Friday, 3 August 2007

Tom Lefroy paid his last respects to Jane Austen

Once more, our dearest librarian Linda has proven herself worthy of the title (she didn’t realise she handed me gold!). She just posted me the link of a web that contained the now de-functioned website of Carrigglas Manor (the house of Tom Lefroy and his family). Thank you Linda, and also to the person who saved the entire web into "The Wayback Machine", for now we can read about the Carrigglas Manor in the link here. This is the excerpt of the web section ‘Family History’:

'The Lefroy family originally came from the town of Cambrai in North Western corner of France. They were affiliated to the House of Souastres, and Monstrelet's Chronicles (written in the fifteenth century) allude to the death of the then head of the family, the Lord L'Offroy, at the battle of Agincourt in 1415 (fighting on the French side, of course!). In 1585 the family had to flee religious persecution in France, and as refugees were not allowed to leave France with any property Jeffry's nine-greats grandfather, Antoine, converted the family money into five diamonds which he sewed into the pockets of his young son Esaie (shown on the left below, in a portrait from 1614) and escaped with his wife Marie (shown on the right below, in a portrait from 1600) to England.'

Ah… so their original name was L’Offroy. Lovely… Battle of Agincourt, eh? James McAvoy’s character (Brian Jackson) in Starter for Ten (2006) was once asked about Battle of Agincourt by Rebecca, his friend. What a weird coincidence. Anyway, now the cream and ganache:

'Thomas Lefroy, Anthony's son, was born in 1776 and after graduating from Trinity College, Dublin in 1796 went to stay with his relations in Hampshire whilst undergoing pupillage at the Lincoln's Inn Bar. There he met and enjoyed a brief romance with Parson Austen's daughter Jane; indeed Jane wrote in a letter to her sister Cassandra 'I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved... He is a very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man... Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together.'(!) However, his aunt forbade the relationship and Thomas was sent back to Ireland forthwith. Jane based the character of Mr. Darcy, the hero of Pride and Prejudice on him, and on learning of her death Thomas traveled the considerable distance to England to pay his respects and at an auction of her effects bought a publisher's rejection letter - for Pride and Prejudice. (The family connection survives as Jane's niece married Thomas' cousin, Ben Lefroy). Thomas married Mary Paul, daughter of Sir Jeffry Paul, in 1799 and after a long and distinguished career was made a Baron of the Exchequer in 1841 as Lord Lefroy and in 1852 invested as Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.'

Let me say it again: on learning of her death Thomas traveled the considerable distance to England to pay his respects and at an auction of her effects bought a publisher's rejection letter - for Pride and Prejudice.

I never knew that Tom paid his respect… traveling from Ireland to England to give his last respect to Jane! I imagine that this was done after Jane’s funeral. But why no one mentioned it? Not in the Memoir of Jane Austen either. I don’t claim to read all JA-related books at all, but I never heard of this one. And this information was written in a Lefroy website! Remind me of Cranfield’s ‘From Ireland to Western Australia where Jane Austen was mentioned several times in a book of Lefroy.

And Tom Lefroy bought the Cadell letter? I thought it was Thomas Edward Preston Lefroy who bought it! See the excerpt of Caroline Austen’s letter dated April 1st, 1869:

'I enclose a copy of Mr. Austen’s letter to Cadell – I do not know which novel he would have sent – The letter does not do much credit to the tact or courtesy of our good Grandfather for Cadell was a great man in his day, and it is not surprising that he should have refused the favour so offered from an unknown – but the circumstance may be worth noting, especially as we have so few incidents to produce. At a sale of Cadell’s papers &c Tom Lefroy picked up the original letter – and Jemima copied it for me –' [bolded sentence by Icha]

The novel Cadell was refused in that particular letter was the early version of Pride & Prejudice (originally titled First Impression), rejected in 1797. This is Mr. Austen's letter to Cadell dated 1st November 1797 from the Memoir of Jane Austen (1871, p. 105):

‘Sir, - I have in my possession a manuscript novel, comprising 3 vols., about the length of Miss Burney’s “Evelina.” As I am well aware of what consequence it is that a work of this sort shd make its first appearance under a respectable name, I apply to you. I shall be much obliged therefore if you will inform me whether you choose to be concerned in it, what will be the expense of publishing it at the author’s risk, and what you will venture to advance for the property of it, if on perusal it is approved of. Should you give any encouragement, I will send you the work.


I am, Sir, your humble Servant,
‘George Austen.

