The Countess of Bristol otherwise The Duchess of Kingston was at the centre of one of the great scandals of the late eighteenth century. She was tried for bigamy at Westminster Hall and such was the notoreity of the case that the trial was attended by the Queen and other Members of the Royal Family. She died in France of an apoplexy brought about by the actions of the Revolutionary Authorities. Hers is an extraordinary story and reads like the plot from a novel by Anthony Trollope.
Few women have attracted so large a portion of public attention as the Countess of Bristol, otherwise the Duchess of Kingston She was the daughter of Colonel Chudleigh, the descendant of an ancient family in the county of Devon; but her father dying while she was yet young, her mother was left possessed only of a small estate with which to bring her up, and to fit her for that grade of society in which from her birth she was entitled to move Being possessed, however, of excellent qualities, she improved the connection which she had among persons of fashion, with a view to the future success in life of her daughter.
The latter meanwhile, as she advanced in years, improved in beauty; and upon her attaining the age of eighteen was distinguished as well for the loveliness of her person as for the wit and brilliancy of her conversation. Her education had not been neglected; and, despite the small fortune possessed by her mother, no opportunity was lost by which her mind might be improved, and a means was about this time afforded for the display of her accomplishments.
The father of George III held his Court at Leicester House; and Mr Pulteney, who then blazed as a meteor on the Opposition benches in the House of Commons, was honoured with the particular regard of his Royal Highness. Miss Chudleigh had been introduced to Mr Pulteney; and he had admired her for the beauties of her mind and of her person, and, his sympathies being excited on her behalf, he obtained for her, at the age of eighteen, the appointment of maid-of-honour to the Princess of Wales. His efforts, however, did not stop at thus elevating her to a situation of the highest honour, but he also endeavoured to improve the cultivation of her understanding by instruction; and to him Miss Chudleigh read, and with him, when separated by distance, she corresponded.
The Duchess of Bristol
The station to which Miss Chudleigh had been advanced, combined with her numerous personal attractions, produced her many admirers, some with titles, and others in the expectation of them. Among the former was the Duke of Hamilton, whom Miss Gunning had afterwards the good fortune to obtain for a consort. The Duke was passionately attached to Miss Chudleigh, and pressed his suit with such ardour as to obtain a solemn engagement on her part that, on his return from a tour, for which he was preparing, she would become his wife. There were reasons why this event should not immediately take place; but that the engagement would be fulfilled at the specified time was considered by both parties as a moral certainty A mutual pledge was given and accepted; the Duke commenced his proposed tour, and the parting condition was, that he should write by every opportunity, and that Miss Chudleigh of course should answer his epistles. Thus the arrangement of Fortune seemed to have united a pair who possibly might have experienced much happiness, for between the Duke and Miss Chudleigh there was a strong similarity of disposition, but Fate had not destined them for each other.
Miss Chudleigh had an aunt, whose name was Hanmer: at her house the Hon Mr Hervey, son of the Earl of Bristol, and a captain in the Royal Navy, was a visitor. To this gentleman Mrs Hanmer became so exceedingly partial that she favoured views which he entertained towards her niece, and engaged her efforts to effect, if possible, a matri-monial connection. There were two difficulties, which would have been insurmountable had they not been opposed by the fertile genius of a female - Miss Chudleigh disliked Captain Hervey, and she was betrothed to the Duke of Hamilton. No exertions which could possibly be made were spared to render this latter alliance nugatory; and the wits of this woman were exerted to the utmost to favour the object which she had in view.
