John. Had there been a promise to another man? (seems doubtful) Maybe Elizabeth had made some promise to her sister, Fanny? Though, according to the article, Fanny had already married in 1823 – and John Seymour surely held “good prospects” for Elizabeth’s future life as a clergyman’s wife.

Private “history” can be so mysterious, especially when trying to piece things together using the remains of secrets left standing in ephemeral items like letters – or (mutilated) diaries.

The article, too, helped to recognize what I had guessed at – the transcription of the word SOLTAU (Fanny’s married name). I especially was unsure of the last letter – “u” or “n”? Richard mentions Fanny Soltau in the period surrounding the death of her sister, in 1841. Elizabeth’s baby survived – and was named after her mother, though called for the rest of her life “Sissy” by her immediate family. Sissy and her two brothers were raised by Maria Smith, my diarist Emma Austen’s youngest sister, after Maria married Elizabeth’s widower in 1844. By then, Sir John had added “Culme” to his own last name of Seymour.

*

A quick note should be made as to the position of the Rev. Seymour as Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen. It was a mistake I myself made because of verbiage in certain write-ups about John Seymour. No queen in 1827. Sir John did serve as Chaplain in Ordinary to Queen Victoria, once she ascended the throne, a decade later.

In 1827, John Seymour was named Chaplain in Ordinary to the King, George IV.

Preference within the Church was of great concern for any English family with clergy sons to advance; John’s uncle Sir William Knighton was His Majesty’s Private Secretary. This last link will take you to Charlotte Frost’s website, where you have the ability to download her 2010 biography Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician for free. Or, follow the author on Twitter.

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Carte de Visite Photographers, UK, 1840-1940

April 26, 2021 at 7:43 pm (entertainment, fashion, history, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

Several years ago, I came across a GOOD STASH of Carte de Visite portraits belonging to the Smith and Gosling family (most dating, as you might guess, to the 1860s and 1870s). There were albums, put together by the daughters of Spencer Smith of BrooklandsDora Spencer-Smith and her sister Isabella Spencer-Smith. Alas! the same “old” sittings I’d l-o-n-g seen of Emma and Edward Austen Leigh. But several of the Smith siblings (and even some Gosling grandchildren) were new to me. Thank goodness that Dora and Isabella, along with painting borders on many pages, thought to identify the sitters! Sitters included all the Austen Leigh siblings; many “in-laws” (or to-be “in-laws” of Seymours and Culme-Seymours. The *thrill* for me was to see so many photographs of the Spencer-Smiths, children of Spencer and Frances (neé Seymour).

Frances was the sister of two of Spencer’s brothers-in-law! The Rev. Richard Seymour (husband to Fanny Smith) and the Rev. Sir John Hobart Culme-Seymour (husband to Maria Louisa Smith).

I saw, for the FIRST TIME, images of Spencer and his sister Sarah Eliza (Lady Le Marchant, wife of Sir Denis Le Marchant). The time period was, sadly, too late to have images of my diarist Mary Lady Smith (neé Gosling) or the Smith sisters Charlotte (Mrs. Arthur Currie) and Augusta (Mrs. Henry Watson Wilder). Augusta had died in 1836 (along with Henry); Charlotte in 1840; Mary in 1842. Mamma (Mrs. Charles Smith; the original ‘Augusta’ – and there are lots in this family named AUGUSTA, after her), too, died before the general age of Carte de Visite photography.

Fanny Seymour – Emma’s middle sister – however I had seen already, in an 1850s “outdoor” photograph. There was a dispute as to the sitters in the picture. The archive thought it Sir John, Lady Seymour [Maria], and family. BUT: the children fit FANNY’s family more than her sister’s. An older daughter, two younger daughters, an unknown man (probably a son). I posed the probability that this photograph showed the Seymours of Kinwarton. And the albums vindicated that supposition!

It was the albums that ID’ed Fanny in a couple of lovely informal portraits, as well as a more standard, badly faded, Carte de Visite. The albums that showed the two youngest throughout their childhood and growing into young womanhood. The albums that allowed a name to be put upon the unknown man (yes, a son). Indisputable proof that the 1850s photograph showed the SEYMOURS of Kinwarton, rather the CULME-SEYMOURS of Gloucester and Northchurch.

Less successful, as far as identification went, was the pile of individual Cartes de Visite. Some had the same “view” as pasted into an album (or two). They were easy. I was pretty sure I had spotted a wonderful head and shoulders view of MARIA (Lady Seymour), mainly because there was a “companion” of Sir John – and he was recognizable from other photographs. The rear of both had the same PHOTOGRAPHER’s STUDIO. This convinced me that Maria was indeed the Lady Louisa Seymour held, in two studio views, at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The photographer in that case: Camille Silvy. (Though it still puzzles me that he would put on her picture “Lady Louisa Seymour”; see my past blog post about the ins and outs of titles and first name.)

So wonderful to SEE Maria, rather than an artist’s interpretation:

Maria Smith

Her portrait miniature (above), by Sir William Charles Ross, was sold at auction some years ago; its background is so over-painted that the painting of it is generally more noticeable (to me) than the figure. If only they had left it alone (a large picture hat must have been painted out). John’s companion, painted about the same time, I have not seen (or found). Family letters discuss Maria’s portrait at length, including her SITTING to Ross – and Mamma thought the portrait “very like”. The ultimate compliment!

