Thursday, 7 April 2016

May, Lou & Cass

By Sophia Hillan
The story of Jane Austen's nieces in Ireland.
P. 125 "Despite the personal stress of 1845, by the year's end Lord George [Hill] had published his detailed pamphlet, Facts from Gweedore, an account of the work he had begun in 1838 on his estate. At the same time, Louisa began to work her own mission. Though she had originally come to Ireland to care for the motherless Hill children, she found herself becoming increasingly involved with their father's cause. It became a matter of vital importance for Louisa to publicise her brother-in-law's efforts to improve the lot of his tenants, and she enlisted the willing assistance of Fanny who, in her turn, wrote to her old friend Miss Chapman, asking her to make the work known. This early marketing was quite concentrated: the sisters were determined to raise money through the sale of the book and of hand - knitted garments, mostly socks and stockings, in order to bring Anglicanism to Gweedore. "
p. 134 "Fanny, too, continued on her mission to promote the sale of Facts from Gweedore: 'I am now negotiating the sale of 6,000 pair of Gweedore socks and stockings, which [Lord George] has on hand, knit by his own people, all of which he buys from them and disposes of as he can.'"
p. 156 [Crimea campaign] Lord George, too old to go into battle himself, sent consignments of the hand - knitted socks which his Donegal tenants had made in their homes, and George Billington appears to have been one of the recipients.  His letter from the camp shows how necessary such apparently simple gifts were: in an attempt to keep their packs light and their progress swift, the men had been ordered ashore without tents, ambulances or sufficient protection against the Russian weather: 'I don't know what I would have done without those Irish socks you gave me the last time I was at home,' George Billington wrote. 'Those and the mittens Miss Rice gave me have been of more use than anything I have. I believe they saved me from being frostbitten the other night.'
p. 175 A list in the Garden Book for Christmas 1867 reveals that their provision for the poor included jerseys, blankets, hand-knitted socks, 'linsey gowns' and 'crochet shawls'. Some of these may have been Marianne's own handwork for, like her aunt Jane,  who commended her skill when she was seven years old, Marianne was an expert needlewoman; some of their gifts to the poor may have been the work of Lord George's tenants, as the socks and mittens sent to their family and acquaintance in the Crimea had so often been.
The bold print is all mine, if I come across more I will add to this post.

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