THOMAS CREEVEY ON LADY DARLINGTON

From The Creevey Papers

Raby Castle

(Written while at) Raby Castle [Earl of Darlington’s], Feb. 16th, 1825.

“. . . This house is itself by far the most magnificent and unique in several ways that I have ever seen. Then what are we to say of its being presided over by a poplolly! A magnificent woman, dressed to perfection, without a vestige of her former habits — in short, in manners as produceable a countess as the best blood could give you. … As long as I have heard of anything, I have heard of being driven into the hall of this house in one’s carriage, and being set down by the fire. You can have no idea of the magnificent perfection with which this is accomplished. Then the band of musick which plays in this same hall during dinner! then the gold plate!! and then— the poplolly at the head of all!!!'”

Note: The 3rd Earl of Darlington was created Duke of Cleveland in 1833. By his second wife, alluded to above, who died in 1861, he had no children.

Poplolly – From the French poupelet, meaning literally “little darling.” In Creevey’s time, a derogatory term, often used when referring to kept women or mistresses.

Creevey (Lord love him) continues to accept Lady Darlington’s hospitality whilst sneering at her behind her back –

Raby, 20th Feby. (1825)

“. . . My lady [Darlington] drove me about and shewed me many lions I had not seen before. I am compelled to admit that, in the familiarity of a duet and outing, the cloven foot appeared. I don’t mean more than that tendency to slang, which I conceive it impossible for any person who has been long in the ranks entirely to get overt. To be sure when I gaze at these three young women,* and at this brazen-faced Pop who is placed over them, and shews that she is so, the whole transaction — I mean the marriage, appears to me the wickedest thing I ever heard of; for altho’ these young ladies appear to be gifted with no great talents, and altho’ they have all more or less of the quality squall, yet their manners are particularly correct and modest. . . .”

*Lord Darlington’s daughters by previous marriage


By June 6th, 1825, Creevey is writing ” . . . Our dinner at Bruffman’s yesterday was damnable in cookery, comfort, and everything else, tho’ the dear Countess of Darlington was there, better dressed and looking better than any countess in London . . . .”

Duchess of Cleveland, Elizabeth Russell, attributed to Domenico Pellegrini

Five months on, it appears as though Lady Darlington has finally, and completely, won Creevey over. He writes –

Nov. 3, (1825) Newton House [Earl of Darlington’s hunting box, Yorkshire].

“. . Nothing on earth can be more natural and comfortable than we all are here. The size of the house, as well as of the party, makes it more of a domestic concern than it is at Raby, and both he and she shine excessively in this point of view. As for her [Lady Darlington] I consider her a miracle. To see a ‘ bould face ‘ turn into a countess, living in this beautiful house of her own, and never to shew the slightest sign of being set up, is so unlike all others of the kind I have seen, that she must be a very sensible woman. Then she is so clean, and she is looking so beautiful at present. . . .”

So, what did Creevey have against Lady Darlington? William Henry Vane, 3rd Earl of Darlington, 1st Duke of Cleveland (1766-1842) married his cousin, Lady Catherine Powlett (1766–1807), a daughter of the 6th Duke of Bolton.

The Duke’s (although he was at the time just the 5th Baron Barnard and 3rd Earl of Darlington, and no more – he became Marquis of Cleveland in 1827, and Duke of Cleveland in 1833) second marriage, to Elizabeth Russell, took place on 27th July 1813 at William Harry’s London residence at 31 St James Square, by ‘special licence’, about six years after the death of his first wife Katherine. It’s difficult to determine how long the Duke had known Elizabeth before their marriage – or how well.

In any case, his marriage to Elizabeth ‘outraged polite society,’ it is recorded (even in Burke’s Peerage). Quite probably, it outraged Catherine Powlett’s mother the most – said mother being the last Duchess of Bolton, also named Katherine Powlett (though née Lowther) – and, worse, she was sister to the Duke’s own mother – thus both his mother-in-law and his aunt. That she was dead set against the Duke’s second marriage to Elizabeth becomes obvious when we learn that all seven surviving children from Catherine & William’s marriage changed their surnames in 1813, to Powlett (or Vane Powlett) on the express instructions of the Duchess of Bolton’s Will.

So – what did so many have against the second Lady Darlington? Elizabeth Russell was a market gardener’s daughter – he being Robert Russell of (the above mentioned) Newton House in Burmiston (also written Burnestone, now Burneston), in the county of North Yorkshire. Her father’s unexalted station in life was one thing, but Elizabeth’s own reputation was quite another – she’d made a ‘name’ for herself by being the mistress of Thomas Coutts, the banker whose name is still remembered as the famous bankers for the Royal Family in the Strand, London.

