susanah’s journal – token of affection

An extract from the journal of Miss Susanah Wellington (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somersetshire. Her sister Jane kept the journal after Susanah died and brought it with her when she emigrated to Australia.

Transcript of a note to Susanah's sister Jane, from an affectionate friend.


Copy of a note addressed to my sister Jane, by a friend
with a token of affection.

Accept my very dear friend this small token of affection from one who sincerely loves and esteems you.

Would it were more worthy of your acceptance but it may sometimes remind you of  your sincerely attached and affectionate friend.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Before there were Hallmark cards, Interflora and store-bought boxes of chocolate, people put a lot more time and effort into their letters and tokens of affection.

Susanah took the time to transcribe this note (hopefully with Jane’s permission), but frustratingly for us she does not mention the name of Jane’s friend, or what the token of affection was. Susanah appears to be more interested in the wording in the note and the sentiments expressed. She wanted to remember them for a time to come when she had occasion to sent a token of affection to someone she “sincerely loved and esteemed”.

Jane and Susanah were very close, only a year separated them in age. Jane was born on 6 July 1818, Susanah on 20 August 1819.

We can assume by it’s page position within the journal this note was transcribed late in 1832. Jane would have been fourteen years old, so the token of affection and note were most likely from a female friend and not from a young man.

Still, I wonder who was Jane’s “sincerely attached and affectionate friend”, and what was the token of affection Jane received.

Was it a small book of poetry – possibly by Byron, Keats, Shelley or Wordsworth who were all popular romantic poets of the time?

Four Poets

Could it have been a piece of jewellery – maybe a small brooch, or a hair comb?


It may have been embroidery or hand sewing like a pin cushion, a bookmark, a handkerchief or a small drawstring purse.

Embroidered silk satin purse appliquéd with silk muslin, made in Britain 1830-1840. V&A Museum collection.

Embroidered silk satin purse appliquéd with silk muslin, made in Britain 1830-1840. V&A Museum collection.

Or, it may have been a small water-colour drawing or a cut-out silhouette portrait which were popular pastimes amongst young ladies at the time. The silhouette portraits below are of Jane and Susanah’s younger sisters, Lucy and Rebecca WELLINGTON.

Silhouette portraits of Lucy and Rebecca Wellington, the likenesses are hand cut from black paper with small scissors and then highlighted with grey or white paint and framed.

Silhouette portraits of Lucy and Rebecca Wellington. The likenesses are hand cut from black paper with small scissors, then highlighted with grey or white paint and framed.

Alas, we will never know the identity of Jane’s friend or her gift; as Susanah clearly wrote her journal for herself and never imagined someone would be interested in her notes 180 years later.

Susanah WELLINGTON died of consumption (tuberculosis) on 6 June 1838 at the age of eighteen years and 10 months.

Jane Penelope WELLINGTON married William Henry SUTTON on 23 December 1842 in Glastonbury when she was twenty-four years old. I hope William Henry sent Jane love letters and heart-felt tokens of his affection while he was courting her.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydneyJournal transcription by Terry HASTINGS.  V&A Museum collection. History of Silhouettes

3 thoughts on “susanah’s journal – token of affection

  1. My grandma still writes beautifully, not quite the same as in this letter though, whereas I am much more messy and scribble down what I write. These days people don’t seem to have the patience to put beauty into even the smallest of things such as a letter.

  2. Pingback: susanah’s journal – letter to miss lyndall | branches of our family

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