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|Mrs Lillingtons Legacy.
Written by JulieW
(9/19/2007 9:19 a.m.)
We have had Mrs. Lillingstone and the Chamberlaynes to call on us. My mother was very much struck with the odd looks of the two latter; I have only seen her. Mrs. Busby drinks tea and plays at cribbage here to-morrow; and on Friday, I believe, we go to the Chamberlaynes'. Last night we walked by the Canal.
We met not a creature at Mrs. Lillingstone's, and yet were not so very stupid, as I expected, which I attribute to my wearing my new bonnet and being in good looks.
There are not many ,mentions of Mrs Lillingstone in these letters from Bath.
But she does merit our attention…..
She was in the Leigh Perrots circle of friends, and her story is,IMHO an interesting one, so If you will allow it I will tell you it and of her relationship with JA …;-)
When JA met her in 1801 she was 60 years old and was a widow, living at 10 Rivers Street in Bath where she lived alone save for her little dog Malore. She was attended by her faithful maid Molly Stowe , her man servant Francis Varley and a seeming endless succession of cooks.
I think both JA and Cassandra must have met Mrs Lillingston before the dates of these letters ,because JA does not mention her to Cassandra as a new acquaintance.
We do not know how Mrs Lillingston met the Leigh Perrots. Mrs Lillington was born Wilhelmina Johanna Dottin in 1741 in Barbados. This may have been the link between her and the Leigh Perrots, for Mrs L-P,was born Jane Cholmeley in Barbardos. Mrs L-P was also sent as a young child to live in north Lincolnshire with realtives, and she may also have made Mrs Lillingston's acquaintance here , for in the late 1760s, she had married Luke Lillingston of North Ferriby, Yorkshire which is not far form the Cholmeley family's home in North Lincolnshire.
Her nearest relations had made her the subject of much litigation , some action seem to have been regarding her husbands will and there may have been disputes arising from marriage settlements made in favour of her daughter and her husband .The exact natures of these claims is not known,: but there still exists a letter from her London lawyer, Mr Coulthurst ,of Bedford row who was happy to inform her that the Lord Chancellor had thrown out the case in chancery against her and her husbands estate:
your Cause was hear yersterday & I am happy to add thar the Chancellor has dismissed so much of the Bill as seeks to set aside the Release saying there was not the least Pretense for it, and that the Bill was filed form Spleen and ill Humour ,but he thought that as you had executed the deed of August 1797s which from the Purport of it might be so construed as to induce a Belief in the Husband that no debt was due from the daughter to you, the chancellor thought that you was not from the Words of the Deed intitled to call upon the plaintiffs for any money due at the time of the marriage- the Chancellor and everyone present were perfectly satisfied with the purity of you Conduct and the general opinion was that the Bill as a most unjust and unnatural one.
After all the trials her own family put her to, when she made her will on the 11th July 1804 she cut out her family completely.
She appointed Mr Leigh Perrot to be her chief executor and residuary legatee : and also made provision for her servants: Molly Stowe was to have £90, a wide seletion of the lesser valuable household effects and to take care of
my favourite Little dog Malore ,a faithful Companion though all my suffering.
Francis Varley was to have £220 plus all his bedroom furnishings plus Mrs Lillingston's old black mare "Sissy",
requesting that she shall never be Road worked or Shod but enjoy the same indulgences she has done the last eight years of her life
Mrs Lillington's library was a treasured possession and she had taken care to label each volume with direction as to the name of its final recipient under her will.
Now here we come to the interesting part of the story.She must have taken a shine to JA and Cassandra , for in her will she left them the then rather large sum of £50.each.
Mrs Lillington died on the 30th January 1806.
Mr Leigh Perrot organised her funeral( the undertaker account of which makes for fascinating reading) and then set about disposing of her estate as per the will.
Her are the details of Mrs Lillington final Account
Paid £ S D Proving the Will &c 44 3 6
Brought forward 1434 7 1
1589 9 7
Money in the House 154 16 0
1285 14 1285 14 0
1814 7 6
1814 7 6
224 17 11
10 18 5 final Dividend form Sherlock&
235 16 4
So- what did JA do with this welcome lump sum of £50 which she received in late 1806 ?Remember that unlike Cassandra who ahs a little income form Tom Fowle's last will, JA relied totally on income from her parent or relations at this time.
Well, in this case we do know what happened for there exists JA's account of her expenditure for the year 1807 form her pocket book:
Deirdre Le Faye who wrote about this little incident in Bath History Volume VII (1998) pp92-106, has also speculated about Mrs Lillington and Lady Russell in Persuasion:
When Jane started writing Persuasion on 8th August 1815 and set the scenes so firmly and factually in Bath she remembered form nine years before, she cannot have failed to remember also Mrs Lillington- perhaps with a touch of remorse - of this kind-hearted, rather dull old lady, living alone with her dog and her books in Rivers Street.
She must have remembered to how her uncle had sold the Rivers Street House to a Mr Russell; it is therefore probably no coincidence that Anne Elliot's mother-substitute is Lady Russell who lives in Rivers Strreet.
Jane sketched in Lady Russell as being "A woman rather of sound than of quick abilities…of strict integrity herself, with a delicate sense of humour…a benevolent , charitable, good woman and capable of strong attachments; most correct in her conduct , strict in her notions of decorum, and with manners that were held a standard of good-breeding. She had a cultivated mind and was generally speaking rational and consistent "even though she seemed to love Elizabeth ellioots-JW) rather because she would love her than because Elizabeth deserved it."
Later on the ungrateful Elizabeth tells her sister Anne
""Very well," said Elizabeth, "I have nothing to send but my love. Oh! you may as well take back that tiresome book she would lend me, and pretend I have read it through. I really cannot be plaguing myself for ever with all the new poems and states of the nation that come out. Lady Russell quite bores one with her new publications. You need not tell her so, but I thought her dress hideous the other night. I used to think she had some taste in dress, but I was ashamed of her at the concert. Something so formal and arrangé in her air! and she sits so upright! My best love, of course. …."
Does Lady Russell owe more to Mrs Lillington than just her address? In this character does Jane play a belated tribute to the benefactress unappreciated in past years?
I find all this fascinating and rather tantalising, don’t you?
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