Eton Schoolboy writes home

July 4, 2017 at 11:40 am (goslings and sharpe, history, people, research) (, , , )

Today may be the 4th of July, 2017 – but I have spent time at ETON in the early 1800s, reading letters home to Mamma. The writer is young RICHARD GOSLING, a cousin to my diarist Mary Gosling (aka Lady Smith). He was the younger son of Francis Gosling, the son of Sir Francis Gosling, knight.

One of the most puzzling things about this group of letters is a postscript written by Richard’s mother, Barbara Gosling née Baker.

Truthfully, I thought the archive must have mis-identified the writer. The hand is so “unformed”, so “elderly”. I thought for sure it must be Grandmamma!

BUT: Mary’s grandmother, who lived until 1809, wasn’t Richard’s grandmother…. And Richard’s granmother died in 1806.

Why “puzzling”, you might ask.

Because other ladies of this generation had the loveliest penmanship! Mary’s mother, for instance, had a flowing, easily-read hand. In comparison, Barbara’s hand looks “unschooled”. Reminded me a LOT of the penmanship of Sarah Smith, Emma Austen’s maternal grandmother.

And therein lies the puzzle. To know more of Barbara’s background and education, to assess how she and Francis came to know one another and marry may be something I never learn. Gosling items are thinner on the ground than Smith items.

Francis and Barbara Gosling married MUCH earlier than William and Eliza Gosling (my Mary’s parents). Francis and Barbara in 1777; William and Eliza nearly twenty years later in 1793.

baker-gosling marriage 1777 GM3 March 1777, Gentleman’s Magazine

So Barbara has a London address; Francis’ lists not his abode so much as the banking firm’s address – Fleet Street. But the family is often identified as “of Fleet Street” bcause of the family firm.

I sometimes refer to Richard’s father Francis (though being a ‘knight’ Sir Francis’ title did not devolve to his son) as Francis II. Richard’s brother therefore becomes Francis III. Thank Goodness for a name like Richard – instead of the trail of Francises and Roberts in this portion of the Gosling family tree. No guesswork required, in deciphering who was the letter recipient.

Richard was far enough down the chain of children to be of an age with the Gosling sons:

Gosling, Richard, s. Francis, of Twickenham, Middlesex, arm. Christ Church, matric. 27 Oct., 1814, aged 19; B.A. 1818, M.A. 1822, of Ashford Place, Middlesex, and of London, banker. See Etott School Lists. [10]

Mary’s brother William Ellis Gosling arrived, aged 17, at Brasenose College, Oxford in 1812. Her brother Robert, aged 18, arrived at Christ Church in January 1814. Richard, aged 19, arrived in November 1814. Bennett, aged 18, followed in March 1815. These last two were also at Christ Church, like Robert. The family visited William and Robert in college in the summer of 1814. Mary left a diary of this trip.

To get back to Barbara for a moment, with several “Mrs Goslings” listed among the output of certain painters, I long ago hunted down a photograph of a Mrs Gosling that is believed to be Barbara; the portrait is by Reynolds:

Gosling_Mrs by Reynolds

I think I went on the hunt for this portrait in order to clear up how a sitter’s ARMS are described – to an onlooker, Barbara’s arm could be described as the left arm; but a portrait would be discussed as if the viewer WERE the sitter: “right arm across the body“. Most do not give a first name, or ID the woman as “wife of …. Gosling”.

As you might guess, there are multiple “Mrs Goslings” done by the regarded portraitists of the day.

* * *

A bit of housekeeping: WordPress has obviously had an upgrade, which interrupted the “facebook” connection – and it won’t reconnect. After the run-around I went thru with AirBnB over the weekend – I am in NO MOOD. Will just say: why don’t websites TEST before they launch. And it’s not just websites – have had problems with Windows 10 AND with Office 365 for the iPad. Am utterly TIRED of being told they’re “ironing out bugs”. Do it BEFORE it impacts your customers!
(Rant over.)



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Mrs Delany writes Letters

August 14, 2012 at 12:04 am (books, goslings and sharpe, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Ah, August… when the summer sessions at the university END, so ends the evening hours at the library. Booo!

Today, if they had been open past five, I would have gone to have a look at their collection of Mary Delany books. A new biography published last year had caught my eye, but there were other books I had looked at over the years but never taken out. I really want to see them, but must wait for noontime Saturday when the library’s open 12-5.

