Constance Charlotte Elisa Lennox Russell.

The rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance online

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made the sick man get up from his bed and go off with her to

Exeter, where they lived as man and wife. This elopement took

place in June 1789 ; and in Easter term 1790 Mr. Cecil brought

an action in the King's Bench at Westminster against Mr. Sneyd.

The trial was before Lord Kenyon, and Mr. Cecil obtained a

verdict of ;^iooo damages, which would have been much more

had not Mr. Sneyd's counsel, Erskine, pleaded the poverty of his

client. As it was, being unable to pay the sum, he was confined

in the Marshalsea four years, at the end of which time he was

let off, and it was said ultimately became mad. In June of the

same year as his action in the King's Bench (1790) Mr. Cecil

commenced proceedings for a divorce in the Consistory Court

and obtained it in March 1791, but it appears that an Act of

Parliament alone could in those days dissolve the marriage or

enable him to marry again. This Act was obtained, but did not

receive the royal assent till June 1791.

Meanwhile Mr. Cecil, feeling thoroughly disgusted with the

world in general, determined to retire from it to some spot where

he would not be known. Taking the name of " John Jones,"

and disguising himself with a peculiar wig, he started off in

a travelling-chaise and arrived one November night during a

blinding snowstorm at the rural village of Bolas Magna in

Shropshire, not far from Wellington, having, it was said, lost his

way. Be this as it may, the weather was too tempestuous for

him to continue travelling farther that night-; so he put up at the

" Blue Boar Inn," and the next day showed no wish to go farther.

Dismissing the chaise he proceeded to look for a lodging, which

he found in the house of one Hoggins on Bolas Common. There

has been much discussion as to whether this residence was only


" The Peasant Peeress "

an ordinary cottage, or whether it was a farm, and also whether
Hoggins could be termed a farmer or whether he was only
" a horse and cow doctor." Anyhow the house was large enough
to hold Mr. and Mrs. Hoggins and their six children and to
provide a spare room for the stranger; also Hoggins was of
sufficient status to have been twice appointed overseer, and his
wife was the daughter of a clergyman named Bayley. Mr. Jones,
as we shall now call him, added some comforts to the room
provided for him in the Hoggins' house, and remained there
nearly two years —

" The world forgetting, by the world forgot,"

During this time he often went away — which he was obliged to
do, in the first instance, on business regarding his divorce, and at
other times to draw his money ; but no one guessed his identity,
and he had no communication with his relations, who thought
he was abroad. The good people at Bolas at first rather fought
shy of him; finding he had always plenty of money at his
command and no ostensible means of support, they imagined he
must be a highwayman, which would account for his periodical
mysterious disappearances. These doubts may possibly have
influenced a beautiful young girl of the name of Taylor, to whom
he proposed, and who refused him on the grounds that she was
already engaged to a Mr. Masefield, whom she did ultimately
marry, and lived and died at Wolverhampton. Nothing daunted
by his rejection, he now turned his thoughts on the daughter of
Hoggins with whom he boarded. Sarah Hoggins did not turn
a deaf ear to the suit of the mysterious lodger, whose tall and
striking figure had already won her admiration ; and on April 13,
1790, they were married by license at Bolas by the Rev. Cresswell
Tayleur, she being not quite seventeen and he thirty-six years of


" The Peasant Peeress "

age at the time. In the parish register he is inscribed as "John
Jones, bachelor." The witnesses were Sarah Adams and John
Picken, Sarah's uncle, who gave her away. It is to be hoped that
Mr. Cecil had not waded through the long paper he was obliged
to sign at Wellington before he could procure the license, which
stated that his name was John Jones, and that he was a yeoman and
a bachelor ! After the marriage he took his wife to a small house,
which he had built for himself on a piece of waste land near
Hodnet, and there they lived for about two years, during which
time he had her education completed. " Mr. Jones," as he was
now called, played the violin, burned wax candles, and used
plate, all of which showed he was something above the common
(Bolas !) ; and it is probable that Mr. Tayleur, the parson, with
whom he became very intimate, knew that he was a gentleman,
and for this reason asked him to be godfather to one of his chil-
dren. Possibly it was owing to the representation of the Rev.
Mr. Tayleur that "Mr. Jones" went through the ceremony of
marriage a second time with Sarah Hoggins on October 3, 1791.
Certainly it appears doubtful if the first was strictly legal, and
at the second, which took place at St. Mildred's Church, Bread
Street, London, the bridegroom gave his real name. This does
not preclude the idea that Sarah was still kept in ignorance of
her husband's status, as the name would convey nothing to
her rustic mind, and they returned to Hodnet, still as Mr. and
Mrs. John Jones, for which no doubt he gave her some good