The letters of his Grace were intercepted by Mrs Hanmer; and his supposed silence giving offence to her niece, she worked so successfully on her pride as to induce her to abandon all thoughts of her lover, whose passion she had cherished with delight. A conduct the reverse of that imputed to the Duke was observed by Captain Hervey: he was all that assiduity could dictate or attention perform. He had daily access to Miss Chudleigh, and each interview was artfully improved by the aunt to the promotion of her own views. The letters of his Grace of Hamilton, which regularly arrived, were as regularly suppressed; until, piqued beyond endurance, Miss Chudleigh was prevailed on to accept the hand of Captain Hervey, and by a private marriage to ensure the participation of his future honours and fortune. The ceremony was performed in a private chapel adjoining the country mansion of Mr Merrill, at Lainston, near Winchester, in Hampshire.
The hour at which she became united with Captain Hervey proved to her the origin of every subsequent unhappiness. The connubial rites were attended with unhappy consequences; and from the night following the day on which the marriage was solemnised Miss Chudleigh resolved never to have any further connection with her husband. To prevail on him not to claim her as his wife required all the art of which she was mistress; and the best dissuasive was the loss of her situation as maid-of-honour should the marriage become publicly known. The circumstances of Captain Hervey were not in a flourishing condition, and were ill calculated to enable him to ride with a high hand over his wife; and the fear of the loss of the emoluments of her office operated most powerfully with him to induce him to obey the injunctions which she imposed upon him in this respect.
Her marriage being unknown to mere outward observers, Miss Chudleigh, or Mrs Hervey- a maid in appearance, a wife in disguise- was placed in a most enviable condition. Her Royal mistress smiled upon her; the friendship of many was at her call; the admiration of none could be withheld from her: but amidst all her conquests and all her fancied happiness she wanted that peace of mind which was so necessary to support her against the conflicts which arose in her own breast. Her husband, quieted for a time, grew obstreperous as he saw the jewel admired by all, which was, he felt, entitled only to his love; and feeling that he possessed the right to her entire consideration resolved to assert his power. In the meantime every art which she possessed had been put into operation to soothe him to continued silence; but her further endeavours being unsuccessful she was compelled to grant his request, and to attend an interview which he appointed at his own house, and to which he enforced obedience by threatening an instant and full disclosure in case of her non-compliance.
The meeting was strictly private, all persons being sent from the house with the exception of a black servant; and on Mrs Hervey's entrance to the apartment in which her husband was seated his first care was to prevent all intrusion by locking the door. This meeting, like all others between her and her husband, was unfortunate in its effects: the fruit of it was the birth of a boy, whose existence it will be readily supposed she had much difficulty in concealing. Her removal to Brompton for a change of air became requisite during the term of her confinement, and she returned to Leicester House perfectly recovered from her indisposition ; but the infant soon sinking in the arms of death, left only the tale of its existence to be related.
In the meantime the sum of her unhappiness had been completed by the return of the Duke of Hamilton. His Grace had no sooner arrived in England than he hastened to pay his adoration at the feet of his idol, and to learn the cause of her silence when his letters had been regularly dispatched to her. An interview which took place soon set the character of Mrs Hanmer in its true light; but while Miss Chudleigh was convinced of the imposition which had been practised upon her, she was unable to accept the proffered hand of her illustrious suitor, or to explain the reason for her apparently ungracious rejection of his addresses. The Duke, flighty as he was in other respects, in his love for Miss Chudleigh had at least been sincere; and this strange conduct on the part of his betrothed, followed as it was by a request on her part that he would not again intrude his visits upon her, raised emotions in his mind which can hardly be described.
The rejection of his Grace was followed by that of several other persons of distinction; and the mother of Miss Chudleigh, who was quite unaware of her private marriage with Captain Hervey, could not conceal her regret and anger at the supposed folly of her daughter. It was impossible that these circumstances could long remain concealed from the society in which Miss Chudleigh moved; and, in order to relieve herself from the embarrassments by which she was surrounded, she determined to travel on the Continent. Germany was the place selected by her for her travels; and she, in turn, visited the chief cities of its principalities. Possessed as she was of introductions of the highest class, she was gratified by obtaining the acquaintance of many crowned heads. Frederick of Prussia conversed and corresponded with her. In the Electress of Saxony she found a friend whose affection for her continued to the latest period of life.
