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|Letter 67. Lady Sondes.
Written by Rachel G
(8/18/2011 12:49 p.m.)
"Lady Sondes is an impudent woman to come back into her old neighbourhood again; I suppose she pretends never to have married before, and wonders how her father and mother came to have her christened Lady Sondes. "
This comment in Letter 67 made me curious to know more about Lady Sondes and to understand why JA calls her an "Impudent Woman", so I did a little digging:-
Born May 1767, only child and heiress of Richard Milles of Nackington, near Canterbury, Kent. Her father was the MP for Canterbury.
Here's Nackington House.
And here's her portrait by Gainsborough in 1786.
1785 Married Lewis Thomas Watson (born 1754), son of the 1st Baron Sondes of Lees Court, Badlesmere, Kent. On the death of his father, Lewis Watson became the 2nd Baron Sondes in 1795.
Here's a picture of Lees Court house.
Sondes family genealogy (Note changes of name - compare Edward Austen Knight, also Frank Churchill.)
A portrait of Lady Sondes by Reynolds in the early years of her marriage is linked at the foot of this post.
Lady Sondes bore her husband four sons and two daughters. She was widowed in 1806.
In 1809 Lady Sondes was married again, this time to General Sir Henry-Tucker Montresor KCB of Nash Court, Boughton-under-Blean, Kent, when both parties were aged about 42. This marriage produced no children.
Here's an engraving of Nash Court,
The former Lady Sondes died in 1818. In 1822 General Montresor married Annetta Cage, who's family were related by marriage to the Bridges and Austen-Knight families.
Well the pictures are all very nice, and I thought you might like to see them, but how do we explain JA's odd comment about Lady Sondes' second marriage?
Lees Court, Nash Court and Godmersham are all located between Faversham and Canterbury in Kent, no more than four or five miles apart, which explains "come back into her old neighbourhood". It seems probable that the families knew each other and that Lady Sondes had a pretty good idea what she was getting with her second marriage. But why does JA call her "impudent"? I think JA has her tongue in her cheek here, but is this a reference to the general prejudice about remarriage (think of Lady Russell in Persuasion), or could it refer to the former Lady Sondes' behaviour as a 42 year old bride marrying a near neighbour?
I cannot make it out. Any thoughts?
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