The copy of the letter which Mrs Smith wrote to the young ladies of Mrs Eason’s school on the receival of the piece of plate which they gave her, December 18th 1833.
My dear young friends
I have waited only for your reassembling to express to you the grateful pleasure with which I accepted the piece of plate, the testimony of your affection towards me and be assured whatever were the feelings of tenderness which prompted its bestowment, they did not surpass those with which it was received.
Wherever my future life may be passed, to hear of your welfare will always afford me sincere delight, to hear not only that you are becoming useful and lovely characters for this world, but that you are ‘redeeming your time’ as having to give an account of it to God himself; and that you are submitting every proud and unamiable feeling to the discipline of that Saviour who was ‘meek and lowly in heart’. May I hear these things of you all! May I see their evidences if ever we meet again on earth! – and should this not be permitted, may it be my happiness to greet you where those who meet in joy shall never part in sorrow! Believe me my dear young friends,
Your sincerely affectionate friend,
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The letter from Mrs SMITH was written in January 1834 when the young ladies of Mrs EASON’s school in Yeovil, Somerset returned to their lessons after the Christmas holidays. I assume Mrs SMITH was a teacher at the school.
She was Miss Martha ROWLES before she married James SMITH on 5 March 1832 at the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Yeovil. Martha most likely resigned from teaching at the end of 1833 to attend to her husband and to raise a family.
Martha SMITH wrote a fine letter to thank the students for their kind sentiments and the china plate they gave her upon her departure from the school. She let them know she was sincerely happy to continue correspondence and hear how they grow and become “useful and lovely characters for this world”. Fourteen-year-old Susanah WELLINGTON certainly felt the sentiments in the letter were worth transcribing in her journal. The “piece of plate” may have been similar to one of these transferware patterns which were popular in Britain at the time.
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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydney. Journal transcription by Terry HASTINGS; Blue and White Transferware: 1780 to 1840, by A. W. Coysh.