On her return from the Continent Miss Chudleigh ran over the career of pleasure, enlivened the Court circles, and each year became more ingratiated with the mistress whom she served. She was the leader of fashion, played whist with Lord Chesterfield, and revelled with Lady Harrington and Miss Ashe. She was a constant visitant at all public places, and in 1742 appeared at a masked ball in the character of Iphigenia. Captain Hervey, like a perturbed spirit, was, however, eternally crossing the path trodden by his wife. If in the rooms at Bath, he was sure to be there. At a rout, ridotto or ball, this destroyer of her peace embittered every pleasure, and even menaced her with an intimation that he would disclose the marriage to the Princess.
Miss Chudleigh, now persuaded of the folly and danger of any longer concealment from her Royal mistress, determined that the design which her husband had formed from a malicious feeling should be carried out by herself from a principle of rectitude; and she, in consequence, communicated to the Princess the whole of the circumstances attending her unhappy union. Her Royal mistress pitied her, and continued her patronage up to the hour of her death. At length a stratagem was either suggested or it occurred to Miss Chudleigh at once to deprive Captain Hervey of the power to claim her as his wife. The clergyman who had married them was dead. The register-book was in careless hands. A handsome compliment was paid for the inspection; and, while the person in whose custody it was listened to an amusing story, Miss Chudleigh tore out the register. Thus imagining the business accomplished, she for a time bade defiance to her husband, whose taste for the softer sex having subsided from some unaccountable cause, afforded Miss Chudleigh a cessation of inquietude. A change in the circumstances of the Captain, however, effected an alteration in the feelings of his wife.
His father having died, he succeeded to the title of the Earl of Bristol, and his accession to nobility was not unaccompanied by an increase of fortune. Miss Chudleigh saw that by assuming the title of Countess of Bristol she would probably command increased respect, and would obtain greater power; and with a degree of unparalleled blindness she went to the house of Mr Merrill, the clergyman in whose chapel she had been married, to restore those proofs of her union which she had previously taken such pains to destroy. Her ostensible reason was a jaunt out of town; her real design was to procure, if possible, the insertion of her marriage with Captain Hervey in the book which she had formerly mutilated. With this view she dealt out promises with a liberal hand. The officiating clerk, who was a person of various avocations, was to be promoted to the extent of his wishes. The book was managed by the lady to her content, and she returned to London, secretly exulting in the excelence and success of her machination.
While this was going on, however, her better fate influenced in her favour the heart of a man who was the exemplar of amiability- this was the Duke of Kingston; but, remarried as it were by her own stratagem, the participation of ducal honours became legally impossible. The chains of wedlock now became galling in the extreme. Every advice was taken, every means tried, by which her liberation might be obtained; but all the efforts which were made proved useless, and it was found to be necessary to acquiesce in that which could not be opposed successfully or pass unnoticed. The Duke's passion, meanwhile, became more ardent and sincere; and, finding the apparent impossibility of a marriage taking place, he for a series of years cohabited with Miss Chudleigh, although with such external observances of decorum that their intimacy was neither generally remarked nor known. The disagreeable nature of these proceedings on their part was, however, felt by both parties, and efforts were again made by means of which a marriage might be solemnised.
