Oil painting of Susannah Sackree

Object name: Oil painting on canvas of Susanna Sackree

Object number: CHWJA: JAH229

Category: Object

Description: Oil painting on canvas of Susanna Sackree (1761-1851), nursemaid to the children of Jane Austen’s third brother Edward and his wife Elizabeth. The painting measures H 74.5 x W 62 cm and is in a gilt frame.

Made: Early 19th century

Context: Susannah was the much-loved nursemaid to the eleven children of Jane’s brother Edward and his wife Elizabeth. She worked for the family at Godmersham Park from the birth of  Edward and Elizabeth’s eldest child, Fanny, in 1793 until her death at the age of 89 in 1851. She was known as ‘Dearest Caky’ by the eleven children and was devoted to the family.  When the children no longer needed a nursemaid, Susannah became Edward’s housekeeper. She is mentioned in several of Jane Austen’s letters and Jane seems to have been on friendly enough terms to share family news with her. In a letter to Cassandra dated 23-24 September 1813, Jane writes:

‘I read all the scraps I could of your Letter to her [Sackree]. She seemed to like it─& says she shall always like to hear anything of Chawton now.’

The depth of the family’s regard for her is reflected in the epitaph on her memorial tablet in Godmersham Church which reads:

In
memory of
SUSANNA SACKREE
the faithful servant and friend
for nearly 60 years
of Edward Knight Esquire of Godmersham Park
and the beloved nurse of all his children.
She died deeply lamented on 2nd of March
A.D. 1851
In the ninetieth year of her age.

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