Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stepney, Catherine

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STEPNEY, CATHERINE, Lady (d. 1845), novelist, daughter of Thomas Pollok, LL.D. (d. 1801), rector of Grittleton, Wiltshire, by his wife Susannah (d. 1802), daughter of Charlton Palmer of London, was first married to Russell Manners, and under that name published two novels, ‘Castle Nuovier, or Henry and Adelina,’ 1806, and ‘The Lords of Erith,’ 1809. On 8 June 1813 she married, at Edinburgh, Sir Thomas Stepney, ninth and last baronet, groom of the bedchamber to H.R.H. the Duke of York. He had succeeded his brother, Sir John Stepney, in the baronetcy in October 1811. Sir Thomas died on 12 Sept. 1825 (Gent. Mag. 1825, ii. 277). His widow, who was pretty, accomplished, and fashionable, and made her house the rendezvous of authors and artists, died at Henrietta Street, Cavendish Square, London, on 14 April 1845.

She wrote in later life four novels: ‘The New Road to Ruin,’ 1833; ‘The Heir Presumptive,’ 1835; ‘The Courtier's Daughter,’ 1838, 1841; and ‘The Three Peers,’ 1841, all in 3 vols. They show careful observation of London society. Lady Stepney also contributed to the fashionable annuals; but Miss Mitford declared that everything under Lady Stepney's name was rewritten by Miss Landon, ‘or the grammar and spelling would have disgraced a lady's maid’ (L'Estrange, Life of M. R. Mitford, iii. 94).

[Allibone's Dict. iii. 1214, 2241; Gent. Mag. 1845, ii. 86; Literary Gazette, 1845, pt. cclvii.; Jackson's History of Grittleton (Wiltshire Topographical Soc.), 1843, p. 22; Burke's Extinct Baronetage, p. 508.]

E. L.