British Postmarks (tutorial)

March 5, 2019 at 10:21 am (history, news, research) (, , , )

An interesting, because it’s so useful, “tutorial” (short: 33 slides) of early 19th century British Postmarks – and how to understand all you see when looking at a piece of “UK postal history”.

Mary Russell Mitford

It forms part of the Digital Mary Russell Mitford project — one of their project include digitizing and transcribing her letters!

As you can see from the “example” photo, the images help explain what exactly you are looking at. I couldn’t resist this image – with its identification of “delivery” and “mileage” stamps, the letter’s “franking,” its “seal,” and (especially) the “finger” of the person making the image!

Clicking on the photo above will take you to the second version (a bit longer than the first version) of THE POSTMARKS OF MITFORD’S LETTERS (by Greg Bondar, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg).

[Once you are on their site: click the [IN] icon (lower right-hand corner), which will allow you to access the full screen mode]

You will learn to recognize:

  • a MILEAGE stamp
  • a DUTY stamp
  • a DELIVERY stamp
  • CHARGE mark(s)
  • RECEIVING HOUSE stamp (for instance, the Two Penny post)

Some explanations, too, of rimmed and double-rimmed stamps; colors of ink; and – for 1812 – a list of postal charges (based on distance and “weight” [number of pieces of paper]).

Because the site is dedicated to Mary Russell Mitford, near the end of the slides are images of seals she used; paper types used (based on impressions in the paper). For those interested in the output of Mitford, the homepage of Digital Mitford is your place to start.

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The Monthly Nurse

January 17, 2019 at 10:32 am (diaries, history, jasna, research, World of Two Teens) (, , , )

Back in 2015, at the JASNA Annual General Meeting (Jane Austen Society of North America’s AGM) entitled LIVING IN JANE AUSTEN’S WORLD, I gave a paper that cited “True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in Early 19th Century England.” Everything was based on the many confinements relating to the family of Emma Austen Leigh and her sister-in-law Mary Smith (my “Two Teens,” now all grown up!). This spanned from the 1790s, with the recorded birth of Emma’s cousin Lord Compton, through the 1850s, when the last children born to Emma’s younger siblings were coming into the world. The treatment of mothers, in the post-natal period, throughout this span of sixty years, were remarkably consistent. One item that caused a LOT of ink to be expended concerned their use of the Monthly Nurse.

An audience member (at that talk) fairly recently asked me to remind her about the Monthly Nurse, so it was rather FRESH in my mind when I spotted, (on the website dealing with Emma’s son ARTHUR HENRY Austen Leigh), a late census report listing among the servants a Monthly Nurse!

HANNA HORSMEN, married, 55, female; birthplace: Thornbury, Gloucestershire; described in the census of 1881 as “servant Monthly Nurse”. She comes at the end of the listing of house-, parlour-, and nursery-maids. Unlike other domestics, she would not have been a “permanent” hire. (The “monthly” nurse really did only stay a month.)

And we can see, among the family members listed on the census, the reason behind the Monthly Nurse’s visit: the recent birth of Honor Caroline Austen Leigh. An interesting side note: Mrs. Hall-Say (reproduced as ‘Hallsay’), Mrs. Austen Leigh’s mother, was also visiting at the time of the census! (Census night was 3 April 1881.)

A quick internet search leads to the conclusion that many conflate “midwife” and “monthly nurse”. They are not synonymous.

(A Monthly Nurse also did not ‘nurse’ the child; if the mother had difficulty, a wet-nurse was sought.)

In my findings (albeit among generations of the same family), there was always a doctor (an accoucheur) attending the child’s birth; if “in time” (some mothers were wrong at their reckoning!) the Monthly Nurse might have been present, but her duties were mainly discharged during the month of postpartum recovery of the mother.

I can never forget the number of mothers in my 2015 JASNA audience who raised their hands, wishing they had had the services of a Monthly Nurse!

It is needless to say, the women I researched delivered in what we would think of as ‘home-births’; the Monthly Nurse ‘lived-in.’

Although I won’t list here every step taken during the month, there was a progression from being in bed to rising a few hours a day; to walking around one’s room, then walking more within the residence and coming downstairs for a meal; the end of the confinement was signaled by the comments of the mother being churched; the child being christened; the departure of the Monthly Nurse.

