Macklin & Aunt Emma

June 8, 2015 at 12:19 pm (books, diaries, history, jane austen, jasna, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , )

I want to thank JASNA-Vermont for inviting me to speak at their June gathering yesterday – and for dipping with me in the waters of RESEARCH into the family of the Austens. So little time, so MUCH information! My illustrated talk entitled “The Mystery of Emma Austen’s Aunt Emma” was an “interactive” presentation – and people really spoke up, made observations, added comments, asked questions. It was GREAT! Later, one audience member even told me my “research reads like a thrilling mystery!” Heartening words, indeed. No one can ever guess the “desert” a writer *feels* to be stranded in, when the research is this intensive and taking years to produce something substantive.

pen and letters

I figure I’m closing in on a THOUSAND letters and several HUNDRED diaries – and more turns up. I just returned (after midnight, last friday…) from a research jaunt to New York City.

Very helpful staff at NYU, where I spent most of the day, every day, Monday through Friday morning. And I am just *bowled over* by the staff of the Morgan Library – from the security guide near the door, to the gentleman who brought me up to the third floor reading room; and the library people – especially the ladies in the reading room = helpful – chatty – friendly. Just an exceptionally pleasant experience. Pity I ran out of time. BUT: I saw my LONG-AWAITED letter from Humphry Repton to Papa Smith => an even BETTER read than I had hoped. Repton was thanking Papa for paying him…, but also writing in SUCH a friendly manner, and even including Mamma in his thoughts. Pure GOLD!

repton

Now if only his RED BOOK for Suttons would turn up!

Then I turned my eyes to the special editions of Walter Scott works. My memory is that they were presented — by Compton and his sister Lady Elizabeth — to LORD Northampton; but I swear at least one of the volumes said LADY Northampton! Will have to revisit the Morgan’s catalogue, and also my notes. AND revisit the Morgan – for I ran out of time before I ran out of volumes.

The Scott works were not only specially bound for the Marquess / Marchioness, they included pen and ink drawings done by Lord Compton – his fiancée and then wife Margaret Maclean Clephane / Lady Compton – and Lady Elizabeth Compton. One volume, The Lady of Lake, included a “letter” (for lack of a better description) in which Compton (I think it was his handwriting) outlined ALL the drawings – and also who they were drawn by, as well as their source (if applicable). Imagine my SURPRISE to see that THREE were listed to have as a source “William Gosling, Esq”!!!

At first, glancing at the paper, I thought it said it INCLUDED drawings by William Gosling. ARGH! that that was NOT the case. But: this helps with a mini-mystery about William (described as “the banker of Fleet Street” in the citation I unearthed) drawing STOWE in circa 1814. These volumes for the Northamptons are of a similar period, and just the fact that the Compton children included the word “esquire” in his name indicates to me that they are saying drawings of the father rather than William Ellis Gosling, the son (though William Ellis Gosling of an age with Compton & Elizabeth, he was still at College in 1814).

The especially LOVED to illustrate Lake Katrine!

Lady of Lake

In one short word: WOW! is all I can say about having another clue that William Gosling (Mary’s Papa) was an accomplished artist – for if he was mediocre, the Comptons would not have wanted to “copy” his work, surely. And their own work is…. ASTOUNDING! such meticulous strokes; interesting compositions; accurate representation of things like crumbling castles.

I should perhaps remind readers that Margaret, Lady Compton, was a ward (along with her two younger sisters – altogether often referred to as the Clephane Sisters of Torloisk) of Walter Scott. Even Edward Austen Leigh adored the works of Sir Walter.

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New Letters, New Revelations

November 3, 2013 at 9:38 am (diaries, history, news, people, research, smiths of stratford) (, , , , , , , )

Special thanks to Mike who photographed some letters for me at the Hampshire Record Office. Being 3000 miles from this enormous source of Smith&Gosling info is one of the hardest situations to be in. I’m very grateful to Mike, and to anyone who is able to allow me to continue my research from afar (you all know who you are…).

I spent yesterday morning and evening (until 2 am! – though with the time change, I gained an hour) in the 1790s – with Emma Smith (my Emma’s “Aunt Emma”), youngest sister to Augusta (AKA Mamma); also with their Father Joshua Smith and Mother Sarah Smith. There’s even a letter from Judith Smith (née Lefevre), Emma’s great-grandmother, but I’ve not touched that one yet. The Smiths senior (Emma, Joshua, Sarah) write a LOT about aches, pains, accidents. A HARROWING letter from Sarah Smith to daughter Eliza Chute sets out the near-fatal accident of young Emma (“Aunt Emma”)! O-M-G-!

