Patrick O'Brian Discussion Forum

Elphinstone [née Thrale], Hester Maria, Viscountess Keith . .


On Sun Jan 1, Guest wrote
>I think you're right that POB showed Queeney rather favourably.

He deserves credit, as a man with the conservative attitudes of times, for appreciating her for what she was, an intellectual with a mind of her own denied any opportunity to use it. DNB has:

' . . was born on 17 September 1764  . . a protégée of Samuel Johnson,  . . (who), a friend of the family from 1765, called her ‘Queeney’, wrote childish rhymes for her, played horses with her, wrote to her, and directed her education. The death of her only surviving brother in 1776 made her a rich heiress. In 1778 Fanny Burney described her as ‘cold and reserved, though full of knowledge and intelligence’ . .  She retired to her father's Brighton house, where she saw no company, and studied Hebrew and mathematics, of which she became a considerable scholar . .

The unusual education bestowed on ‘Queeney’ had little beneficial effect on her temperament; her mother lamented that she was ‘reserved and shy with a considerable Share of Obstinacy, & I think a Heart void of all Affection for any Person in the World .  .

(She was) Determined to marry a lord . . On 10 January 1808, in London, she married Admiral George Keith Elphinstone, Baron Keith (1746–1823) . . on 12 December 1809, at the age of forty-five, . . she gave birth to her only child, a daughter, Georgiana Augusta Henrietta.

Lady Keith was one of the original patrons of Almack's . . In 1823 she was left a widow. Towards the end of her life, she retired from company and devoted herself to works of charity.  She died on 31 March 1857.'

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