Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|Mrs Lillington- a role model for Lady Russell?
Written by JulieW
(10/21/2008 5:19 a.m.)
I made this post in the last Letters Group Read, and I think the details are rather interesting, so, with your permission, I'm going to take this opportunity to re post it here( an also to correct my typing mistakes from the original which are too many for comfort!).
Mrs Lillingtons Legacy.
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.
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 quoted above ,because JA does not mention her to Cassandra as a new acquaintance.
We do not know exactly 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 also in Barbardos. Mrs L-P was also sent as a young child to live in north Lincolnshire with realtives, and she may also have had the opportunity to make Mrs Lillingston's acquaintance here , for in the late 1760s, Wilhelmina Dottin had married Luke Lillingston of North Ferriby, Yorkshire which is not far from the Cholmeley family's home in North Lincolnshire.
Poor Mrs Lillington's nearest relations seem to have made her the subject of much litigation, and much legal dispute seem to have taken place regarding her husbands will ; there may have been legal disputes arising from marriage settlements made in favour of her daughter and her husband. The exact nature of these claims is not known, but there still exists a letter from Mrs Lillington's 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 late husband's estate:
your Cause was heard yersterday & I am happy to add that 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 from Spleen and ill Humour, but he thought that as you had executed the deed of August 1797 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 your Conduct and the general opinion was that the Bill was 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, quite understandably, 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 a direction confirming 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's account of which makes for fascinating reading) and then set about disposing of her estate according to the instructions in the will.
Here are the details of Mrs Lillington Final Account
Paid £ S D
Brought forward £1434: 7: 1
£1589: 9: 7
Money in the House £154 16 0
£1285 :14 : 0
Paid by Miss Coulthurst 3 7 6
£1814: 7 :6
£224 :17: 11
£10 :18: 5 final Dividend form Sherlock&
Residue: £235: 16: 4
So- what did JA do with this welcome and very large lump sum of £50 which she received in late 1806 ? Remember that unlike Cassandra who had a little annual income from the £1000 left to her by Tom Fowle, JA relied totally on income from her parent or relations at this time.
Well, in this case we do know what happened for , luckily for us, there is still in existence JA's account of her expenditure for the year 1807 from her pocket book and the JAS published it:
Deirdre Le Faye who wrote about this little incident in Bath History Volume VII (1998) pp 92-106, has also speculated about Mrs Lillington and how she may have inspired part of Lady Russell's character in Persuasion:
When Jane started writing Persuasion on 8th August 1815 and set the scenes so firmly and factually in the Bath she remembered from nine years before, she cannot have failed to remember also Mrs Lillington- perhaps with a touch of remorse - this kind-hearted, rather dull old lady, living alone with her dog and her books in Rivers Street.
I find all this fascinating and rather tantalising, don’t you?
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.