Ref NoMS/314/f
TitleLetters from Rev Charles L. Smith - Pleasance Smith
AdminHistoryRev. Charles Lesingham Smith (1806 - 1878) was a priest, poet and writer.

Charles Lesingham Smith was the eldest son of Thomas Smith, Esq. of Cheltenham. He studied Mathematics at Christ's College, Cambridge between 1825 and 1829, and was also admitted into the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in 1826. Smith had a strong connection with his college as he was made a Fellow in 1830 and held the status for nine years.

In 1832 Smith was ordained as a deacon and later became a priest in 1835. He eventually took over the position of Rector at Little Canfield, Essex in 1836 and stayed in the position until his death in 1878. As Rector he is noted to have restored the church and designed a new rectory using grant money from Christ's College. Smith was a well-respected clergyman in his village and developed a friendship with Lord and Lady Rosslyn. He frequently dined with the couple and had a friendly rivalry with Lord Rosslyn as both men were poets and owned large libraries. Smith was a collector of books on art, classics and mathematics, and had even written books about the Scottish Highlands and Isles, translations of the 16th Century epic poem 'Jerusalem Delivered' and odes and sonnets in English and Scottish. He also formed a friendship with Lady Pleasance Smith whom he met in 1871 whilst sailing at Lowestoft. The two had what Smith called a "romantic attachment" and often wrote to each other several times a week until Lady Pleasance's death.

Charles Lesingham Smith died on 24 February 1878.
Lady 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.
DescriptionLetters received by Lady Pleasance Smith by Rev Charles Lesingham Smith [no relation] between 1869-1877.
Date1869 - 1877
Extent1 box
Creator NameSmith, Charles Lesingham (Rev)
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