Steventon, near Overton, Hants,
1st Nov, 1797


Most importantly to me, the Carrigglas website suggested that the Tom Lefroy who bought back the letter, the person Caroline was talking about, was Thomas Langlois Lefroy (!), the original Tom Lefroy. I was a bit expecting this Tom to be our Tom Lefroy, but then I thought Caroline would not address the Chief Justice Lefroy as only ‘Tom Lefroy’. If it is true that the original Tom Lefroy purchased the Cadell letter after Jane’s death (perhaps immediately during his stay in London?), he would then keep it and handed it over to TEPL later on, who gave it to Caroline for reference. I sincerely hope that was the case.

Oh, wait! How did Tom Lefroy learn of the Cadell rejection? If the buyer of the letter was indeed the Thomas Langlois Lefroy, would he not learn of the rejection from Jane Austen herself circa November-December 1797? In another word, would it not imply that both were still in good communication in 1797?

Anyway, now I can sleep better, knowing that Tom Lefroy did care so much for Jane Austen, that when he was older, he did pay her a visit, even though a bit late, after her death… Oh… now I want to cry!

PS 3:30pm:

I'm not sure what happens to Carrigglas Manor now, whether it is still under the Lefroys or already handed over to the Irish government or County Longford. However, Jeffry Lefroy (the owner, or previous owner of Carrigglas) became one of the extras in Becoming Jane. I think he is the key person we should talk to about the veracity of the information.



Pic 1: Carrigglas Manor drawing room, Longford, Ireland

Pic 2: the young Tom Lefroy, from the
Carrigglas site


26 comments:

kdesign23 said...

Is this true?! How fantastic. With a family and a busy professional life (society and all) for him to take the tie to go a considerable distance just to pay his respects is very encouraging.
Hmmm... I wonder if Tom also felt that HE was Mr Darcy and that is why he purchased that letter? Why that letter?

More more!!

Icha said...

The thing that made me believed it, Kari, was that it came from the Carrigglas website itself!

I bet it was true, only never publicly announced. And in my posts re: Bath, I suggested that Tom and Jane still had routine communications in 1797. By then, Tom would learn from Jane about the letter of rejection. Jane might be a bit grumpy, for 'First Impression' was her first attempt to publish a novel.

Years later, Tom remembered the Cadell letter and bought it back, as a token of respect, kindred spirit and love to Jane.

Is it not gorgeous?

Arnie Perlstein said...

Hold yer horses, Icha! ;)

Just because that website claimed that Tom Lefroy the elder purchased that letter, it does not mean that it is true, that could be their interpretation of Caroline's 1869 letter, which I do believe is ambiguous.

Believe me, I want this to be Chief Justice Tom every bit as much as you do, but the key facts, which I cannot derive from the Internet, are (i) when was the sale of the Cadell letters, in 1869 or a long time previously? and (ii) what is their source for the claim that Tom Lefroy made that trip to England after JA died?

I have written them an email asking, let's see if they respond. But remember, it would be natural for such a website to emphasize the positive, and the positive would be a connection of Carriglass Manor to Jane Austen!

Remember, verify, verify, verify! ;)

Jane Odiwe said...

In Emma Austen-Leigh's little book on Jane Austen and Steventon, published in 1937, she writes,
'It is rather touching to know that George Austen's letter was noticed and immediately purchased at the sale of the effects of Cadell by none other than Jane's former admirer, Tom Lefroy.'
Of course this doesn't prove anything but Emma was the grand-daughter of James Edward Austen-Leigh and this story would no doubt have come from family members.

There is another little bit I think you'll like in this book- '..though Tom Lefroy was to become Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, he never quite forgot his favoutite partner at the Steventon balls and at the end of a long life would speak of her as "one to be much admired and not easily forgotten by those who had known her." '

Arnie Perlstein said...

It's a tantalizing ambiguity, because there are good reasons to think it may be either the senior or the junior Tom, and there's no way of knowing if Emma A-L was working from facts, or thirdhand, on both the question of the letter and whether that comment was a reliable quote.

I have just ordered the E A-L book, and when I get it, I will read it very carefully and report back here (but it probably won't be for some weeks).

This is great stuff, I really want it to be Tom the elder. If it is, that will be huge. We already know that Jane Austen remembered him--the real question is, did HE (as Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth debated in that immortal climax of _Persuasion_) remain constant as long as she did?

Michelle said...

Exciting!! I really, really hope that it was Tom the elder and I'm looking forward to your report back, Arnie.

Thanks, Icha for collecting such wonderful a trove of material. Just off to re-read the "Mulberry" post. :)

(O/T Arnie: I just visited your blogg - what a find! Emma is my favourite of Austen's works, so your blog's subject created triple the excitment. I have saved your email address and might share some questions/ideas sometime in the future...)

