I must admit to an intense boredom over politics. For, in the end, no matter what, nothing ever really seems to change. Translate that boredom to the past and even to another country, and you will easily see that confusion over “labels” is bound to occur.
None more so than the terms TORY and WHIG. At least with Labour and Conservative one feels on surer ground…
But working in the early 19th century rather than the early 20th century, Whiggism and Toryism are two “isms” I have to get my head around. It is not helped by the fact that, while the words remained the same, their meanings did not. How highly entertaining to be told that the word Whig came into English vocabulary from the Scots Gaelic and was “applied to horse thieves and, later, to Scottish Presbyterians”. Tory had as ignominious a beginning: “an Irish term suggesting a papist outlaw”.
Of course _I_ can’t go that far back either. But must concentrate on the pull of the parties as occurred from the late 18th century into the early 19th century.
So why this “dip” into politics – which I can quite easily avoid in research that tends towards the biographical and the social?
Around the turn of the century, I have several gentlemen in the House of Commons: Joshua Smith (Emma’s grandfather), William Chute (Emma’s uncle), Charles Smith (Emma’s papa), and even the two Compton men, Charles and Spencer (Emma’s uncle and cousin, respectively). William Gosling, Mary’s father, is once caught out nearly all night, at a debate in the House.
Sooner or later I have to pay attention to politics!
But my recent question had been to remind myself the years Spencer Compton served. Some early letters describe his year forays into giving speeches, and (since he was a very young man!) give insight into his general personality. It was with great interest, therefore, that I read about his voting patterns in the short summation at the History of Parliament website.
Given that I have rather a soft spot for the ladies of Torloisk, the Clephane family into which Spencer married in summer 1815, I could not help but chuckle over an anecdote in the write-up on Spencer, Lord Compton (later the 2nd Marquess of Northampton): “He voted for the repeal of the Irish window tax, 21 Apr. 1818, opposed extension of the forgery bill, 14 May, and supported Brougham’s amendment to the aliens bill, 22 May. Sir James Mackintosh commented, ‘Lord Compton shows propensities to Whiggery which some ascribe to his lady, though it be a little singular that a Miss Maclean from the Isle of Mull should be a Whig’.”
What a FABULOUS *FIND*!!
The ‘miracle’ took place in the middle of the night, a couple of nights ago when I unearthed a RECENT exhibition of sketches done by Spencer, Lord Compton c1823. His sketchbook, in the hands of the Fondazione Sicilia, has been “conserved” and “preserved” and the drawings exhibited in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014:
The exhibition spawned a book and two informative (especially if you speak Italian) YouTube videos – including one showing the sketch book in its entirety (which has no soundtrack at all).
The second video (en Italiano) gives glimpses of the condition of the original sketch book, sketches, and their subsequent exhibition.
- “Viaggio in Sicilia” video presentation of the entire Lord Compton’s Sketch book
- “Viaggio in Sicilia” a 3-minute “short” on the sketch book and its exhibition (in Italian)
- Viaggio in Sicilia: il taccuino di Spencer Joshua Alwyne Compton (catalogue @ amazon)
Spencer Compton, cousin to Emma and brother to Lady Elizabeth Compton (later Lady Elizabeth Dickins) spent many years in Italy with his wife, the former Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane. Spencer became the second Marquess of Northampton, following his father’s death in 1828.
- the delightful article “The Accomplished Ladies of Torloisk” by Karen Mc Auley
- Plays & Poems by Margaret Compton’s sister Anna Jane Douglas Maclean Clephane (1864)
- present-day Torloisk House, on the Isle of Mull
A “romantic figure” in this Raeburn portrait (painted in the era of his sketch book), Spencer Lord Compton graced the cover of this Georgette Heyer reprint recently.
partial legend from one sketch, in Spencer’s hand-writing
To follow-up on an earlier post about Spencer, Lord Northampton – and his interest in fossils, first visited via an article published by Philip Compton in The Geoscientist.
A “Letter to the Editor” provides some further evidence, from the man Spencer met: Gideon Mantell.
Writing of a meeting with him at his museum in Lewes in 1831, Mantell describes Spencer in a journal as “a very agreeable and intelligent man”. Further evidence then tells us that when he returned he brought his sister, Lady Elizabeth Dickins!
I invite you to read more about Spencer, Lord Northampton, and his long-sustained friendship with Mantell and, especially, his long-sustained interest in fossils – Letters to the Editor, The Geoscientist, posted 8 May 2014
Spencer Compton — often described here as “Lord Compton”, for in his youth he was his father’s heir and only in 1828 did he become “Lord Northampton”. Emma’s “Uncle Northampton” (the first Marquess) is whom I typically refer to here as Lord Northampton.
Spencer Compton, only brother of Lady Elizabeth Compton (the future Lady Elizabeth Dickins, wife of Charles Scrase Dickins), married in 1815 Margaret Maclean Clephane – one of three sisters who were wards of Walter Scott.
