Charlotte Frost: Sir William Knighton giveaway (contest)

January 8, 2012 at 5:04 am (books, news, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

 

Click on the above image to read more about entering this EXCITING giveaway: friend to Two Teens in the Time of Austen, author Charlotte Frost has written a wonderful guest post about her book Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician. Charlotte’s willing to answer questions, and commentors have an opportunity to win one of three copies of her Knighton biography! Jane Austen readers will recognize the world William Knighton inhabited: the court of the Prince Regent/King George IV. (Granted, the prince was not Austen’s favorite Royal…)

Be QUICK: The contest closes on 14th January. Open to “contestants” around the globe.

Charlotte Frost was lucky enough to do research in the Royal Archives, and Charlotte was twice “in conversation” here on this blog. Two Teens is indebted to her for a research trip she took to the Bodleian to photograph Fanny Smith’s sketchbooks. My “eyes” in Oxford! Charlotte’s biography on Knighton is a nice summation of a life few know about. Sir William Knighton was uncle-in-law to Fanny, and is mentioned several times in Richard Seymour’s diaries.

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Sunday morning update: I’ve had a look at the comments that are coming in – some great “dialogue” going on. Readers interested in the Regency era might appreciate the books being recommended. And, of course, I encourage people to comment & enter. Buy the book, if you don’t win (paperback or ebook formats available). I’ve read it!

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Pretty as a Picture

December 6, 2011 at 7:57 pm (fashion, history, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Charlotte Frost, author of Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician, recently asked how I found the images, portraits, miniatures I had been uncovering. In a word: SEARCHED. Hours, sometimes, of painstaking searching for names, different combinations of names and estates (you trying looking for people named SMITH!), and sometimes just sheer luck: looking for something totally different you unearth a little piece of GOLD.

Charlotte’s Sir William was uncle to my Richard Seymour — husband of Fanny Smith, Emma’s younger sister. And it was while transcribing Richard’s 1836 diary that I came across mention of what seem to be two portraits:

At the end of April, 1836, Richard laments his lack of time – he is taken up with parish duties, “sitting to Ross & the claims of friends”. He is in London and it is easy to disregard the comment, although the phrase “sitting to” is self-evident.

Then, in September 1836, come two further comments about Mr Ross. The first reads, “Mr. Ross arrived this evening to paint dearest Fanny’s miniature“.

Really?! The connection of ROSS and MINIATURE immediately brought to mind the delightful miniature of Maria Smith (Lady Culme-Seymour) auctioned at Bonhams.

And then the suspicion — always a habit when dealing with primary materials — IS the image really of Maria? Or, could it have been misidentifie,d and it’s really Fanny??

Just from the look of the eyes — always described as too “light” by Mamma Smith — and the youthful impertinence, I have come to love and think of this picture as Maria. So Maria she remains.

The question therefore arises: WHERE is miniature of Fanny Seymour? Where is the seeming “companion” miniature of Richard Seymour??

That Richard and Fanny are home, in Kinwarton (Warwickshire, not far from Stratford on Avon) — Richard’s comments on Ross’s arrival — leads me to presume that they may have housed the man for the few days he sat at work.

Ross arrived the evening of the 22nd, and he “finished a miniature of dearest Fanny – w:h quite satisfies me” on the 28th. Richard then comments that he paid the man £26, 5 shillings for the portrait; and £3, 15 shillings for the frame & case. There are moments when you just fall in love with Richard, and this is one of those moments, when he writes, “This piece of self indulgence will I hope be pardoned in me–“.

A little digression: Jane Hawker — AKA Lady Seymour — was Richard Seymour’s mother. She was also mother to John Culme-Seymour (eventual husband to Maria, pictured above), Michael Seymour (of the Royal Navy), and Frances Seymour. Frances married Emma/Fanny/Maria’s middle brother Spencer Smith — so THREE Smith siblings married THREE Seymour siblings! And Michael? he married his cousin, Dora Knighton — daughter of Dorothea Hawker (Jane’s sister) and the very same Sir William Knighton mentioned above.

