Knight, Henrietta (DNB00)

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KNIGHT, HENRIETTA, Lady Luxborough (d. 1756), friend of Shenstone, was the only daughter of Henry, viscount St. John, by his second wife, Angelica Magdalena, daughter of Georges Pillesary, treasurer-general of the marines, and superintendent of the ships and galleys of France under Louis XIV. Henry St. John, first viscount Bolingbroke, [q. v.], was her half-brother. She married, on 20 June 1727, Robert Knight of Burrells, Warwickshire, eldest son of Robert Knight, cashier of the South Sea Company, created in 1746 Baron Luxborough of Shannon, and in 1763 Viscount Barrells and Earl of Catherlough in the peerage of Ireland. Horace Walpole describes her as 'high-coloured' and 'lusty,' with a 'great black bush of hair,' in which at first she wore the portrait of her husband, from whom she soon ‘was parted … upon a gallantry she had with Dalton, the reviver of Comus and a divine,’ and ‘retired to a hermitage on Parnassus.’ The story may be a scandal, but Lady Luxborough was certainly separated from, or deserted by, her husband within a few years of their marriage; and was an intimate friend of Frances Seymour, countess of Hertford, afterwards duchess of Somerset [q. v.], in whose house Dalton resided as tutor to Lord Beauchamp [see Dalton, John, 1709–1763]. The hermitage mentioned by Walpole was her husband's estate of Barrells, which she had laid out in the artificial style of landscape gardening. Here she was within easy reach of Shenstone, whom she frequently visited at the Leasowes, and with whom she kept up a regular correspondence. Shenstone celebrated their somewhat artificial Arcadia in his ode on ‘Rural Elegance,’ addressed to the Duchess of Somerset (1750). Lady Luxborough was also a friend of the poet William Somervile [q. v.] She died towards the end of March 1756, and was buried in the church of Wootton Wawen, the parish in which Barrells is situate, whence her remains were afterwards removed to a mausoleum near Barrells. Though she had been supposed to share her brother's religious opinions, she took the sacrament on her deathbed. By Lord Luxborough she had one son, Henry, who married, 21 June 1750, a daughter of Thomas Heath of Stanstead, Essex, and died without issue in the lifetime of his father; also two daughters, one of whom married a French count; the other, Henrietta, married Charles Wymondesold of Lockinge, Berkshire, but, eloping in 1753 with the Hon. Josiah Child, brother of John, second earl Tylney, was divorced, and married her paramour on 7 May 1754. Lady Luxborough's ‘Letters to William Shenstone, Esq.,’ published by Dodsley, London, 1775, are very insipid. Four little poems of slight merit, printed as ‘by a lady of quality’ in Dodsley's ‘Collection of Poems by several hands’ (1775), iv. 313, are attributed to her by Horace Walpole. See also Hull's ‘Select Letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough … and others,’ London, 1778, 2 vols. 8vo.

[Collins's Peerage (Brydges), vi. 75; Add. MS. 23728; marginalia and other manuscript notes by E. Gulston in the British Museum copy of Lady Luxborough's ‘Letters to Shenstone;’ Mrs. Delany's Autobiography, ed. Lady Llanover; Gent. Mag. 1746 p. 384, 1754 p. 243, 1756 p. 206; Horace Walpole's Letters, ed. Cunningham; Horace Walpole's Cat. of Royal and Noble Authors, ed. Park, v. 260, where there is an engraving of Lady Luxborough's portrait by an unknown artist; Grenville Papers, ed. Smith, ii. 48; Colvile's Worthies of Warwickshire; Official Lists of Members of Parliament; Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. App. p. 291; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 379, vi. 204; Burke's Extinct Peerage.]

J. M. R.