As Creevey’s pen attests, Lady Darlington obviously had a winning personality, which in no way affected the advancement of her husband through the peerage. The 3rd Earl was created Marquess of Cleveland in 1827 and Duke of Cleveland in 1833. These titles, and the Earldom of Darlington, became extinct on the death of the 4th Duke (and 6th Earl) in 1891. The barony of Barnard remains extant.

You can visit the Raby Castle website here.

THE CREEVEY PAPERS

Thomas Creevey

I am a firm believer in using primary sources when doing research, my personal favorite resource being diaries and letters of the day. Prince Puckler Muskau, Princess Lieven, Horace Walpole, Lady Shelley, etc., etc., etc. all have a place on my shelf and I re-read them frequently. As we’ll be running a few posts using various amusing passages from these letters, I thought that an introduction to both Creevey and his Papers were in order, had you not met them before.

Thomas Creevey was born in Liverpool in 1768, the son of a merchant sea captain who transported slaves. It has been suggested, though never proven, that Creevey was  natural son of Lord Molyneux, later first Earl of Sefton. He studied at Queens’ College, Cambridge, and then trained as a lawyer. In 1802, Creevey met and married Eleanor Ord, daughter of Charles Brandling, MP, widow of William Ord, who had six children and a private income – very handy for a man who never earned much on his own. The couple, by all accounts, were very happily married, with Creevey regarding all the Ord children as his own. Also in 1802, thanks to his uncle, Creevey became a Whig MP in the House of Commons. In 1806, the Prime Minister, Lord Grenville, appointed Creevey as Secretary to the Board of Control, but he lost the job when Grenville resigned the following year. After unsuccessfully fighting against the development of the railways, and supporting Lord Grey and his plans for Parliamentary reform, Creevey lost his seat, as a result of those reforms. Grey made him Treasurer of the Ordnance in 1830, and then Lord Melbourne made him treasurer of Greenwich Hospital. From 1818 on, after his wife died, Creevey was a rather poor man, although he remained popular. He is mostly remembered because his writings, including intermittent diary extracts, were published in 1903, under the title of ‘The Creevey Papers’. The book is considered important because of Creevey’s gossipy, almost Pepysian, insights into many of the main characters of the period.

From the Greville Memoirs

February 20th. (1838)—I made no allusion to the death of Creevey at the time it took place, about a fortnight ago, having said something about him elsewhere. Since that period he had got into a more settled way of life. He was appointed to one of the Ordnance offices by Lord Grey, and subsequently by Lord Melbourne to the Treasurer ship of Greenwich Hospital, with a salary of 600l. a year and a house. As he died very suddenly, and none of his connexions were at hand, Lord Sefton sent to his lodgings and (in conjunction with Vizard, the solicitor) caused all his papers to be sealed up. It was found that he had left a woman who had lived with him for four years as his mistress, his sole executrix and residuary legatee, and she accordingly became entitled to all his personalty (the value of which was very small, not more than 300/ or 400l.) and to all the papers which he left behind him. These last are exceedingly valuable, for he had kept a copious diary for thirty-six years, had preserved all his own and Mrs. Creevey’s letters, and copies or originals of a vast miscellaneous correspondence. The only person who is acquainted with the contents of these papers is his daughter-in-law, whom he had frequently employed to copy papers for him, and she knows how much there is of delicate and interesting matter, the publication of which would be painful and embarrassing to many people now alive, and make very inconvenient and premature revelations upon private and confidential matters. … Then there is Creevey’s own correspondence with various people, especially with Brougham, which evidently contains things Brougham is anxious to suppress, for he has taken pains to prevent the papers from falling into the hands of any person likely to publish them, and has urged Vizard to get possession of them either by persuasion, or purchase, or both. In point of fact they are now in Vizard’s hands, and it is intended by him and Brougham, probably with the concurrence of others, to buy them of Creevey’s mistress, though who is to become the owner of the documents, or what the stipulated price, and what their contemplated destination, I do not know. The most extraordinary part of the affair is, that the woman has behaved with the utmost delicacy and propriety, has shown no mercenary disposition, but expressed her desire to be guided by the wishes and opinions of Creevey’s friends and connexions, and to concur in whatever measures may be thought best by them with reference to the character of Creevey, and the interests and feelings of those who might be affected by the conents of the papers. Here is a strange situation in which to find a rectitude of conduct, a moral sentiment, a grateful and disinterested liberality which would do honour to the highest birth, the most careful cultivation, and the strictest principle. It would be a hundred to one against any individual in the ordinary rank of society and of average good character acting with such entire absence of selfishness, and I cannot help being struck with the contrast between the motives and disposition of those who want to get hold of these papers, and of this poor woman who is ready to give them up. They, well knowing that, in the present thirst for the sort of information Creevey’s journals and correspondence contain, a very large sum might be obtained for them, are endeavouring to drive the best bargain they can with her for their own particular ends, while she puts her whole confidence in them, and only wants to do what they tell her she ought to do under the circumstances of the case.