Due to Maria’s portrait — sold in a lot that also included the Seymours’ mother — Richard’s “Mr. Ross” can only be (Sir) William Charles Ross, RA (1794-1860) — at the time not yet a “sir” and not yet a Royal Academician…

You can view Lot Details of Maria Lady Culme Seymour and Jane Lady Seymour, from Bonhams.

While it’s wonderful to see the cost of such a treasure, how could Richard say nothing about the portrait — a description of Fanny’s clothing, for instance, would have helped identify it. Oh, it is hard not to wonder if the two fluffy sheep in the background of Maria’s picture are KINWARTON sheep!

It breaks my heart to read of such portraits leaving the family (these two were first sold by Sotheby’s in 1972); I can only hope the two purchases went to the same purchaser…

Needless to say, should anyone know the whereabouts of Richard and Fanny’s miniatures by Mr Ross please do let me know!

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To read more about Sir Wm Chas. Ross, RA:

It kills me to think one Unbekannte like this lady (c1832) could be Fanny:

When you view a page such as this one from BING you see how daunting a task finding Fanny could turn out to be (not all images are ROSS miniatures).

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Rokeby Museum & Walter Scott

November 22, 2011 at 8:09 am (books, entertainment, estates, history) (, , , , , , , )

Rokeby Museum is about a 30-minute drive south of where I live; I must confess that I’ve never stopped whenever I’ve driven by… A professor of History used to bring her class, but I never tagged along. But Rokeby — by its very name — has a connection with the story of the Smiths & Goslings: Its name comes from the poem by Walter Scott! That news came yesterday when reading a nice article on the museum in the Burlington Free Press. (Although they ID Rokeby as an epic novel rather than poem.)

Rokeby was published in 1813 — so it would be interesting to know WHEN the house-cum-museum obtained its name.

To read about Scott’s life and the composition of Rokeby see The Walter Scott Digital Archive.

The Robinsons of Rokeby in Ferrisburgh, Vermont were not the only ones to name their home after Scott’s poem! See also this Rokeby Manor.

In searching for Sir William Knighton — physician to the Prince of Wales (George IV), and appointed “privy purse” — I found this text of a letter Sir William wrote … Sir Walter Scott!

J.M.W. Turner immortalized Rokeby in 1822.

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Sir William Knighton all a-twitter?

August 23, 2011 at 8:36 am (books, british royalty, london's landscape) (, , , )

Join Sir William Knighton and his biographer, Charlotte Frost, on their Twitter account. Great opportunity to see an author at work, promoting her book, or talking about her interests. There’s even a Tweet about Smith&Gosling!

Charlotte’s book is available online at the likes of Amazon and Amazon.uk; or direct from the publisher (digital or print versions available).

Only on Twitter can we hear about the bio’s BookBag 3-star review. Says reviewer Sue Magee, “[Frost] is to be commended for the depth of her research and for her careful piecing together of the available information, which must have been rather like trying to do a jigsaw puzzle with different pictures printed on each side and many of the pieces missing.”

Don’t miss The Interview: BookBag Talks to Charlotte Frost, to get an inside look at her bio, Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician. (Gotta love the bit about ‘specialists who’ll go straight to my bibliography.’)

Charlotte Frost also responded to questions posed to her on this blog: read part I, part II.

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Enter Stage Right: Sir William Knighton

April 20, 2011 at 7:11 pm (books, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , )

We are in conversation (part II) with biographer Charlotte Frost, about her new book Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician:

[NB: read part 1]

Q: Did you hope to find a certain story in Knighton’s life? Did what you uncover answer that initial thought, or were you constantly uncovering new and different twists?

Charlotte Frost: More a matter of what I hoped not to find. Had I discovered that Knighton had done something truly shameful I would have had to include it. That’s why I hesitated about contacting Knighton’s descendants. I didn’t want to be welcomed into their homes or be given copies of private family documents, only to publish a damning account of their forebear. And finding a dark, sinister side to Knighton would have wrecked my wonderful Word master plan for a sympathetic biography!

Q: In researching the career of Knighton, was there a particular question or historical conundrum you hoped to answer? Did the answer appear?

CF: I failed to identify why Knighton was sceptical about some of the medical education he received in London. New medical ideas were evolving in France, but I don’t know whether he was exposed to them.