  • click link “near-fatal accident” to LISTEN to this segment of Sarah Smith’s September 1799 letter

The letters of my Emma Smith (AKA Emma Austen Leigh) come from the period 1811 / 1814. Emma was just nine-years-old in August 1811. HUGE handwriting — but cursive handwriting:

DSCF0160

This is page 3 — and LOOK at the treat that was in store for me: an early mention of my Mary Gosling, an 11-year-old! Only eleven and nine, and the girls were already corresponding…

The 1814 letters are poignant, dealing in the time period of Papa Charles Smith’s last illness. The bright spot in one letter? Mentions of “the little ones”. I swear Emma writes, “When we came to Stratford [the home of “Aunt”, Judith Smith – Charles’ only living sister; she was obviously keeping the children away from the scene of sickness] we found the little ones very well & hungry…” Emma goes on to mention little Drummond – a toddler at this point; and Charlotte, about five-years-old – who was outpacing her elder sister Eliza in learning her religion and also in reading.

Knowing what life had in store for all these people – (for example: marriage, children, early death) – it touches me to glimpse these moments of them as innocent, buoyant children. Thankfully, so much material has been preserved – in so many different places. Each letter shades their portraits in such subtle ways. A valuable gift, as we move into the festive season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and on to a New Year.

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NB: IS Mrs Thrale in the recorded letter of Sarah Smith who I think she is?

Hester Thrale Piozzi did know the Cunliffes; letters mention the deaths of Lady Cunliffe’s daughters, Eliza Gosling (1803) and Mary Smith (1804). Trouble is: Dr Johnson’s Mrs Thrale had, by 1799, long ago become Mrs Piozzi. The name could be read as “Thrall”… But it’s possible Sarah Smith had a slip of the pen, or didn’t hear (or didn’t remember hearing) of Mrs Thrale’s remarriage. Must dig a bit further.

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Revisiting Kaplan’s Jane Austen Among Women

January 5, 2013 at 11:45 am (books, jane austen) (, , , , , , , , , , )

kaplan_JA among womenA great number of years ago I found Deborah Kaplan’s excellent Jane Austen Among Women – I am currently rereading the first couple of chapters, which deal with women Austen knew. From the Knights to the Chutes; from the Powletts to the Deedes family, there are diaries and letters which tell us a wealth of information about life in England during Austen’s lifetime — which, for my research, coincides with the youth and adulthood of the sisters Eliza Chute (of The Vyne) and Augusta Smith (of Suttons), as well as the children Augusta and Charles Smith brought up at Suttons, my Emma Smith (aka Emma Austen Leigh) among them.

Kaplan has an interesting narrative for chapter 1: Genteel Domesticity. She touches on fertility and sexuality (so many children for some couples); “growing up gentry” (if I may term it so!); maiden aunts (for Emma there was “Aunt” – Miss Judith Smith [father’s sister] and “Aunt Emma” [mother’s sister]). Wonderful to read Kaplan’s thoughts on writing circles and visiting circles. Time and again I’d find myself saying “yes”, for her conclusions echoed my own.

Not a new book, but still available, if only from a library – and highly recommended!

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Bleak house? November Notes from Letters

November 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm (diaries, history, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Ah, the days have grown so short, now that the clocks are turned back. Night settles around the house, lights pop on at the flick of a switch, and I think of life for the Smiths & Goslings, 200 years ago.

So today I look up a few quotes, from November Letters and a Journal, to brighten up these lengthening November nights.

  • “Tuesday, being the 5th of Nov:br I tryed to get some squibs & crackers & at last John succeeded in making some, so we let them off last night.” — Drummond Smith, 6 Nov 1822, writing from Suttons, to his brother Spencer
  • “I believe Tanner has got a ferret, Miss M. mistook it one day for a very large rat.” — ditto
  • “you really can have no idea of how much we have to do, & how little time to spare, unless you could take a trip down here and spend a few weeks among us.” — Drummond Smith, 17 Nov 1824, writing from Harrow, to his eldest sister Augusta
  • “There have been several pugilistic encounters lately, I think I shall send Eliza notice that she may come, as she takes delight in them.” — ditto
  • “I afterwards went to Lady Compton’s  She is a gigantic, well-informed, hard-headed, blue Scotchwoman.” — Journal of Henry Edward Fox, 26 Nov 1824

And from the earlier generation:

  • “Dear Papa’s Eyes Glistened with Love & pleasure, he Blessed his little favorite  said she had always been a good Girl” — Sarah Smith, 13 Nov 1793, writing to her newlywed daughter, Eliza Chute
  • “I never heard of such a shameful conduct in any Officers as these Irish ones; swearing most shockingly, pass thro’ the Turnpikes without paying, they are the bane of Devizes, and no one can walk the Streets at night in safety.” — Emma Smith (“Aunt Emma”), 16 Nov 1794, writing to her sister Eliza Chute
  • “The accident would not have happened if he had staid at home with Lady Compton to knit.” — Eliza Gosling (Mary’s mother), 7 Nov 1795, writing from Roehampton Grove, to her friend Eliza Chute

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A Plea to Postal History Collectors

October 21, 2012 at 7:48 pm (diaries, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

In conversation with Dave from Ottawa, I had the idea to post something that more plainly laid out what places the letters I seek came from / were sent to and also the people – writers or recipient; and the dates.

The letter that caught Dave’s eye was sent in 1798. It was sent to Charles Smith at his estate ‘Suttons’.

SUTTONS remains an address of great interest from beginning to end: it was the childhood home to Emma Smith and the marital home to Mary Gosling.

Another long-standing address for the Smiths & Goslings would be their residences in Portland Place, London (No. 5 = Goslings; No. 6 = Smiths).

The Goslings also had their country estate, Roehampton Grove.

Of course there are family members a bit further removed: aunts, uncles, cousins. I’ve begun a list, which you can find under the tab “Autograph Letter Signed”.

I honestly don’t know what to search for – ALS will get something far different than an autographed letter. On the likes of eBay, there’s very little about the contents of letters or the addressee in most cases, and I simply tire of sitting at a computer, looking at post marks for hours. Way too many bookseller orders and attorney or banker letters of inquiry are on the market.

I want a juicy letter filled with family gossip!

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Something which might be of use in helping ID some of the writers are the signatures I’ve posted here, as well as the pedigrees. Even the smallest, shortest sentence about any of these people would interest me!

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Sarah Smith – wife of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park, Wilts

September 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm (a day in the life, chutes of the vyne, history, news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I wish I had a picture of Sarah, Mrs Joshua Smith, to share. Alas, the one citation I have of a miniature of her — by Anne Mee — came with NO illustration!

So, to illustrate this lengthy obituary of Sarah, I include this illustration of Stoke Park, where she died. The write-up comes from The Monthly Magazine and British Register, 1810:

“At Stoke Park, near Devizes, Mrs Smith, the lady of Joshua Smith, esq. one of the representatives in parliament for that borough. She was the daughter, by a second wife, of Nathaniel Gilbert, of the island of Antigua, sequire [sic], a gentleman of large landed property there, and chief legal magistrate of the island, the maternal sister of the late lady Colebrooke, and mother of the present lady Northampton. Through life, this lady was conspicuous not only for great good sense and very amiable manners, but also for the great sincerity of her attachments; a sincerity which was the result of affection, principle, and benevolence, alone. In an age in which the woman of fashion too frequently affects the most extravagant degree of moral sentiment, the purity of her conduct expressed the innate worth and value of her mind; and while her charitable heart was ever ready to mitigate distress, the delicacy of her pecuniary favours never wounded the feelings of those, whom her bounty so liberally relieved. Though handsome in her youth, she was totally free from vanity and affectation; her charity, though exerted on the precepts of the divine word, in secrecy and silence, was not confined merely to alms, but manifested by a liberal and charitable opinion of the conduct of all. So far was she from uttering scandal of any one that she did not even think it; and as to pride, if it resided in her, it was of that decent kind which preserved her within the bounds of virtue and propriety. Thus beloved and revered for three generations, in consequence of a debility of body produced by an arthritic complaint, she expired at the end of her sixty-second year, when threatened with a total loss of sight, leaving her inconsolable husband, children, and other connections, the example of a woman, illustrious in every social department of life. Her remains were conveyed for interment to the family vault at Lambeth.”

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Sarah Smith of Erle Stoke Park lives on in letters, especially those to her daughter Eliza Chute of The Vyne, now housed at the Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, England. Eliza, in 1793, was newly married, and frequent correspondence passed between the two households.

A plea to anyone coming across letters of the 1790s: This important decade connects the Smiths & Goslings together in the “parent generation” – not only is Sarah Smith writing to Eliza and William Chute, she also writes of the newly-married pair William and Eliza GOSLING. Eliza Chute, as well, writes of her life — at The Vyne, at Roehampton Grove (the Gosling home), at Richmond — to her sisters Emma Smith (at Stoke); Augusta Smith (at Suttons, in Essex); Maria, Lady Compton (later: Lady Northampton = Marchioness of Northampton). Please contact me (see about the author for contact information) if you have letters to share!