- At the Jane Austen Society of North America: “Pemberley’s Welcome: Or, An Historical Conjecture upon Elizabeth Darcy’s Wedding Journey, ” (Persuasions On-Line, Winter 2009), by Kelly M. McDonald
- “The Accomplished Ladies of Torloisk,” by Karen E. McAulay
Philip Compton, archive researcher to the current Marquess, has written an informative article, published in The Geoscientist, the Fellowship Magazine of the Geological Society of London, on Spencer Compton’s interest in collecting fossils and his correspondence with imminent scientists. To read a side of Spencer, Lord Compton which you will rarely see discussed here, click on the picture below.
The article, entitled “Through the Looking Glass,” is nicely illustrated – including of Lord Northampton (first cousin of Emma Austen Leigh) and his home, Castle Ashby (which Emma knew well).
While looking at the BBC “Your Paintings” website, I’ve unearthed a couple of new images, including this one of the Smiths’ cousin Spencer, Marquess of Northampton, by Thomas Phillips.
Phillips is of interest because he reportedly painted a portrait of Mrs Drummond Smith (the former Mary Cunliffe); and “the circle of Thomas Phillips” is credited with the portrait of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park, which is also found on the BBC site.
Spencer’s portrait was presented to the Royal Society c1849, and was painted c1845. Other images of Spencer Compton is presented in the “portraits” page.
The other portrait find is of Thomas Gardiner Bramston, of Skreens, the father of John Bramston – who evidently proposed to Charlotte Smith, but ultimately married Clarissa Trant.
Emma’s 1831 diary mentions the death of Mr Bramston of Skreens – but offers up no details; maybe she didn’t know them. If you read the above link, you’ll learn about Mr Bramston’s parliamentary career as well as some details of his death.
*NEW* and a little more digging at the BBC unearthed four portraits — two hitherto unseen! — of Spencer Compton’s daughter, Lady Marian Alford. My favorite has been added to the “portraits” page.
As readers will know from my earlier discussion of Deborah Kaplan’s Jane Austen Among Women, the book gives a wealth of information about the female relatives and neighbors of the Austen family – for my purposes, Eliza Chute and her sister-in-law Mary Bramston; Eliza’s mother Sarah Smith; and Eliza’s bosom friend Eliza Gosling. But re-reading the book after MANY years, I am drawn even more into the Austen family — young Fanny Knight; her governesses Miss Chapman and Miss Sharp; and a brief mention of Uncle Charles’ Bermuda-born wife Fanny Palmer.
It sinks in today, seeing her listing at Stanford, that Fanny’s middle name was Fitzwilliam…. Indeed… (Le Faye, of course, does mention that fact).
I did a little looking around, for there is mention of letters at the Morgan Library — one place I would be able to visit if the Leon Levy Fellowship at CUNY came through! Here’s an image of Fanny Palmer Austen from the blog Mansfield Park: Thoughts on Jane Austen’s Novel:
Miss Sneyd’s wonderful post is entitled the Fanny Hall of Fame (do read all the parts; & intro, too); indeed, I could add a Fanny or two myself! Miss Sneyd handily includes Fanny Palmer’s link at the peerage dot com; here she is at Stanford. Ellen Moody touches on Fanny’s death (and “colonial” relations in general).
As to the Pierpont Morgan Library; it took a while, but there finally were Fanny Austen’s few letters. They exist at the Morgan thanks to a bequest by Gordon N. Ray — the same source as the Walter Scott novels illustrated by the Compton siblings! The letters date from the period 1810-1814.
Readers all joke, So Little Time, So Many Books – in research the same holds, but distance and money are factors harder to overcome than simple lack of time. Someday…
Charlotte Frost (Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician) sent the following link, knowing I had had my eye on a few portraits at London’s National Portrait Gallery. The article is entitled “NPG Changes image licensing to allow free downloads.”
Anyone who has visited (via website or in person) and wanted something reproduced, or simply for personal study, is sometimes looking at spending big bucks. It’s great to see some entity like the NPG responding to the needs of the non-commercial and academic user. May others soon follow suit.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever discussed here my own interaction with the National Portrait Gallery. An online acquaintance wrote to say that he had asked to see a “preview” before purchasing a portrait of the wife of his biographical subject. I had been waiting and waiting to see two portraits by the photographer SILVY purported to be of Maria Culme Seymour (née Maria Smith). Following my friend’s lead, I wrote – and waited; getting no answer. Wrote to a different email address and did hear back. Hurrah!
In return I was sent two tiny pictures. I fell in love with one of them – and yet the NAME on the photo puzzled me: Lady Maria Seymour. The inclusion of a first name, for a baronet’s wife, was highly unusual, even if Silvy, a Frenchman, was unaware of custom. My NPG contact said the identification was a process of elimination: no one else of that name.
I am still suspicious. I’d LOVE it to be Maria — Emma’s youngest sister — but believe the young woman portrayed probably is a daughter of the Seymour-Conway household. A young lady soon to be married, rather than a wife and mother.
Why my doubt?
Beside the name, there is a contemporaneous photo of the daughter of Maria’s cousin, Spencer, 2nd Marquess of Northampton. This daughter, Lady Marian Alford, is younger than Maria by a couple of years — yet she is the epitome of the “Victorian Matron”.