This silhouette comes, however, from a book published in 1821!  While I’ve long known about the more recent books, I had no idea anything was published as long ago as that. Might Emma and Mary have read Letters from Mrs Delany? Might Emma mention it in her diary and I just hadn’t been paying attention enough to make note of it?

Today Mrs Delany is remembered because of her Flower Mosaics. Yet a quick perusal of the index in vol. 6 of her letters shows how valuable her published letters could prove to the Smith & Gosling project. Why? Among other things, she evidently banked with Goslings and Sharpe!

For instance,

March 1780, from Mrs Delany: “I hope my last letter and draft on Gosling for L:y Clanbrassil’s christning {sic} money has arrived safe.”

September 1770, to Mrs Delany: “…he has vowed that he will be punctual to a day to the hands of your banker, Mr. Gosling.”

December 1758, from Mrs Delany: “I have indeed set my heart much upon your going to town, and you have a draught on Gosling, etc., which I designed should pay for the Birmingham boxes…”

She therefore, goes back to the very beginnings of the banking firm!

So who in 1756 might “Mrs Gosling” have been — she wouldn’t have been William Gosling’s mother (i.e., Mary’s paternal grandmother), as William’s parents only married in 1763. William’s father, Robert Gosling, though would have been with the firm — having joined in 1754, according to The History of Barclays Bank. At this time the firm was called Gosling, Bennett, and Gosling — for the partners (Sir) Francis Gosling, Samuel Bennett, Robert Gosling.

Could this describe Elizabeth Douce, William’s paternal grandmother? Elizabeth Midwinter, prior to Francis Gosling’s knighthood? (According to The Alderman of the City of London, Francis was knighted on 28 October 1760.)

It’s a curious comment, and a faintly unflattering one:

March 1756, from Mrs Delany: “Wednesday, I spent with Mrs. Donnellan instead of going to Israel in Egypt; and how provoking! she had Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Gosling, and two or three fiddle faddles, so that I might as well have been at the oratorio.”

Mrs Delany was a Handel fan.

The Gosling circle tightens when one finds the Correspondence of Samuel Richardson contains (in vol. 4) letters to Dr and Mrs Delany, Mrs Donnellan, Mrs Dewes (sister to Mrs Delany). Samuel Richardson was the guardian of Miss Midwinter — who became Lady Gosling, wife to Sir Francis.

Oh, my….

It’s eleven at night and I find myself *WISHING* I had all the hours in the day to devote to research – there’s so much here. And how was it that I found Mrs Delany this evening: looking up information on BIO – Biographers International Organization. I’d love to hear from anyone belonging to BIO; I’m thinking of applying.

As midnight looms, I wrap up this post with a listing of the online books relating to Mrs Delany:

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Check this out

December 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm (books) (, , , , , , , , )

For fans of period drama, courtroom drama, British drama — check out this 2009/2010 series Garrow’s Law (the DVD pictured is series one). Andrew Buchan stars as William Garrow; the always excellent Alun Armstrong is his solicitor, Mr. Soutous.

If, like me, you can’t get enough (the DVD not available in the States until early 2011), try and find it online. You’ll really want to see the entire two series, trust me!

If you’re the history buff who wants more about Garrow’s actual life (was there a Sir Arthur and Lady Sarah Hill, for instance, you might ask), then see Hostettler & Braby’s biography Sir William Garrow: His Life, Times, and Fight for Justice.

Why is it the US gets so-so shows quickly, and programs like Garrow’s Law are kept under wraps? Many thanks to the fans who post such shows! The second series ran in the UK only in the fall; but I know I’m not alone in waiting for the next series. Hope the BBC doesn’t keep us waiting. Those of us hungry for quality writing and acting have few things to look forward to at the best of times.

Find the Old Bailey records online; they have long been a great source to my research. Sir Francis Gosling shows up numerous times (the accused often brought before him); there are many Goslings in the records — some accused of theft, others are the victims; a careful reading finds the Goslings who make up this family. See, for instance, this case about the stolen clothing of Mary Ann Hardcastle.

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Spotlight on… Sir Francis Gosling, kt.