The Earl of Bristol was sounded; but upon his learning the design with which a divorce was sought he declared that he would never consent to it, for that his Countess's vanity should not be flattered by her being raised to the rank of a duchess. The negotiations were thus for a time stopped; but afterwards, there being a lady with whom he conceived that he could make an advantageous match, he listened to the suggestions which were made to him with more complacency, and at length declared that he was ready to adopt any proceedings which should have for their effect the annihilation of the ties by which he was bound to Miss Chudleigh. The civilians were consulted, a jactitation suit was instituted [Note 1]. But the evidence by which the marriage could have been proved was kept back, and the Earl of Bristol failing, as it was intended he should fail, in substantiating the marriage, a decree was made, declaring the claim to be null and unsupported. Legal opinion now only remained to be taken as to the effect of this decree, and the lawyers of the Ecclesiastical Courts, highly tenacious of the rights and jurisdiction of their own judges, declared their opinion to be that the sentence could not be disturbed by the interference of any extrinsic power. In the conviction, therefore, of the most perfect safety, the marriage of the Duke of Kingston with Miss Chudleigh was publicly solemnised. The wedding favours were worn by persons of the highest distinction in the kingdom; and during the lifetime of his Grace no attempt was made to dispute the legality of the proceedings.
For a few years the Duchess figured in the world of gaiety without apprehension or control. She was raised to the pinnacle of her fortune, and she enjoyed that which her later life had been directed to accomplish- the parade of title- but without that honour which integrity of character can alone secure. She was checked in her career of pleasure, however, by the death of the Duke. The fortune which his Grace possessed, it appears, was not entailed, and it was at his option, therefore, to bequeath it to the Duchess or to the heirs of his family, as seemed best to his inclination. His will, excluding from every benefit an elder, and preferring a younger, nephew as the heir in tail, gave rise to the prosecution of the Duchess, which ended in the beggary of her prosecutor and her own exile.
The demise of the Duke of Kingston was neither sudden nor unexpected. Being attacked with a paralytic affection, he lingered but a short time, which was employed by the Duchess in journeying his Grace from town to town, under the false idea of prolonging his life by change of air and situation. At last, when real danger seemed to threaten, even in the opinion of the Duchess, she dispatched one of her swiftest-footed messengers to her solicitor, Mr Field, of the Temple, requiring his immediate attendance. He obeyed the summons, and, arriving at the house, the Duchess asked him to procure the Duke to execute, and be himself a subscribing witness to, a will made without his knowledge, and more to the taste of the Duchess than that which had been executed. The difference between these two wills was this: the Duke had bequeathed the income of his estates to his relict during her life expressly under the condition of her continuing in a state of widowhood. Perfectly satisfied, however, as the Duchess seemed with whatever was the inclination of her dearest lord, she could not resist the opportunity of carrying her secret wishes into effect. She did not relish the temple of Hymen being shut against her. Mr Field, however, positively refused either to tender the will or to be in any manner concerned in endeavouring to procure its execution; and with this refusal he quitted the house.
Soon after the frustration of this attempt the Duke of Kingston expired. No sooner were the funeral rites performed than the Duchess adjusted her affairs and embarked for the Continent, proposing Rome for her temporary residence. Ganganelli, at that time filled the papal chair [Note 2]. He treated her with the utmost civility, gave her, as a sovereign prince, many privileges, and she was lodged in the palace of one of the cardinals. Her vanity being thus gratified, her Grace, in return, treated the Romans with a public spectacle. She had built an elegant pleasure yacht; a gentleman who had served in the navy was the commander. Under her orders he sailed for Italy; and the vessel, at considerable trouble and expense, was conveyed up the Tiber. The sight of an English yacht in this river was one of so unusual a character that it attracted crowds of admirers; but, while all seemed happiness and pleasure where the barque rested quietly on the waters of the river, proceedings were being concocted in London which would effectually put a stop to any momentary sensations of bliss which the Duchess might entertain.
Mrs Cradock, who, in the capacity of a domestic, had witnessed the marriage which had been solemnised between her Grace and the Earl of Bristol, found herself so reduced in circumstances that she was compelled to apply to Mr Field for assistance. The request was rejected; and, not withstanding her assurance that she was perfectly well aware of all the circumstances attending the Duchess's marriage, and that she should not hesitate to disclose all she knew in a quarter where she would be liberally paid- namely, to the disappointed relations of the Duke of Kingston- she was set at defiance. Thus refused, starvation stared her in the face; and, stung by the ingratitude of the Duchess's solicitor, she immediately set about the work of ruin which she contemplated.
