At the end of last week I received a wonderful biography (2007) of William Smith MP called Progress by Persuasion: the Life of William Smith, 1756-1835. HIGHLY recommended for its blend of the political, social and familial. The authors are Jenny Handley and Hazel Lake; I’ve been lucky to be in correspondence with Hazel recently. So I hope to talk more of this book.
William Smith knew oh-so-many familiar names; but the one I of course write about here are Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler!
Jenny and Hazel have included the diaries (few as there are in existence, alas) of Smith’s wife, Frances Coape. And it is during their travels that we catch glimpses of Eleanor & Sarah:
“Mon Set off to visit Llangollen at half past 8 – …
The vale of Llangollen dined at Inn called the Hand patronised by Miss Butler and Miss Ponsonby visited their cottage…”
1792, late August:
“When the weather permitted we made a visit to the cottage of Lady Elinor [sic] Butler and Miss Ponsonby.”
“Thurs. 29 we then proceeded on to the Vale of Llangollen after dinner went to Lady Eleanor Butlers cottage We drank tea here. Both Ly Eleanor and her friend Miss Ponsonby are very agreeable women”
I looked in vain through the Hamwood Papers for these dates, but should double-check all the “Smith” entries – in case, like the Burgeses, the William Smiths turn up in years other than those Frances wrote about.
May 2012 UPDATE: I’ve corrected a minor misrepresentation — the last entry was written by daughter Fanny, not her mother Frances; and added a sentence I missed when, not yet reading the book, I was looking up references via the index. So do take a look at the Visitors page for the Smiths of Parndon!
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Papers of William Smith and the Smith family reside at Cambridge: http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/deptserv/manuscripts/smith.html
Other papers are at my dear Duke University: http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/findingaids/smithwm/