Side Notes:

  • In this period, children of Church of England parents were both Baptised and Christened; baptism took place soon after birth; christening occurred about the time of the mother being churched.
  • The youngest child of a family was typically referred to as BABY (although a name was given at the christening) — until the next baby came along!

royalsAs you might guess, concerning someone working so intimately with the new mother — although there were advertisements in the newspapers (see Pithers) by women offering their services (some would also offer care for the sick) – my ladies asked their circle of family and acquaintances for referrals and suggestions. They wanted their same Monthly Nurse from confinement to confinement when at all possible (Emma lost one jewel of a nurse to death).

Oddly, from the comment in one letter, it seems that the husband/father-to-be actually ENGAGED the Nurse, and PAID for her. But it was the women who were involved in finding suitable candidates.

The round of referrals doesn’t come as a surprise because the same could be said for more general servants. Letters consistently mention servants who were recommended to them by others, or by them if they were the ones who knew of someone in need of a position.

Letters have even sought comments (good or bad) from correspondents about prospective marital partners of friends. With the long tentacles that friends and family could reach, it was a remarkably effective system!

Along with the Monthly Nurse, letters make mention of “Baby Linen.” This was especially noted down in diaries – typically occurring in a list of names of women in the parish who were lent Baby Linen.

“Baby Linen” encompassed items for both ‘baby’ and ‘mother’. A fascinating list of the baby linen purchased and made for Elizabeth Austen, wife of Jane Austen’s brother (the future) Edward Austen Knight (mother of the children who show up in the George Hill photo album), in the 1790s, is included in the Brabourne edition of The Letters of Jane Austen (available online via Internet Archive); see pages 355-356 (vol. 2).

Emma’s Aunt, Mrs. Chute, had baby linen that could be given out on loan, according to her early diaries. And Emma followed suit, in the 1830s, in her diaries. How many sets each had available to lend out is unknown; lists typically do not show more than one woman at a given time. Mrs. Chute never had children of her own; I presume it was an additional set, rather than Emma’s own Baby Linen, that she offered other mothers and babies in the Parish of Tring Park (Hertfordshire), when she and James Edward Austen lived with Emma’s mother and younger siblings.

 

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Sorrows of Werther

December 8, 2018 at 10:16 am (books, chutes of the vyne, entertainment, history, jane austen, people) (, , , )

Last Saturday I was listening to the Met’s broadcast of Mefistofele (Boito); here, of course, is a subject who is undoubtedly better-associated with composer Charles Gounod.

Searching (as I always do!) for more on my Smiths & Goslings, I turned up a subscriber list for a book that, for DAYS, I believed was an English translation of that 18th-century smash-hit from Germany, Die Leiden des jungen WerthersThe Sorrows of Young Werther, by Goethe.

Pulling up the relevant book – this time having to SEARCH FOR IT (rather than stumbling upon it), I found that the text is a bit of a “hybrid” – a POEM, The Sorrows of Werter (sic): A Poem, by Amelia Pickering. It is, like the operas Mefistofele and Faust, based on source material, in this case “Founded on Goethe’s Novel.” It was published by Cadell in 1788.

No “Jane Austen” among the subscribers (famously, she IS listed as a Fanny Burney Camilla subscriber). But: a long list of names familiar to me as belonging to the wider Smith and Gosling circle.

When I spotted HENRY ADDINGTON (MP and PM), I wasn’t surprised when JOSHUA SMITH and MRS. SMITH turned up. The Smiths are Emma Austen’s maternal grandparents; Addington was Joshua’s fellow MP for Devizes.

The Duchess of Bolton would have been a name familiar to Jane Austen. There’s even a MRS. BENNET and a MRS. ELTON on the list!

NPG 3630; Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen

Several names occur in the Smith diaries – but I would have to dig about to ascertain whether they were the actual PEOPLE the Smiths and Goslings knew. Some BLACKWOODS, even an ABDY and a Mrs. BAKER of BEDFORD SQUARE. And who was the 1780s “Miss Ashley”???!! Two sisters of that name (but in the 1830s and beyond) were beloved by the Smith family.

There’s a BERTIE and a couple of BOSANQUETS. BLACKSTONES join the Blackwoods from further up the list. LADY CLIVE is prominent (in second position at the start of the ‘C’s’); Clive of India banked with the Goslings. Several CARTWRIGHTS and a couple of CARRS and COURTENAYS. Even “Mr. Cadell,” who (presumably) must be the publisher himself.

Well, you get the drift. So many people, so many readers.