On December 27, 1793, Mr. Cecil was informed that his
uncle was dead, and that consequently he had succeeded to the
Earldom of Exeter and was the owner of Burleigh, one of the
most magnificent places in the kingdom. Soon after he started
off with his young wife, and, judging by his past life at Hodnet,


K. (XisWAY, K.A., /"IllA

Sahah, Mahchionhss ()1 - I-.xkthk.
(' The Peasant Peeress.')

" The Peasant Peeress "

we may still cling to the belief that the journey was performed
in the romantic manner described by the poets/ and that not
until they arrived close up to the walls of Burleigh did the
new Lord Exeter disclose his identity to his gentle helpmeet,
or tell her that the splendid pile which met her astonished
gaze was to be her future home !

The rest of the Laureate's story must be relegated to the
limbo of fiction. The " Peasant Peeress " lived very happily
in her new station, and Lord Exeter continued to keep up
close relations with her people and his old friends at Hodnet.
He gave his little house on Bolas Common to his Tayleur
godchild, and one of his first acts after succeeding to the
earldom was to settle ^^'700 a year upon his wife's father,
and he also assisted her brothers to take up good positions
in the world. William Hoggins, the eldest, became a Captain
in the 92nd Regiment, but was unfortunately drowned in the
Aurora on the Goodwins in 1805. Thomas Hoggins was
Captain in the 89th Regiment, and James became the Rector
of Eltham and survived till 1805,

Her ladyship was anything but " drooping " and " fading," ^
being of a strong and robust temperament, and her premature
death at the early age of twenty-three was from natural causes,
fever attacking her eighteen days after the birth of her youngest
son, Lord Thomas Cecil. As " Mrs. John Jones " she had
had two children born at Bolas, a son Henry, who died an
infant, and a daughter Sophia, born in 1792, who married
in 1818 the Hon. Henry Manners Pierrepont of Conholt
Park, Hants, whose only child and heir married Lord Charles

1 Tennyson's " Lord Burleigh," and Thomas Moore's ballad, " You remember,
Ellen." Hazlitt also wrote on the subject.

* The miniature of her by Cosway is very pretty. Sir Thomas Lawrence also
painted her in a group, which picture is at Burleigh House.

145 K

" The Peasant Peeress "

Wellesley, brother of the Iron Duke and father of the
present fourth Duke of Wellington. After her accession to
the peerage Lady Exeter had two sons, Brownlow Cecil,
who succeeded his father as second Marquess of Exeter, and
the above-mentioned Lord Thomas Cecil, who married Lady
Sophia Lennox, daughter of the fourth Duke of Richmond,
which lady died in 1902, aged ninety-two. Lord Thomas,
as the writer remembers him, was a particularly aristocratic-
looking man, tall and very slight. He left no descendants.

Three years after the death of Sarah, Lady Exeter, Lord
Exeter married again, his third wife being Elizabeth, Dowager-
Duchess of Hamilton, the daughter-in-law of Elizabeth Gun-
ning, Duchess of Hamilton and Argyll. Lord Exeter died
in 1 804, leaving to her care — which proved a wise step — the
three children of the " Peasant Peeress."




" The young, the sweet, the good, the brave Griseld."

Joanna Baillie.

It is somewhat remarkable that two very young Scotch girls
of high degree, both bearing the same Christian name, born
within two years of each other, and the children of two great
friends, should have given such splendid instances of filial
devotion and courage as did respectively the daughters of
Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth and Sir John Cochrane of
Ochiltree,^ N.B.

Commencing with Grizel "' Hume, she was one of eighteen
children, and was born at Redbraes Castle, N.B., on December
25, 1665. At this time the Scottish nation was suffering
much persecution on account of their conscientious scruples
respecting the existing forms of Church and State, and Sir
Patrick Hume, who was a strict Presbyterian, took a decided
part against the tyrannical administration of the Duke of
Lauderdale. For his opposition to the measures of the Govern-
ment he was imprisoned for four years, being ultimately
liberated by order of King Charles 11. This did not stop
Sir Patrick from continuing to engage in schemes with the

* A further coincidence is that both these Grizels lie buried within a few
miles of each other.