The Duke of Kingston had borne a marked dislike to one of his nephews, Mr Evelyn Meadows, one of the sons of his sister, Lady Frances Pierpoint. This gentleman, being excluded from the presumptive heirship, joyfully received the intelligence that a method of revenging himself against the Duchess was presented to him. He saw Mrs Cradock; learned from her the particulars of the statement which she would be able to make upon oath; and, being perfectly satisfied of its truth, he preferred a bill of indictment against the Duchess of Kingston for bigamy, which was duly returned a true bill. Notice was immediately given to Mr Field of the proceedings, and advices were forthwith sent to the Duchess to appear and plead to the indictment, to prevent a judgment of outlawry.
The Duchess's immediate return to England being thus required, she set about making the necessary preparations for her journey; and, as money was one of the commodities requisite to enable her to commence her homeward march, she proceeded to the house of Mr Jenkins, the banker in Rome, in whose hands she had placed security for the advance of all such sums as she might require. The opposition of her enemies, however, had already commenced; they had adopted a line of policy exactly suited to the lady with whom they had to deal. Mr Jenkins was out, and could not be found.
She apprised him, by letter, of her intended journey, and her consequent want of money; but still he avoided seeing her. Suspecting the trick, her Grace was not to be trifled with, and, finding all her efforts fail, she took a pair of pistols in her pocket and, driving to Mr Jenkins's house, once again demanded to be admitted. The customary answer, that Mr Jenkins was out, was given; but the Duchess declared that she was determined to wait until she saw him, even if it should not be until a day, month or year had elapsed; and she took her seat on the steps of the door, which she kept open with the muzzle of one of her pistols, apparently determined to remain there. She knew that business would compel his return, if he were not already indoors; and at length Mr Jenkins, finding further opposition useless, appeared.
The nature of her business was soon explained. The conversation was not of the mildest kind. Money was demanded, not asked. A little prevarication ensued, but the production of a pistol served as the most powerful mode of reasoning, and, the necessary sum being instantly obtained, the Duchess quitted Rome. She went to Calais, where she embarked for Dover, landed, drove post to Kingston House, and found friends displaying both zeal and alacrity in her cause. The first measure taken was to have the Duchess bailed. This was done before Lord Mansfield- the Duke of Newcastle, Lord Mountstuart, Mr Glover and other characters of rank attending.
The prosecution and consequent trial of the Duchess becoming objects of magnitude, the public curiosity and expectation were proportionably excited. It became the subject of a discussion in the House of Lords whether the trial of her Grace should not be conducted in Westminster Hall; and the expense which would necessarily be incurred by the country was by many urged as being a burden which ought not to rest upon the public purse.
The trial in Westminster HallOn the 15th of April, 1776, the business came on in Westminster Hall, when the Queen [Charlotte Sophia] was present, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, [later George IV] Princess Royal [Charlotte], and others of the Royal Family. Many foreign ambassadors also attended, as well as several of the nobility. These having taken their seats, the Duchess came forward, attended by Mrs Edgerton, Mrs Barrington and Miss Chudleigh, three of the ladies of her bedchamber, and her chaplain, physician and apothecary; and as she approached the bar she made three reverences and then dropped on her knees, when the Lord High Steward said: "Madam, you may rise" Having risen, she curtsied to the Lord High Steward and the House of Peers, and her compliments were returned.
Proclamation being made for silence, the Lord High Steward mentioned to the prisoner the fatal consequences attending the crime of which she stood indicted, signifying that, however alarming and awful her present circumstances, she might derive great consolation from considering that she was to be tried by the most liberal, candid and august assembly in the universe. The Duchess then read a paper setting forth that she was guiltless of the offence alleged against her, and that the agitation of her mind arose, not from the consciousness of guilt, but from the painful circumstance of being called before so awful a tribunal on a criminal accusation. The Lord High Steward then desired the lady to give attention while she was arraigned on an indictment for bigamy; and proclamation for silence having been again made, the Duchess (who had been permitted to sit) arose and read a paper, representing to the Court that she was advised by her counsel to plead the sentence of the Ecclesiastical Court in the year 1769 as a bar to her being tried on the present indictment.
