Friday, July 23, 2010
My Grandmother, born Georgina Lyall, was a great grand daughter of Susan Sibbald. Susan was born in 1783 in Fowey, Cornwall and in 1835 came to what is now near Georgina, Ontario as a widow, built a house and a church on a farm she purchased, which is now a park and historic monument at Sibbald point, Lake Simcoe. Susan, who was raised in a family that was wealthy and were gentry, wrote a book, The Memoirs of Susan Sibbald ,that was eventually published in 1926 and presently available since it has been republished! The book is chiefly concerned with her life from 1783 to 1812, though there are later chapters on the Canadian portion of her life on Lake Simcoe. The book is a treasure, depicting the manners, dress, leisure, travel,the panorama of friends and notables, and the household life of the wealthy gentry of the time, at home in Cornwall and Scotland near Melrose and in the cities of England and Scotland. Curiously, despite situated in the time of Napoleon, and Waterloo, Nelson and Trafalgar, and despite the fact that most of her family were Navy or Army with Commissions, her world was seemingly indifferent to these events! It is a remarkable chronicle of a indulgent and shallow lifestyle that was the only permissible way for such a startlingly intelligent woman like her, to exist in that strata of society! Here is an excerpt from the childhood portion of the memoirs, "In passing the kitchen department, what a savoury smell would issue forth, may be a roast Goose, Ducks and green peas, or maybe a Hare for supper,or as greater delicacies still, a Turkey ,Guinea fowl or Peacock. We always knew when the jack was wanted by Cook's anxious call for "Sancho", the turnspit, a little yellow crooked legged dog, and many a time we have heard the crack of a whip, a cry of distress, and the jack screaming for lack of oil. For poor little Sancho, being in his treadmill, climbing with might and main,anticipating his feast in the dripping pan,would stop suddenly on hearing our voices, and get from the cook what he did not like to feel, or we to hear." Maybe the past is a different country after all.