In short, it’s so much fun to sort thru the names – especially when realizing that I am actually uncovering what volumes once belonged to a library or bedside table of relations to my Two Teens in the Time of Austen (ie, Mary Gosling and Emma Smith). The inclusion of The Sorrows of Werter: A Poem is a bit of a surprise, though they were a group who LOVED to read (and even write) verses.

Among family, joining the aforementioned Joshua and Sarah Smith are:

  • Robert Gosling, Esq.
  • Mrs. Gosling

(surely Mary’s paternal grandparents)

There are three Hornes and a Mrs. Hyde who may be Smith relations. The HICKS I suspect Jane Austen also to have known. There is a Countess Dowager of Northampton, related to Emma’s Castle Ashby cousins, but no one young Emma knew personally.

elizachute

The NORMANS were the cause of my search, and the reason I stumbled upon this book: TWO Mrs. Norman’s are listed; I lean a bit more towards the “Mrs. Norman, Henley” as being the woman _I_ want; but I’m not sure (the other has no identifying information attached to her name). I do believe, though, that her sons and daughter-in-law turn up as:

  • Richard Norman, Esq.
  • Mrs. R. Norman
  • George Norman, Esq.

The identify of Mrs. R. Norman is especially interesting – she was a daughter of Francis Gregg, and therefore a sister to Caroline Carr, née Gregg. Married in 1783, she evidently died in 1792 or 1793. Eliza Chute (then unmarried and still Eliza Smith) makes NO MENTION of the death of Mrs. Richard Norman (which would have been an enormous help, Eliza!), but neither did she mention the 1817 death of Jane Austen — and both events must have been known to her, and of interest to her.

It dawned on me in the night to ask: WHO was Amelia Pickering??

It was while trying to find something, anything about the author that I found a copy of this very book (!!) at a rare-bookseller’s site, for £1200 (!!!!).

The seller found a critique of the period by Mary Wollstonecraft:

4to., pp. xxii, 69, [1]; with half-title and a sixteen-page list of 961 subscribers; apart from slight fraying a very good copy, uncut, in original blue-grey wrappers and tan paper spine.

First edition. Amelia Pickering’s ‘melancholy, contemplative poem’ (Todd) was one of a spate of works in English and German founded on Goethe’s novel, including poems by Charlotte Smith and Mary Robinson, both subscribers here. Pickering ‘gives to Charlotte a voice, if rather weakly moralistic, and to Werter suffering which is acute, credible and unhysterical’ (Feminist Companion citing ‘The Sorrows of Young Charlotte: Werter’s English Sisters’, Goethe Yearbook, 1986).

Mary Wollstonecraft, however, was not enthusiastic. ‘To pity Werter we must read the original … The energy … is lost in this smooth, and even faithful, imitation … Werter is dead from the beginning: we hear his very words; but the spirit which animated them is fled …’ (Analytical Review, January 1789).

 

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The Local Historian

October 21, 2018 at 10:56 am (books, history, Uncategorized) (, )

From time to time, I come across access to journals. The Local Historian is the publication of the British Association for Local History. It publishes in January, April, July and October (so a new issue due).

Local Historian

Issues cost £5, when published within the last three years. Older issues are available FREE of charge on their website. More can be read about each journal article when looking up the individual issue; for instance, Joyce V. Ireland’s “Quasi-Careers for ladies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: Schools in Chester and Warrington” in the above issue.

The journal also features REVIEWS – which surprised me with a review of Miss Weeton: Governess and Traveller, edited by Alan Roby. I have the 1970s reprint of Miss Weeton’s Journal of a Governess. Roby’s book is described as “a new edition,” and includes information about Nelly Weeton’s later life.

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Postal History: Ride Mail Rail

July 12, 2018 at 8:31 am (entertainment, history, london's landscape, news, travel) (, , , )

A friend recently rode the Mail Rail attached to the Postal Museum in London. She described great fun, and also a great learning experience. The tunnels utilized are original to the Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant sorting office.

Mail rail

Of course, the original trains moved mail not people – but the Mail Rail takes visitors back in time by sharing stories from the past. The rail once kept mail “coursing through London for 22 hours a day” – Astounding!

My Smiths & Goslings, who loved to tour the marvels of industry, would have been at the “head of the queue” for obtaining tickets.

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Eastwick Park, Surrey

June 5, 2018 at 11:36 am (chutes of the vyne, estates, places, research) (, , )

This is in answer to the comments of “Chaz” on the post “Putting a Face to a Name“; the tidbits seemed just too long for inclusion in a “comment.”