More of Thomas Creevey soon!

Early Rumblings of a Regency From the Pens of Creevey, General and Captain Moore



Thomas Creevey

 Mr. Creevey to Dr. Currie.

22nd Aug., 1803.

“… I saw a great deal of Sheridan. We dined together several times, got a little bosky, and he took great pains to convince me he was sincere and confidential with me. … A plan of his relates to Ireland, and it is the substitution of a Council for the present Viceroy, the head of the Council to be the Prince of Wales, his assistants to be Lord Moira, Lord Hutchinson and Sheridan himself. The Prince is quite heated upon the subject; nothing else is discussed by them. Lord Hutchinson is as deep in the design as any of them, but God knows it is about as probable as the embassy of old Charley to Russia I believe Sherry is very much in the confidence of the Ministers. They have convinced him of the difficulty of pressing the King for any attentions to the Prince of Wales; he is quite set against him, and holds entirely to the Duke of York, who, on the other hand, is most odious to the Ministry. . . . Have you begun your visits to Knowsley yet? . . . If you see Mrs. Hornby, cultivate her. She is an excellent creature; her husband, the rector, is the most tiresome, prosy son of a —— I ever met with, but is worthy. . . .”



General Sir John Moore


General Sir John Moore to Mr. Creevey.

Sandgate, 15th Sept., 1803.

“. . . The newspapers have disposed of me and my troops at Lisbon and Cherbourgh, but we believe that we have not moved from this place. I begun to despair of seeing you here, and am quite happy to find that, at last, I am to have that pleasure. If the Miss Ords do not think they can trust to the Camp for beaux, or if they have any in attendance whose curiosity to see soldiers they may chuse to indulge, assure them that whoever accompanies them shall be cordially received by everybody here. . . .”

 

Capt. Graham Moore

Capt. Graham Moore, R.N., to Mr. Creevey.

“Plymouth, August 7th, 1803. “… I never had to do with a new ship’s company before made up of Falstaffs men—’decayed tapsters,’ etc., so I do not bear that very well and I get no seamen but those who enter here at Plymouth, which are very few indeed. The Admiralty will not let me have any who enter for the ship at any of the other ports, which cuts up my hopes of a tolerable ship’s company. … I hear sometimes from my brother Jack. He says they have had a review of his whole Corps before the Duke of York. . . . My mother was more delighted with the scene than any boy or girl of fifteen. N.B.—she is near 70. . . . She is an excellent mother of a soldier. I am not afraid of showing her to Mrs. Creevey, altho’ she is of a very different cast from what she has generally lived with. If Mrs. Creevey does not like her, I shall never feel how the devil she came to like me.

“Jack says his Corps are not at all what he would have them, yet that they will beat any of the French whom he leads them up to. I am convinced the French can make no progress in England, and do not believe now that they will attempt it; but how is all this to end? However that may be, as I am in for it, I wish to God I was tolerably ready, and scouring the seas. What the devil can Fox mean by his palaver about a military command for the Prince of Wales? That may come well enough from Mrs. Barham perhaps.”

Capt. Graham Moore, R.N., to Mr. Creevey.

Plymouth Dock, Feby. 1st, 1804.

“… I suppose you mean to join the set that prepare to worry the poor Doctor (Addington) when Parliament meets. What can he do? He seems, or we seem, to do as well as Bonoparte—fretting and fuming and playing off his tricks from Calais to Boulogne and back again. The fellow has done too much for a mere hum; he certainly will try something, and I hope to be in at the death of some of his expeditions. If they do not take my men, we shall soon be ready for sea again. New copper, my boy! we shall sail like the wind. . . .”

Mr. Creevey to Dr. Currie.

“2nd May, 1804.