Q: Was there any surprise in what you found out about Knighton, his career, his biography, his family?

CF: I was taken aback by discrepancies between the Memoir’s account of Knighton’s early years and the account suggested in primary sources. The explanation perhaps died with those who knew it, or it may survive in oblique references yet to be discovered.

Q: What about the period interested you the most?

CF: It was a gentler era than those that preceded it. When Knighton was accused of corruption he was satirised in a cartoon, not put on the rack. The cruellest forms of execution became unacceptable, and were abolished. Injustices still thrived, but they began to be seen for what they were.

Q: Where there other characters — those people whom Knighton knew or encountered — whom you wished to spend more time on?

CF: Knighton’s dealings with the poets and radicals in the 1810s needs more attention. Timely journal article seeks author!

Q: You list many books in your bibliography; was there any one or two books that you particularly would recommend to students of the period?

CF: For all its difficulties, I recommend the Memoir. The universal financial insecurity of the age is reflected in pleas for Knighton’s intervention from educated men too ill or old to continue their professions. His Seymour in-laws experienced the same difficulties as every naval family. Knighton was not the only man of his era to examine his soul in the light of Evangelical preaching. And his contempt for and alarm at popular protest is that of a generation that grew up in fear of revolution.

Q: The nature of primary research means that we find what still exists; is there any item(s) you wanted to find, or had hoped still existed?

CF: An unfinished portrait of Knighton’s wife, Dorothea, by Sir Thomas Lawrence. And miniatures of Knighton, Dorothea and their daughter that Knighton commissioned before he went to Spain.

Q: Have you any stories to pass along about doing primary research? (Gaining access to archives? transcriptions? old and fragile items? etc)

CF: I have some wonderful memories of research, but I’m haunted by the time, money and energy I’ve wasted. Reading a London street directory on microfilm, I mistook Knighton’s first London address for No 23 Argyll Street. Only after several years in search of corroborative evidence did I discover from a printed directory that he lived at No 28, which I was immediately able to confirm. I made numerous visits to The National Archives for information that was held at the Royal College of Surgeons, and I pestered the British Library for a copy of a print held at the British Museum.

Q: How did your family handle “living with the Knightons”?

CF: My significant other refers to Knighton as ‘the other man’, and is relieved to see him in print.

Q: Please describe for our readers former projects; future projects.

A: I have been a late learner, not taking my first degree until I was thirty, and not rediscovering a childhood love of history until I was in my forties. Until now my historical output has been researching and reporting in response to community history requests, giving occasional talks and submitting work for academic assessment. If I had to put a label on myself, I’d say ‘independent researcher’ but not ‘independent scholar’. My biography of Knighton marks my transition to author — someone who has found her voice. I don’t rule out further academically assessed study, but at present I feel ‘essayed out’. I want to do my own work, not what other people think I should do. But to stay fresh and sharp I need to keep in touch with academic life. I can’t bask in a post-publication comfort bubble.

I’ve started investigating loans that the Prince of Wales and his brothers incurred in a few short years in the late 1780s-early 1790s. Not biography, but the story behind each loan – who were the lenders, did they get their money back and, if not, how did they cope? I don’t yet know whether I’m revealing a gripping tale of suicide, assassination and missing diamonds, or wasting my time with two-hundred-year-old allegations that can be neither proved or disproved.

Find Sir William Knighton online:

 Charlotte Frost, Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician
info & purchase through Authors OnLine
the book’s page at Amazon.co.uk
Charlotte Frost’s author page at Amazon.co.uk

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Sir William Knighton at Carlton House

April 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm (books, news, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In “conversation” with author CHARLOTTE FROST, whose biography on Sir William Knighton is on bookstore shelves now, she wrote the following comment about Mrs Gosling’s ball:

“No Sir William and Lady Knighton at Mrs Gosling’s Ball! Knighton was once spotted at the Children’s Ball at Carlton House, but unaccompanied by any of his children.”