[The opposite, of course, was that the viewer thought a portrait, “NOT very like”.]

The *bonus* with the single Cartes de Visite, was the ability to see the REAR of each photo! Few identifications of sitter (Boo!). The photographer’s studio and other such identifying information – such *riches* – were present, and something I always have wanted to collate and put into a blog post.

NOW I may not have to do as much “digging”…

It was while searching for something completely different that I came across a website with a LENGTHY photographer LIST – a list of those men and women working as Photographers of Great Britain and Ireland,1840-1940.

There’s a “date your old photographs wizard” (I haven’t yet tried it), but REALLY enjoyed the summary of how the PHYSICAL photo – and yes counting clothes, hair, and props, but looking at the photo artwork and mount in particular. Biographies of photographers (a growing source of information); even some examples of a given photographer’s work. I do not know why (it could be my browser), but I cannot get the LONG list to highlight a searched-for name. Do scroll down, if the same happens to you. (For instance, I searched for SILVY – and he IS there in their list.)

A great resource to add to my “UK Archives Online” page, to which I have been adding many online sources beyond the traditional county “archives” catalogue.

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Family of Benjamin Sharpe

April 23, 2015 at 10:01 pm (goslings and sharpe, history, news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , )

There are some AMAZING items in auctions. Some past ones have unearthed miniatures, letters, even a copy of Drummond Smith’s Sicily diary. Some auction houses are helpful; others are totally dismissive. Which is a great pity. Still, the images are free! And although the original image from the auction house was rather poor, I found an alternative site – and wanted to give everyone the opportunity of seeing what I found just last night.

The original auction took place in early 2013. These are silhouettes of the SHARPE family, which included William Gosling’s banking partner, Benjamin Sharpe — taken circa 1819! He was the “Sharpe” in the banking firm of Goslings & Sharpe.

sharpe family

Here’s the description:

  • “A collection of ten silhouettes relating to the Sharpe family of London bankers and comprising: Mrs Isabella Beetham [artist] – Oval portrait of a young woman wearing a lace bonnet, verso with Mrs Beetham’s trade label….and faintly inscribed Mrs Sharpe.”
  • “another of a young boy or girl with long hair”
  • “Attributed to Mrs Bull [artist] – Oval portrait of Mrs Sharpe wearing an elaborate hat, verso inscribed and dated 1788″
  • “two oval portraits of gentlemen, one inscribed to verso J.R. Sharpe”
  • “A group of four portraits of the children of Benjamin and Ann Sharpe, each with white highlights to their blue coloured clothing, each verso dated March 1823 and with respective script, Benjamin Sharpe aged 10 Years 4 Months born 16 November 1812, Elizabeth Isabella Sharpe aged 8 Years 3 Months born 9 December 1814, William Francis Sharpe aged 6 Years 7 Months born 31st August 1816 and John Charles Sharpe aged 4 Years 8 Months born 14 July 1818″
  • “Portrait of Benjamin Sharpe, inscribed to verso Gosling and Sharp (sic), B. Sharpe 1819
  • “an oval pencil miniature of Ann Sharpe, wife of Benjamin Sharpe”

sharpe family_backsides

IMAGINE: people Mary and her family actually knew!! So fascinating a find!

Estimate was £1000 to £1500; results only go back as far as September 2013, so I do not know for what price they actually sold.

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Pedigrees — Who’s Who in Smith & Gosling

January 9, 2012 at 6:54 am (history, introduction, news, people, places, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

Although I don’t have the software to have nice genealogical charts (and these are pretty complicated families in oh so many ways), I’ve added some “Pedigrees” to the bottom of the “Portraits” page {see link at right}.

You’ve long had information on “Who was Mary’s Father and Mother?” or “How many Smith siblings? and who did everyone marry?” Now, you can see — I hope! — how the “inter-relations” were already there. For instance, Mrs Eliza Chute was (1) best friend to Eliza Cunliffe before and after her marriage to William Gosling, but (2) Eliza Gosling’s sister was also “Aunt” to Eliza Chute — having married Drummond Smith of Tring Park (brother to Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park).

There’s a pedigree for the Seymour of Blendworth family — which can be confusing: there are TWO Sir Michael’s to content with, for instance. A trio of Doras too, though Richard Seymour called his sister Dora and his cousin (and eventual sister-in-law) Dora K (for Dora Knighton, her maiden name). Richard’s wife Fanny had to contend with a sister-in-law Frances. Who would believe that soon after Fanny Smith became Fanny Seymour, Frances Seymour became Frances Smith?! Whew! {they are pedigree 9}.

More pedigrees will be coming, of course — some fitting in children or parents. I’ve not always fitted in titles and military affiliations, in the hope of keeping things a bit “clean”. Apologies for that. And family historians are welcome to let me know if I’ve missed out on people or gotten someone wrong. Or ask for further information!

As always, I welcome hearing about letters and diaries that can help build up the Smith&Gosling story. So many people, so much material.

It makes for a long page, but rather nice I think to scroll past all the portraits — including the list of “Where are these?” — to get to the pedigrees. But it does make for a LOT of scrolling….

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