Georgette Heyer’s BATH TANGLE

July 24, 2013 at 9:54 am (books, british royalty, diaries, history, news) (, , , , , , , )

Now, I was rather pleased to see the portrait of Spencer Compton (Emma’s cousin; later the 2nd Marquess of Northampton) gracing the cover of a recent edition of a Georgette Heyer novel. Even so, it was a bit of a curious find when, searching for Lady Smith-Burgess, I stumbled upon this serialization of Miss Heyer’s Bath Tangle in THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY, 3rd installment of 6 in the issue dated 13 April 1955. Heyer mentions the rumor of the marriage of Lady Smith-Burgess to Lord Poulett!

heyer_smith burgess

Lady Smith-Burgess was the widow of Emma’s great uncle Sir John (brother to Emma’s maternal grandfather, Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park). Indeed the couple married in the summer of 1816, the time period for this novel.

But why on earth would Heyer chose this couple?

You can see through my new Smith&Gosling Timeline what was happening in the Smith family c1816.

Susannah Praed Smith also made note of the upcoming events in her diary:

Thurs:y 18th Mr Smith was obliged to go to Town on business – and we received a letter from Lady Smith Burges to tell us the day was fixed for her Marriage with Lord Poulett and to desire us all to be present at the ceremony = on account of its taking Place the 23d – we thought we had better go to London the day before – &

Mond:y 22d we left Bersted very early – got to Norfolk St before five OClock – found Mr Smith at home expecting us –

Tues:y 23d The Duke of Clarence dined with us – and in the Evening H: R H: went with us to Picadilly – as he was to give her Lady Burges away….

Ah, ha! The Duke of Clarence, of course, was the future King William IV; undoubtedly, their marriage was BIG news in 1816, and Heyer used it to advantage.

heyer_bath tangle

You can read the entire serialization at TROVE:

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Easter Sunday, in Rome

March 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm (diaries, entertainment, europe, history, people, places, research, travel) (, , , , , , , )

Reminiscing in April 1824, Augusta Smith (the daughter) writes to her cousin Lady Elizabeth Compton. Augusta was in Rome last Easter and Lady Elizabeth is resident in Italy this spring.

“9 o’clock in the evening! St. Peters is resplendent with its magnificent illuminations. Innumerable crowds are thronging all around; the Ponte St. Angelo is one mass of heads and the Tiber a sheet of waving fire reflected from the brilliant explosions of light bursting every moment from the top of that venerable castle amidst wreaths of dark blue smoke. Last year we formed a part of the multitude…”

Ah, I know only too well Augusta’s nostalgia, and slight melancholia. I, too, have memories – too distant and therefore sometimes painful to reflect upon. Augusta’s trip was a year-long adventure from summer 1822 through summer 1823. The Smith family (Mamma and her older children) had stayed the winter in Rome. As Emma wrote Aunt before the group trooped farther south,

“you can hardly imagine my dear Aunty that we could be so near to Rome without visiting it, which Charles wishes, to the full as much as we do & Mamma for our sakes has kindly consented to so do, & in order to accomplish it we must spend the winter months there, now do not my dear Aunt fancy that we are determined gadabouts but think what an event in our lives it will be to visit Rome  I really think you would be almost tempted to go there…”

Great Aunt Susannah Smith’s Roman winter certainly points up the “wild” times that were enjoyed by the inhabitants and visitors. Is it like that today? (I still await my first journey into Italy.)

From young Augusta’s wistful memories, to Great Aunt Smith’s experience of Easter, 1827:

“we went to See the Pope give the benediction to his people from the Centre window of St Peters – it is an imposing ceremony – the military were all drawn up horse & foot – the bands playing – drums beating – but as soon as his Holiness appear{ed} an awful Silence prevailed -& continued while the benediction & prayers were read – the crowd were on their knees & their hats were off – the Evening turned out so wet – that the illumination of St Peters – and the fire works at St Angelo were put off”

Viva, la Roma!

And, “Happy Easter”.

st_ peters illumined by oil lamps

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Palm Sunday, in Rome

March 24, 2013 at 11:45 am (diaries, europe, history, people, places, research) (, , , , , , , )

Smith_Susan Mackworth PraedLast night, transcribing a diary for 1827, I was reading about PALM SUNDAY, and it struck me because we were hours aways from Palm Sunday 2013!