The one caveat I might have — given that the guests numbered over 200 persons and the newspaper reported so few of those guests — is, if Sir William and Lady Knighton were in town that May of 1816 I wouldn’t wonder that they were present. Why? The Goslings had their own “royal” connections. But, for now, we can only surmise…

To get back to Charlotte Frost—

Searching for Sir William information, I came across this little tidbit:

9th December Friends of Havant Museum

5 months ago on The Mayor of Havant
Tonight I had been invited to the Friends of Havant Museum Christmas Meeting at The Spring. As the Mayor of Havant I automatically become a Patron for my Mayoral Year. There was a very interesting speaker Miss Charlotte Frost who gave a talk entitled A courtier’s virtuous retirement; Sir William Knighton at Blendworth 1820-1836.
 
Lucky were those in the audience that evening!
 
And lucky will be readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen: We’ll be “in conversation” with Ms. Frost in my next posting! In the meantime, take a look at her new biography: Sir William Knighton: The strange Career of a Regency Physician.
 
You can obtain a copy through authorsonline (1) e-book or (2) paperback; also available via Amazon.co.uk. If you like to support independent booksellers, why not order through my favorite in Nantwich, England: Nantwich Bookshop!

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A Richard Seymour Sighting!

February 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm (news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In “conversation” over email with Charlotte Frost (see the post on her new biography of Sir William Knighton), it turned up that Ms. Frost had seen a photograph of the Rev. Richard Seymour — husband of my dear Fanny Smith — among a group of family photos!

Now, the Warwickshire Record Office has the not-very-good photo of a portrait of a young Richard (see portraits page), but can you imagine: seeing, “in the flesh”, a photo of someone you only know through his words and deeds? Quite THRILLING!!!

Richard has a nice “following” in Warwickshire, thanks to the talks given by Alan Godfrey. Alan had kindly invited me to offer a talk on Fanny Smith when I was in England in 2007. Seems a lifetime ago. We had a great turnout that Friday evening — thanks in no small part to Alan’s organization skills. I was able to have in hand a drawing of dear Fanny, probably done by her eldest sister Augusta, but maybe done by her sister Emma. This was done when Fanny was in her 20s and reminds me of the work of Mrs Carpenter — very likely, as that artist was commissioned for a number of pieces in the Smith family, which means the girls had the opportunity to watch her work, as well as study her methods.

By the way, Richard is described by Ms. Frost as “a man in his 60s, seated at a desk”. How wonderful if the same holding turns up a picture of … Fanny!

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Sir William Knighton – New Biography!

January 21, 2011 at 10:54 am (books, news, people, places) (, , , , , , , )

Announcing…

from the publisher’s website:
“William Knighton is remembered as the indispensable confidant whom George IV trusted to act with efficiency and discretion in matters personal and constitutional, great and small. Between 1822 and 1830 Knighton was a national figure, the intermediary between George and most of the world, but his life at Court was a second career undertaken in early middle age. He was born a farmer’s son, came of age in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, and for most of his working life earned his living as a doctor. As a physician Knighton was tied to the eighteenth century, skilled at diagnosis and prognosis but with only limited remedies to hand. As a courtier in the 1820s he served a monarch whose subjects feared revolution but favoured religious tolerance and the reform of public life, and in both careers he moved among larger-than-life characters. During his working life he witnessed the indiscretions of an age in which courtesans and mistresses held power, while retirement gave him leisure to despair of an England that had enacted the Great Electoral Reform Bill. He has much to offer historians. A confirmed landlubber who fled Plymouth to become obstetrician to London society, he was also the Everyman of maritime England who accepted ships and the sea as part of everyday life. His mother was a triumphant example of the advantages of business sense over gentility for Georgian women, while his discriminate exercise of patronage shows its acceptable use in the absence of alternatives.

Yet a study of Knighton’s life is more than a reflection of late Georgian England. He was not defined by the age in which he lived. The victories at Trafalgar and Waterloo, the insanity of one king and the extravagance of another, hard harvests, religious dissent and electoral reform were merely context. Knighton’s life was shaped by family secrets, a good marriage, a child’s death and a capricious employer – common experiences in every society and every age. His life was also shaped by his abilities. A fine intellect and capacity for hard work ensured success at whatever he attempted, but he lacked the spark of genius that would take him to the top of any one career or make it inevitable that he would follow one calling rather than another. With ambition and ability but no vocation, Knighton’s life was a series of choices. Some he made wisely. Others he was honest enough to regret.”

