Louisanna Gibson’s Memoir

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Louisanna Sumner Gibson left a Memoir of her life, written in 1895.

Marriage to William Gibson.

1837: "William was a widower with two little children May and Sumner, 6 and 4 years old. He came to Farnham a few days before the wedding day which was fixed for the 12th September (1837), my birthday. He came in his own carriage and brought with him his friend Tom Eaton who was to be his best man.

"My bridesmaids were to be my sister Sophy, Louisa McNiven, Anna Nash, Harriet Donkin, Ella Raffles, and Caroline Noel, daughter of Mr Gerard Noel who was then curate in charge of Farnham.

"Dress was much more simple in those days than was the case in after years. My wedding dress was an embroidered white muslin made low in the neck, but with long sleeves. Over this I wore a muslin pelerine also embroidered. My bonnet was a white chip, very simply trimmed, no feathers no flowers, but a handsome Honiton lace veil, one of my wedding presents. The bridesmaids had no costume, each was to provide her own dress according to her taste.

"There was a large party of young people in the house, and one day happening to be wet, we had games in the large hall. One game was Tiame.

"Tuesday, 12th was a beautiful day. There were about 60 to breakfast, which was of course in the hall."

Farnham Castle
enlargeFarnham Castle, from the lawn. The entrance tower is on the left.

Birth of Ella.

1838: "Then towards the end of June my mother came to stay with us, as I was expecting to be laid up very shortly.

"On the 9th July my little baby was born. I was very ill for some time afterwards but went to church at the end of four weeks in a sedan chair.

Ella Gibson, c1870
Ella Gibson, c1870

"My father came up for the christening of my baby. He and my mother and Grace Eaton were sponsors and she was named Ella Sophia, the first named after Ella Raffles, according to an agreement made between us that when we married our first girl was to be named after each other. Ella Raffles was now engaged to my eldest brother John."

Move to Fawley

1839: "In the autumn of 1839 the living of Fawley became vacant by the death of Lord Walsingham, and my father at once offered it to my husband.

"William brought back a glowing account of Fawley. He had only seen the outside of the house, but the village, the old church, and all its surroundings delighted him."

Watercolour of Fawley Church
Watercolour of Fawley Church,
painted by Edith Gibson, about 1860.

Birth of Emily.

1840: At Farnham Castle "On the 6th January 1840 our second child was born. My father and mother gave up their own room to me, which was away from the principal rooms and was as quiet as if in another house. My aunt McNiven was one godmother, my sister Sophy the other… Our child was named Emily Louisa, Emily because she was born on my sister Emily’s birthday, and Louisa after her godmother."

Emily Gibson, c 1868
Emily Gibson, c 1868

Move to Fawley

"Although the rectory was a good sized house, the only rooms available for nurseries were attics, which we did not much like for the children, the roof coming down very low and the windows being small.

"So we got my father’s permission to build a new scullery, pantry, larder and dairy, and over these we put three rooms, a day nursery and two night ones, and a small one for the nursemaid. We also added a small dressing room to our own bedroom, for there was none connected with it before.

"This made the house very comfortable for us, and as our family became decidedly large, the accommodation was not more than we needed, but no doubt in these days of diminished income the rectors of Fawley probably wish that the house was a little smaller."

Watercolour of Fawley Rectory, painted by Edith Gibson
Watercolour of Fawley Rectory,
painted by Edith Gibson, about 1860
Ada Gibson, c1867
Ada Gibson, c1867

Birth of Ada.

1841: "My third child, Ada, was born on the 20th June… Our child’s godparents were to be my brother Charles, my cousin Louisa McNiven and Lydia Nash. As they were all to be at Farnham for [my sister] Sophy’s wedding, the baptism was put off till then, and she was christened in Farnham church by my father. Her names were Ada Frances."

Edith Gibson, c1862
Edith Gibson, c1862

Birth of Edith.

1842: "My baby was born on the 2nd September. She was baptized Edith Harriet. Her godfather was my brother Robert, her godmother Harriet Hawtrey (afterwards Mrs Donkin) and my sister-in-law Margaret."

Birth of Arthur.

1844: "In 1844 my first boy was born, Arthur Sumner. My father and mother and my brother Robert were his sponsors. When he was about 8 months old, the children all took the whooping cough. Unfortunately May took it also, and although she had it lightly, it brought on dropsy, and in the autumn of that year, 1845, she became much worse and died in October."

Arthur Gibson, c 1864.Herbert Gibson Herbert Gibson, b 1846
Arthur Gibson, c 1864 and Herbert Gibson, b 1846,
Valparaiso, 1867
Edgar and Walter Gibson
Edgar Gibson, b 1848 and
Walter Gibson, b 1849, January 1862.

Death of Jenny Fanny Barnabine Maunoir Sumner

1849: "My mother was ailing all through the spring of that year and went to Farnham.

"Soon however my mother became worse and I went to Farnham to nurse her. Trained nurses were not the fashion then. I had only been three weeks at the castle, when on Sep. 2nd the end came and my mother passed quietly away. We were all there and in the room at the time of her death. She was buried in Hale churchyard."