The Lord High Steward informed her that she must plead to the indictment: in consequence of which she was arraigned; and being asked by the Clerk of the Crown whether she was guilty of the felony with which she stood charged she answered, with great firmness: "Not guilty, my Lords" The Clerk of the Crown then asking her how she would be tried she said: "By God and my peers"; on which the clerk said: "God send your ladyship a good deliverance".
Four days were occupied in arguments of counsel respecting the admission or rejection of a sentence of the Spiritual Court; but the Peers having decided that it could not be admitted, the trial proceeded. On Monday, the, 22nd of April, after the Attorney-General had declared the evidence on behalf of the prosecution to be concluded, the Lord High Steward called upon the prisoner for her defence, which she read. She appealed to the Searcher of all hearts that she never considered herself as legally married to Mr Hervey; she said that she considered herself as a single woman, and as such was addressed by the late Duke of Kingston; and that, influenced by a legitimate attachment to his Grace, she instituted a suit in the Ecclesiastical Court, when her supposed marriage with Mr Hervey was declared null and void; but, anxious for every conscientious as well as legal sanction, she submitted an authentic statement of her case to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, in the most decisive and unreserved manner, declared that she was at liberty to marry, and afterwards granted, and delivered to Dr Collier, a special licence for her marriage with the late Duke of Kingston. She said that on her marriage she experienced every mark of gracious esteem from their Majesties, and her late Royal mistress, the Princess Dowager of Wales, and was publicly recognised as Duchess of Kingston. [Note 3] Under such respectable sanctions and virtuous motives for the conduct she pursued, strengthened by a decision that had been esteemed conclusive and irrevocable for the space of seven centuries, if their Lordships should deem her guilty on any rigid principle of law, she hoped, nay, she was conscious, they would attribute her failure as proceeding from a mistaken judgment and erroneous advice, and would not censure her for intentional guilt.
Evidence was produced on behalf of her Grace, and the Lord High Steward addressed their Lordships, saying that, the evidence on both sides having been heard, it now became their Lordships' duty to proceed to the consideration of the case; that the importance and solemnity of the occasion required that they should severally pronounce their opinions in the absence of the prisoner at the bar, and that it was for the junior baron to speak first.
The prisoner having then been removed, their Lordships declared that they found her guilty of the offence imputed to her. Proclamation was then made that the Usher of the Black Rod should re-place the prisoner at the bar; and, immediately on her appearing, the Lord High Steward informed her that the Lords had maturely considered the evidence adduced against her, as well as the testimony of the witnesses who had been called on her behalf, and that they had pronounced her guilty of the felony for which she was indicted. He then inquired whether she had anything to say why judgment should not be pronounced against her. The Duchess immediately handed in a paper containing the words, "I plead the privilege of the peerage," which were read by the clerk at the table. The Lord High Steward then informed her Grace that the Lords had considered the plea, and agreed to allow it, adding: "Madam, you will be discharged on paying the usual fees." The Duchess during the trial appeared to be perfectly collected, but on sentence being pronounced she fainted, and was carried out of court.
This solemnity was concluded on the 22nd of April, 1776. But the prosecutors still had a plan in embryo to confine the person of the Countess of Bristol, for to this rank she was now again reduced, to the kingdom, and to deprive her of her personal property; and a writ of ne exeat regno ["shall not leave the kingdom"] was actually in the course of preparation, but private notice being conveyed to her of this circumstance she was advised immediately to quit the country. In order to conceal her flight she caused her carriage to be driven publicly through the streets, and invited a large party to dine at her house; but, without waiting to apologise to her guests, she drove to Dover in a post-chaise, and there entering a boat with Mr Harvey, the captain of her yacht, she accompanied him to Calais.