I am not lucky enough to spend Holy Week in Rome (new pope: Francis I), but Susannah Smith, her sister and brother-in-law Lord and Lady Mayo managed to be there the winter of 1826-27 — Pope Leo XII doing all the benedictions they attended.

Both Augusta Smith (the daughter) and Mrs Susannah Smith (her great aunt) describe a whirlwind of celebrations in Rome during the Easter season.

This being Palm Sunday in the Catholic Church, I will describe it as Mrs Smith saw it, when in Rome:

Sunday 8 April. this being Palm Sunday we went to see the Pope bless the Palms at the Sistina Chapel in St Peters – the procession was grand the service long – & the ceremonies very tiresome and I was glad when it was over“.  The length and tedium, however, does not stop they from visiting churches for their Masses over and again! But more on that next week (Easter).

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Lady Nugent and Jamaica, 1801-1805

March 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm (books, diaries, history, people, places, research) (, , , , , , , , )

The Smiths’ aunt Susannah (Mrs Thomas Smith) notes that her brother-in-law, Lord Mayo, attended an 1823 ball hosted by Lady Nugent. Maria (née Skinner) Nugent turns out to have left a journal, which was published as Lady Nugent’s Journal: Jamaica One Hundred Years ago (published: 1907).

maria lady nugentMaria Skinner was born in New Jersey.

Mrs Thomas Smith first writes of encountering Sir George Nugent in 1808 at Clovelly Court.

Kristin Condotta speaks on Mrs Nugent’s colonial years in a talk entitled ‘I Thank God I’m not a Man’: Lady Nugent and the Self-Made Woman in Colonial Jamaica, 1801-05. You can listen to this talk online (19+ minutes)

From the introduction to the 2002 edition, re-edited by Philip Wright, “Maria Nugent’s Journal is mainly concerned with life int he household of the Governor of Jamaica during a period of about four years, from Augusta 1801 to June 1805. As the Governor’s wife, the writer found herself at the centre of a slave-owning society, with a part to play there and no mere onlooker, yet observing its manners with the curiosity of a stranger. She met everyone of importance in the colony…”

Diarist Elizabeth Fremantle (in The Wynne Diaries, 3 vols) has left this “first impression” of the lady, from a meeting in December 1800: “Mrs. Nugent is the most conceited little woman I ever saw, she is very pretty though shorter than myself, she has the smallest head that can be, very thin and little. She is an amazing dresser, never appears twice in the same gown.” After a shopping expedition: “Mrs. Nugent bought a great deal of lace, she seems not to care how much money she spends in dres,s but she truly improves upon acquaintance and is a pleasant even-tempered little woman.”

Lady Nugent died, aged 63, in 1834.

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12 – 12 – 12

December 12, 2012 at 10:06 pm (a day in the life, diaries, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , )

I couldn’t resist posting today, on 12th December 2012; I have ONE diarist who wrote down what she was doing on 12th December 1812:

“The Duke dined again with us,” wrote Mrs Thomas Smith. The Duke was HRH the Duke of Clarence (later: King William IV). The Smiths had a far more thrilling 12-12-12 than I have done today…

Duke of Clarence, c1800duke of clarence

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Regency “It Girls” @ Bonhams

November 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm (diaries, fashion, history, news, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Thrilling happenings today. Over the last few days, with a new contact, I’ve been digging into the background of Bersted Lodge — this was the estate of Thomas and Susannah Smith, great aunt and uncle to my Emma Smith; and therefore Aunt and Uncle to her Aunt Emma.

So imagine my complete surprise to come across a watercolor – at Yale (in their British Center for Art) – of Bersted Lodge, done in 1831, by Anne Rushout. Who was she? Had she been at the Smiths’  Bersted Lodge in Bognor Regis in 1831? In one word: YES!

So I’ve been digging and digging…

and ultimately arrived at this little beauty, up for auction at Bonhams this past summer; you will NEVER guess what it sold for:

You may click on the picture to be taken to Bonhams site for a full description of this divine trio, but I will ID them:

  • Anne Rushout (c1768-1849)
  • Harriet Rushout (d. 1851), married Sir Charles Cockerell
  • Elizabeth Rushout (c1774-1862), married 1st Sydney Bowles; 2nd John Wallis Graeve (or Grieve?)