“. . . It is felt by the Pittites that the Prince and a Regency must be resorted to, and as the Prince evinced on every occasion the strongest decision in favor of Fox, the Pittites are preparing for a reciprocity of good offices. God send we may have a Regency, and then the cards are in our hands. I wish you had seen the party of which I formed one in the Park just now. Lord Buckingham, his son Temple, Ld. Derby, Charles Grey, Ld. Fitzwilliam, Canning, Ld. Morpeth  and Ld. Stafford. . . . The four physicians were at Buckingham House this morning: I feel certain he (the King) is devilish bad.”

But, as we know, the Regency did not begin for another seven years.  We will post a number of excerpts from the many diarists and prolific letter writers of the Regency era in future blogs.  Watch for more from Mr. Creevey, his friends, his enemies and those who never had the privilege to be either.

THE WELLINGTON CONNECTION: CREEVEY AND WATERLOO

The following is diarist Thomas Creevey’s account of his meeting with the Duke of Wellington after the Battle of Waterloo originally published in The Creevey Papers (1909):

“About eleven o’clock, upon going out again, I heard a report that the Duke (of Wellington) was in Bruxelles; and I went from curiosity to see whether there was any appearance of him or any of his staff at his residence in the Park. As I approached, I saw people collected in the street about the house; and when I got amongst them, the first thing I saw was the Duke upstairs alone at his window. Upon his recognising me, he immediately beckoned to me with his finger to come up.*

Arthur Blundell Sandys Trumbull Hill, 3rd Marquess of Downshire

“I met Lord Arthur Hill in the ante-room below, who, after shaking hands and congratulation, told me I could not go up to the Duke, as he was then occupied in writing his dispatch; but as I had been invited, I of course proceeded. The first thing I did, of course, was to put out my hand and congratulate him [the Duke] upon his victory. He made a variety of observations in his short, natural, blunt way, but with the greatest gravity all the time, and without the least approach to anything like triumph or joy. —’ It has been a damned serious business,’ he said. ‘Blucher and I have lost 30,000 men. It has been a damned nice thing—the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life. Blucher lost 14,000 on Friday night, and got so damnably licked I could not find him on Saturday morning; so I was obliged to fall back to keep up [regain ?] my communications with him.’

“Then, as he walked about, he praised greatly those Guards who kept the farm (meaning Hugomont) against the repeated attacks of the French; and then he praised all our troops, uttering repeated expressions of astonishment at our men’s courage. He repeated so often its being so nice a thing—so nearly run a thing, that I asked him if the French had fought better than he had ever seen them do before.—’ No,’ he said, ‘they have always fought the same since I first saw them at Vimeira.’ Then he said:—’By God! I don’t think it would have done if I had not been there.’

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington c.1815 by Sir Thomas Lawrence

“When I left the Duke, I went instantly home and wrote to England by the same courier who carried his dispatch. I sent the very conversation I have just related to Bennet.  I think, however, I omitted the Duke’s observation that he did not think the battle would have been won had he not been there, and I remember my reason for omitting this sentence. It did not seem fair to the Duke to state it without full explanation. There was nothing like vanity in the observation in the way he made it. I considered it only as meaning that the battle was so hardly and equally fought that nothing but confidence of our army in himself as their general could have brought them thro’. Now that seven years have elapsed since that battle, and tho’ the Duke has become—very foolishly, in my opinion—a politician, and has done many wrong and foolish things since that time, yet I think of his conversation and whole conduct on the l9th—the day after the battle—exactly the same as I did then: namely—that nothing could do a conqueror more honor than his gravity and seriousness at the loss of lives he had sustained, his admission of his great danger, and the justice he did his enemy.

“I may add that, before I left him, I asked whether he thought the French would be able to take the field again; and he said he thought certainly not, giving as his reason that every corps of France, but one, had been in the battle, and that the whole army had gone off in such perfect rout and confusion he thought it quite impossible for them to give battle again before the Allies reached Paris.”
* It may seem improbable that the Duke should have made himself so accessible to a mere civilian on such a momentous morning; but there is ample confirmation of Mr. Creevey’s narrative from the Duke’s own lips. In 1836 he described the circumstance to Lady Salisbury, who noted it in her journal  as follows:
“‘ I was called,’ said the Duke, ‘about 3 in the morning by Hume to go and see poor Gordon’ (in the same inn at Waterloo),’ but he was dead before I got there. Then I came back, had a cup of tea and some toast, wrote my dispatch, and then rode into Brussels. At the door of my own hotel I met Creevey: they had no certain accounts at Brussels, and he called out to me :—” What news?” I said :— “Why I think we’ve done for ’em this time.”
The dispatch was begun at Waterloo and finished at Brussels, evidence of which remains in the draft of the original now at Apsley House, which is headed first “Waterloo,” that is struck out and “Bruxelles ” substituted.

