The preliminary work on the Timelines of the Regency Era has now been presented. 50 years of happenings, events, births and deaths of prominent figures. It is not over. There are probably a good thousand more events to be recorded. In fact, at this point only those details through 1802 have been added into the Timeline.
The rest takes a great deal of editing, as well as searching and placing the graphics. The first years of 1787 to 1801 can all be found at Regency Assembly Press’ Timeline page
There are a lot of pictures shown there. It will add to your visualization of the Regency. But now, what to include in my daily posts. For months now we have had something new every day, and by the number of hits we are not getting, there is a small following.
Soon we will have an Edwardian Timeline, but for now, Regency Personalities is something I have thought to start on.
Today, the next personality of our period, Lady Hester Stanhope (She had such great quotes about George IV and Caroline).
Lady Hester Lucy Stanhope
March 12 1776 to June 23 1839
Her prominence is from 1803 to 1806 when she served as Hostess for her uncle, William Pitt the Younger
She was the eldest child of the 3rd Earl of Stanhope, whose wife was sister to William Pitt the Younger, and in 1800 went to live with her grandmother, the Countess of Chatham, widow of the William Pitt the elder. So Lady Hester could be counted to have lived in the households of the highest political circles. Her grandmother, the countess, Hester Pitt, who our Lady Hester was obviously named after died in 1803 at the age of 82. Our Hester was then 27 and still unmarried. She was on the shelf in our regency terminology.
At this time, Pitt the Younger was Prime Minister and also unmarried. (Nothing scandalous here I believe though Lady Hester was accounted a great beauty) The Prime Minister needed a hostess and his niece had just finished doing duty to his mother. She did this task with great success and when Pitt was out of office, she served as his private secretary.
She was the initiator of the gardens at Walmer Castle while Pitt was Lord Ward of the Cinque Ports.
Upon his death the government awarded her £1200 a year. She first lived in Montagu Squar in London, then moved to Wales but left England for the second act of her life in 1810.
It is claimed that when she and her party (which included a man who became her lover) arrived in Athens, Lord Byron dived into the sea to greet her. En route to Cairo her ship encountered a storm and was shipwrecked on Rhodes. (Again, another classic heroic tale) All possessions gone, the party had to borrow Turkish clothes. Here Lady Hester wore male garb. And this was how she met the Pasha. (Again, classic heroine stuff here.) For the next two years she visited Gibraltar, Malta, the Ionian Islands, the Peloponnese, Athens, Constantinople, Rhodes, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.
Her entourage to visit Palmyra was so large (22 camels just for her luggage) she was greeted as Queen Hester.
In 1815, she was now a fixture of the middle east. A document came into her possession that said a great treasure was hidden in the ruins of the mosque in Ashkelon. She journeyed there, and the governor of Jaffa was ordered to accompany her. They did not find the three million gold coins she thought she would find. But they did find a seven foot headless marble statue. She ordered it to be smashed into a thousand pieces and thrown into the sea. Aside from the horrific destruction, this was considered the first modern archealogical excavation of the Holy Lands.
One should note that Lady Hester began her travels and continued them while the Napoleonic Wars were taking place.
Now the last act of her life was her settling permanently in the Middle East. She settled in Sidon, in now Lebanon. These last years she provided sanctuary to the Druze and the local emir, Bashir Shihab II who at first greeted her with courtesy turned against her. However she had such power that she had near absolute authority over the surrounding districts. Truly, ‘Queen Hester.’ Ibrahim Pasha had to consult with her when he was about to invade Syria in 1832.
This did change. She accumulated debt, and when the money ran out, she became a recluse. Her servants began to take off with her possessions when she could not pay them any longer. She would not receive visitors in the end until it was dark, and then they would only see her hands and face. She wore a turban over her shaven head.