The Trial of Elizabeth Duchess Dowager of Kingston for Bigamy, 1776.
Annotated by the Defendant's Secretary [Trial]. Kingston, Elizabeth Chudleigh Hervey, Duchess of [1720-1788], Defendant. The Trial of Elizabeth Duchess Dowager of Kingston for Bigamy, Before the Right Honourable the House of Peers, In Westminster-Hall, In Full-Parliament, On Monday the 15th, Tuesday the 16th, Friday the 19th, Saturday the 20th, and Monday the 22d of April, 1776; On the Last of Which Days the Said Elizabeth Duchess Dowager of Kingston was Found Guilty. Published by Order of the House of Peers. London: Printed for Charles Bathurst, 1776. [iv], 176 pp. Title page preceded by imprimatur leaf. Folio (15" x 9-3/4"). Later quarter cloth over plain boards, lettering piece to spine, endleaves renewed, edges untrimmed. Light rubbing and scuffing to boards, which are faded, corners bumped and somewhat worn, front board starting but secure. Moderate toning to interior, occasional light foxing and soiling, mostly to margins, light edgewear and clean tears to edges of a few leaves, faint offsetting to upper gutter of pp. 8-9, upper corners of last two leaves lacking, text unaffected. Early ownership signature of Richard Wood to first leaf, early annotations from Wood in several places. $1,250. * Only edition. When she determined to marry the Duke of Kingston, Elizabeth feared the scandal of divorce from her first husband, Augustus Hervey, later Earl of Bristol, who wanted a divorce, so she instituted a suit of jactitation against him. His negative response ignored, she took an oath that she was unmarried, and the court so declared her. She married the Duke of Kingston in 1769, and he died in 1770 and left her a substantial estate on the condition that she remain a widow. The duke's nephew, Mr. Evelyn Meadow, brought suit against her for bigamy shortly after the duke's death, while she was traveling in Italy. She returned to England to stand trial. Found guilty, she would have been "burned on the hand" but she claimed the privilege of her peerage which served to exempt her from corporal punishment. She continued a life of travel and adventure until her sudden death in Paris in 1788. Our copy of her trial was owned by Richard Wood, who served as the Duchess's secretary throughout the trial. His notes largely clarify points or name persons. An annotation to the Duchess's tearful testimony wearily notes "I exhorted her not.
Book number 73317