Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tredway, Letice Mary

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TREDWAY, LETICE MARY (1593–1677), English abbess in Paris, was the daughter of Sir Walter Tredway of Beckley, Buckinghamshire, and afterwards of Northamptonshire, by Elizabeth Weyman. Born in 1593 at Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, and losing her father in 1604, she took the veil in 1615 at the Augustinian convent, Douai, which in 1624 was removed to the neighbouring village of Sin-le-Noble, and took the title of Notre-Dame de Beaulieu. At Douai she made the acquaintance of Thomas Carre [q. v.], and they conceived the idea of establishing an English scholastic nunnery in that town. Pending its erection English girls were to be received at Sin, and in 1632 two accordingly arrived, escaping from Dover, where they had been arrested. In the following year Carre returned from London with two others; but meanwhile George Leyburne [q. v.], president of Douai College, had persuaded Lady Tredway, as she was styled, to fix on Paris as the site. Carre consequently went thither to consult Richard Smith [q. v.], bishop of Chalcedon, who by his influence with Richelieu, and notwithstanding the opposition of Archbishop Gondi, obtained royal sanction for the scheme, letters patent being granted in 1633. A house was hired in the Rue d'Enfer, and was opened in 1634 with five pupils. The numbers increased, and in 1635 the convent was transferred to the Faubourg St.-Antoine; but that site proved unhealthy, and in 1638 four houses were purchased in the Rue du Fossé St.-Victor, one of which had been occupied by De Baïf, whose musical and literary gatherings were the nucleus of the French academy. The buildings were remodelled, and a chapel was erected, which was consecrated by Smith in 1639. The chief English catholic families began sending their daughters as pupils, and lady boarders, mostly French, were also admitted; but till 1655 the convent was debarred from taking French pupils. During the civil war, the nuns' dowries having been invested in England, the payment of interest was suspended, and the nunnery was in great straits, until the painter Le Brun, a neighbour, obtained pecuniary assistance from Chancellor Séguier. In 1653 Carre, who was resident chaplain, dedicated to Lady Tredway his English translation of Thomas à Kempis. In 1644 her religious jubilee was celebrated; in 1674 she resigned, and in 1677 she died. She was buried in the chapel, which, with the rest of the building, was demolished in 1860. The convent was then removed to Neuilly, where her portrait is still preserved.

Humphrey Tredway, rector of Little Offord, Buckinghamshire, and author of Latin verses on Sir Philip Sidney (Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 530), was of the same family.

[Convent manuscripts; Carre's Pietas Parisiensis; Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica; Archæologia, vol. xiii.; Ann. Reg. 1800; Husenbeth's English Colleges on Continent; Cédoz's Couvent des Religieuses Anglaises, 1891; National Review (art. on George Sand), July 1889.]

J. G. A.