Stanley family

1899-18384Maria Josepha Stanley (1771-1863) was wife of John Thomas Stanley (1766-1850) whose family had homes at Alderley and Penrhos near Holyhead. They travelled to Penrhos to visit his parents, then moved there after the death of his father in 1807. Their letters record some of the journeys to and from Penrhos, and the occasional trip from Penrhos to local sights. They visited the Ladies of Llangollen several times and Sir John was introduced to King George IV when he landed at Holyhead in 1821.

Although the text cited here is the letters of Lady Stanley, there also exists companion volumes! Foremost, is the volume containing Lady Stanley’s earlier letters: Girlhood of Maria Josepha Holroyd (1896). Also edited by J.H. Adeane, these letters date from 1776 to 1796. The volume cited here, with letters from 1797 to 1817, provides a wonder source for Regency era research.

In searching for these volumes, other Stanley family letters published turned up! The Ladies of Alderley (1938), edited by Nancy Mitford. Written to Stanley’s daughter-in-law, this group covers the years 1841 to 1850. Mitford also produced (1939) The Stanleys of Alderley: their letters between the years 1851-1860. The link for Adeane will also give you Before and After Waterloo, Edward Stanley’s letters.

1800, September

The only recompense I can think of, is that you should promise to pass next summer with us, and accompany us to see the Llangollen ladies, who feel intimately acquainted with you beforehand.

Letter from Lady Maria Josepha Stanley (1771-1863) to her Aunt Serena [Sarah Martha Holroyd, Lord Sheffield’s sister], saying that she was unable to visit Wales this time because of the death of a relative.

Jane H. Adeane (ed)
The early married life of Maria Josepha Lady Stanley
London, 1899, p. 202

* * *

1805, May

Alderley : May 5, 1805.

We left Holyhead on Tuesday, and returned through the new Capel Curig road, now making through the finest scenery imaginable, under the auspices of Lord Penrhyn.

The Conway ferry is avoided. The new road carries you winding through valleys by the side of a torrent-like river close to Lord Penrhyn’s slate quarries. We slept at Corwen, and next morning passed through Llangollen, where we introduced ourselves to the ladies, who were delighted to see us. Their abode is quite a little paradise, though I was rather disappointed in the situation ; but the ladies did not disappoint me, though they did not answer my ideas. I found them more unaffected and less clever than I expected. … [ellipses in published transcription] Lady Eleanor hoped Mr. Stanley did not join in the ‘cry against poor Lord Melville.’ But in their Garden, and amongst their new Books just arrived, they were delightful, and seem to lead a most enviable and happy life.

I am glad to have seen them, and hope to see them again.

[note in 1899 transcription: ‘ Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby when quite young determined to live together. Their cottage in the Valley of Llangollen became celebrated, and all travellers between England and Ireland sought their acquaintance. Lady Eleanor died 1829, aged 90 ; Miss Ponsonby died 1831, aged 72, and they were buried in the same grave.]

Jane H. Adeane (ed)
The early married life of Maria Josepha Lady Stanley
pp. 279-280

* * *

1806, July

{report of a family Christening} After the christening, Lady Maria Josepha Stanley’s aunt, Serena [Sarah Martha Holroyd, Lord Sheffield’s sister] joined Lady Longford at Chester, and proceeded to Ireland, from whence she wrote to M.J.S.

10 July 1806 Never was a journey more delightful through Wales ! But I have only time to say that at Llangollen you and dear Stanley are held as first-rate folks, and many wishes for your return. Lady Longford had never seen the ladies before, and went as my party, but they soon took to her.

Jane H. Adeane (ed)
The early married life of Maria Josepha Lady Stanley
pp. 287-288

* * *

1808, May

Parkgate : May 15, 1808.

My Man [presumably her husband, Sir John Stanley] has been absent near a month. From the assizes at Chester he went to Penrhos, [Anglesey] where he is very fully employed with agents, tenants, &c. He went by Llangollen, and spent a charming evening with the ladies. He found they had not seen ‘ Marmion,’ and wished me to order a copy to be sent in my name. I have read it and been much pleased, though the ‘ Lay ‘ is far superior as a whole. . . .

Jane H. Adeane (ed)
The early married life of Maria Josepha Lady Stanley
p. 300

* * *


Llangollen : Friday, July 9. 1812

The day you know proved fine, and really the two stages that brought me to Llangollen were beautiful. The postilion had taste and took me out of the high road for two miles, through the sweetest wood imaginable. I went directly to the cottage and was welcomed as usual. We drank tea in the midst of haymaking under a large tent.  Every new book, poem, &c. is here and in such bindings !

They greatly admire the ‘ Lady of the Lake.’

Letter from Serena [Sarah Martha Holroyd, Lord Sheffield’s sister] to her niece Lady Maria Josepha Stanley (whose husband’s family came from Penrhos near Holyhead).

Jane H. Adeane (ed)
The early married life of Maria Josepha Lady Stanley
pp. 336-337

* * *


Penrhos : August 16, 1816

. . . Our journey was tolerably prosperous . . . and it was surely being very prosperous to transport ten children, seven horses, three carriages, and a due proportion of servants to such a distance, without a single accident — not a spring or a bolt failing throughout the journey, or any other evil attending travellers. We slept the first night at Llangollen, and visited the ladies ; as long as they or their cottage continue in existence, they will remain objects of interest and curiosity. They are grown great believers in ghosts and second sight. . . . The entrance to the cottage, a Gothic porch, the inner entrance, staircase, and kitchen are just fitted up with old carvings of wood, the contributions of various friends, or the plunder of churches and choirs. It has a very good effect.

Jane H. Adeane (ed)
The early married life of Maria Josepha Lady Stanley
p. 390


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