Sunday, January 2, 2011

Eliza Esdaile hits up Her Royal Highness in 1831

A copy of a letter to Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle is signed by Eliza Esdaile. It is dated "Sudley Cottage, Bognor, May 8th 1831". Eliza makes the following statements:
*She encloses documents showing that she and her family were friends with Edward Duke of Kent as of 1793 in Canada.
*Her husband, Mr. Esdaile, left her with plenty of money.
*But her house was going to be washed into the sea so she had to move it to the Earl of Arran's and now she's broke.
*And she got her husband & his friends to lend the Duke money several times, and in particular, when the Duke was going to Belgium in 1817 she lent him 500 pounds of her own of which he paid back 200 and gave his word he'd get her the other 300.
*But not in writing, and then he died.

Ref. no:RA pp/vic/1/5855

The registrar in 2004, Miss Pamela Clark, kindly wrote that the archives have no further correspondence with or about  Eliza Esdaile, and Miss Clark was not able to say if Mrs. Esdaile got any more money.
Five hundred 1818 pounds is a bit over $38.6 thousand now.

I learned about the existence of this letter from the journalist Mollie Gillen's book, The Prince and His Lady, published in paperback in 1985 by Goodread Biographies of Toronto, Canada. Her book has a bibliography and footnotes, but I've found them to be either inaccurate or not detailed enough to check on. This is an exception. I found out about Gillen's book from  a cousin's husband, Steve Hayes (Thanks Steve!) at

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