For Jane, the plight of young Fanny was especially worrisome, as she considered her new role in the family:
Dearest Fanny must now look upon her- self as his prime source of comfort, his dearest friend; as the being who is gradually to supply to him, to the extent that is possible, what he has lost. This consideration will elevate and cheer her. Adieu.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
October 15, 1808
The Great House at Chawton—Former Home of
Jane Austen's Brother, Edward Austen-Knight
Fanny had always been particularly dear to Jane and several pieces of Jane Austen's Juvenilia were dedicated to her in her infancy. The two shared a close friendship during Jane's life and several of the letters written between the two of them survive to this day. Fanny seems to have looked to her aunt for the wisdom and advice she could not ask of her mother, especially in the area of love and courtship. Some of these letters have more to say on the subject than any other surviving pieces of Austen correspondence. Is it possible Jane wrote with the wisdom of one who had loved and lost?
Soon after his wife's death, Edward inherited a house and property in Chawton and was able to offer the nearby cottage to his mother and sisters. This close proximity to the family they loved so much must have only deepend the intimacy of the two.
Knatchbull married secondly Fanny Catherine Knight, daughter of Edward Knight (né Edward Austen, the brother of English novelist Jane Austen). They had nine children, including:
Edward Hugessen Knatchbull-Hugessen, 1st Baron Brabourne (1829–1893)
Reverend Reginald Bridges Knatchbull-Hugessen (b. 1831)
Herbert Thomas Knatchbull-Hugessen (b. 1835)