Eastwick Park cropped up a several times in the family letters. What caught Chaz’s eye was their comment about the estate when owned by “Mr. Basilgate” (sic) (whom Chaz writes about, see Prinny’s Taylor).

It wasn’t until I translated a French letter that I realized the part Eastwick played in the young lives of the four Sisters of Erle Stoke Park (which I really need to begin spelling Earl Stoke Park – for that was Joshua Smith’s consistent spelling of his estate). Since that time, I’ve found further letters, all of which wax nostalgic. I have not pinned down when the Smiths lived there, but it would have pre-dated the re-development of Earl Stoke, which began in the later 1780s. The girls were born between the years 1767 to 1774, yet even Emma (the youngest) wrote fond memories about Eastwick.

To see photos of Eastwick, c1904, see the Francis Firth website: Photo 1; Photo 2.
No 2 rather reminds me of Tring Park, Uncle Drummond’s place, before the Rothschilds enlarged it.

new matrimonial ladder_possession

And now for the whisperings of the Earl Stoke sisters and their mother:

1 Nov 1796 (Lady Northampton)
“I am obliged to Miss Black [an artist] for her remembrance . . . ; should you write to her remember me to her. I cannot forget the many pleasant days I have spent with her at Eastwick, & the many chearful mornings in George St [their London home]  She certainly endeavoured to please her pupils.”

18 June 1801 (Mrs Sarah Smith)
“we spent most part of the Mornings in visiting all the neighbourhood & Eastwick rides”

3 July 1801 (Emma Smith)
“As for seeing Eastwick, my Father went & walked all over it, but we did not; having been over it two or three y:rs ago . . . ; I think I told you Mr. Lawrell has bought it — –. The Country is so pretty on every side of it, that I even now almost regret Surrey.”

29 Sept 1802 (Eliza Chute) [translated from French]
“I made an attempt to see Eastwick again, the scene of my childhood, which seemed to me to be the happiest time of my life, but which I did not consider so then, as the view was spread far and wide over the future, which the imagination was pleased to embellish, and to adorn with its most amusing colors: I would have found much pleasure in traversing the rooms which I remember so well, and which at every step I would have recalled different circumstances, but Mrs. Lawrell was not at home, and I was afraid to ask to see the house, fearing that it might seem impertinent: the outside, however, very much interested me, and it was with regret that I went away; Augusta, who was bolder, entered the house. I met Mrs. Lawrel [sic] at Mr. Sumner’s, she told me that she was very angry that I had not done the same; that there were not many changes, but that they had a good deal of reason, and were quite important, and very judicious, as it seems to me. The park must also be enlarged & the manner of entry totally different; on the other hand, it was quite ugly, nothing but a short avenue leading to the house.”

 

 

 

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Regency Explorer explores BOOKS!

August 26, 2017 at 7:14 pm (books, entertainment, europe, news) (, , , )

Today, in looking for reviews of the book I’m currently reading (The Real Persuasion, by Peter James Bowman), I found the kind of post I’ve LONG longed for: All about new books!

Specifically, Regency Explorer – and its author Anna M. Thane – gives a monthly listing of releases in the area of ‘non-fiction Georgian age’ books. Anna’s list can include books in French, German, as well as English; and the books run the gamut of war and politics, as well as biography, history, art, architecture; not to mention scholarly monographs. Covers many contries outside of Europe, including India and the United States. I think readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen will find the lists of as much help and guidance as I do.

regency explorer blog

I’ll list separate links to the recent months of:

(I’m not sure WHERE in the world the new releases take place, but bibliophiles all know how to buy from overseas vendors, if you have to do so.)

To whet your appetite, some ‘for instances’ that caught my eye:

A Visitor’s Guide to Georgian England, by Monica Hall. This was Anna’s “choice” book in July. _I_ like the idea behind “everything you need to know in order to survive undetected among the ordinary people.”

