Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 10.djvu/307

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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; her first serious love affair took place when she was about fifteen, and an attack of small-pox from which she suffered at about the same age left her attractions unimpaired. William Pulteney, afterwards earl of Bath, having met her by chance while he was shooting, took a strong interest in her welfare, and endeavoured, though with no great success, to induce her to improve her mind by study. It was probably due to his good offices that she and her mother returned to London in 1740, and in 1743 she was through his interest appointed maid of honour to Augusta, princess of Wales. About this time James, sixth duke of Hamilton, fell in love with her. He was scarcely nineteen, and as he had not made the usual tour on the continent, left England for that purpose. Although he wrote to Miss Chudleigh his letters were intercepted by her aunt, Mrs. Hanmer, with whom she spent the summer of 1744, and the duke afterwards married Miss Elizabeth Gunning. While staying with her aunt at the house of her cousin, the wife of Mr. John Merrill of Lainston, Hampshire, Miss Chudleigh in the course of the summer went to Winchester races, and there 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. Hervey obtained leave of absence from his ship (the Cornwall) and paid his addresses to her at her cousin’s, house. Piqued at the apparent neglect of the Duke of Hamilton, she consented to marry him, 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 pan. on 4 Aug. 1744. A few days afterwards Hervey joined his ship and sailed for the West Indies, and his wife, when not in attendance at Leicester House, lived with her mother in Conduit Street. Her husband returned to England in October 1746, and in the summer of the next year she was secretly delivered of a male child at Chelsea. This child was baptised at Chelsea old church on 2 Nov. 1747 as Henry Augustus, son of the Hon. Augustus Hervey. It was put out to nurse at Chelsea, and shortly afterwards died and was buried there. Prom the time of Hervey’s return to England 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. She was remarkable even there for the freedom and indelicacy of her conduct, appearing on one occasion in 1749 at a masked ball in the character of Iphigenia, ‘so naked that you would have taken her for Andromeda’ (H. Walpole, Letters, ii. 153; Mrs. Montagu, Letters, iii. 158; Wraxall, Historical Memoirs, ii. 73). George II pretended to be in love with her, and gave her a watch ‘which cost five-and-thirty guineas out of his own privy purse and not charged on the civil list,’ and made her mother housekeeper at Windsor, a place of considerable profit (H. Walpole). Besides this income Mrs. Chudleigh and her daughter had a farm of 120 acres called Hall, in the parish of Harford, Devonshire, which Elizabeth kept during her life and which appears in her will. She is said to have assisted the Prince of Wales (George III) in his love affair with Hann Lightfoot in 1754 (Monthly Mag. li. 532).

As, in 1759, the failing health of the Earl of Bristol seemed to promise the speedy succession of his brother Augustus Hervey, Elizabeth thought it well to take means to enable herself to establish her marriage should she wish to do so. She is said to have told her secret to the princess and to have acted by her advice. Early in February she went down to Winchester, where Mr. Amis then lay on his deathbed, and in the presence of his wife and Mr. Merrill caused him to enter her marriage in the register-book of Lainston chapel. The book, on Amis's death, was delivered by his wife into the custody of Merrill. 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. Her parties were now the best arranged and most fashionable in London, and were much frequented by the ambassadors of foreign courts. In 1765 she was travelling independently in Germany, and stayed for a while at Berlin. Frederic II, writing in July to the Electress Dowager of Saxony about the marriage of his nephew the prince royal, says that nothing particular happened save the appearance of an English lady, Madame Chudleigh, who emptied two bottles of wine and staggered as she danced and nearly fell on the floor (Œuvres de Frédéric II, xxiv. 90). Frederic paid her some attention, and in after days she used to show some scraps of notes he had sent her. After she left Berlin she went to Saxony and