AR2: Letter from Francis Holburne to Catherine Cussans
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© The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
|Title||Letter from Francis Holburne to Catherine Cussans|
|Object type||In category: Library and Archive » Document » Letter|
|Date||3- 11- 1804|
By Holburne, Francis Ralph Thomas (1788-1814) - Writer
Cussans, Catherine (1753-1834), nee Holburne Catherine - Recipient (of a letter)
|Place of origin||Europe » Northern Europe » British Isles » Great Britain » England » Bath|
24.0 cm height page
18.8 cm width page
24.0 cm height folio
37.6 cm width folio
|Materials & techniques||
Miscellaneous materials » Sealing wax
Pictures: Medium » Ink
Pictures: Support » Paper
Letter written in ink on 4 sides of a crown folio sheet, folded lengthwise. The letter has been folded and sealed with red wax, then cut open. The impression on the seal is of a shield, but indistinct as the paper still adheres to it.
|Marks and inscriptions||
A letter from Thomas William's older brother Frank to their wealthy aunt Catherine Cussans, who was staying in Worthing at that time. It gives a first-hand account (spiced with gossip) of the amusements available to young people of leisure during Bath's winter season.
At the time of writing, Frank's father, the Baronet Sir Francis Holburne, had recently moved with his family from Wales to Bath. They were living in a fine house in Lansdown Crescent, now known as 7, Lansdown Place East.
Francis Ralph Thomas ('Frank') Holburne was born in 1788, served as Captain in the Foot Guards during the Peninsular War under Wellington, and died from wounds received during a skirmish outside Bayonne in 1814. His grave and memorial is in the Guards' cemetery at Bayonne, which was largely funded by his sister Mary Anne Barbara Holburne.
Worthing and Brighton (then known as Brighthelmstone) were resorts on the Sussex coast which were rapidly coming to rival Bath as fashionable watering-places. Brighton was especially favoured as the site of the Prince of Wales's 'Marine Pavilion', so Frank's comparison of the balls at Bath to those at Brighthelmstone is significant.
The sisters referred to in the letter were all younger than Frank [see Family Tree], as was William, and would have been less experienced party-goers than the sixteen-year-old writer of this letter.
There is no mention of Mrs Cussans' husband Thomas in the letter, as he had died around 1796. The 'Grandpapa' that Frank mentions must be his maternal grandfather, Thomas Brayne. The seal presumably bears the impression of the Holburne arms.
People referred to in the Letter (see Family Tree):
Mrs Cussans: Catherine Cussans (1753-1834), sister of TWH's father Sir Francis Holburne, and half-sister of the first Earl of Harewood. At the time of this letter, she was a wealthy and childless widow. Her husband Thomas Cussans had made his fortune in the West Indies.
'Grandpapa': Thomas Brayne Esq of Warwickshire.
'My sisters': Alicia Sophia Anne and Catherine Frances Mary. Barbara was only a baby at the time.
The 'Sheldons': The Sheldon family at lived at Weston, Long Compton, Warwickshire, since 1532. Ralph Sheldon (1741-1822) was the husband of Jean Holburne (m. 1780), TWH's paternal aunt. He was a soldier and M.P. During the 1790s, Ralph Sheldon lived at Sketty Hall, near Swansea. It was here that TWH, Frank and their two elder sisters were born.
Bath Nov 3.d 1804.
//My Dear Aunt,// I was made very happy a few days / ago by receiving your very kind letter, particularly as it / informed me that you and Jemima were well. Assure yourself / my Dear Aunt that I feel the greatest pleasure in hearing / of all that your are about at Worthing, for I passed my time / much too pleasantly during my stay with you, not to / be much interested about what is going on there. // I am sorry, on your account, to hear that the Kents intend / leaving Worthing so soon, pray give Grandpapa's best Compts to them if they are not gone before you receive my / letter. // I am glad you have come to an explanation with Mrs / Wortley, particularly as it has given you an opportunity / of passing so many pleasant Evenings. // This place is not yet very gay, but I believe it is expect= / =ed to be very full of Company this year, the Balls / are just began, I went to one the other Night, which / I think was not much better than that at Brighthelm= / =stone, we are all going to a young Lady's Birthday this / evening, the thoughts of which seem to give my Sisters & William great pleasure, I have been to one or two Musical / Parties since I came home, & heard some very good Musick. // I think you have been very fortunate in having such / fine Weather, & hope it will continue so, the Weather has been / very bad here for some time past. // I hear the Sheldons have been giving a great Fête at Wes[ton] / I suppose to his Tenantry, we heard, I know not, with what truth, / that nearly a Thousand people had been entertained. // I am going out, Shooting to day in hopes of being able to find / a Woodcock or two, you will therefore excuse my writing in / greater haste than I otherwise should do. My Father & Mother / Sisters & Brother desire to unite with me in best love to you & Jemima & I remain my Dear Aunt, your most affectionate // & obliged Nephew / Fra.s Holburne. Nov 3rd. 1804.
Mrs Cussans // Worthing // Sussex // 5 [Postmark illegible]
Alexandra Kelly 'The History of the Holburne Family' in The Holburne Museum and Crafts Study Centre, Bath: The History and Collections, Bath, 1993, p.12
|Muse theme||The Art of Collecting
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830
The History of the Holburne Collection » Sir William Holburne and his Collection » The Founder: Sir William Holburne of Menstrie (1793-1874)
The History of the Holburne Collection » The Collection » Library and Archive
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830 » Leisure » Assemblies, Dancing and Gambling
with the object
Europe » Northern Europe » British Isles » Great Britain » England » Brighton (Sussex)
Europe » Northern Europe » British Isles » Great Britain » England » Worthing (Sussex)
|Method of acquisition||Bequest|
|Provenance||Collection of Catherine Cussans; [presumably] Bequest of Miss Mary Anne Barbara Holburne, 1882|