Icha said...

Arnie: Just because that website claimed that Tom Lefroy the elder purchased that letter, it does not mean that it is true, that could be their interpretation of Caroline's 1869 letter, which I do believe is ambiguous.

Sir Arnie Perlstein, I am holding my horses :-D about the Cadell letter. I hope it's the senior original Tom Lefroy instead of TEPL, but again, I agree we have to verify.

The thing is, Jeffry Lefroy and his wife Tessa (Jeffry played as one of the extras in BJ) had the Carrigglas site closed down. I sincerely doubted that he will answer your email if you directed it to the info@carrigglas.com. You, my dear friend, might have to use your detective skill to track down Jeffry's current email. Hey, he might have Skype!

Jane Odiwe, thanks a lot for your tips. I will see if I can have EAL's book, if not, I have to rely on Linda or Arnie.

Oh, yes OT Arnie's website. Gorgeous, eh? I have elected Emma as my fave JA novel on par with Sense & Sensibility (uhm... PP goes the third for me, don't kill me guys...). And re-reading Emma is so fun now!

Arnie Perlstein said...

How did you find out that he and his wife had the site shut down? Have you had personal contact with them?

I can't wait to find out the answer to this little mystery!

Rachel said...

Hi Arnie, When you attempt www.carigglas.com a series of advertisements pop up.
Linda kindly informed us that around 10 years ago someone started a web site called 'The Wayback Machine' that archived many websites and the carrigglas site is amongst them: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.carrigglas.com

Arnie Perlstein said...

Aha, thanks for the explanation, Icha and Rachel.

Michelle, please do feel free to email me, I am always thrilled to make the acquaintance of a kindred spirit! There are far too many Janeites out there who, alas, are not very kindly disposed to my approach to Jane Austen, so it lifts my spirits whenever I meet someone who "gets" it without having to be persuaded. ;)

Icha said...

Arnie dear, I emailed you about the things we might be able to trace with Jeffry Lefroy and the Cadell letter. Unfortunately, my tara email seems to be experiencing glitches these days. I will email you again from another account.

Rachel, Linda, I got your messages, and I will reply soon. Lots of detective works to do to follow up the Carrigglas tips... I can't believe this!

Michelle said...

As Arnie said, this is a potentially HUGE development, and I am interested to hear how Jon Spence addressed it in his book. (I was slack re: Jane for a couple of years but now it is on its way...)

I should be patient and wait until I read it, but I am assuming that there was a lot of/some material that he did not fully cover?

PS Arnie: I was SO excited when I read your blog/profile - it was like a little subconscious wish had come true! Subtext and layers of any kind are close to my heart, particularly b/c I am one of those people who has to know everything about something I love, and so the more there, the better. I look forward to learning more about your work.

Gee, sorry for the longwinded comments tonight (Icha!).

Arnie Perlstein said...

Michelle, please email me and I will gladly share stuff with you that you will LOVE! ;)

ARNIE

kdesign23 said...

I am so excited about this development! One always says you never forget your first love, but how often would one travel (especially then) to pay respects for someone who was part of one's life so long before?

Arnie - I cannot help but see some Willoughby in this possible development. I know it may not be related at all (because Jane couldn't write about a possible future event) but something about the regrets of lost love came upon instantly and took me to S&S and the scene between Willoughby and Elinor. :)
I cannot wait to hear your feedback after you receive your book.
Is it enough to know that Tom did remember Jane, and enough so, to say so to his nephew many years later? Can "boyish" be interpreted as "foolish" because there was NO way they could have been together?

Icha - It is gorgeous! Even if it isn't proven by our panel of experts - yet.;)

Icha said...

Now that you said it, Kari, that made sense as well. But of course, SS was written in 1811, years before Jane's death. The coincidence was interesting though, though I won't say that Tom married Mary for money per se (he did have parents and lots of siblings to take care of), unlike Willoughby.

Our panel of experts will be rather mad with the progress ;-) but hey, that's where the fun lies. Speaking of which, I really don't want to pull a lady detective in action here, but if you have a lovely geek/nerd computer-maniac friend who can trace the email of a person, can you ask her/him to trace Jeffry's email? Thanks! I have not enough time to do cyberspace detective these days...

However, I have ordered Besterman's book on Cadell firm, and hope we can shed some lights from there. Cadell was closed in 1836 after Thomas Cadell Jr.'s death, so perhaps the selling/auction of the letters was done afterwards.

