Postal – it’s history

June 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm (diaries, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Been there – done that – got the T-shirt.

This one, of course, says it all, as far as I’m concerned!

During the last few evenings, I’ve been re-reading, correcting transcriptions, and trying to figure out what I have — and what I still need to see — for Smith & Gosling letters.

Not counting what I’ve not yet pursued (ie, family archives at a couple large estates), I’ve amassed more than 300 letters — and I’m still counting, for I know more is out there.

Just in the last month, three letters surfaced and a very kind gentleman let me see their contents! One was a bit out of the ordinary: signed Norman, I believe this woman (rather than dear Miss Meen, the painter of flowers, who gave lessons to the Smiths — and Queen Charlotte and her princesses) – Mrs Norman – a good contender for the post of governess to the daughters of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park. She is certainly around the family, and very “familiar”, although I still can’t quite track her down. They’re either “too young or too old”.

My latest “craze” has been for letters written by young Augusta Smith (later: Mrs Henry Wilder of Purley and Sulham). Ah! she is just a delight. A quick wit, with a ready turn of phrase.  Here, in the 1830s, Augusta is on the Isle of Wight, for the health of her toddling son. Doesn’t this just transport you back in time, at the hand of a fashionable wit?

“– A lovely cottage close by has just been taken by Mrs. Mason a daughter of L:d Hoods with a host of progeny of all ages – her husband is commanding a ship in the Medit:n & she is going to beguile his absence tomorrow by a “dejeuner dinant” & dansant” w:h I suppose will bring hither a whole squadron of galleys & barges full of blue jackets, white trowsers & gold epaulettes from Portsmouth

Don’t you just want to read more?

I’m always thrilled to hear from readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen, who have some pieces of my particular puzzle — letters, diaries, sketches even. Let me hear from you!

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Sulham – a Wilder estate

September 16, 2011 at 12:27 am (books, places, research) (, , , , , )

Finally, I posted on the “estates” page a picture of Sulham House, which should have come long ago.

Sulham becomes important to this research once Augusta Smith marries Henry Watson Wilder, of Sulham and Purley.

One tidbit: Henry and Augusta married in 1829 — NOT as stated in The Book of the Wilders, 1827. (NB: The couple’s death is also listed incorrectly: they died on 2 July 1836 NOT 6 July.)

Augusta wrote the most touching letter to youngest sister Maria soon before her marriage, and directed Miss Ashley (Maria’s governess) to give it to her. Thanks to Jacky in Maidstone I’ve been able to read this sisterly tribute. This is the second time tonight (the first was Mamma Smith’s “baby book” about Maria’s progress – how I WISH I had such documents for the other children!) that I read how much like Emma people thought Maria. Take a look at the “portraits” page and judge for yourself.

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