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LADIES OF THE HAUTE TON 4: FRANCES, LADY JERSEY

Lady Jersey is referred to in my first book, Amy, The Story of a Coram Foundling, as the mother of Lady Elizabeth Villiers, who Lady Bessborough is trying to persuade Lord Duncannon to court. She later becomes the mother-in-law of Lady Sarah Fane after her marriage to Lord Villiers, Lady Jersey's son. Lady Sarah is the sister of Lady Maria Fane, who Lord Duncannon eventually marries.

She was a Whig society hostess, known for her affair with the Prince of Wales, and her constant meddling and interfering in his marriage to Caroline of Brunswick.

 Frances, Lady Jersey in the 1770's
Frances, Lady Jersey in the 1770's

She was born Frances Twysden in 1753 to parents Dr Philip Twysden, a Church of Ireland bishop, and Frances Carter. At the age of 17, she married the 34-year-old 4th Earl of Jersey, and she went on to have ten children, but as with other members of the 'haute ton', she conducted many love affairs and not all of her children were fathered by her husband.

Both her and her husband lived extravagantly and spent money beyond their means, leaving themselves with large debts. This led her, at the age of 40, into an affair with the Prince of Wales, but he himself was heavily in debt.

In 1795, the Prince married his first-cousin Caroline of Brunswick, and he managed to secure a position of Lady of the Bedchamber for his mistress.

Lady Jersey with her lover the Prince of Wales
Lady Jersey with her lover the Prince of Wales

Right from the start, Lady Jersey constantly interfered in their marriage, and did all she could to slight Caroline, coming in between the newly married couple and causing as much mischief as she could. This didn't prove too difficult, as the Prince was disgusted with his new wife from the very beginning, he took a personal dislike to her, and they separated shortly afterwards, much to the delight of Lady Jersey who had seen off her rival.

She then carried on like royalty herself, as she still held her court position and was much in the favour of Queen Charlotte, who invited her to attend her drawing rooms. The Prince, however, was notoriously fickle in his relationships with women, and he soon abandoned her for Lady Hertford.

Lady Jersey in middle-age
Lady Jersey in middle-age

After Lady Jersey's husband died in 1805, she was left with very little to live on, but by this time her son, the 5th Earl of Jersey, had married Lady Sarah Fane, an heiress to a fortune, and he granted his mother an annuity and quietly paid her debts for her. She passed away in 1821 in Cheltenham.

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