Visitors to Bamburgh Castle, c1800-1820

February 16, 2014 at 1:38 pm (diaries, entertainment, history, jane austen, places, research, travel) (, , , , , )

While searching for information on the Northumberland Archives (nice online catalogue), I found an image – of a visitors’ book to Bamburgh Castle {where?}, and had to investigate WHY it turned up in a search for CARR GREGG.

A fantastic “slice of several lives” was revealed!

A “visitors’ book” is a litany of signatures, from those visiting a site (or hotel even); most will not contain more information that just a scrawled name. Yet in that name lies the “I was Here!” trace that is of use to me, 200 years later.

bamburgh castle_book

See images (4) and what seems a complete listing by clicking on the photo.

What rather thrills are the “oddly transcribed” names of a family which cannot be mistaken: the ladies of the family Maclean Clephane!

First, however, if you (like me) aren’t sure what Bamburgh Castle was/is – take a look at their website:

bamburgh castle_site

Lindisfarne Castle, a place I’ve longed to visit, is in the neighborhood of Bamburgh Castle – and looking into the history of this place I have to ask why was this never on my radar. Lindisfarne, however, is a National Trust property, and I’ve got at least one “Trust” publication. Bamburgh Castle continues as the “private home of the Armstrong family to this day.”

But what of my 19th-century visitors? Who did I find?

One family should come as no surprise: the Davisons of Swarland, Northumberland. Their visit is one of the earliest, taking place in 1801: “Mr and Mrs and 2 Masters Davison from Swarland, Northumberland“, e.g., Alexander Davison, Harriet Davison née Gosling (William’s sister; Mary’s aunt), and their two sons, the twins William and Hugh Percy (born in 1788). Even without further information – no thoughts about what they viewed – just knowing they toured the place puts the Davisons a little closer to “reality”. Perhaps Harriet once wrote Eliza Gosling, to tell them of their day out…

Another pair of visitors that same year are designated as “Mr Carr and Miss Carr from Newcastle upon Tyne“; the Carrs marry into the Gregg family – as did Maria Gosling, the remaining sister of William and Harriet (Davison) Gosling. Letters from the Carrs are often dated “Newcastle”; certainly those visitors from 1809 are them: “Mr. and Mrs Carr from Dunston Hill Co. Durham“; several Carrs turn up in the Bamburgh Castle visitors’ book.

An interesting name crops up in 1814: “Colonel and Mrs. Austen“. That spelling of the Austen name had my heart in palpitations for a moment; but surely NOT Henry Austen, as my first thought had flown to. A little digging, and I may have uncovered the correct man: Col. THOMAS Austen (1775-1859) “the second but eldest surviving son of Francis Motley Austen (d. 1815) and his wife Elizabeth, nee Wilson.” He inherited Kippington in 1817.

An 1819 party was of more immediate interest: “Colonel and Mrs. Davison from Swarland Hall. Mr. Henry Gregg and family.” Here was one of the twins, all grown up and perhaps married (Mrs D. could be his mother Harriet), in company (surely not separate visits) with Maria and Henry Gregg, and some (all?) of their children! Oh, for some letters from 1819!! Mary mentions her Davison cousins several times in her late diaries; Aunt Davison is only mentioned (in Charles’ diaries) following the news of her death.

And finally to the puzzling transcription, back in 1815: “Mrs. D. Maclean and Miss Maclean from Cliphane. Miss Wilmisson Maclean from Cliphane“. This can be none other than Mrs Douglas Maclean Clephane and her daughters, Anna Jane and Wilmina. After seeing letters of Margaret Maclean Clephane (after her marriage, Lady Compton; later, Lady Northampton), with a difficult hand where words often run together, I cannot be surprised at transcriptions like Wilmisson and Cliphane.

Several very small pieces of an extremely large puzzle, but welcome nonetheless.

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Chasing Mrs Frances Jacson

February 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm (books, history, jane austen, news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

J-A-C-S-O-N; an unusual spelling, isn’t it.

