This volume is a friendship album (or scrapbook) belonging to Augusta Gow (1815-1893), a Scottish musician, music teacher, and composer who emigrated to Australia in 1852. She was born in Edinburgh in July 1815, daughter of Nathaniel Gow and his second
wife Mary Hogg. Her father Nathanial and her grandfather Niel Gow were Scotland’s leading fiddle players, composers and music publishers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The impact of the music of the Gow family was profound in NSW during the 19th and 20th centuries among the Scottish diaspora.
Augusta Gow studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1828-1832, returning to Edinburgh in late 1832 and establishing herself as a teacher of pianoforte and singing. (ref: The Scotsman, 1 December 1832 p.3) She married English musician Frederick Alexander Packer (1814-1862) in Edinburgh in July 1837. The couple settled in Reading in Berkshire where, in November 1838, 'Mr Frederick A. Packer, member of the Royal Academy of Music and late pupil of Signor Crivelli', announced in the press that he had opened a singing academy. (ref: Berkshire Chronicle, 24 Nov 1838 p.2). Ten of the couple's 13 children were born in Reading and Augusta Packer was, for a time, wet nurse to the Princess Royal, Queen Victoria's eldest daughter. (ref: The Scotsman 2 December 1840 p.3) The Packer family left England for Hobart, Tasmania, in March 1852.
The album comprises 112 leaves of mainly cream-coloured paper, some blue, some brown, of which 51 pages carry finely drawn sketches (watercolour, pencil and ink); engravings; manuscript verse; and manuscript music, contributed by family members and friends. Most of the entries are dated, the earliest February 1829, others 1830, 1832 and one 1835, suggesting that the compilation of the album was begun during the time that Augusta Gow was a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Some of the contributions to the album are fully signed, including two items of manuscript music: An 'Extract from a Fantasia written for Miss Gow' by Ignaz Moscheles, dated London, February 1829; a piece by Ernesto Spagnoletti, dated April 11th 1829. A pen and ink portrait of a young woman holding a mandolin, almost certainly a representation of Augusta Gow, is unsigned and undated but appears towards the front of the volume. There are two verse entries, made in London, by a Scottish poet known as the 'Ettrick shepherd', James Hogg (1770-1835). One is dated 2 March 1832 and the other 3 March 1832. (Matthew Stephens, June 2019)