30/10/2008

Yet more on the Sewards

MR records this note from Richard Hall's diary
1766 May 25th died Frances my beloved sister in law of the smallpox. She had but recently visited us in London and on her return to Bourton fell ill and died in her 34th Year.He says that the actual exchange of letters between William Snooke and Richard Hall during the period of the illness (which by a remarkable providence he has been able to see) is most poignant. He suggests that the news of Frances’ illness must have come as dreadful shock to Hall and his wife as they had been entertaining the Snookes in London just days before. The letters start with Snooke commenting that Frances felt poorly during the journey back to Witney – that she was unable to come down to dinner, but had some bread in her wine and water, that she felt "feverish, with a weariness in her Limbs". He suspected she had caught a cold. But the next day he reports that it is small pox and seeks their prayers. Daily updates follow. On May 24 a specialist comes from Tewkesbury. Snooke mentions Hall's son Francis (then 11) who was staying with them in Bourton and attended school there. Sadly, May 25 brings a letter from a mutual acquaintance, Mr Palmer, that Frances Snooke is dead.
Richard and Eleanor set off from London immediately to be at the funeral. The family put up a plaque in memory of Frances in the chapel at Bourton, where it can still be seen:

"In a vault beneath is deposited all that was mortal of Frances Snooke, wife of William Snooke of Bourton-on-the-Water, Gentleman. The immortal part dismiss’d about the dawning of the Sabbath, from a body perishing by that dreadful disease the small Pox. She was the eldest surviving Daughter of that eminent Christian Benjamin Seward of Bengeworth in the County of Worcester, Gentleman. In whom the Divine Graces planted in the best of soils, a most amiable sweetness of Temper sprung up and flourished And far wide diffused their fragrance. The daughter was the exact Portraiture of her much valued father Every Alliance to whom Was an Honour – a Blessing."
 
Snooke remarried the following year.

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