December 20, 2008 at 11:21 pm (spotlight on) ()

Many people seem descendants of Sir Francis and Lady Gosling – while no one I have yet heard from descend from my William Gosling, his nephew! So, while at UVM (see previous post), I found a few 1760 tidbits in Gentleman’s Magazine that may interest those interested in Sir Francis.

Page 591 [not 592, as the index states] is the following announcement: “Thursday 4 [December 1760] A Fishmonger was convicted before Aldm. Dickinson and Sir Francis Gosling for employing his apprentice to buy and sell fish by commission for him at Billingsgate, contrary to the provision made in the late act of parliament, by which he forfeited 50 l.”

Of more interest is this on page 488: It is Thursday, 28 October 1760; King George II has died (an exceptionally interesting bit on mourning attire is written up here!), and an address was given. Then:

They were all received graciously, and had the honour to kiss his majesty’s hand.
After which his majesty was pleased to the honour of knighthood on
Thomas Rawlinson, Esq; alderman
Francis Gosling, Esq; alderman

There is also the story of Sir Francis’ purchase of the statue of Queen Elizabeth:

“Monday 4 [August 1760] The workmen began pulling down that part of Ludgate called the master’s side; the common side which front Black friars is to remain till a convenient place can be provided for the prisoners. The Statue of Q Elizabeth on the west side, is purchased by Alderman Gosling, in order to be set up near St Dunstan’s church, after the removal of the shops under it.”

Further mention of Sir Francis can be found here, a webpage for St Andrew’s Church (Nether Wallop). And a really nice picture of the Queen’s statue Sir Francis rescued. Here, a memorial inscription notice for a Rivington relation. And at the Old Bailey, Sir Francis is mentioned as a victim of crime: his handkerchief is stolen!

One curious entry comes in early 1761 – now knighted, this MISTER Gosling is certainly not Sir Francis: who then?

In the section called “From Other Papers” : “Mr. Gosling, — cashier of the S.S. Company”.

[The South Sea Company – famous for its ‘bubble’ – continued to trade into the 1760s]. I can see Robert Gosling or his father (also Robert) – being involved in this venture as ‘cashier’; though, perhaps, it is no relation.

A footnote: there are some very useful tidbits in GM: like the King throwing himself of a runaway horse, or his attending the theatre; never mind the politics of the day as it unfolded, or those marriage announcements that all genealogists search for. Makes me wish there was a dedicated site for GM that had all its volumes online (and completely searchable).

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Giving Thanks

November 27, 2008 at 11:42 am (books, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , )

This year there is much to give thanks for: the ability to pay mounting bills, and successful stays in hospital chief among them. And – as always – for this project, which continues to unfold.

Just yesterday evening I found a useful series of books (alas two volumes are missing; both of them waited for with baited breath! for they would contain ‘Cunliffe’ and ‘Smith’) = page scans at of the Graves & Cronin 1899-1901 texts of A HISTORY OF THE WORKS OF SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS, the originals in the collection of the terrific New York Public Library.

In the authoritative text Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings (Yale: 2000), author David Mannings relies on Graves and Cronin as well as The Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, by Leslie and Taylor (vol I here). THIS book had a handful of references to GOSLINGS, but the most intriguing was notice of a portrait of a generic “Mrs Gosling” (see page 388).

So the thrill of finding Graves and Cronin’s books are that there seem to be two portraits, one less fully known to them, of Mrs Goslings. Alas it is the less-fully-known (wouldn’t you know…) which concerns us here – for the portrait is said to have been of William Gosling’s mother!

Here is the description (Graves & Cronin: bottom, p. 373):

Elizabeth, daughter of William Houghton; married, November 3, 1763, Robert Gosling, of Hassobury, Essex, son [sic] of Sir Francis Gosling, the banker; died June 6, 1811.
Sat in February, 1761, March, 1762, and August, 1764.

(Robert Gosling was of course the brother of Sir Francis.)

VERY intriguing to wonder whether Sir Joshua – who painted Sir Ellis and Lady Cunliffe (Margaret Elizabeth’s parents, William’s future in-laws) – could have brought the Goslings and Cunliffes into the same social sphere. Although Sir Ellis, of course, died the year Eliza Gosling was born, Lady Cunliffe lived on and off with her children and grandchildren; and she had a documented friendship with Sir Joshua (see his pocket books). That could mean that William and Eliza meet from childhood onwards!