  • Just bought a letter from eBay, for instance, and
  • its contents point to the people in this blog??
  • Contact me; I’d LOVE to hear from you!

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Emma’s “Aunt” is not “Aunt Emma”

January 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm (diaries, entertainment, history, london's landscape, smiths of stratford) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Reading through posts at AustenOnly (check out those concerning livery, and also Lord Nelson!), I spotted a tweet about the Document of the Month, featured on the Hampshire Record Office’s website: Augusta Smith’s poem, To My Aunt on New Year’s Day — written by young Augusta in 1825. It’s one of my favorite pieces! Why? Because it speaks about her having a red Pocketbook; ie, a journal! just like those my young Emma recorded her thoughts and life in. Oh, what has happened to Aunt’s diaries?!?!

I must confess, however, to some head-scratching over the accompanying informational text…

As noted in the text’s beginning, my Emma (Augusta’s sister) was born in 1801; she did marry James Edward Austen; and she did keep diaries, most of them extant at the Hampshire Record Office.

But the poem’s nothing to do with young Emma; it’s not her pockets that bulge, nor her red pocketbook that lays among all the Mary-Poppins-items of that vast pocket! Young Emma was no “aunt” in 1825!

{NB: the first nephew was little Charles, born in 1827; Mary and Charles Joshua’s son}

Yes, there was an “Aunt Emma” — this person was the youngest sister of the four Smith sisters of Erle Stoke Park, the daughters of Joshua and Sarah Smith; namely, Maria (the Marchioness of Northampton); Eliza (Mrs William Chute of The Vyne); Augusta (Mrs Charles Smith of Suttons); and … Emma.

But “Aunt Emma” and “Aunt” are not the same person!

So to whom belonged “these ponderous pockets” that “would jumble my hips almost out of their sockets”??

The “most perfect” Aunt, who resided at Stratford (note the place/date at the bottom of the page), was Miss Judith Smith — only surviving sister of the Smith siblings’ father, Charles Smith. Judith and Charles were children of Charles Smith and Judith Lefevre. Poor Aunt! Even in Scenes from Life at Suttons, 1825 & 1827 she is misidentified; there, as Lady Northampton.

Thanks to Charlotte Frost, I’ve seen a drawing, done by Fanny Smith, of Stratford (Stratford Le Bow) — a “suburb” of London, and soon to be the site of the hustle-bustle of the 2012 Summer Olympics. This was once home to Aunt, and a great stop-off whenever the Smiths of Suttons travelled to and from London.

Now that you know a little about “Aunt” – take a moment to read this delicious poem, by the sparkling eldest Smith sibling, Augusta. I’m going to check my transcription against HRO’s!

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Happy Birthday, Fanny

October 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm (diaries, history, news, research) (, , , , , , )

Today – October 28 – is the 208th birthday of Fanny Smith / Fanny Seymour of Kinwarton.

Fanny first took on a life of her own when I was invited to give a talk in the Kinwarton-area on her. At the time, I was in Hampshire, researching the diaries and letters at the Record Office in Winchester; it was amazing how suddenly Fanny stood out from the crowd. Indeed: Seek and ye shall find.

READ the Kinwarton letter for yourself.

Her letter — found online — was one of the first I ever tracked down. Thanks to also tracking down its owner, Alan in Alcester, I was given access to other letters he had collected over the years from the family; this included one from Mary Lady Smith!

Fanny has a tight and tidy hand, with a slightly lesser tendancy to “cross” her writing than some of her sisters… She certainly seemed to have felt the plight of being much farther north (Warwickshire) than her siblings. There’s so much known about Fanny — yet so much more to uncover.

The thrill, today, however, was to hear about Mike H’s trip to Oxford — and his look at Fanny’s sketches of Tring Park!

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Garrow in Essex (1829)

September 18, 2011 at 9:09 am (diaries, history, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This past weekend I’ve given myself a “filler” job – to read through the diaries of Charles and Mary Smith which overlap each other, namely, the years 1829 and 1830.

Charles Joshua Smith began his (extant) diaries July 1826 — on his wedding day to Mary Gosling, although you’d NEVER know it from his matter-of-fact comment about driving Mary to Suttons.

