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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Now Look What’s Missing

June 22, 2011 at 11:42 am (news, people, research) (, , , , , )

Last night I was reviewing the opening pages of the biography of James Edward Austen Leigh, written by daughter Mary Augusta (1911). With the focus, of course, on her father, Mary Augusta was finding reminiscences about him and using his own diaries, as well as excerpts from family letters.

I’ve probably not fully reread this in about 4 years — when this research was in its infancy; there was a LOT I did not know about, a LOT I would have taken note of without noting it down. And this is one of those “fell through the cracks” things.

Mary Augusta comments that Aunt Eliza (Lady Le Marchant) wrote “recollections” about her youth. This niece, )of course!), pulls from them Eliza’s memories of the youthful Edward Austen. Obviously, she would have written down oh-so-many more recollections!

I don’t know if this document would have been long or short;would have  belonged to Mary Augusta or been borrowed by her; existed in as a sole manuscript or was copied out by any of the nieces/nephews. It may very well be resident today in the Le Marchant family! I live in hope anyway. IMAGINE such a “prize”!!!

* * *

As an aside, one disappointment in Scenes from Life at Suttons was the ABSENCE of a portrait of Eliza herself — who, according to the introduction, with Drummond, caused these little “plays” to exist. How much fun it would have been to have seen a youthful depiction of her.

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