Oh, hope you like my latest mulberry post (Mulberry tree in Bath)! ;-)

kdesign23 said...

Hi Icha

I actually do know some people who may be able to trace the email. Is it the one above?
Are we looking for Jeffrey? Anything else I may need to know to pass on to my sleuths?

Icha said...

You do?! Oh, that's great, Kari! His name is Jeffry Lefroy (not Jeffrey), living either in county Longford Ireland, or somewhere in Ireland. Dublin, maybe? His wife is Tessa Lefroy. Jeffry used to play as an extra in Becoming Jane. Not much of a help, I know...

There's a Ms. Helen Lefroy, a relative or a descendant of Mrs. Anne Lefroy, but she might feel uncomfortable to pass us Jeffry's email. I don't have Helen's email either.

To Mr. Jeffry Lefroy if you ever stumble across this post, I don't mean to snoop around your privacy, Sir. I just want to ask you a few questions... and since I could not find your email, hence I had to marshal my friends :-D

To Kari: thanks a lot!

kdesign23 said...

Thank you Icha!
I'll do my best but it may take a bit of time.
Sit tight. Btw, thanks for including the message to Jeffry in case he is snooping around. I wouldn't want anyone to mistake our enthusiasm for stalking! ; )

It looks like I am going to Ireland in October as well - very excited!

Icha said...

You're NOT! That's amazing, Kari! Whatever for? You can join efforts with Rachel who will be going as well (but don't know when yet). That's super! We have lots to research in Ireland!

Oh, and take your time with the email hunting. It's really okay.

Mommy Of 2 said...

Hello. i was just wondering if this site was still active to post...

I seen you guys wera talking about Carrigglas manor.. It was turned into a hotel sadly. And when that was happening I stumbled across some Diaries of a young woman whom had the second name Lefroy and there quiet exciting. I cannot make out a first name yet, I am going to re-write out these Dairies, there is about 50 of them, and tons of photographs... If anyone would like to help me with the research i would be forever grateful. Thank you :)))

Rachel said...

Hi Mommy of 2. We have received your message and we would like to thank you very much for writing to us. Currently Icha is actually away in Canada doing field work at the moment so we are waiting to speak to her about your message. We will be in contact with you very soon. Thanks again. Rachel

Rachel said...

Hi there Mommy of 2,

I am so sorry it has taken us so long to get back to you, Icha has just returned from Canada and we wanted to talk to her.

Thank you so much for contacting us.

I hope you don’t mind if we ask a few questions and take it step by step- please bear with us as we are so very excited about your find!

You say you obtained the diaries from Carrigglas manor? Were you working there at the time it was changed into a hotel? Where did you find the diaries? Does anyone else know you have them?

We are so happy that you have come to us and trust us to help you write them up. When you say ‘research’, are you just planning to simply document them or are you planning on making this more of a project to find out more information about the author of the diaries?

We actually have made contact with the Lefroys before so if you want us to, we would be happy to ask them to verify who they believe the author of the diaries to be? They then may wish to make contact with you to discuss it further?
It is up to you but we would love to hear more about your findings…….

Cant wait to hear from you soon.
Thanks again.

Team Jane (Icha, Rachel, Linda and Michelle)

Mommyof2 said...

Hello again.

I have been super busy for a while now and have only got back to this site at this moment.

The diaries were found in a skip when the manor was been renovated.

The diaries are very very hard to read as the writing is just in pencil and are partially faded.

Any help would be appreciated.. I can scan some photos up and pages from Diaries if needs be

Rachel said...

Hi Mommyof2.

Great to hear from you again. If you could scan in any of the pages from the diaries and the photos, that would be superb!

We eagerly wait your reply.

I understand that you would not want to use the blog but my website is rachkingston@aol.com or alternatively Icha's is tara_parvati@yahoo.com.

Many thanks again

Rachel and the rest of Team Jane!

Anne Wilmot said...

Hi Rachel

I was in touch with you a couple of years ago. Thomas was my g.g.g uncle. Could you let me know if the diaries were ever transcribed and if the photographs are still available to view?

Many thanks. Anne Wilmot

Rachel said...

Hi Anne,

I am so so sorry for not getting back to you sooner.
I did try to decipher the diaries that "Mommy of 2" mentions as she scanned some across but they were too hard to read.
We also can't post everything on the web for breach of privacy/confidentiality but I will try to get back in contact with "Mommy of 2" to see if she has any more information.
I hope you are well Anne. If you want to chat more to me about this, contact me on my email address rachkingston@aol.com