Mary’s (extant) diaries begin January 1829, following the birth of her second child, Mary Charlotte (called Mimi). That other diaries exist — or at least existed — I have no doubt. Charles may have destroyed his former diaries; a loss if the case – as they would have contained comments of his Continental and Russian travels (if going back to the early 1820s), his marriage to Belinda Colebrooke, her death, his engagement (about which I’d KILL to know more) to Mary Gosling in the spring of 1826. Mary’s diaries surely began far earlier than 1829, and given the “holes” in the series, her diaries must have been dispursed between her children – maybe even were resident at Suttons (sold mid-20th century) until the estate was sold out of the family. A couple mysteries still awaiting solution.

So only two years exist in which husband AND wife comment on their daily lives. A lot of illness — and more to come with the decline of Charles’ health (he died in January 1831); some visits to Suttons by Emma and Edward Austen. The marriage of Margaret Elizabeth Gosling, Mary’s elder sister, with Langham Christie, and visits to Suttons by the Smiths and Goslings; and visits to ‘Town’ by Mary, Charles and the children. Charles attends some agricultural courses; obtains new livestock and looks after farm matters; and does his duty at the Law Sessions.

It is March 1829, and Charles writes of travelling to CHELMSFORD (Essex):

“Judges, Chief Baron Alexander & Sir William Garrow; a heavy calendar  about 150 Prisoners, not many very heavy offences”

Sir William Garrow (died 1840), now judge at Assizes, would not retire until 1832.

Charles arrived at Chelmsford on 9 March (a Monday); the following day he writes of the Grand Jury being charged and that he “Dined with the Judges who seemed anxious to have another {unreadable} Sessions established”.

Wednesday, the 11th, was “all the morning” on the Grand Jury; he noted “A very full attendance”. Court was “dismissed” the next day (Thursday, the 12th) at noon.

Garrow first appears in Charles’s 1828 diary, when he is one of the Judges at the Chelmsford Assizes in July. Again the session ran Monday through Thursday. One prisoner (whose case Garrow did not preside over), John Williams, was sent for execution.

Garrow appears by name for the last time in December 1829, when Charles notes his Grand Jury work on Wednesday the 10th. By this time, Garrow, born in 1760, would have been 69-years-old.

Can’t wait for the third season of Garrow’s Law — in December 2011, I heard; will now relish it for yet another different reason: Sir William Garrow and Sir Charles Joshua Smith of Suttons actually met!

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The Austens, Nattes & Suttons

September 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm (entertainment, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Was looking through the wonderful source Jane Austen: A Family Record, by Deirdre Le Faye; wanted to see what she had to say about Jane the artist (ie, drawing or music, but especially music).

Page 50 had this tidbit, regarding the year 1784:

“This year he {papa, George Austen} also paid  £11.9s.0d to Claude Nattes – presumably the artist better known as John Claude Nattes (c.1765-1822) and later to become famous as a watercolourist — who had possibly been staying at the Rectory to give drawing lessons to the children. In later years Henry was reputed to be the artist of the family, and some of Cassandra’s sketches still survive, while of Jane it was said: ‘She had not only an excellent taste for drawing, but in her earlier days, evinced great power of hand in management of the pencil.’ ”

There are a couple Nattes-stories relating to the Smiths! Online you can find two drawings of his inscribed ‘Suttons’ — one called “The Pigeon House &c, at Suttons  Essex/Augst 1st 1811” (pen and brown and black ink over pencil; 12 1/2 inches x 9 inches); the other “Farm yard &c, from the interior of a Barn. Suttons” (also pen and brown and black ink over pencil; 9 inches x 12 3/4 inches).

Peppiatt Fine Art has two articles with the two Nattes works on view, and support text: PDF & website. The PDF provides a nice LARGE image of both works.

For Nattes other Smith connection — the delightful governess Miss Ramsay, I point blog readers to my earlier post on Elizabeth (Grant) Smith, the Highland Lady — who mentions Nattes and Miss Ramsay in her own memoirs!

The picture is from the early edition of The Memoirs of a Highland Lady, found online. The only *kvetch* I have against the Tod edition: No family tree (boy! is it “needed” to keep track of who’s who) and NO PICTURES!

Just spotted this blog post on the Memoir at I prefer reading: enjoy!

I must do a little digging into Nattes’ death date; Le Faye gives 1822; Peppiatt gives 1839.

Wiki Gallery has a fair number of his images online. 42 works at last count! Even one, I see, from Sydney Gardens in Bath — a scene that Jane Austen must have been QUITE familiar with.

Small world, huh?

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