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Finding the ladies
Finding Anne Hughes
There is an outside chance that we are closing in on the Anne Hughes of the old Diary. If not the person, then at least the source of the name. You can read about this in our page about 'Jeanne's Memories'. Whether the character represented in the Diary is actually this lady, or even her and other diarists writing over a longer period, we can't yet say. Aspects of the diary stories are almost certainly additions of Jeanne's. However, after considerable time and effort researching Anne Hughes' Diary, the Team are still of the opinion that there was an original diary or journal of some kind, and that there was an original diarist.
Finding Margaret the Land Girl
We've pretty much done everything we can think of to discover who Margaret was and where she might be now. There just isn't enough to go on. For now, it's to be hoped that someone will recognise her photo on our 'photographs' pages and get in touch. (Photographs link at top of this page.)
Finding Lady Susan
This story is one of the big let-downs of our time doing this work. Following a trawl of the expanded lists in the Access to Archives database, the files that index and describe much of the holdings of all the English Record Offices, we came across a Lady Susannah who seemed to match with Lady Susan in the Anne Hughes story, and who might even connect with Jeanne Preston herself. Not only did Lady Susannah have a London residence, she also died in the year after the London fashion for applying turmeric to ladies' hair; according to the Diary, the same year in which Anne's friend Lady Susan died. Most surprisingly, Lady Susannah's country home was next to Jeanne Preston's home village of Winchcomb. When we then noticed that there was a letter to his lordship, some time after, from one Anne Hughes of Winchcomb, we really thought we were on to something and met up in the Gloucester Record Office to examine this letter and other documents. It turned out to be about a dispute concerning a claim to the title and lands of Lord Tracy, Susannah's now widowed husband. This Anne Hughes, we thought, may have been a former retainer who was now pensioned off and living nearby in the village. Could she actually be the Anne Hughes of the Diary? Clearly she could write and may indeed have been involved as a witness to events if she was around earlier in the Tracy family's lives. But Susannah was much older than Anne Hughes' Lady Susan when she died. In the end, we never proved anything one way or the other and left after a most unsatisfactory day.
We put a great deal of effort into understanding Lady Susannah's background. We discovered she was formerly Susannah Weaver and an heiress in her own right. She was born in the Bridgenorth area and lived in Morville Hall just outside the town. Henry and Susannah Tracy's daughter later married into a family who had a branch living in the Northamptonshire area and also owned a house in Herefordshire. That was tempting, as it was in Northampton that we came across a real Squire Manton, even if the date was far too late. But any connection between the Northamptonshire branch and with the next generation of Tracy's at Sudely Castle also eluded us.
There may still be some mileage in this line of research but for the time being we've set it to one side. Maybe there is some connection that will become clear in the light of new evidence. Maybe not. As in other areas, the jury on this case is still out.