* Also spelt Grisell.

Two Brave Grizels

ultra-Protestant party to, at all events, prevent the Duke
of York's accession to the throne in the event of the King's
death, and shortly after his liberation he went to London
with Robert Baillie of Jerviswood,^ his Fidus Achates, and
Sir John Cochrane to concert an insurrection with Monmouth,
Sydney Lord Shaftesbury, and Lord Russell, the latter being
his relation. At this same time there was another plot going
on with which these patriots had no connection, and which, it
was said, had the object of assassinating King Charles on his
way back from Newmarket at a place called the Rye-House,
belonging to one of the conspirators, Richard Rumbold, a
fanatical republican. On the discovery of the Rye-House
Plot, Baillie of Jerviswood as well as several other Scotch
gentlemen were included in those arrested, and were sent to
Scotland to be tried. The promise of a pardon was held
out to him on condition of his giving the Government some
information. To this suggestion he replied, "They who can
make such a proposal to me, neither know me nor my country."
He was in consequence fined ;{^5000 and sent back to prison.
His friend, Sir Patrick Hume, was now most anxious to com-
municate with him concerning something of the greatest
importance ; but all available means failed, and he was in
despair. An idea then struck him that his clever and earnest
little daughter Grizel, who was still a child, might some-
how be able to manage to obtain admittance into the prison
unsuspected and slip a letter into Mr. Baillie's hand, and
this she actually did accomplish, going to Edinburgh by her-
self, and moreover she brought back useful intelligence.

Some time after this Sir Patrick had a narrow escape; a

^ Robert Baillie was great-grandson of John Knox, through the marriage of
his grandfather with one of the Reformer's daughters.


Robert Baillie of Jerviswood.

From " The Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen " (Blackie &f Son).

Two Brave Grizels

party of guards sent to arrest him stopped at the house of
a friend of the Government for refreshment, and there made
mquiries concerning the shortest way to Polwarth. The lady
of the house, who secretly favoured the Presbyterians, saw the
danger that threatened Sir Patrick and determined to warn him,
but she dared not write or send him any verbal message. She
therefore wrapt up a feather in a piece of paper and sent it over
the hills by a boy, whilst she detained the military party as long
as she could, entertaining them so royally that they were in no
hurry to depart. Sir Patrick on receiving the token at once
understood it was a hint to him to fly ; but instead of flying, he
settled in the first instance to burrow, until he could safely
escape abroad. Accordingly, without telling a soul except his
wife and Grizel and his carpenter, he established himself under-
ground in the family vault in Polwarth churchyard, a mile
from his house. The soldiers arrived and had a fruitless
search. After their departure the carpenter carried a bed and
bed-clothes during the night to the vault, and Sir Patrick
remained concealed a month in this dreary retreat, whilst the
search for him was continued in every direction. Grizel Hume,
Sir Patrick's daughter, had at this time a terror of the church-
yard at night, having been told by her old nurse so many bogey
stories of ghosts and apparitions ; but great love for her father
enabled her to overcome her fears, and every night at twelve
o'clock, no matter what the weather was, this courageous young
giri started ofi^ by herself, as Bishop Burnet says, " with a caution
above her years and a courage above her sex," carrying food and
drink for Sir Patrick, walking a mile on a lonely road, and
with very little light for fear of attracting attention.' She

1 The very small and exceeding rough lantern which she carried is now in the
Antiquarian Museum, Edinburgh,


Two Brave Grizels

always remained with her father in his gruesome resting-place,

surrounded by the coffins of his ancestors, until just before

daybreak, when she hastened back for fear of her absence being

discovered. The minister's house was near the church, and the

first night Grizel went to the vault the dog of the Manse

barked so furiously that she thought every moment some one

would come out and discover her. On discussing this difficulty

next morning with her mother. Lady Hume thought of the

following expedient. She sent for the minister, and under the

pretence that there was a mad dog in the neighbourhood, got

him to shoot his. After this Grizel went quietly to her father

every night.

" Thus night succeeding night her love
Did its unwearied nature prove."