Thos. Creevey and Life at the Royal Pavilion – Part Three

 

Mrs. Fitzherbert
A Letter from Mrs. Creevey to Mr. Creevey in London.
“. . . Oh, this wicked Pavillion! we were there till past one this morng., and it has kept me in bed with the headache till 12 to-day. . . . The invitation did not come to us till 9 o’clock: we went in Lord Thurloe’s carriage but the Prince did not come out of the dining-room till 11. Till then our only companions were Lady Downshire and Mr. and Miss Johnstone—the former very goodnatured and amiable. . . . When the Prince appeared, I instantly saw he had got more wine than usual, and it was still more evident that the German Baron was extremely drunk. The Prince came up and were in fear of being too late; sat by me—introduced McMahon to me, and talked a great deal about Mrs. Fitzherbert—said she had been ‘delighted’ with my note, and wished much to see me. He asked her ‘When?’—and he said her answer was —’ Not till you are gone, and I can see her comfortably.’ I suppose this might be correct, for Mac told me he had been ‘worrying her to death’ all the morning.

 

“It appears to me I have found a true friend in Mac* He is even more foolish than I expected; but I shall be disappointed if, even to you, he does not profess himself my devoted admirer.
“Afterwards the Prince led all the party to the table where the maps lie, to see him shoot with an air-gun at a target placed at the end of the room. He did it very skilfully, and wanted all the ladies to attempt it. The girls and I excused ourselves on account of our short sight; but Lady Downshire hit a fiddler in the dining-room, Miss Johnstone a door and Bloomfield the ceiling. … I soon had enough of this, and retired to the fire with Mac … At last a waltz was played by the band, and the Prince offered to waltz with Miss Johnstone, but very quietly, and once round the table made him giddy, so of course it was proper for his partner to be giddy too; but he cruelly only thought of supporting himself, so she reclined on the Baron.”

Sunday, Nov. 3, 1805. “And so I amuse you by my histories. Well! I am glad of it, and it encourages me to go on; and yet I can tell you I could tire of such horrors as I have had the last 3 evenings. I nevertheless estimate them as you do, and am quite disposed to persevere. The second evening was the worst. We were in the diningroom (a comfortless place except for eating and drinking in), and sat in a circle round the fire, which (to indulge you with ‘detail’) was thus arranged. Mrs. F(itzherbert] in the chimney corner (but not knitting), next to her Lady Downshire—then Mrs. Creevey— then Geoff—then Dr. [erased]—then Savory—then Warner—then Day, vis-a-vis his mistress, and most of the time snoring like a pig and waking for nothing better than a glass of water, which he call’d for, hoping, I think, to be offered something better. . .
Last night was better; it was the same party only instead of Savory, a Col. or Major Watley [?] of the Gloster Militia, and the addition of Mrs. Morant, an old card-playing woman. . . . Mrs. Fitz shone last night very much in a sketch she gave me of the history of a very rich Russian woman of quality who is coming to Lord Berkeley’s house. She has been long in England, and is I suppose generally known in London, though new to me. She was a married woman with children, and of great consequence at the court of Petersburgh when Lord Whitworth was there some years ago. He was poor and handsome—she rich and in love with him, and tired of a very magnificent husband to whom she had been married at 14 years old. In short, she kept my Lord, and spent immense sums in doing so and gratifying his great extravagance. In the midst of all this he return’d to England, but they corresponded, and she left her husband and her country to come to him, expecting to marry him—got as far as Berlin, and there heard he was married to the Duchess of Dorset.
“She was raving mad for some time, and Mrs. F. describes her as being often nearly so now, but at other times most interesting, and most miserable. Her husband and children come to England to visit her, and Mrs. F. says she is an eternal subject of remorse to Lord Whitworth, whom she [Mrs. F] spoke of in warm terms as ‘a monster,’ and said she could tell me far more to make me think so. The story sometimes hit upon points that made her blush and check herself, which was to me not the least interesting part of it. . . . She laughed more last night than ever at the Johnstones—said he was a most vulgar man, but seem’d to give him credit for his good nature to his sister and his generosity. The Baron is preparing a phantasmagoria at the Pavillion, and she [Mrs. F] laughs at what he may do with Miss Johnstone in a dark room.”
* The Right Hon. John Macmahon, Private Secretary and Keeper of the Privy Purse to the Prince of Wales. Died in 1817.

Number One London’s 2019 Queen Victoria Tour will be visiting the Brighton Pavilion – find details here.