It was Harriet’s married name – Cockerell – that had me crowing: I remember transcribing a name that could be either Lady Cocherell or Lady Cockerell. Now I know… And I’ve not only Rushouts and Cockerells, I’ve at least one Mr Bowles, too.

But to get back to my trio of beauties.

Evidence suggests this work was commissioned by SYDNEY BOWLES – which makes it that much more special to me, for he obviously did not have a long life, if his widow remarried by 1819. Bonhams estimated the piece to sell for £10-15,000. It sold for an ASTOUNDING £67,250 !!! Whoa. Wonder: to whom??

I have found that the University of London has diaries (1828-1849) for Anne Rushout, including the time (I hope…) she spent at Bersted Lodge in 1831; Oxford’s Bodleian has letters to Harriet Lady Cockerell (alas, possibly not early enough for me – 1839-1850). But the interesting and somewhat perplexing note is that a 1958 article, based on diary entries for Anne Rushout, has her diaries spanning 1791 to 1845!?! I could easily suspect a division of the diaries in someone’s will; but what accounts for the additional years at the end?

I’d welcome any information on ANY of the Rushout Girls – but especially anything that puts them in contact with Mrs Thomas Smith (née Susan or Susannah Mackworth Praed); and especially about the whereabouts of those early-early 1791-1827 diaries belonging to Anne.

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Pictures worth a 1000 words

January 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm (british royalty, diaries, history, jane austen, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This picture isn’t worth only the proverbial “thousand words,” it was also worth a £1000 to the lucky purchaser at a November 2011 Bonhams auction. The sitter: Mamma Smith’s aunt, Susannah Mackworth Smith (wife of Thomas Smith of Bersted Lodge, Bognor).

Emma’s diaries mention a near-yearly visit to Bersted; though very little is said about the Aunt and Uncle found there… AH, joys and frustrations of working with primary materials. You wish people would ‘spill their guts’; instead they tempt you with teasing clues.

You can see the entire Susannah Smith miniature at Bonhams‘ website. If you search for Mackworth Praed you will also find her twin sister (Arabella, Countess of Mayo; a lady attached to the household of Queen Adelaide); and two of their brothers.

Susannah has not been my only *find* recently. Gosh! so many families purging themselves of ancestral miniatures… Don’t know which is more depressing: people selling their ancestors or all those portraits of “A Lady” or “A Gentleman” who could be someone in the Smith & Gosling family and friend tree!

{Hell, there even could be some Austens out there… going through life as unnamed Ladies and Gents.}

Another family member “found” and not yet discussed, although I posted her portrait a short bit ago, is Frances Anne Seymour — who married Spencer Smith. I actually have a photograph of Frances, granted – as photography was a later medium, taken when she was in her late 50s. Still so much FUN to compare the two, young “Bride” Frances and older “Matriarch” Frances. She, too, sold through Bonhams (in 2008). Note that on the website her middle name is spelled Ann; oh, spelling differences just kills me! {And Paula Byrne thinks she has problems with Austin… Try Jelfe/Jelph; Dickins/Dickens; Du Val/Duval; Susan/Susannah/Susanna; and a whole host of others… Never mind, just trying to find people named SMITH!}

Frances and Spencer were the parents of the trio of girls whose miniatures sold at auction I discussed in December. They sold through Christie’s. Mike E., who photographed the album into which Frances and her three daughters were “pasted,” was surprised yet happy that the girls had sold as one lot. May they remain together!

Emma Rutherford‘s Facebook page offers some fascinating reading about the world of miniatures and silhouettes. Let’s face it, for most of my people — even those who lived into older age and photography — these are the types of images that (might) survive. Emma has a new article out in Homes & Antiques Magazine; I’ve unearthed an earlier conversation on miniatures from the same magazine. Her February 2012 article is on silhouettes. Not sure how easy it is to find the magazine in the US. You can read more about Emma Rutherford at her website. Emma kindly alerted Two Teens readers to an article on the Byrne Jane Austen portrait.

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