Wolverhampton BTW

Maria Frances Dickson

Dickson, Maria Frances, later Smith-Chatterton, c.1810—1885

by Benjamin Colbert

Maria Frances Dickson was the daughter of the Reverend Richard Dickson (d. 1867) of Vermount, Co. Limerick, and Anna Dickson, née Chatterton (d. 1835), daughter of a Baronet. By 1834 she was publishing tales in periodicals and her first collection of tales for children appeared as The Happy Family: or Talents Well Employed (1836), followed by The Lost Farm; or, the Effects of a Lie. An Irish Story (1837). Like all her subsequent work, these were published under the initials 'M.F.D.'

In the summer of 1836, she accompanied her uncle and aunt, Sir William Abraham Chatterton, baronet (1794–1855), of Castle Mahon, co. Cork, and Henrietta, Lady Chatterton, on their tour through Germany (see Granville 2:423-28), and published the following year her travelogue, Souvenirs (1837), dedicated to her aunt. This work led to several more experiments in the genre: Letters from the Coast of Clare (1841) first serialized in the Dublin University Magazine; Scenes on the Shores of the Atlantic (1845); and a series of travel articles again in the Dublin University Magazine entitled 'Rambling Records of People and Places' (1844-45).

On 22 January 1846, she married William Peters Smith (d. 1875), of Belmont, Raheny, Co. Dublin. Although she published several more works in the 1870s (again under 'M.F.D.'), the years following her marriage appear to have been devoted to child-rearing. She bore a son, Robert J. C. Chatterton-Smith (b. 1847), followed by Anna Caroline Marion Smith-Chatterton (b. 1849), Maria F.A. Smith-Chatterton, and Sinclair Dickson Smith-Chatterton (1858-1914). Freeman's Journal alludes to her presence with her daughters at the annual 'full dress ball' at Dublin castle on Friday, 17 March 1871, and on 1 April 1874 she and her husband assumed under Royal Licence the name and arms of Smith Chatterton ('Copy of grant'). The next year her husband died of heart disease. She survived another decade.


Copy of grant of arms to William Peters Smith of Belmont, Raheny, Co. Dublin and to Maria Frances, his wife, only surviving daughter of Rev. Richard Dickson of Virmount, Co. Limerick, by Anna, daughter of Sir James Chatterton, Bart. of Castle Mahon, Co. Cork on their assuming under Royal Licence the name and arms of Smith Chatterton, April 1, 1874. GO Ms. 109, pp. 293-4. Natl. Lib. Ireland, Dublin.

Granville, Augustus Bozzi. The Spas of Germany. 2 vols. London: Colburn, 1837. Print.

‘Viceregal Court’. Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser (Sat., 18 March 1871). Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers. Web. 11 Oct. 2014.


Title Published
Souvenirs of a Summer in Germany 1837

[see updates]