Bury, Charlotte Susan Maria (DNB00)

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BURY, Lady CHARLOTTE SUSAN MARIA (1775–1861), novelist, youngest child of John Campbell, fifth duke of Argyll, by Elizabeth, second daughter of John Gunning of Castle Coot in Roscommon, and widow of James Hamilton, sixth duke of Hamilton, was born at Argyll House, Oxford Street, London, 28 Jan. 1775. In her youth she was remarkable for her personal beauty, and the charm of her manners rendered her one of the most popular persons in society, while the sweetness and excellence of her character endeared her more especially to those who knew her in the intimacy of private life. She was always distinguished by her passion for the belles-lettres, and was accustomed to do the honours of Scotland to the literary celebrities of the day. It was at one of her parties that Sir Walter Scott became personally acquainted with Monk Lewis. When aged twenty-two she produced a volume of poems, to which, however, she did not affix her name. She married, 14 June 1796, Colonel John Campbell (eldest son of Walter Campbell of Schawfield, by his first wife Eleanora Kerr), who, at the time of his decease in Edinburgh 15 March 1809, was member of parliament for the Ayr burghs. By this marriage she had nine children, of whom, however, only two survived her, Lady A. Lennox and Mrs. William Russell. Lady Charlotte Campbell married secondly, 17 March 1818, the Rev. Edward John Bury (only son of Edward Bury of Taunton); he was of University College, Oxford, B.A. 1811, M.A. 1817, became rector of Lichfield, Hampshire, in 1814, and died at Ardenample Castle, Dumbartonshire, May 1832, aged 42, having had issue two daughters. On Lady Charlotte becoming a widow in 1809 she was appointed lady-in-waiting in the household of the Princess of Wales, afterwards Queen Caroline, when it is believed that she kept a diary, in which she recorded the foibles and failings of the unfortunate princess and other members of the court. After her marriage with Mr. Bury she was the author of various contributions to light literature, and some of her novels were once very popular, although now almost forgotten. When the ‘Diary illustrative of the Times of George IV’ appeared in two volumes in 1838, it was thought to bear evidence of a familiarity with the scenes depicted which could only be attributed to Lady Charlotte. It was reviewed with much severity, and attributed to her ladyship by both the ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Quarterly’ Reviews. The volumes, however, sold rapidly, and several editions were disposed of in a few weeks. The charge of the authorship was not at the time denied, and as no one has since arisen claiming to have written the diary the public libraries now catalogue the work under Lady Charlotte's name. She died at 91 Sloane Street, Chelsea, 31 March 1861. The once celebrated beauty, the delight of the highest circles of London society, was curiously described in her death certificate at Somerset House as ‘daughter of a duke and wife of the Rev. E. J. Bury, holding no benefice.’

The following is believed to be a complete list of Lady Bury's writings; many of them originally appeared without her name, but even at that time there does not seem to have been any secret as to the identity of the writer: 1. ‘Poems on several Occasions, by a Lady,’ 1797. 2. ‘Alla Giornata, or To the Day,’ anonymous, 1826. 3. ‘Flirtation,’ anonymous, 1828, which went to three editions. 4. ‘Separation,’ by the author of ‘Flirtation,’ 1830. 5. ‘A Marriage in High Life,’ edited by the author of ‘Flirtation,’ 1828. 6. ‘Journal of the Heart,’ edited by the author of ‘Flirtation,’ 1830. 7. ‘The Disinherited and the Ensnared,’ anonymous, 1834. 8. ‘Journal of the Heart,’ second series, edited by the author of ‘Flirtation,’ 1835. 9. ‘The Devoted,’ by the author of ‘The Disinherited,’ 1836. 10. ‘Love,’ anonymous, 1837; second edition 1860. 11. ‘Memoirs of a Peeress, or the days of Fox,’ by Mrs. C. F. Gore, edited by Lady C. Bury, 1837. 12. ‘The Three Great Sanctuaries of Tuscany: Valambrosa, Camaldoli, Lavernas,’ a poem historical and legendary, with engravings from drawings by the Rev. E. Bury, 1833. 13. ‘Diary illustrative of the Times of George the Fourth,’ anonymous, 1838, 2 vols. 14. ‘The Divorced,’ by Lady C. S. M. Bury, 1837; another edition 1858. 15. ‘Family Records, or the Two Sisters,’ by Lady C. S. M. Bury, 1841. And 16, a posthumous work entitled ‘The Two Baronets,’ a novel of fashionable life, by the late Lady C. S. M. Bury, 1864. She is also said to have been the writer of two volumes of prayers, ‘Suspirium Sanctorum,’ which were dedicated to Dr. Goodenough, bishop of Carlisle.

[Colburn's New Monthly Magazine, xlix. 76–77 (1837), portrait; Burke's Portrait Gallery of Females (1833), i. 103–5; Allibone's Dictionary of English Literature (1859), i. 308.]

G. C. B.