Ref NoMS/314/b
TitleGeneral correspondence: Part 2 - Pleasance Smith
AdminHistoryLady Pleasance Smith (1773-1877) née Reeve, English letter writer and literary editor, born in Lowestoft, Suffolk, one of six children of Robert (1739-1815) and Pleasance Reeve née Clark (1739-1820); only daughter to survive infancy together with an older brother Robert (1770-1840) and a younger brother James (1778-1827).

On 1 March 1796 she married James Edward Smith (1759-1828), Founder of the Linnean Society, in Lowestoft. In November 1796 they moved from London and settled in Norwich where they lived at 29 Surrey Street, a house owned by Pleasance's father. The year after their marriage she was painted as a "gypsy girl" and a "match girl" by John Opie. The original portraits are at the Linnean Society of London.

James Edward Smith was knighted on 28 July 1814 and Pleasance became Lady Smith, elevating her rank in society. She mixed within the upper circles of society and after Sir James died in March 1828 continued an active role. She was known for her generosity and philanthropic work, often sending gifts to her wide-ranging network. She maintained a prolific correspondence, sharing and pursuing an active interest in poetry, theology, history and current affairs. She had a sharp intellect, a keen wit and enjoyed word games. She received a personal letter from Queen Victoria to "her friend" on her 100th birthday.

Although not a botanist or a fellow, she maintained a connection with the Linnean society throughout her life, notably depositing Sir James' correspondence. Believing their interest lay only in the scientific, she destroyed much of his correspondence which included many of her own personal letters. She edited a biography of him, published in 1832, which included some of his letters.

Lady Pleasance Smith died on February 1877 at the age of 103, at her home since 1849 in High Street, Lowestoft. She is said to have retained her faculties but did suffer from gout and failing eyesight in her later years. She survived her husband by almost 49 years.
Date1804 - [1877]
Extent1 box
Creator NameSmith, Pleasance, Lady
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