Where there’s a WILL

November 21, 2010 at 12:52 pm (a day in the life, fashion) (, , , , , , , , , )

Yesterday, rather bored and wanting something to transcribe rather than write (I’m slowing working on my book about the Goslings & Smiths; a book review is due in a month, which is more or less done), I purchased and downloaded two wills – for Charles Joshua Smith and his wife Mary (Gosling) Smith.

One interesting feature of Charles’: he named Mary the guardian of his children — as long only as she remained his widow! If she remarried, then guardianship of the three (Charles Cunliffe Smith, Mary Charlotte Smith, Augusta Elizabeth Smith) was shared with Charles’ mother (Mrs Augusta Smith) and his brother (Spencer Smith).

Mary never did remarry; although she only outlived Charles by 11 years.

The “fun” thing about Mary’s will are the ‘trinkets’ (the name she applied) gifted by her to various relatives. Today I focus on that given by her to Charlotte (Smith) Currie — or I should say intended by Mary to go to Charlotte; Mary outlived young Charlotte by two years. The Codicil in which these items were given is dated 29 September 1834 (Mary died in July 1842).

So what had she intended Charlotte Currie to have as a memento? “A bracelet with Swiss Landscapes in enamel”. That I’d LOVE to see!!

So I looked up some images of 19th century, Georgian Swiss enamel jewelry. The only “landscapes” I found were those made into pins, and dating much later than 1830s. But isn’t this specimen, from c1850, gorgeous:

This bracelet could be closer to what Mary may have owned — possibly something she bought while abroad in 1829:

This, of course, is floral rather than landscapes, but this is described as being c1840, and so is more in keeping with what Mary may have purchased.

Mary’s 1829 diary was the first seen when comparing the handwriting of  “Lady Smith of Stapleford Tawney” (as the microfilm termed her) with that of Mary Gosling; they were a match! And the first words read in that 1829 diary?

Hausmadchen zeigen sie mir eines Bettzimmer“; above which she inserted “wollen sie mir zeigen“, which is a bit more “Would you mind showing me a bedroom, Housemaid”. Obviously, a phrase written down to prepare for this trip abroad.

I must admit, that reading of these gifts (mainly jewelry, but also some token gifts of money) made Mary seem that much more “solid” for some few moments; these items trinkets, as she said, of her existence — and her esteem for those left behind.

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Funny thing happened today…

July 6, 2009 at 1:45 pm (portraits and paintings) (, , , , , )

I received a lovely email from Eliza, who has been ‘saving’ and ‘rescuing’ items related to the Tupper family. One of the items turns out to be a sketchbook by Mimi Smith’s daughter (Mary Gosling’s grand-daughter), Florence. As a coincidence, this turn-up is slightly astounding. Gearing up for a couple of talks in Hyde Park, Vermont (in August and September), my topic is lady artists – those who would never have thought to make a living at what they did, but who enjoyed drawing and painting enough to do it quite well. Unless the sketches can be dated (Mimi’s portrait is surely based on a photograph of her – though it may have been done long after the photo was taken; especially since the face looks quite young and the year of her death is penned in beside the biographical information the artist saw fit to include), it’s difficult to guess how old little Florence would have been. But as it seems a lesson in drawing (pen and ink) and coloring (watercolor), based on existing pictures, she must have been fairly young. A teenager, perhaps.

I thank Eliza for sharing her ‘find’ with me! Just proves my point that we never know what will turn up in someone’s closet or attic or rubbish bin…

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