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As news of the Earl of Bristol’s recovery reached London, Elizabeth saw the prospect of becoming the Countess of Bristol diminish, but not disappear. The marriage register in Lainston might still serve its purpose: George Hervey was chronically unwell, and despite having proposed to a host of women, he had the inexplicable bad luck to be turned down by every one of them. Unless he could find a wife, the bachelor earl would die without legitimate issue and the title would then fall to Augustus. For the time being, there was nothing for Elizabeth to do but wait and see what might happen. Like Viola in Twelfth Night, she could only say: “O Time, thou must untangle this, not I; / It is too hard a knot for me t’untie.”1 By the end of the decade, Augustus Hervey would force her into action with the threat of a parliamentary divorce, but as the 1760s began, Elizabeth could simply enjoy being the Duke of Kingston’s mistress and leave her marital quandary to fate.
KeywordsPrime Minister Rock Crystal Monetary Damage Legitimate Issue Marriage Register
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- 2.Claire Gervat, Elizabeth: The Scandalous Life of the Duchess of Kingston (London: Century, 2003), 63.Google Scholar
- 3.John Brown, An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times, 2 vols. (London: 1757), 158.Google Scholar
- 4.Count Frederick Kielmansegge, Diary of a Journey to England in the Years 1761–1762 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1902), 280.Google Scholar
- 8.Quoted in Carola Hicks, Improper Pursuits: The Scandalous Life of Lady Di Beauclerk (London: Macmillan, 2001), 63.Google Scholar
- 16.Quoted in Stone, Road to Divorce: England 1530–1987 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 337.Google Scholar