Anyway, the volumes so far found online are A-CD-GH-L; and M-R. Once again I ask: Where is this portrait???? [update Nov 2017:] It’s in the volume IV that includes Addenda! see below.


The Royal Academy has an interesting introduction to Sir Joshua’s pocket books — ridiculous to read that they paid (in 1873) a mere £29 10s for them! (I assume the meaning of £29.10 – or has the original cost been translated into today’s currency of pounds and pence??)

For more on Sir Joshua and Lady Cunliffe see my post.

[Photo of a page from Sir Joshua’s pocket book; from Graves and Cronin, vol D-G.]

November 2017 – I’m sure I’ve come across this volume before, but only now do I update this post. Interesting to read, now that I’ve studied so many family photos, of the letter from Mrs. Robert Gosling (née Eleanor Spencer Smith).

Eleanor wrote, on 5 July 1900, concerning the portrait mentioned on page 373: “I have ascertained that the picture of Mrs. Gosling, who sat in 1761-1764, is that of Elizabeth (née Midwinter), wife of Francis Gosling, banker, and afterwards [page 1323] knighted. It is in the possession of R.H. Gosling, Esq.” (identified as Richard Henry Gosling, at The Manor House, Waltham)

So there goes all of my presumptions!

I need to remind myself what Mannings wrote of this piece.

The illustration of Mrs. Gosling, who’s been ID’ed as the wife of Francis Gosling, the son of Sir Francis, is far in the back, facing page 1568. This volume features not only addenda, but also exhibition catalogues and even Sir Joshua’s diary. Its title page claims it to be volume IV in A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds.

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Richardson reads Pamela

October 17, 2008 at 10:56 pm (people) (, , , , )

Author Samuel Richardson has a Smith-and-Gosling connection: his ward was none other than Elizabeth Midwinter, who married (Sir) Francis Gosling – the brother of Robert Gosling, Mary’s paternal grandfather. She is shown in Francis Hayman’s family portrait as the woman in blue, on the right. According to the Bulletin of the New York Public Library (1897) “Richardson was a trustee for Miss Midwinter’s marriage settlement, and both he and Mrs Richardson left Lady Gosling mourning rings in their wills”. Robert Gosling, father of Francis and Robert Gosling, was a bookseller. A publishing firm within the family was Rivington: John Rivington married Elizabeth Miller Gosling, a sister of Sir Francis. (And in this book you can find an enchanting pencil portrait of a young William Gosling!)

Like Jane Austen who read her novels aloud to family, Richardson – according to several biographies – did the same when he was writing Pamela; and Miss Midwinter was there at the fireside, listening! Abstracts of English Studies (1963) had this to say: “[I]t is now quite obvious that the first audience of Pamela consisted of Mrs. Richardson and Miss Elizabeth Midwinter (later to become Lady Gosling).”

In Bastards and Foundlings (2005), Lisa Zunshine writes, “…the younger Grandisons could meet the same fate as did the nieces and nephews of Lord Mansfield or, indeed, the author’s own friend Elizabeth Midwinter, whose father managed to disinherit her altogether, leaving the family property to the illegitimate son he had with his servant.” Obviously, there is MUCH to be told about the life of poor young Miss Midwinter…

This painting was purchased by the Tate Gallery two years ago, and there is an article on the transaction and the work.

Ohhhhh, to have a description of her, or comments about her! Although I’ve searched through the online books of his correspondence, I find nothing about Francis, Elizabeth or her father – a friend of Richardson, which is why she became the author’s ward. Alas, the search is still on. . .

But for those with an interest in Richardson, I include here those volumes of his correspondence that I was able to track down on vol I; vol II; vol III; vol IV; vol V; vol VI.

And should you want to sit back with a cuppa and enjoy Pamela: or Virtue Rewarded in a series of familiar letters from a Beautiful Young Damsel to her Parents, here is an online version from 1845. If you have the eyesight for reading it, there is also a 1786 edition (in four volumes): vol I; vol II; vol III; vol IV. An 1832 edition of The Life of Thomas Gent, Printer, of York may have references to the mother (in particular) of Elizabeth, but I have to take a closer look at the book, and also investigate her parents more fully (Elizabeth’s father was Edward Midwinter, bookseller). This next book gives Midwinter-White-Gosling as well as Maryland and Pennsylvania connections!

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