Title: The Trial of Elizabeth Duchess Dowager of ...
Publisher: Charles Bathurst, London
Publication Date: 1776
Folio. rebacked preserving original spine, boards, original endpapers. Chudleigh, Elizabeth, Countess of Bristol, (1720-1788) calling herself Duchess of Kingston, the only child of Colonel Thomas Chudleigh, lieutenant-governor of Chelsea Hospital, the younger brother of Sir George Chudleigh [q.v.] of Ashton, Devonshire, and Harriet, daughter of Mr. Chudleigh of Chalmington, Dorsetshire, was born in 1720. On Colonel Chudleigh's death in 1726, she and her mother were left badly provided for, and her youth was spent in the country. She was a beautiful girl. It was probably due to William Pulteney's, afterwards earl of Bath, good offices that she and her mother returned to London in 1740, and in 1743 she was appointed maid of honour to Augusta, princess of Wales. Miss Chudleigh met the Hon. Augustus John Hervey, a lieutenant in the navy, second son of John, lord Hervey, and grandson of the first earl of Bristol at Winchester Races. Piqued at the apparent neglect of the Duke of Hamilton, she consented to marry Hervey, and, as they were both poor, and she could not afford to lose her place as maid of honour, they were married privately, though in the presence of witnesses, in the extraparochial chapel of Lainston, by the rector, a Mr. Amis, at 10 or 11 p.m. on 4 Aug. 1744. From the time of Hervey's return to England, after a tour in the Navy, there had been frequent quarrels between him and his wife, and after the birth of their child they had no further intercourse. Miss Chudleigh, as she was still called, kept her marriage secret, and continued to hold office as a maid of honour in the court of the princess.In 1759, the failing health of the Earl of Bristol seemed to promise the speedy succession of his brother Augustus Hervey, so Elizabeth thought it well to take means to enable herself to establish her marriage. She, in the presence of his wife and Mr. Merrill, caused him to enter her marriage in the register-book of Lainston chapel. About this time Elizabeth became the mistress of Evelyn Pierrepoint, second duke of Kingston, and her connection with him was a matter of notoriety when, on 4 June 1760, she gave a splendid ball in honour of the birthday of the Prince of Wales. .The duke died on 23 Sept. following, leaving to the duchess, by his will dated 5 July 1770, his real estate for life and the whole of his personalty for ever, on condition that she remained a widow. Shortly after the duke's death she sailed to Italy . During her absence the duke's nephew, on information obtained from a former servant, caused a bill of indictment for bigamy to be drawn up against her. On 20 March 1775 her first husband, Hervey, succeeded his brother as Earl of Bristol. The duchess appeared in the court of king's bench on 24 May, before Lord Mansfield, to answer the indictment preferred against her. She was attended by the Duke of Newcastle, Lord Mountstuart, and others, and entered into a recognisance to stand her trial by her peers in parliament assembled. The trial of the duchess began on 15 April 1776, . and a verdict of guilty was unanimously pronounced by the peers, the Duke of Newcastle alone adding 'but not intentionally.' After her trial the duchess, who should now, speaking strictly, be called the Countess of Bristol, hearing that the duke's nephews were about to proceed against her, left England . She was, however, left in possession of her fortune. Her husband, the Earl of Bristol, obtained the recognition of his marriage from the consistory court on 22 Jan. 1777, as a preliminary step towards applying for a divorce. . She died somewhat suddenly at Paris on 26 Aug. 1788, at the age of sixty-eight. -William Hunt Chudleigh, Elizabeth, Countess of Bristol. Endpapers a little browned at corners, first few leaves a little foxed, else fine. Bookseller Inventory # 5352
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