RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Archive Reference / Library Class No.D5430/76/24
TitleLetter from Elizabeth Winchester to her mother Mrs Winchester of Bakewell on the final days of the Duchess of Devonshire, her death and funeral, and the impending confinement of her lady
Date22 Apr 1806
Extent1 item
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Archive CreatorWright family of Eyam Hall
Administrative HistorySee D5430/76/22 for biographical information on Elizabeth Winchester
Transcript or IndexLondon April 22nd Tuesday Night
Dear Mother
I daresay you have before this begun to think me very long before I write to you, but as you can judge that state the family have been in after such a Melancholy event I know you will excuse my long silence. I daresay you have been very anxious to hear how my lady does, and how she bears the loss, she has I assure you been very Unwell so much so that she was not able to leave her Room for the first Week she is now I hope better but at times very low, and I am afraid she will be a great length of time before she recovers her spirits again. she is so near the time of her confinement, that all the family were afraid of her being brought to Bed before her time, but Mr Crofts thinks she will now go on to her time which is in about a Month I quite dread the liing [sic] in for I am afraid she will be so very low and Nervous, that I am afraid we shall have a very long, and fatiguing piece of Business, I am truly sorry for both my lady and poor Lady Harriett, she looks so Ill, and is always crying, lady Harriett spends a great deal of time with my lady, the Dowager lady Spencer is quite settled at Devonshire House for the present which I am very glad of, for I think it would be a sad thing for her to be there without her Grand Mama, as Lady Elizabeth still remains in the House and I daresay is to do so, what a sad thing it is, and what will be the end of it I do not know, but I am afraid we shall see strange Alterations in a short time, poor Lord Hartington is very much Afflicted of the loss of his Mama, he scarce left the Room only to take refreshment for two days that she was dying, indeed Mother I never was Witness of such a scene before, and I hope I never shall again, her Grace had such a very severe Illness, and Died so very hard, she lay Sixty hours diing [sic], I think I never was in such a distress[e]d House in my life, she had five of the finest Physicians in London, & I believe everything that could be done that was likely to have reliev[e]d her was try[e]d, but all to no purpose, she had a most Violent fever come on regularly once in the Day and always once in the Night, which continued so many hours each time, Oh it was shocking to see what she suffered during the time this was on, no one but those that saw it can have any Idea of what she went through, when that fever was off she lay quite in a stupor, took no notice of any thing was now & then sensible for a Minute at a time. My lady & lady Harriett and they all of them flattered themselves she would get better till quite the last, My lady was not suffer[e]d to see her for three days before she died, We were at Devonshire House for a Week, I was two Nights and never had my Clothes off at all and the other Nights I only went to Bed for a few hours I don’t think Mrs Bunting went to Bed for near three Weeks, there never was any thing like her Attentions. I do not think any body had much rest during the time she was so Ill, she Died on Sunday Morning March 30th at half past three a Clock. We left Devonshire House at half past five in the Morning. you may judge what a distressed place it was the Duke & the family never left the House at all, but they constantly went into the Room where she was. I saw an account of the funeral in the Derby paper, the description of the Coffin was very exact she was first put in a Coffin stuff[e]d and lined with White Cottin, with White Cottin Matress and pillow, she had on a very fine long dress of fine long linen[?], turn[e]d at the Neck & Wrists with broad lace all new, and a fine Muslin Cap with double boarder of lace lin[e]d with white Cottin, she did not look the least like herself, not the smallest resemblance the Coffin she was put in was put in lead, and afterwards in the line Coffin Cover[e]d with Crimson Velvet I think the finest thing I ever saw, with the family Arms, the Motto, coronets and a Weeping figure at the feet, there was only on the inscription plate, the Most Noble Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire Died March 30th in the 49th year of her age. The account of the funeral that I saw in the Derby paper was very correct. Mrs Bunting, Miss Keating Mrs Hicks & Mrs Brown, were all the Women that came with the funeral to Derby, Mr Lawton, Mr Broomhead, Mr Ward old Lady Spencers Steward, Mr Wilson the Undertaker the Mutes and all the Necessary people, the Duchess footman, and all the attendants with the Coach & Six. I did not see them set off for my lady was so Unwell that I could not stir out of the House, they left Town at five in the Morning. You would I daresay hear that Mrs Bunting came over to Chatsworth, Mrs Hicks came with her, they only stay[e]d one Night, Mrs Bunting had a great Wish just to come and take leave of Chatsworth, Mrs Hicks who had never seen it was glad to accompany her, Mrs Brown & Miss Keating and the other people remain[e]d at Loughbro Poor Mrs Bunting, is very much hurt indeed and feels so lost, she has been with her Grace Six & twenty years, that you may suppose how much she Misses her, I hope the Duke will settle something very handsome upon her, indeed he ought, for she has been a very faithful servant, I do not know when she leaves Devonshire House, but do not think she will at present, she has Many things to settle, I shall be very sorry when she goes, for we have always been great friends, she intends going to live with her Mother, I hope where ever she goes she will be comfortable but am afraid she will be a long time before she recovers this unexpected shock. I believe I have now given you a particular account.
I received the few lines from my Father a few days ago including the letter to my Brother which I deliver[e]d to him, he is very Well. I shall be glad to hear from Mary when she returns from Chatsworth.
I hope by this time you have received the parcel safe which I sent by Henrys Brother last Wednesday, I shall be very glad to hear you have received it safe, I could not send it at the time I intended, we have been in such a state of confusion. We have been very busy preparing our Mourning, every body through the House have Mourning the Children are all in Black it looks so dismal, we are in the Deepest Mourning Bumbazeen [bombazine] and Crape it is so dismal at Devonshire House, seeing so many people in Black and the House seems so very different, I almost wonder how they can bear to stay in it, The Duke has I hear been at Chiswick once but only for a very short time two hours, not any other of the family have been nor do I know when they mean to go, I think it will be a great trial for my lady & lady Harriett to go there, I should think they will not go yet for some time, My lady is to go out of Town as soon as possible after her liing in but where we are to go I do not know, but I suppose some where near Town for a little While till she is able to go to Castle Howard. I am afraid we shall have a dismal time during confinement, I do not expect to get much rest either Night or Day, we are to have a New Nurse, the Nurse that had attended my lady of the three last Children, was with the Duchess to assist Mrs Bunting therefore my lady, now Lady Spencer will not hear of her Attending my lady in her liing in, therefore there is another engag[e]d, so that I must never be out of the Way I know one Moment as this person who is coming is quite a stranger, I quite dread the time, we shall have here poor old lady Spencer almost constantly with us, and she is so Anxious about my lady. I think I have written you a very long letter, and am afraid you will be tired with reading it. I must now beg you give my Duty to my Father who I hope is Well, My love to Mary, pray let me know of you have heard of any thing yet that is likely to suit my Cousin Lydia, or how my Uncle & Aunt Winchester are going on. I hope my Aunt at Eyam is Well, my Duty to her when you see her. Accept Duty yourself and believe me Dear Mother to be your ever Dutiful Daughter
E Winchester
I hope to hear from you soon – excuse bad Writing
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