Letters from the Ladies of Llangollen

Every once in a while I look up the holdings for the LLOYDS of ASTON HALL, OSWESTRY at the National Library of Wales. The parents of Louisa Lloyd were Lady Louis and Sir Eliab Harvey, of Rolls Park, Chigwell. The Harveys were neighbors and friends with the Smiths of Suttons (both Essex estates).

A lot of work has gone into cataloguing the Aston Hall materials, especially letters, which appear in a finding aid of some detail (though brief contents of individual letters are only to be found in the archival record [click on the individual file name; scroll below to “Scope and Content”]; I’ve saved you the trouble for the letters listed below).

_I_, of course, would love to find that some letters from my Smiths have ended up here. I would settle for some sentences of chat or gossip about them even – but that would take reading through the letters. Correspondence, especially that between mother and daughter is voluminous! More than one repository holds what exists, as well.

In short, it’s not likely that I would take the time, in the hope of finding a short mention of the Smiths of Suttons & Portland Place.

But reading through the finding aid one gets a “feeling” for the volume of correspondents, and the reach of letters in the early 19th century when distance separated family members.

My reason for bringing this up is less about the Smiths, about whom I think 24/7, but about the letters from the Ladies of Llangollen, Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler found in this deposit.

An even MORE exciting *find* is the item described as “a Bible presented by Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby to Ward Harvey Lloyd, 8 August 1819“.

The letters were written to Louisa Lloyd (Mrs. William Lloyd of Aston Hall, though it’s possible some letters were written to her when visiting away from home).

Letters from Eleanor Butler, by date:

  • 1805 [no specific date] [C 1520: “Sender’s proposed visit to Aston; reference to the Duchess of Gordon, the Duchess of Richmond and the Ladies Lennox’s stay at Bangor.”]
  • 7 November 1806 [C 1521: “Sender’s proposed visit to Aston; reference to their visit to Brynkinalt; also to the arrival of Lady Ormonde and her daughter Eleanor.”]
  • 13 April 1813 [C 1522: “Miscellaneous news.”]
  • 18 August 1813 [C1523: “Recipient’s departure from Aston; sender’s desire to have Lady Louisa Harvey at Plas Newydd.”]
  • 9 December 1813 [C 1524: “Enquiry for Lady Louisa Harvey and reference to two books.”]
  • 1813 [no specific date] [C 1525: “Accepting an invitation to Aston.”]
  • 5 April 1814 [C 1526: “Acknowledgement of a box.”]
  • 4 April 1817 [C 1527: “Sender’s proposed visit to Aston.”]
  • 29 January 1819 [C 1528: “Sender’s visit to Wynnstay; the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and Lady Harrie Williams Wynn’s visit to Plas Newydd; personal and miscellaneous news.”]
  • 3 February 1819 [C 1529: “Accepting an invitation to Aston and miscelleneous news.”]
  • 21 April 1819 [C 1530: “Asking for vegetables from the garden in exchange for flowers; reference to Saving Banks; Sunday Schools and the Bible Society; miscellaneous news.”]
  • c1819 [C 1531: “Recipient’s visit to Plas Newydd.”]
  • 1819 [no specific date] [C 1532: “Acknowledging a drawing; the books of Auguste La Fontaine; an account of the King of Sweden laid out in state, received from Stockholm.”]
  • 1819 [again, no specific date] [C 1533: Acknowledging a letter; Edward gone to school; miscellaneous news.”]
  • 1 January 1826 [C 1534: “Acknowledging the gifts of drawings.”]

Two undated letters, written written by Lady Eleanor to Lady Louisa Harvey are also in the collection:

  • [C 7207: “Miscellaneous news with reference to Mrs. Lloyd of Rhoggat, Lord Westmeath, Governor Nugent, Lady Crewe, Lord and Lady Grosvenor, Mr. Pryce of Bryn-y-pys and others.”]
  • [C 7208: “An invitation to visit Plas Newydd, reference to recipient’s daughter Mrs. Lloyd, Mrs. Kenyon and others.”]

Lady Louisa Harvey and childrenLady Louisa Harvey and her two children,
Edward and Louisa
(by Thomas Lawrence) [c1793]

In the “Miscellaneous Letters and Fragments” are noted two letters to Lady Eleanor Butler:

  • from E. Curtis; 29 March 1822 [C 8241: “Personal and family news with reference to sender’s drawings.”]
  • from unknown; 16 November [year unknown] [C 8242: “Disappointment at the cancellation of a visit.”]

Letters of Sarah Ponsonby, (identified as “Other level: Pole-Puzzo”), by date:

  • 27 July 1817 [C 6338: “Lady Eleanor Butler’s indisposition; arranging a visit to Aston to meet Lady Louisa Harvey; intending to arrive for breakfast.”]
  • 7 September 1829 [C 6339: “Recipient and her family to visit Plas Newydd; reference to Lady Louisa Harvey.”]
  • 18 September 1829 [C 6340: “The Empress Josephine and her life written by Mlle le Normand; recipient’s visit to Llangollen and a set of views for her.”]
  • 19 October 1830 [C 6341: “A journal for Lady Louisa Harvey.”]
  • 3 January 1831 [C 6342: “Arrangements re: recipient’s visit to Llangollen with her family.”]
  • 5 November 1831 [C 6343: “A gift of plants for recipient, acknowledging flowers sent from Aston; the cholera and a receipt [sic] for it.”]

Letter from Sarah to Elizabeth Lloyd:

  • 6 June 1816 [C 8150: “Enquiries concerning Mr. and Mrs. Kenyon and acknowledgements for agreeable day passed at Pradoe.”]

* * *

Fiona Brideoake’s book, The Ladies of Llangollen: Desire, Indeterminancy, and the Legacies of Criticism has several small quotes from the Mother-Daughter (Lady Louisa Harvey and Louisa Lloyd) letters; my favorite is this exchange:

… a source of amusement to Lady Louisa Harvey, who wrote in 1807 to her daughter advising her of an erroneous newspaper report of Butler’s attendance at court on the occasion of the king’s birthday: ‘I know no news but what I’ve seen in the papers, one of which entertained us much viz: Lady Eleanor Butler** dress [sic] at the drawing Room was a pale pink crepe trimmed with wreaths of full blown roses and buds.’ [pp. 40-41]

**could this Lady Eleanor have been Lady Ormonde’s daughter? see description of letter C 1521, dated 1806

On a sadder note, this exchange between the two Louisas, in January, 1832:

‘I have seen a kind well written letter from one of the poor little Maids at poor dear lost Llangollen. I hope and trust there will be no auction, it is a sad thought that of all their poor Treasure, displaced, and pried on by all.’ [page 137]

Some of the drawings being acknowledged in the above letters may be the subject of this first sentence; the second, touches on the Ladies’ books:

Writing to Lady Louisa Harvey on Augusta 18, 1832, Louisa Lloyd further observed of the Plas Newydd sale, ‘Mary seems much annoyed that Edward should have missed my Picture but I think he was right  It is not worth above 3s.’ … ‘I am quite astonished that the Books should go so cheap, I expected they would sell for an enormous Sum how very Stupid the Shropshire Gentry must be, poor Ladies how their Ghosts must be hovering round all these horrid unfeeling People–‘

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