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|The Austens' Trials at Deane
Written by Kay S
(2/7/2003 12:44 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, M.T. Th e Austen's first home, penned by Caroline
] You can find Deane, drawn fairly accurately, about a third of the way down the map, and over on the left. You can see a circle for the "village" and a drawing of a cluster of "houses" around the church, on a sort of corner of a triangular road. You can see Steventon, directly to the south but not, I think, Cheesedown farm, which George Austen took over after a few years, thus adding a bit to his income.
What an interesting old map! The following excerpt from Park Honan's biography Jane Austen: Her Life describes the Austen family's rough beginnings at Deane and mentions other places on Caroline's map:
'With four other people in tow he [George Austen] moved into Deane parsonage, which in 1764 was empty because the Rector of Deane preferred to live a mile away at Ashe Park [pictured just SW of 'Dean' on the map]. Few clerical marriages at the time began less romantically. The Austens lived with old Mrs. Leigh [Mrs. Austen's widowed mother] and apparently a boy named George Hastings, a son of the great Warren Hastings of India who was then overseas as a member of the Calcutta Council. Hastings had presumably asked George Austen's sister Mrs. Hancock to look after the boy, and she before her return from India with a child of her own ('Bessy' or Eliza) had pleaded with her brother to take charge of Hastings's frail son. Mr. Austen welcomed the boy. He sent money to his sister, helped his wife to care for her fragile mother, and soon buried young Hastings and old Mrs. Leigh in quiet country graves.'
What a way to begin married life!
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