You can find more about Charlotte Frost and her new biography Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician on authorsonline.co.uk

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Sir William Knighton

January 7, 2011 at 9:11 pm (books, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last night, reading through some 1830 letters, I spotted a couple that Emma tells us she and Cholmeley (her eldest child) visited in March 1830: Mr & Mrs Arbuthnot.

Arbuthnot made me think of The Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot, edited by Francis Bamford and the Duke of Wellington (1950) — the 1820-1832 diary of Harriet Fane Arbuthnot, close friend of the Duke of Wellington. Alas, different people….

And yet… Harriet and Charles Arbuthnot, moving in the circles they did, know the very person recently under discussion with author Charlotte Frost: her forthcoming book focussing on Sir William Knighton, the father of Richard Seymour’s sister-in-law Dora K. (The man was also Richard’s uncle: Lady Knighton and Lady Seymour were sisters, daughters of Capt. James Hawker.)

Anyway, looking through the index I had to see what Harriet Arbuthnot had to say about Sir William, whose moving quote about seeing his beloved Dora married (read post) really indicates to present-day readers just how much love such a man held for a daughter.

Mrs Arbuthnot is writing in September of 1822:

“The Duke sent me the King’s letters & his to the King. … The friend to whom the King alludes is Sir Wm Knighton, whose origin was being a physician’s shop boy at Plymouth; from that he became physician at Plymouth, afterwards travelled with Ld Wellesley to take care of his mistress, then became an accoucheur in London & now ends by being the King’s Privy Purse & his most confidential friend, to whom he tells everything, political & private. He is a great rogue & a blackguard, with great softness & plausibility of manner. I ought not to abuse him just now for I have been unwell & he has prescribed for me (very condescending in the Privy Purse) & has done me great good.”

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Cadlington Found!

January 5, 2011 at 1:59 pm (estates, people, places, research) (, , , , , , , , )

If you’ve ever wondered about the extended family and how “well off” they might have been, consider this: When Dora Knighton married her cousin Capt. Michael Seymour (following in the footsteps of his father, Sir Michael Seymour, Capt. Seymour was in the Royal Navy), their wedding present was … a home: Cadlington, in the county of Hampshire.

Mrs Augusta Smith writes Emma from Cadlington in 1838; this was, after all, the home of the brother & wife of both her son-in-law (Richard Seymour) AND daughter-in-law (Frances Seymour).

Not only were there two Frances Seymours* for a while, Richard Seymour also had a sister Dora (Dorothea, in both cases). To differentiate them, he always referred to his sister-in-law as Dora K.

[*Richard Seymour and Fanny Smith married prior to Frances Seymour and Spencer Smith. To Richard — and to her own family, Frances Smith Seymour was always Fanny; Frances Seymour Smith was always known as Frances. Little distinctions mean a lot when working with diaries, letters, and similarly-named family members!]

Dora Knighton was the daughter of Sir William Knighton. In 1838, Lady Knighton caused to be published two volumes of his memoirs (and you can find much information about their children): vol. 1, vol. II. The portrait of Sir William included on this website comes from this series of memoirs.

Dora’s wedding is the subject of ch. XXI in vol. 2:

“June 22nd, 1829.

On this day my beloved Dora was married, at eight o’clock in the morning, by the Bishop of Winchester, at Bendworth [sic] Church.

The feelings excited by resigning the care of one’s child to another, no one can express. It seems as if you were called upon to part with the best feelings of your nature. The ceremony to me was most melancholy. I wept bitterly; but the inward feelings were still greater. I proceeded to London at one the same day…”

An early 20th-century photo of Cadlington, where its dining room is called “opulent and impressive,” can be viewed here.

Cadlington has undergone some changes — turned into luxury flats (rather like Hassobury, the Gosling’s old estate in Essex). And the agent posted (long ago) an interesting flyer: cadlington house.

READ “Cadlington” Headlines:

By the way, Michael Seymour (contrary to the brochure’s claim) was a captain in 1829. See his biography.

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