When I came across the name this evening, I had to mutter to myself: They’re the same person…, surely…

While writing a blog post on Anna Seward for the Ladies of Llangollen blog, I came across a very nice biography of her at Chawton House Library. Intrigued, as I hadn’t look over the Library’s website for quite a while, I clicked to see what authors they were featuring on their NOVELS-ON-LINE. Some familiar-sounding names, not from a novel-point-of-view, but from a Smith & Gosling point of view! Harriet Cheney? The same who drew portraits while in Italy, including the young Comptons (see portraits & pedigrees page). Mrs Cheney’s book (2nd edition published in 1825) is A Peep at the Pilgrims. She did live until 1848, according to Christie’s website. But so many people — especially within a family — have the same name as other family members that I won’t yet count the two Harriets as one.

Then I spied the name JACSON. Two novels are listed for a FRANCES JACSON: Things by their Right Names (1812) and  Isabella: A Novel (1823).

Why did the name attract me? I think I have a picture (a miniature) of her!

Sale 5984 at Christie’s was The Country House Sale – Newton Hall. Newton Hall, in Northumberland, has ties to the Cook-Widdrington family; they have ties (through the Davisons) to the Goslings! And it was while perusing this sale catalogue that I came across (and saved) a pair of miniatures — Captain Shalcross Jacson and his wife Frances, née Cook. Frances captivated me:

She is described as, “in white muslin dress, blue fringed shawl, coral necklace”; the pair of miniatures date to c1815.

IS this Frances Jacson, with the unusual last name, Chawton House’s Frances Jacson??? S-U-R-E-L-Y    S-O. {see UPDATE below}

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BTW, this same Christie’s auction, and source, sold my beloved Harriet Gosling AKA Mrs Alexander Davison. The Dorothy Widdrington you see represented as an old lady, as well as some of her drawings, was the Davison’s daughter — whom my Mary Gosling (Lady Smith) includes several times in her diaries!

BTW2: Capt Cook, who took the name Widdrington, published a couple books too! Sketches in Spain During the Years 1829-1832 and Spain and the Spaniards in 1843 (vol. 1; vol. 2) and Observations on the Present State of War in Spain. Interestingly, the Sketches exists in an 1834 GERMAN edition (on books.google.com) as well!

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UPDATE: The Christie’s Sale 5475 featured a novel, Plain Sense, by Frances Margaretta Jacson – and included this description:

“FIRST EDITION OF THE AUTHOR’S ‘POPULAR FIRST NOVEL’. The two unmarried sisters, Maria and Frances, both turned to writing, partly in order to help out their brother Shallcross Jacson (d. 1821) who was ‘over-fond of drink and horse-racing’, Maria turning to manuals on botany and gardening, and Frances to fiction (see ODNB). Their other brother, Roger, had a son Shallcross Fitzherbert Jacson (1826-1917) who married Frances, daughter of the Rev. Joseph Cook of Newton Hall, and who inherited the house in 1856, following the death of his wife’s brother, Samuel Edward Cook (later Widdrington). RARE. NO COPY IN BL and only two copies recorded in the British Isles (National Trust and private collection). Blakey, p. 172. (3)”

This copy of Plain Sense was once part of Newton Hall’s library.

I have found Christie’s and/or Bonhams to have some incorrect information (which auction house had the three Spencer-Smith girls??); but here is a Shallcross Jacson married to a Frances Cook whose birth/death dates are 1826-1917. In the miniatures Captain Shallcross Jacson is given dates of 1787-1852. Groan! were there really TWO Shallcross Jacsons married to TWO Frances Cooks??? I do rather chuckle over poor Shallcross who died in 1821 being “over-fond of drink and horse-racing,” but who were all these Shallcross Jacsons!?

BTW, here’s a portrait, from the Newton Hall sale, of the Rev. Roger Jacson, Rector of Bebington (b. 1753, according to Christie’s). If he was born in 1753, did he really have a son in 1826??? Wikipedia describes Frances Margaretta Jacson as the daughter of the Rev. Simon Jacson, Rector of Bebington (1728-1808). This then is probably Roger’s father, and therefore the father of an unmarried Frances Margaretta Jacson.

Check out this at the Orlando Project (most of the site is by subscription, alas…): Frances Margaretta Jacson kept a diary!

The game is afoot, Watson…

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