They were both even able to be cheerful in this dismal abode,
and often laughed heartily. There vv^as great difficulty to get
food for Sir Patrick without rousing the suspicions of
the servants, whom they dared not confide in ; the only way
Grizel could manage was by taking it off her own plate at
dinner, and hiding it in her napkin. Her father was particu-
larly fond of that typical Scotch dish, sheep's head, and one
day, when this appeared for dinner, while the other children
were eating their broth, she had managed to convey the most
of one into her lap. Presently her brother Sandy looked up
with astonishment and said, " Mother, will ye look at Grizel ;
while we have been eating our broth, she has eat up the whole
sheep's head ! " Poor Grizel, whom her brother thought so
greedy, in reality scarcely ate any dinner during this month,
picking up what she could at other times, so that the deficiency
at the dinner-table might not be noticed.

It was too dark in the vault to read, but Sir Patrick


Two Brave Grizels

occupied himself in the daytime by repeating Buchanan's
Psalms/ which he knew by heart from beginning to end. At
the expiration of a month he thought he could not stand his
gloomy habitation any longer, more especially as, winter ap-
proaching, the cold would be too great ; so accordingly Lady
Hume and Grizel began to arrange a fresh hiding-place in his
own house of Redbraes. Grizel and the faithful carpenter set to
work every night to excavate the earth beneath the boards of
a room on the ground-floor. They scratched the soil up with
their hands so as not to make any noise, and Grizel worked so
hard that she had not a nail left upon any of her fingers. The
earth as they dug it up was placed by them in a sheet which
the man carried out on his back and emptied in the garden.
All this was a very arduous task, and rendered more so by the
necessity of absolute quietness ; but at last it was finished, and
the carpenter brought at night a large box which he had
constructed at his own house, and which was then fitted into the
excavation, and Sir Patrick's bed put into the box. Finally the
floor was replaced over the box with holes bored in it for air.
Grizel Hume, in her account of this affair, says that when the
arrangement was completed, she was so delighted that she felt
" the most happy creature alive." Sir Patrick then ventured
home in the dark, and lived there for two or three weeks, shut up
in this box during the day, and joining his wife and daughter at
night. But Grizel's satisfaction was doomed to disappointment.
One day when she lifted up the boards the bed bounced up to
the top, the box being full of water! In her life, she said,
she had never been "so struck" and had "near dropped
down." Her father then decided that he must somehow try to

• Psalmorum Davidis Poeiica, Georgii Buchanani, Glasguce. Robert!
Urie, 1750.

Two Brave Grizels

escape abroad ; this resolution being confirmed by hearing that

his dear friend, Baillie of Jerviswood, had been executed in

Edinburgh. Lady Hume and Grizel at once set to work to

make him a suit of clothes that would disguise him, and he left

home in two days ; only just in time, for a party of soldiers

came in search of him a few hours after his departure, and they

actually met his servant who was accompanying him, but who

purposely started on a different road. Sir John managed to get

to London through by-ways, passing as a surgeon and calling

himself " Dr. Wallace." He knew how to bleed, and carried

lancets with him. From London he went via France to

Flanders and Brabant, where he spent some weeks, and then to

Brussels to see the Duke of Monmouth ; but not finding him

there proceeded to The Hague, where he was received with great

respect by William, Prince of Orange. Soon after his arrival

the news came of the death of King Charles II., in consequence

of which fresh deliberations took place at The Hague as to the

course his party should take. The result was two military

expeditions ; one to England headed by Monmouth, and one to

Scotland headed by the Earl of Argyll. These ill-concerted

enterprises were complete failures, and both leaders lost their

heads. Sir Patrick Hume, who was second in command under

the Earl of Argyll, managed to escape, and concealed himself

for many weeks in the houses of friends. A large reward was

offered for his apprehension ; but a report of his death being

spread the search was relaxed, and he effected his escape in a

vessel from the west coast, going first to Ireland and then to

Bordeaux. Here he remained some months, and there are

several letters existing which he wrote to his wife and mother

from that town. The letters to his wife are curiously formal in

their commencement and ending considering the ardent expres-


Two Brave Grizels

sions of love contained in the body of the letters. For instance,
one which begins "Madam" and is finished "Your perpetually
obliged and faithful servant," says, "I was never more in love
with you, for absence, I can witness, encreases that passion : I
wish you all happiness and so much Constance as may in time
make me as happy as your good will can doe, which is the
sweetest wish I can conceive."