Weeks after receiving the small images from NPG, and declining to buy better (larger) images due to the uncertain nature of their identification, I was beginning to tell some people who had helped me in this project my reservations; I invited them to take a look for themselves — and that was when I found quite large (and very satisfactory!) images had been posted online! I still shake my head, wondering why I hadn’t been sent these same scans – and I suppose too (as I was told NOT to even KEEP the images sent me) puzzled as to why they posted them online at all.
“Family” who are represented at NPG, in addition to Lady Marian:
- Lord Compton’s Family (sitters #317)
- Sir Charles Cunliffe Smith (sitter #15502)
- Lady Smith (née Agnes Cure) (sitter #15501)
- Bertram Woodhouse Currie (sitter #3178)
- Sir Denis Le Marchant (2 portraits)
- Sir Michael Culme Seymour
- Mary Cunliffe (later: Mary Smith)
- Jane Austen (4 online portraits)
- Richard Arthur Austen Leigh
Looking, tonight, I see that “Maria” is no longer ID’ed as Maria Culme Seymour! Wish someone had said…
A new image! This time of Spencer Compton, AKA Lord Compton, AKA the 2nd Marquess of Northampton.
Spencer was the only male cousin of the Smith of Suttons children. Brother of Lady Elizabeth Compton, young Emma writes about visiting the Comptons in 1815 when Spencer (Lord Compton) married Margaret Maclean Clephane — the ward of Walter Scott!
The image ran in January 1851, in the Illustrated London News, following the Marquess’ death; it dates, however, from a few years earlier. The accompanying text reads, in part,
“The late Marquis died on Friday week, at Castle Ashby, the ancient family seat, in Northamptonshire. The recent death of Lord Alford, his son-in-law, had proved a severe shock to a naturally sensitive temperament, and he was advised to leave Ashridge for his own residence, before the funeral.”
Poor Lady Marion, first a husband gone, and now a father…
Scholars and readers of Jane Austen remember well that Walter Scott wrote of his inability to create the quiet fiction of Austen, but was great at what he called “the big bow wow”.
While Austen’s prose interests me for its precise picture of life when my girls — Emma and Mary — were growing up, it’s Scott’s correspondence that provides the interest: he was the guardian of the Maclean Clephane girls. Margaret Maclean Clephane married the Smiths’ cousin Spencer Compton (Lord Compton, later the 2nd Marquess of Northampton). Scott’s letters shed light on the periods of time when the young family was abroad; while Emma’s diaries comment on the young man’s marriage with a Scottish beauty!
But back to Walter Scott..
As you see from the image, there are 12 volumes of letters, published in the 1930s. You can find these letters ONLINE!
Here’s a short list of items, as delineated on the page entitled “Authentic Austen, Scott, Waldie“:
Millgate Union Catalogue of Walter Scott Correspondence, at the National Library of Scotland, gives a fully searchable database. You’ll Find Lady Compton and the Clephanes well represented…
A recent discovery, and, although not quite as handy as the book volumes, I am grateful to find all the published edition of Letters online and fully searchable. The line numeration is a bit of a pain (though you always know which page you’re on in which volume!), and the notes seem missing, but this should prove an exceptionally useful source. One wish: someone needs to clean up the scanned text a bit.
I’m very “bullish” on anything “authentic” — letters, diaries, first editions, etc etc., so do check out the other items on this blog page: https://smithandgosling.wordpress.com/authentic-austen/
A reader who wrote to me about Lachlan Macquarie might be interested to know that according to the Millgate Catalogue, there is one 1821 letter. (BTW, I noticed a broken link there; note that it has now been updated!)
The letter is dated 24 Nov 1821, from Government House, Sydney NSW. Seems Lachlan Macquarie was a relation to my dear Margaret, Lady Compton! The original letter is at the National Library of Scotland.
A short note here to add that if anyone has the book THE COMPTONS OF COMPTON WYNYATES, I’d love to see the chapters on the 1st and 2nd Marquesses — and the portrait of Maria, Lady Northampton by her sister Eliza Chute!!
When Craig from Australia — a most helpful Smith&Gosling “fan”! — wrote about a letter he found, the tell-tale tidbit that attracted me was hearing that it was addressed to the Marquess of Northampton. Its dating, to 1824, meant to the first Marquess — husband of Mamma Smith’s sister Maria, father to Lord Compton (the 2nd Marquess) and his sister Lady Elizabeth Compton (later married to Charles Scrase Dickins).
The idea that came into my brain while corresponding with Craig was that, although his find might be addressed TO Lord Northampton — the enclosed LETTER might very well be addressed to someone else!
At the Essex Record Office, there is a small set of letters, written by “the children” — as Emma referred to her two youngest sisters (her younger brothers were in school), Charlotte and Maria — but the girls, while addressing their letters to eldest sister Augusta and to Mamma, addressed their envelopes to “Le Chevalier Charles Smith“!
Obviously, therefore, the “head of the household” was the letter recipient whenever letters were sent Poste Restante or to be called for at, say, the offices of the family’s foreign banker.
Just one exceptionally interesting “find” while delving back in time nearly 200 years. Stay tuned for more!