Postal – it’s history

June 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm (diaries, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Been there – done that – got the T-shirt.

This one, of course, says it all, as far as I’m concerned!

During the last few evenings, I’ve been re-reading, correcting transcriptions, and trying to figure out what I have — and what I still need to see — for Smith & Gosling letters.

Not counting what I’ve not yet pursued (ie, family archives at a couple large estates), I’ve amassed more than 300 letters — and I’m still counting, for I know more is out there.

Just in the last month, three letters surfaced and a very kind gentleman let me see their contents! One was a bit out of the ordinary: signed Norman, I believe this woman (rather than dear Miss Meen, the painter of flowers, who gave lessons to the Smiths — and Queen Charlotte and her princesses) – Mrs Norman – a good contender for the post of governess to the daughters of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park. She is certainly around the family, and very “familiar”, although I still can’t quite track her down. They’re either “too young or too old”.

My latest “craze” has been for letters written by young Augusta Smith (later: Mrs Henry Wilder of Purley and Sulham). Ah! she is just a delight. A quick wit, with a ready turn of phrase.  Here, in the 1830s, Augusta is on the Isle of Wight, for the health of her toddling son. Doesn’t this just transport you back in time, at the hand of a fashionable wit?

“– A lovely cottage close by has just been taken by Mrs. Mason a daughter of L:d Hoods with a host of progeny of all ages – her husband is commanding a ship in the Medit:n & she is going to beguile his absence tomorrow by a “dejeuner dinant” & dansant” w:h I suppose will bring hither a whole squadron of galleys & barges full of blue jackets, white trowsers & gold epaulettes from Portsmouth

Don’t you just want to read more?

I’m always thrilled to hear from readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen, who have some pieces of my particular puzzle — letters, diaries, sketches even. Let me hear from you!

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Augusta rules!

August 16, 2010 at 11:03 pm (news, people, research) (, , , , , )

This seems destined to be the summer of Augusta Smith turning up in unexpected places. A few months ago, it was a 1798 diary penned by Augusta Smith the elder, whom I usually refer to as ‘Mamma’ in this blog. And over this past weekend, an 1824 letter written by her eldest daughter, Augusta!

The letter arrived in my email box thanks to Angela in Alberta, Canada. Her grandfather had been given the letter, when he was in England, during World War II. Imagine.

Angela is lucky, as it is one of the most intriguing letters. Augusta proves herself a very astute writer, especially when she is reminiscing about the family trip to 1822-23 and remembering their time in Rome. Ah! I know only too well what it is like to pine for places you haven’t seen in some time…

There are a couple items to bring up in this blog, but I will leave them for later. Let it suffice that I greatly thank Angela for bringing this letter to my attention. Few might realize  how one letter, one diary, sometimes even just one sentence or two written about these people can shed new light, revealing light, on these 200-year-old people.  Hip-hip-hurrah for blogs! for without this one I would never have seen these private sides of my two Augustas.

BTW, the above is not a portrait of Augusta (I have nothing of either — so far!), but a fashion plate from c1820. As eldest daughter, young Augusta occupied a unique place in the Smith of Suttons family, she was Mrs Smith’s ‘ornamental daughter’ according to one contemporary and friend. Augusta’s life makes for riveting reading, and I do so want her story to be told. Riches – pain – love – marriage – death. She is definitely one reason I pursue these people to the ‘ends of the earth,’ from North Carolina, to Winchester and Chelmsford, Warwick and Chicago, London, New York City, Oxford, and now Alberta.

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