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Archive Reference / Library Class No.D5430/76/22
TitleLetter from Elizabeth Winchester in Paris to her mother Mrs Winchester of Bakewell on her being in France and her generally disparaging observations on the people and conditions
Date20 Jan [1803]
Extent1 item
RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Archive CreatorWright family of Eyam Hall
Administrative HistoryElizabeth Winchester (1770-1855), was the daughter of Humphrey Winchester (1740-1814) and Elizabeth Winchester, nee Mower (c. 1745-1814).

Elizabeth was baptised on 15 May 1770 in Bakewell, one of ten children, of whom only three survived into adulthood: Elizabeth, her brother James (1767-1849) and sister Mary Ann (1784-1838). Her father was baptised in Chesterfield and her parents were married in Eyam in 1766, at which point Humphrey Winchester was styled 'Gentleman' of Bakewell. Elizabeth Mower's father was probably James Mower, Gentleman, of Eyam. James Mower and Humphrey Winchester had lead mining interests and in a deed dated 1789 (D195/T/11-12), Humphrey Winchester is described as a lead merchant. Possibly as a result of the decline in the local lead industry, the family's fortunes appear also to have declined, and consequently the children had to go out to work.

Elizabeth went into service with the Devonshires at Chatsworth, becoming lady's maid to 'Little G', Georgiana Howard, Countess of Carlisle, who was the eldest child of the 5th Duke of Devonshire and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

Elizabeth's brother, James, also moved to London, and his death notice (Derby Mercury, 19 December 1849) states that he had been clerk in the banking house of Messrs Smith, Payne and Smiths for 50 years. Her sister, Mary Ann, moved to Manchester, where she married William Cowperthwaite, a cabinet maker, at Manchester Cathedral in 1813.

By the 1851 Census, Elizabeth Winchester, was described as a fund holder, and was visiting Charles and Isabella Fitch at 14a Chester Terrace, St George Hanover Square, Middlesex. She died in 1855 in London and was buried on 16 February 1855, age 84, at Kensal Green All Souls. Isabella Fitch was executrix and primary legatee in her will.

Elizabeth's other siblings were:
Thomas, baptised 19 July 1769 and buried 21 July 1769
Thomas, baptised 11 May 1771 and possibly buried 14 May 1771
Ann, baptised 19 May 1772 and buried 15 July 1772
William, baptised 7 July 1773 and possibly buried 9 July 1773
Mary, baptised 3 July 1774 and buried 27 March 1775
Lydia, baptised 7 August 1776 and buried 26 August 1779
Francis, baptised 1 September 1779 and buried 13 September 1779
Transcript or IndexHotel de l' Empire, Paris January 20th
Dear Mother
As I have an opportunity of sending a letter to London I shall not omit the opportunity of writing a few lines to say how sorry I was that I was not able to write to you before I set off this January, but we came off in such a hurry that it was not in my power, but I beg’d my Brother would write and I hope he did –
Let me now hasten to tell you that I am very Well, but that I dislike being at this place very much, not speaking the Language is so very uncomfortable, and the customs and manners of the people are so very different to ours in England that I never could be reconciled to staying here any length of time, am sorry it was my lot to come now, but I think I will with pleasure submit to anything that may fall out for me in my own Country in preference to coming to this place again, I had a very great dislike to the Idea of coming and I find it quite as disagreeable as I expected, but however I think we shall not stay very long here, I believe three Weeks longer will be the longest time. We had a very disagreeable journey and had a very bad passage by Sea and altogether we had a dismal journey I shall be sincerely happy when we get back, for indeed it is too long a journey to Undertake at this Season of the Year, as the Travelling here is not so good as in England, and we found the Roads very bad, we were Nine Days coming, and such bad accommodations at the Inns & in short every thing so very different to what I ever saw before, or in short ever wish to see again. I must now tell you that I have been to see the Picture Gallery, which is the finest in the World, there you see the fine pictures that have been brought out of Italy and other places during the War, I have also seen the Palace, the residence of Bonaparty, I think it is one of the finest buildings I ever saw, we have no Palace in England to equal it. The Houses here that us[e]d to belong to the nobility are very fine, the buildings all of Stone, the Streets are very narrow & so dirty that it is quite misery to go out, the dirt and filth of the people is worse than anything that can be conceiv[e]d, and so poor & miserable they all look, it is quite shocking, and I can only wonder how any English person can like France, there seems to be so few comforts here to What there is in England. I should like very much if I can to see this Bonaparty, but am afraid I shall not have an opportunity which I shall be sorry for. Lord Cholmondeleys family have been living here some Months I have call on them once, you cannot think how pleasant it is to meet with people that one knows here and that can speak English. Lord Bessboroughs family are in the same House with us, as is also Lady Elizabeth Foster, so that there is Mrs Peterson, and Mrs Francis who you may recollect seeing at Beslow one Morning, so that it makes it rather more agreeable than it would to be quite without any English person. Tell Mary that Mrs Francis’s Mother is dead since we have been here, but that she has not yet been told of it, I am afraid she will be very much dissatisfied when she hears of it. I hope that Mary is going on Well & striving to improve herself, I wonder that I did not hear from her before I left Town, as I particularly desired her to write to me very often, and I think that is the least she can do, but however she must please herself, I sent a one pound Note just before Christmas but I never hear I you got it or not. I am afraid I shall not be able to get any letters from you till I get to London, but shall hope to find one there and I hope it will not be very long before I get there, for I think I never was more uncomfortable in any place in my life.
I am anxious to know if there is a probability of Mary meeting with any thing in the Country that is likely to suit her, be assur[e]d that there is more chance of her being happy and comfortable there than there is in these great families, had I my time to spend again I would never undertake such a sort of situation as this I am in and I think I shall very soon look out for something different, as I am to get my own living I may as well do it in a situation that I like better than I do my present one, besides I think I am losing my time by living here for fifteen pounds a year, besides destroying my Health as I never have a good Nights rest, I have not been in Bed since we have been in Paris till, four, five, &six a Clock in the Morning, which is a very uncomfortable thing, and what I am sure no constitution can bear for any length of time I should not care what I did in the Day if I could have rest at Night, but I have not a doubt that Mary told you that my situation was by no means a comfortable one, as I think she saw a little of what it was. Oh how I wish it was possible that I could get a living at Home of some sort or other for I really am so tired of being amongst the great folks they are indeed so unlike what they ought to be that it is a terrible way of spending ones life. Lady Harriett is to be presented at Court as soon as we return to England again tell Mary that she had not got her new maid when we left London, Mrs Cook I saw a day or two before I left she is very Well and beg[ge]d me to send her Comp[limen]ts to you when I wrote and love to Mary. We left the little Boy at Devonshire House, I wondered how my Lady could leave him, and to be so far from him, he continues to improve very much and was grown so entertaining. I must now beg you to give my Duty to my Father, who I hope is Well, also my Uncle James when you see him, love to Mary and Comp[limen]ts & respects to all Friends who are so kind as to inquire of me, Accept Duty yourself and Believe me Dear Mother to be your ever Dutiful Daughter E Winchester
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