Mrs Thrale’s connection to Mr Scrase

July 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm (books, diaries, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Arrrggggghhhhh!

This certainly points up the need to check, double-check, and even triple-check information.

Yesterday, I devoured Hester: The Remarkable Life of Dr Johnson’s ‘Dear Mistress’, a new acquisition. Imagine my surprise to see Mrs Thrale in Brighton (not the surprising part), seeking help from her friend and attorney, Charles Scrase.

Now the Scrase Dickins have a long history, according to the Smith&Gosling letters and diaries I’ve seen, of residing in Brighton. Surely this Charles Scrase was a relation!

I’ve many volumes relating to the biography and papers of Hester Thrale / Hester Piozzi, as you may read in this post on my Ladies of Llangollen site. Her letter describing Lady Cunliffe’s anguish over the deaths of her two daughters (Eliza Gosling, my Mary’s mother, in December 1803; and Mary Smith, wife of Drummond Smith, in February 1804) is included in the Piozzi Letters. Thraliana mentions Mrs Drummond Smith, but so little else about the family. Yet it couldn’t simply be “gossip” that Hester passed on, she seemed to know Lady Cunliffe. Yet another straggling thread, to be taken up and sewn into the fabric of this family….

So when I read that Hester had sought out help — and achieved it — from Mr Charles Scrase, I was ballyhooing!

And yet…

Taking up Mary’s Hyde’s excellent book The Thrales of Streatham Park, which, in publishing Hester’s “Children’s Book,” touches on the era of Mr Thrale’s business problems and Hester’s seeking out Mr Scrase’s help and advice, I read the following:

“The transaction was handled by Charles Scrase, who had been Ralph Thrale’s lawyer, a family friend whom Thrale had known all his life, and whom Mrs. Thrale had come to like very much. He was a single man of sixty…”

A single man??! So not a forebear to Charles Scrase Dickins.

But the Brighton connection…; the very name ‘Scrase’…

I kept reading into the evening, but dug no more into the life of Mr Scrase — until this morning.

It IS the same man – maternal grandfather to Charles Dickins (my Charles Scrase Dickins’ father), who bequeathed his estate, and the name of Scrase.

You can read about the family in the Sussex Archeological Collections (1855).  Charles Scrase was an attorney at law, baptised in 1709 (Hyde confuses his brother’s baptism in 1707 for his own). He married Sarah Turner in 1742, and had two daughters: Sarah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth married William Smith, but died without issue. Sarah Scrase married Anthony Dickins. Among their children: Charles Dickins, husband to Elizabeth Devall (a name also spelled several ways) and father to Charles Scrase Dickins.

The Dickins married in 1792, the year grandfather Scrase died. But look what the editors of Fanny Burney’s Journals and Letters has to say in reference to Elizabeth Dickins: “daughter of Mrs. Thrale’s friend and adviser Charles Scrase (1709-92) of Brighton and wife of Anthony Dickins (c1729-94)”. Fanny Burney — close friend in the late 1770s and early 1780s to Mrs Thrale has made mention of Elizabeth Dickins! Alas, my only copy of Burney’s diaries and letters is a paperback selection, with no mention of Mr Scrase or Mrs Dickins.

Now I wonder a little less about how Hester Thrale / Hester Piozzi came to know the Cunliffe family. Yes, the Cunliffes knew Joshua Reynolds; yes, they’d met James Boswell; yes, Lady Cunliffe moved in the circle of the Bluestockings – but now the Scrase thread is weaving through their fabric slightly more boldly. More to come!

* * *

You can read about Fanny Burney’s comments regarding Mrs Dickens (sorry, Charlie!) at Project Gutenberg (1891 edition):

and the 1840s/1850s edition at Internet Archive:

all Internet Archives Burney listings

photo of Streatham Park, at Thrale.com

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No, But I’ve seen the movie…

November 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm (books) (, , , , , , , , , )

R.H. Culp wrote an intriguing post that touches on books-made-into-films:

“Every time another book-derived movie comes out it feels like it is condemning the book to obscurity.  Too many times I’ve asked someone if they’ve read Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings and they say, “No, but I’ve seen the movies.”  Why can’t people who want to experience these worlds sit down for a few hours and read?”

I, too, dream of what Culp terms “the ultimate authorial achievement” = a MOVIE DEAL! I have long picked out a movie cast for a film based on a certain key “moment” behind Smith and Gosling history: the romantic triangle of Charles, his first wife Belinda, and his sister Emma’s best friend Mary — who eventually becomes his second wife. Would I be giving too much away to say that I’ve long thought James McEvoy the perfect Sir Charles Joshua Smith. For the others, I can’t help but confess, I’ve got a little list…

Yet, while I could easily down boil the story to something that takes two hours to tell about 12 years’ worth of tale — and make it visually arresting with scenic estates and cityscapes, my ultimate goal would be to gain publicity to drive movie-goers to my books –> where the Smiths & Goslings will (someday…) live again through their own words.

I’ve a closet-full of “tie-ins” and even “classics” that were purchased because I’d seen some TV or film adaptation. The “tie-ins” sometimes suffered if the story had been drastically changed for the film; I mean there is some expectation of a bit of the same story, and the denouement shouldn’t be totally different.

A good writer tells a story, while a great writer invents a world you want to inhabit — again and again.

I’ve seen way too many adaptations of Jane Eyre – the story too-well-known to be “fresh” (rather like A Christmas Carol – please, not another film or sitcom sketch!). Yet a number of years ago I picked up a copy of the book while on vacation. What a wealth of wonderful language!

Austen’s novels are like that, too.  Her prose gives different layers to all the novels beyond boy meets girl premise. That’s what keeps JASNA members revisiting the novels — again and again and again.

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