A Political Biography of Frances Burney, by Lorna J. Clark

Fame and Fortune: Sir John Hill and London Life in the 1750s, by Clare Brant and George Rousseau

The Social Life of Books: Reading Together in the Eighteenth-Century Home, by Abigail Williams

Anna’s pick for August was Gainsborough; A Portrait, by James Hamilton

I am intrigued to see, in the September list, the biography A Striking Likeness: The Life of George Romney, by David A. Cross – especially as the lovely portrait of Mrs. Drummond Smith was once thought, in the 19th century, to have been painted by Romney instead of Sir Joshua Reynolds! [This may be a reprint]

Striking Likeness

Cultivating Commerce: Cultures of Botany in Britain and France, 1760-1815, by Sarah Easterby-Smith

Cultivating Commerce

The Emergence of the Professional Watercolourist: Contentions and Alliances in the Artistic Domain, 1760-1824, by Greg Smith

There’s even – to go with your Jane Austen and Food – a Poldark Cookery Book

poldark cookery

In short, we all owe Anna a debt of thanks for enumerating “new releases” every month, even if it means significantly lightening our wallets…

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Crossed-writing makes cross Reading

January 30, 2017 at 2:22 pm (books, history, World of Two Teens) (, , )

A delightful little booklet by Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) accompanied his invention of the Wonderland Stamp Case. From 1890, it makes amusing observations, which will strike the funny-bone of collectors and readers of Old Letters.

The title of this post comes from Carroll’s Ninth Rule of writing: “when you find you have more to say, take another piece of paper — a whole sheet, or a scrap, as the case may demand: but, whatever you do don’t cross! Remember the old proverb,’Cross-writing makes cross reading‘.

The booklet is entitled, Eight or Nine Words about Letter Writing – though, as you might guess by there being nine “rules”, the nine words should not be taken literally!

His GOLDEN rule (rule No. 1) is one the Mr. Bingleys and Lord Northamptons of fiction and life (respectively) should take to heart: Write legibly.

“A great deal of the bad writing in the world comes simply from writing too quickly. Of course you reply, “I do it to save time.” … but, what right have you to do it at your friend’s expense? Isn’t his time as valuable as yours? Years ago, I used to receive letters from a friend – and very interesting letters too – written in one of the most atrocious hands ever invented. It generally took me about a week to read one of his letters! I used to … puzzle over the riddles which composed it – holding it in different positions, and at different distances, till at last the meaning of some hopeless scrawl would flash upon me, when I at once wrote down the English under it…”

mad-hatter

Highly recommended, if your funny bone needs some tickling OR you (like me) read Old Letters that are CROSSED and in an “atrocious hand”.

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Sotheby’s Museum Network

August 9, 2016 at 8:40 pm (entertainment, estates) (, , )

Charlotte Frost’s Twitter account is always informative, with news, books, English history (and that’s just for starters) – but this sounded EXTRA-EXCITING:

sothebys museum network

An August 5th press release announcing “an online destination to discover video content created by and about the world’s leading museums,” called Sothey’s Museum Network. “The Treasures of Chatsworth,” which is now in production, will be a 13-part series, featured on the network in the fall.

To read the entire article, click on the photo.

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Articles @ Academia.edu

July 18, 2016 at 8:20 pm (history, research) (, , , , , )

A reminder for some, and a “poke” for those new to the SMITH & GOSLING blog: I post “original” articles on Academia.edu, a website dedicated to papers, books, classes, etc. relating to academics and independent scholars.

Academia

These currently include:

Combine Jane Austen, Eliza Chute, and “Sense and Sensibility” with a true-life courtship and abandonment. Mrs. Wheeler, a woman taken in by the Chutes of The Vyne, left an orphan daughter, Hester, who left deep impressions on both Caroline Wiggett and Caroline Austen.

The flower painter Margaret Meen also taught painting: pupils included Queen Charlotte and the Royal Princesses; the four Smith sisters of Erle Stoke Park: Maria, Eliza, Augusta and Emma. Little about Meen’s life has been uncovered — until now. Four letters lead to some surprisingly-full biographical details of the life of a woman artist in Georgian England.

{NB: “Miss Meen” appeared in the July/August 2014 issue No. 70 of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine as “Flowering in Four Letters”. The link, above, is the original article submitted to JARW. To purchase the magazine, please go to BACK ISSUES on the JARW website}

JARW

Links to ACADEMIA articles can always be found in the navigation at right.

And, soon, these two articles will be joined by a new treatise!

Early in the history of this blog, I dangled the idea that JAMES BOSWELL was one of the “famous” names connected with the Smiths & Goslings. So watch my Academia page for the upload (coming shortly) of “Boswell’s ‘Miss Cunliffe’: Augmenting James Boswell’s missing Chester Journal“.

Academia.edu will ask you to sign in to view articles (Google and Facebook are two alternatives to creating an Academia account); articles are PDF.

 

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