Sir Patrick still kept to his name of Dr. Peter Wallace, and
tried to make a living by his slight knowledge of surgery ; but
he writes, " the chirurgeons are too throng (sic) for me to gain
much in this place."

He ultimately moved to Geneva and from thence to Holland,
where he settled at Utrecht, and sent for his wife and ten
children. Sir Patrick's estates having been forfeited, they were
without any permanent means of support ; so Lady Hume and
Grizel went by sea to London to solicit the King for an allow-
ance for themselves and the children. They remained in London
some time and were much helped by kind friends and relations,
including the families of Lord Russell and Lord Wharton, but
all she could obtain was about £1^*^ a year. When they
returned to Scotland they found one of the children so ill that
she could not go with them to Holland, and again we find the
wonderful energy and resource of the brave Grizel coming to
the fore. Having gone over with the rest of the family to
Holland, she returned to Scotland by herself to fetch her sick
sister. They had a terrible voyage to Brill, and from there they
set out on foot for Rotterdam on a cold, wet, dirty night ; the
sick child, who could not walk very well, soon lost her shoes in
the mud, and Grizel carried her the rest of the way on her back.
A gentleman whom they had met on the ship, and who was also
a refugee, took their baggage for them, which included a " clog-


Two Brave Grizels

bag " of books which Grizel was taking for her father. At
Rotterdam they were met by Sir Patrick and their eldest brother,
who conveyed them on to Utrecht, where the family were settled.
Here they lived for three years and a half, during which time
"Dr. Wallace" never stirred out for fear of being discovered,
though he saw many friends at home. His house was always full
of unfortunate exiles ; they seldom dined without three or four
friends joining them, and Grizel used to say in after years she
thought it little less than a miracle how father and mother and
their ten children lived and entertained their friends on their small
pittance. The professors and men of learning in Utrecht came
often to see " Dr. Wallace," and they were always given a glass
of " Allerbest " beer. Altogether at this time they led a happy,
contented life, and their spirits were never affected by little
reverses. Sometimes their small remittances from Scotland were
delayed ; then they put the little plate they had with them in the
" Lamber," i.e. pawnshop, till the ships arrived. It was the
custom at Utrecht to collect money for the poor from house to
house, a bell being rung to warn people to get their coin ready.
One night the bell was heard, but there was no money in the
house excepting one " orkey " or "doit," the smallest of all
coins. Every one was so ashamed that no one would go to the
door to give it, till at last Sir Patrick said, " Well, then, I'll go
with it ; we can do no more than give all we have." They
could not afford to keep any regular servant, and only had a
little girl to wash the dishes. Grizel did most of the work ;
went to market, cleaned the house, cooked the dinner, mended
the children's clothes. When she had a moment to spare
she had a lesson in French and Dutch and amused herself with
music, Sir Patrick having bought a " rucar " or harpsichord.
Amongst their exiled friends with confiscated estates was young


Two Brave Grizels

George Baillie of Jerviswood, the son of Sir Patrick's dear friend,
who had been executed. He was in prison with his father
when Grizel Hume went as a very young girl, almost a child, to
give him her father's letter, and from that time dated a friend-
ship which soon ripened into the warmest love. They saw a
great deal of each other at Utrecht, but as neither of them had
a farthing no actual engagement could take place ; but her
parents had such a high sense of his honour that they trusted
her to go about everywhere with him. Grizel at this time
had two offers of marriage from men of fortune and character,
neighbours of their former home in Scotland, but she rejected
both. They continued her friends to the day of their death,
and often said to her she had made a better choice. At last
the Revolution brought a great change in their fortunes. When
the Prince of Orange went over to England he took with him
Sir Patrick Hume and his son, as well as George Baillie; and
when all was settled in England, Lady Hume and Grizel went
over with the Princess, the younger Hume children being sent
to Scotland. Grizel was now offered the post of Maid-of-
honour to Queen Mary, but declined it. Sir Patrick's forfeiture
was rescinded, and he was put in possession of his estate, and
honours were thickly showered on him. He was first created
a peer of Scotland by the title of Lord Polwarth, and later on
Earl of Marchmont. He was made High Chancellor of Scotland,

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Online LibraryConstance Charlotte Elisa Lennox RussellThe rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance → online text (page 12 of 22)