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Mass Observation Day - 12 May 2021

Sarah Hurst Diary

Today is Mass Observation Day! On the 12th May 2021, the Mass Observation Archive will be repeating its annual call for day diaries, capturing the everyday lives of people across the UK.

The written diaries from the project will be stored in the Archive at The Keep and be used by a wide range of people for research, teaching and learning.  http://orlo.uk/9yFcp

We wanted to share with you some of the entries from  Sarah Hurst's diaries from within our collection from the 12 May. Her diaries covers the years 1759 -1762.   Sarah Hurst was  a tailor’s daughter who lived in the house next to the Museum in Horsham. As a young woman, born in 1736, she records in succinct detail in very small handwriting her day. It is the very ordinary nature of the accounts that make them so revealing and charming.
Sarah Hurst image

Sarah Hurst

So on  Friday 12 May 1759 she was in London. The day before she had gone to sit for Schuler a miniature painter, who painted the picture of her “Dear Smith” her husband to be with whom she later eloped, she was a tailor’s daughter, he was a rising figure in the army becoming a general, families did not approve of that and the age difference.

Saturday, 12 May Out again for my picture, carry Sally Sheppard to see it, who says it is a great likeness. Go to Mr. Kendall’s, a Stuff Warehouse in Gracechurch Street, he compliments excessively my person & understanding. A gentleman comes in by accident & gives me the same commendations. A letter from Miss Pigott.

A year later she was visiting Marlow where she developed a cough

Monday, 12 May 1760 Continue very ill, send for a Doctor who gives me some medicines, & much advice. Better & take a walk round this sweet place. Marlow is situated in a most delightfull spot, Woods, Water, enamell’d meads, conspire to render it truly beautifull.

Then the following year the relationship was developing strongly, and Sarah was in Horsham.

Tuesday, 12 May 1761 At home all day & work very close, Captain Smith here several times, he has certainly a great regard for me, but I fear not so great as mine for him. Hush hush, busy imagination, ever studious to torment thyself, can’st not thou enjoy the present minute that blesses thee with his presence & leave Futurity to his all wise direction who will certainly dispose every thing for the best.

As with all one-day diaries you wonder what happened next. Although it is possible to reveal all, it has the sense of making your own conclusion to this Georgian match across the social divide.

Published: 12 May 2021