New Portraits!

July 11, 2013 at 9:43 pm (news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , )

While looking at the BBC “Your Paintings” website, I’ve unearthed a couple of new images, including this one of the Smiths’ cousin Spencer, Marquess of Northampton, by Thomas Phillips.

Phillips is of interest because he reportedly painted a portrait of Mrs Drummond Smith (the former Mary Cunliffe); and “the circle of Thomas Phillips” is credited with the portrait of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park, which is also found on the BBC site.

Spencer’s portrait was presented to the Royal Society c1849, and was painted c1845. Other images of Spencer Compton is presented in the “portraits” page.

The other portrait find is of Thomas Gardiner Bramston, of Skreens, the father of John Bramston – who evidently proposed to Charlotte Smith, but ultimately married Clarissa Trant.

Emma’s 1831 diary mentions the death of Mr Bramston of Skreens – but offers up no details; maybe she didn’t know them. If you read the above link, you’ll learn about Mr Bramston’s parliamentary career as well as some details of his death.

*NEW* and a little more digging at the BBC unearthed four portraits — two hitherto unseen! — of Spencer Compton’s daughter, Lady Marian Alford. My favorite has been added to the “portraits” page.

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A Tale of Two Macdougalls

October 27, 2012 at 10:52 pm (books, diaries, estates, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Reading Emma’s diaries for 1822-1823 — even with half of EACH diary left blank (while the family was away on the continent) — one would never realize that the Miss Macdougall found in the first diary was NOT the same Miss Macdougall found in the second.

Thank goodness for letters!

The secret is to be found in a couple of letters at the Essex Record Office (Chelmsford).

The “Tale of Two Macdougalls” begins in 1819. The governess to the younger Smith girls, at the moment, is Miss Ramsay — about whom I’ve written before. She turns up in the memoirs of Elizabeth Grant, the “Highland Lady”.

By February, 1819, Miss Ramsay is described as having a cough. At the very end of March “Miss McDougall {sic} arrived this morning from the North at her sisters in Euston Sqr  She came directly to see Miss Ramsay…” Miss M. brought Miss R. the unwelcome news that illness prevented Mrs Ramsay’s journey south. In April, Emma makes the comment that “Miss Susan McDougall {sic} was to stay in Portland Place with Miss Ramsay during our absence”. So, the two northern ladies were acquainted! And Miss Susan Macdougall comes into the circle of the Smiths of Suttons.

Ill, Miss Ramsay left the Smiths at the end of April, and by the fifth of May Emma could note her arrival in “the North”. Poor Miss Ramsay; she never recovered her health. Emma received “the melancholy account of dearest Miss Ramsay’s death” on August 10th.

On the governess front, Miss Pond was engaged by Mamma on 18 June 1819. There are hints that Miss Pond was perhaps on the lookout for another position. More of Miss Pond, however, in some later post.

Emma’s 1821 diary has the following address: “Miss Susan Macdougall  10 Picardy Place Edinburgh”

A “Miss Macdougall”, who was probably Susan, came to see Emma shortly before Christmas, 1821. On March 24, 1822 Emma could write, “Miss Macdougall came here in the evening to be my sisters governess”.

Come December, with the family away on the Continent, but the younger children — Charlotte and Maria; Spencer and Drummond — in England, Charlotte was writing to Mamma, “I cannot express how excessively sorry I am, we are going to lose, dearest Miss Macdougall …. I am very glad her sister is coming, for I know her, and like her very much, & we can talk of Miss Macdougall to her.”

And there is the one hint that the later letter writer HELEN Macdougall was Miss Macdougall Number Two!

Come April, 1823, we learn, from Miss Helen Macdougall, that her sister Susan was soon off to Paris – to meet up with a M. Noverre, who had promised to marry her. But all was not well, even then. Miss Helen Macdougall ended her sister’s tale, in a letter to Mamma: “My Brother and Sister Fordyce are so much dissatisfied with his conduct, that even now they wish poor Susan to give him up.”

