Mysteries

Banded Greenhood Orchid Botanical name Pterostylis vittata.

As our research continues we find that there is still more to discover about Georgiana, her life and times. We’re sure that many of you will be able to contribute to this process. One of the key objectives of the documentary is to provide a widely accessible, user-friendly archive of information and documentation for students and researchers of all ages and interests. With the help of an online community, the database content will continue to grow.We invite you to help us to unravel the remaining mysteries in a life story that resonates across the centuries.

Georgiana began reading something she called ‘Redwood’ while she was on board ship. What was she referring to?

RESPONSE

This was probably “Redwood: A Tale” written by Catherine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867) and first published by Putnam in 1824.

Sedgwick was an American novelist of what is referred to as “domestic fiction”. She was one of the most notable female novelists of her time.

You, too, can read “Redwood”, if you have the stomach for it, at

https://archive.org/details/redwoodatale01sedggoog

(Courtesy Nicholas Lander).

One of Georgiana’s shopping lists includes: grenadilla, arno
root (did she mean arrow root?), blue, and tamarind (possibly
tamarind tea). We would like to know more about how each of
these items was used in 19th Century daily life.RESPONSE

Tamarind: the pulp from the fruit of Tamarindus indica, an acidulator used in cooking and a prominent ingredient in relishes, chutnies and sauces popular in England since the 17th century.

 Grenadilla: Molloy is probably referring to Granadilla or Passiflora ligularis or, by extension, to other species of edible passionfruit.

Blue: a household product used to improve the appearance of textiles, especially white fabrics. Used during laundering, it adds a trace of blue dye to the fabric. Before modern synthetics were available, the dye used was from indigo, or from powdered blue smalt: ground glass containing cobalt. The indigo was processed, mixed with starch and sometimes other additives, and formed into lumps. This was stone blue, or fig blue, or thumb blue. Other names which have been used for bluing whiteners include Mecklenburg blue and Queen’s blue. Prussian blue, still an ingredient in at least one modern bluing liquid, was discovered in the early 18th century, and used on laundry long before synthetic ultramarine became available.

(Courtesy Nicholas Lander).

What is ‘The Shepherd’s Bible’?

RESPONSE

“The Shepherd’s Bible” probably refers simply to the Gospels, specifically to the four canonical gospels of the New Testament:

    “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep”
    “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me …”

(Courtesy Nicholas Lander)

Georgiana writes in a letter , “I have a ‘secret sorrow’ here.” It’s clearly a quotation and we’ve found several possible sources but do you know which text this pious and well-read young woman might be quoting?

RESPONSE

“Secret sorrow” may refer to miscarriage, depression or infatuation. But is it possible that Molloy’s use of the phrase is from Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene” (1590), the longest poem in English, and possibly known to Molloy, given that she was, as you say, both well read and very religious.

After King Arthur approaches Una (a personification of the “True Church”) decorously, he learns of her “secret sorrow” and resolves to “allay, and calme her storming paine” by encouraging her with “faire feeling words” to vent her misery:

     When as this knight nigh tho the Ladie drew,
     With louely court he gain her entertaine;
     But when he heard her answers loth, he knew
     Some secret sorrow did her heart distraine:
     Which to allay, and calm her storming paine,
     Faire feeling words he wisely gan display,
     And for her humour fitting purpose faine
     To tempt the cause it selfe for to bewray;
     Wherewith emmou’d, these bleeding words she gan to say.

(Courtesy Nicholas Lander)

Bessie Bussell sang a song called, ‘Fleur de Page”. Do you know the words and melody?

RESPONSE

“La Fleur de Plage” is probably a misprint “La Fleur de L’Âge”,  common enough and sometimes the result of optical character recognition (OCR)

(Courtesy Nicholas Lander)

Some of Georgiana’s seeds were grown on by the gardener of
the Duke of Devonshire. Are there still any Western Australian
flowers growing in the gardens at Chatsworth in England?RESPONSE

The gardens and park at Chatsworth in England were neglected after Paxton’s time and fell into disrepair during two world wars, so I doubt if there are still any Western Australian flowers growing there. But why not write and ask them?

Molloy passed the seeds she collected (and her pressed specimens) to Captain James Mangles who sold them to a number of nurserymen. Thus seeds she sent to England and their progeny might be quite widely dispersed.

Some years ago I was astonished at the extensive collection of Australian plants (some very large trees) in the Inverewe Garden in the far north of Scotland, thanks to the effects of the Gulf Stream.

(Courtesy Nicholas Lander)