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|Letters 80/82: The Harwoods
Written by BarbaraB
(2/13/2013 12:25 a.m.)
What a sad state of affairs. Myretta posted some information on this in relation to letter 80. It comes up again in letter 82.
I checked under the family name and Le Faye gives further information there.
“The squirearchal family of Harwood had been living at Deane House, next door to the church, for several generations during the 17th and 18th centuries. In the Austen’s time the family consisted of John Harwood VI...his wife Anne...and their three sons, John VII (1770), Earle (1773) and Charles (1783); Mr. Harwood’s spinster sister Betty-Anna Maria (1751-1838) also lived with them. At Mr. Harwood’s death in 1813 it was discovered that he had ‘contracted debts, quite unsuspected by his family.’” As Myretta noted this left nothing for his widow and his sister’s portion was lost leaving both ladies dependent on the son who “found himself a ruined man on his father’s death, blighted in all hopes and prospects of life.”
“The unfortunate heir was Revd John Harwood VII (1770-1846); curate 1794-8 of Wolverton near Basingstoke, Hants; rector of Ewhurst 1799, of Laverstoke 1820, and of Sherborne St John 1825. He had previously been an unsuccessful suitor of Elizabeth Bigg (q.v.), and following the early death of her husband Revd William Heathcote in 1802 it had become understood amongst their friends that she would marry Revd Mr Harwood once he had come into his inheritance; in the event, however, he could not afford to marry anyone, but spent the rest of his life struggling to retain the family property and support his dependants.”
Mr. Bennet was negligent and irresponsible toward his family but at least he didn’t allow the estate to fall into debt and at least his family was aware of the dire circumstances. If they had found themselves tossed out on their ears into the hedgerows, well, it wouldn’t have been a blindside, not that it would have made it any better but there was no deceit involved. I assume Deane House was no longer entailed if it ever was or Mr. Harwood would not have been allowed to mortgage it to the hilt like that? The mother and aunt did predecease him. If he had gone first, who knows what would have happened to them. Such a sad story.
Wonder what JA's gripe about Charles was...
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