What happened?!? Did Susan give up M. Noverre? Did Monsieur jilt Susan?

All I currently know is that Emma would write in mid-June, 1823: “I am extremely sorry to hear that any unpleasant circumstances are at all likely to put a stop to Miss Susan Macdougall’s marriage …. pray beg Miss {Helen} Macdougall to send us without fail her sisters direction at Paris.”

The Smiths returned to England in July, 1823. Emma’s 1824 diary has this address:

Miss S. Macdougall
Chez Mde Martin
Rue de Vendome No. 13–
a Paris

And in April, 1824 Augusta is writing her cousin Lady Elizabeth Compton, “I have had a letter from Lady Compton {Lady Elizabeth’s sister-in-law, the former Margaret Maclean Clephane} quite pleased with the idea of Miss S. Macdougall and I do think indeed she has got a treasure more especially for the salary she gives…”

Without more letters the tale of the Two Miss Macdougalls remains what I’ve outlined here.

One clue to their future lies in the family of “Sister Fordyce”. There were at least four Miss Macdougalls, daughters of Mr Alexander Macdougall of Inveresk House (near Edinburgh). This obituary may be their mother’s:

June 1779, The Scots Magazine

14. At Inveresk, Mrs Macdougall, spouse of Alexander Macdougall, Esq; deputy-treasurer’s remembrancer in exchequer.”

I have found evidence that Charlotte Macdougall — Sister Fordyce — was born c1778. She married James, the second son of Dr Arthur Dingwall Fordyce of Culsh and Janet Morison, his wife, who was born in August 1778, on 23 July 1797. If Charlotte was the youngest daughter, then all the Macdougall sisters are in their 40s by the early 1820s.

The book on the Dingwall Fordyces notes the death of “McDougall [sic] (Alexander) of Inveresk House, Edinburgh and Deputy Remembrancer” on the 14th March, 1792. “The name of Mr. McDougall’s wife has not reached us; but his family must have been left in reduced circumstances, from the fact that two daughters, Misses Helen and Susan McDougall, for years creditably supported themselves, the former in the family of Mr. James Walker, an eminent civil engineer in London; the latter as governess in the family of the Marquis of Northampton.” This last we have seen recounted by Augusta to her cousin. Helen’s position with the Walkers probably also post-dates her stay with the Smiths.

I have found the following Musselburgh (near Edinburgh) estate, Inveresk House, now a B&B — IS this the former home of the Macdougalls? What happened to the Macdougall children after the deaths of (seemingly) two parents?

One telling hint to Miss Susan Macdougall’s future, if this is the same woman: a book, published in 1865, lists among its subscribers “Macdougall,  Miss S., 11 Princes Gate, London”.

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1903 Glimpse: Castle Ashby

October 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm (books, estates, history, news, places) (, , , , , , )

Found this issue of Country Life on Books.Google – you are welcome to read the article there as well. Certainly the photos show a Castle Ashby that only the likes of Emma would have had intimate knowledge about.

Castle Ashby (Northamptonshire) was and is the home of the Marquess of Northampton. In Emma’s youth, it was home to her uncle and aunt (mother’s sister), Lord and Lady Northampton, and their two children Spencer (Lord Compton) and Lady Elizabeth Compton (later: Lady Elizabeth Dickins).


* * *

Read about the “other” Compton estate, Compton Wynyates (Pall Mall Magazine, 1898), or in Architectural Forum (1911).

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Spencer Compton/Marquess Northampton – New Image!

November 25, 2011 at 11:13 am (books, history, news, research) (, , , , , , )

A new image! This time of Spencer Compton, AKA Lord Compton, AKA the 2nd Marquess of Northampton.

Spencer was the only male cousin of the Smith of Suttons children. Brother of Lady Elizabeth Compton, young Emma writes about visiting the Comptons in 1815 when Spencer (Lord Compton) married Margaret Maclean Clephane — the ward of Walter Scott!

