Elizabeth Moulton

Elizabeth Moulton (1763-1830)

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 1, 285.

EBB’s beloved paternal grandmother was born on 1 October 1763 in Jamaica at the vast Cinnamon Hill estate of her parents, Edward and Judith Barrett. She married Charles Moulton on 28 August 1781, but the union was not successful. Most of her time in Jamaica was spent at Cinnamon Hill—the birthplace of her four children. These were: Sarah (1783); Edward, EBB’s father; Samuel, her favourite uncle; and George (1789), who died in infancy. Sarah, known as “Pinkie,” died in England at age 12, shortly after having been immortalized in Thomas Lawrence’s now-famous portrait, which can be seen at the Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino, California. When Sarah, Edward and Samuel were sent to England for schooling in 1792, their mother did not accompany them (see letter 232). She went to England before long, however, and remained there, together with her lifelong companion, Mary Trepsack (“Treppy”). She resided for the most part in various leased quarters in the London borough of St. Marylebone, where over the years other members of her extended family had elected to live. (Barrett Street, near Portman Square, was named for a family member.) William Surtees Cook noted that in 1827 Mrs. Moulton’s “residence was in Baker Street which was then much considered, there being no Belgravia, no Tiburnia, above all no ’buses!” Until her son Samuel married, he made his London home with her when Parliament was in session. She enjoyed the numerous visits of EBB’s father, in town from Hope End on business, occasional visits of his growing family, and the weekly visits of her two grandsons, Edward and Samuel, during their schooling at Charterhouse. There was deep love between Elizabeth Moulton and her namesake, which sometimes prompted grandmotherly advice: “Now My darling Child you must allow me to say I think you are too big to attempt fighting with Bro … He is strong & powerful– I have seen him very rude & boisterous to you & Harry [Henrietta]” (see letter 45). She and Treppy were, on occasion, distressed by EBB’s scholarly pursuits at the expense of more feminine activities, and to the detriment of her health. When Elizabeth Moulton died, 29 December 1830, her son Edward found a letter assigning £4,000 “to my darling Elizabeth with all my trinkets I wish it were more for her sake.”

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