Circumstances of which she had been advised, and which had occurred during the period of her absence from Rome, rendered her immediate presence in that city necessary, and proceeding thither, without loss of time, she found that a Spanish friar, whom she had left in charge of her palace and furniture, had found means to convert her property into money, and after having seduced a young English girl, who had also been left in the palace, had absconded. Having now obtained the whole of her plate from the public bank where she had deposited it, she returned to Calais, which she adopted as the best place at which she could fix her residence, in consequence of the expeditious communication which existed between that town and London, by means of which she might be afforded the earliest intelligence of the proceedings of her opponents. Their business was now to set aside, if possible, the will of the Duke of Kingston. There was no probability of the success of the attempt, but there was sufficient doubt upon the subject in the mind of the Countess to keep all her apprehensions alive. The will of his Grace of Kingston, however, received every confirmation which the Courts of Justice could give, and the object of the Countess now was to dissipate rather than expend the income of his estates.
A house which she had purchased at Calais was not sufficient for her purpose; a mansion at Montmartre, near Paris, was fixed on, and the purchase of it was negotiated in as short a time as the Countess could desire. This house being in a ruinous condition a lawsuit was brought by her. Going to St Petersburg, she turned brandy-distiller, but returned to Paris before the lawsuit was settled. The possession of such a place, however, was not sufficient for the Countess, and she proceeded to make a second purchase of a house, built upon a scale of infinite grandeur. The brother of the existing French king [Louis XVI] was the owner of a domain suited in every respect for the residence of a person of such nobility, and the Countess determined to become its mistress. It was called the territory of St Assise, and was situated at a pleasant distance from Paris, abounding in game of all descriptions, and rich in all the luxuriant embellishments of nature. The mansion was of a size which rendered it fit for the occupation of a king: it contained three hundred beds. The value of such an estate was too considerable to be expected in one payment; she therefore agreed to discharge the whole of the sum demanded, which was fifty-five thousand pounds, by instalments.
The purchase on the part of the Countess was a good one. It afforded not only game, but rabbits in plenty; and, finding them of superior quality and flavour, her ladyship, during the first week of her possession, had as many killed and sold as brought her three hundred guineas. At St Petersburg she had been a distiller of brandy; and now at Paris she turned rabbit-merchant.
Such was her situation [after French Revolution had taken place] when one day, while she was at dinner, her servants received the intelligence that judgment [by the Revolutionary authorities] respecting the house near Paris had been awarded against her. The sudden communication of the news produced an agitation of her whole frame. She flew into a violent passion, and burst an internal blood vessel. She walked a little about her room, and afterwards said: "I will lie down on the couch; I can sleep, and after that I shall be entirely recovered" She seated herself on the couch, a female having hold of each hand. In this situation she soon appeared to have fallen into a sound sleep, until the women felt her hands colder than ordinary, and she was found to have expired. She died on the 26th of August, 1796.
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1 [Jactitation suit:] From the latin jactare to throw, toss about, here in the sense of boast or throw about publicly. In canon law, the word means a false declaration to the detriment of somebody else. In civil law a jactitation suit may be brought in the Divorce Court when a person falsely boasts that he or she is married to another whereby a reputation of their marriage may become established. The injured person sues for the purpose of having perpetual silence forced upon the unjustifiable boaster. Back
2 [Ganganelli:] Cardinal Lorenzo Ganganelli who reigned as Pope Clement XIV 1769-74. Back
3 [Princess Dowager of Wales:] This was Augusta of Saxe-Coburg, mother of George III and wife of Frederick Lewes, Prince of Wales, elder son of George II, who predeceased his father in 1751. Back
4 The complete text of the Newgate Calendar is available online here.
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