The image ran in January 1851, in the Illustrated London News, following the Marquess’ death; it dates, however, from a few years earlier. The accompanying text reads, in part,

“The late Marquis died on Friday week, at Castle Ashby, the ancient family seat, in Northamptonshire. The recent death of Lord Alford, his son-in-law, had proved a severe shock to a naturally sensitive temperament, and he was advised to leave Ashridge for his own residence, before the funeral.”

Poor Lady Marion, first a husband gone, and now a father…

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Walter Scott & the “Big Bow Wow”

November 16, 2011 at 7:35 pm (books, diaries, history, research) (, , , , , )

Scholars and readers of Jane Austen remember well that Walter Scott wrote of his inability to create the quiet fiction of Austen, but was great at what he called “the big bow wow”.

While Austen’s prose interests me for its precise picture of life when my girls — Emma and Mary — were growing up, it’s Scott’s correspondence that provides the interest: he was the guardian of the Maclean Clephane girls. Margaret Maclean Clephane married the Smiths’ cousin Spencer Compton (Lord Compton, later the 2nd Marquess of Northampton). Scott’s letters shed light on the periods of time when the young family was abroad; while Emma’s diaries comment on the young man’s marriage with a Scottish beauty!

But back to Walter Scott..

As you see from the image, there are 12 volumes of letters, published in the 1930s. You can find these letters ONLINE!

Here’s a short list of items, as delineated on the page entitled “Authentic Austen, Scott, Waldie“:

  • Millgate Union Catalogue of Walter Scott Correspondence, at the National Library of Scotland, gives a fully searchable database. You’ll Find Lady Compton and the Clephanes well represented…
  • A recent discovery, and, although not quite as handy as the book volumes, I am grateful to find all the published edition of Letters online and fully searchable. The line numeration is a bit of a pain (though you always know which page you’re on in which volume!), and the notes seem missing, but this should prove an exceptionally useful source. One wish: someone needs to clean up the scanned text a bit.
  • Also useful is, of course, Scott’s Journal. Editions found online: Online Literature; Books.Google; Project Gutenberg

I’m very “bullish” on anything “authentic” — letters, diaries, first editions, etc etc., so do check out the other items on this blog page:

A reader who wrote to me about Lachlan Macquarie might be interested to know that according to the Millgate Catalogue, there is one 1821 letter. (BTW, I noticed a broken link there; note that it has now been updated!)

The letter is dated 24 Nov 1821, from Government House, Sydney NSW. Seems Lachlan Macquarie was a relation to my dear Margaret, Lady Compton! The original letter is at the National Library of Scotland.

A short note here to add that if anyone has the book THE COMPTONS OF COMPTON WYNYATES, I’d love to see the chapters on the 1st and 2nd Marquesses — and the portrait of Maria, Lady Northampton by her sister Eliza Chute!!

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Judge a Letter by its Cover

January 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm (people, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

When Craig from Australia — a most helpful Smith&Gosling “fan”! — wrote about a letter he found, the tell-tale tidbit that attracted me was hearing that it was addressed to the Marquess of Northampton. Its dating, to 1824, meant to the first Marquess — husband of Mamma Smith’s sister Maria, father to Lord Compton (the 2nd Marquess) and his sister Lady Elizabeth Compton (later married to Charles Scrase Dickins).

The idea that came into my brain while corresponding with Craig was that, although his find might be addressed TO Lord Northampton — the enclosed LETTER might very well be addressed to someone else!

My evidence?

At the Essex Record Office, there is a small set of letters, written by “the children” — as Emma referred to her two youngest sisters (her younger brothers were in school), Charlotte and Maria — but the girls, while addressing their letters to eldest sister Augusta and to Mamma, addressed their envelopes to “Le Chevalier Charles Smith“!

Obviously, therefore, the “head of the household” was the letter recipient whenever letters were sent Poste Restante or to be called for at, say, the offices of the family’s foreign banker.

Just one exceptionally interesting “find” while delving back in time nearly 200 years. Stay tuned for more!

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