Person NameAppleton; Elizabeth (c1790-1849)
NationalityElizabeth Appleton was the daughter of William Henry Appleton (c.1750-1802) and Mary Barnet (1764-?1822). Her parents married around 1785 and lived in Warwick, where their first three children were born: William Henry Barnet Appleton (1785-c.1800), Mary Ann Appleton (1790-1832) and Martha Maria Appleton (1790-1852). They then moved to Castle Street, Bristol, where Elizabeth was born. Her youngest sister, Harriet Appleton (1798-1832), was born in London.

The family were perpetually short of money; Elizabeth's father's interests were fine arts and music (it was he who taught Elizabeth piano) and he spent her mother's fortune and his own property on these pursuits, drifting from one profession to another. Elizabeth's brother showed a talent for music at an early age and her father moved the family to London to develop and promote his son's talent (which merited an article entitled 'Musical Phenomenon' in The Scot's Magazine in 1790, Vol 52, p112). By the time he was eleven or twelve years old, young William was performing at the Palace and was being taught by 'one of the greatest geniuses of the age' [possibly Muzio Clementi]. Unfortunately for her father's hopes, his son began to suffer from epilepsy, from which he died; Elizabeth's father died in 1802 of 'a broken heart'.

Elizabeth's was a keen traveller and went abroad for the first time as a girl in the company of her school mistress, Miss Shepherd, who took a group of pupils and set up a school in the Chateau du Taillis in France. She went abroad again, in around 1810-1811, with her friend Jane and Jane's family, against the wishes of her mother. This act of disobedience was one which, after her conversion to Evangelicalism, she bitterly regretted.

Elizabeth became governess to the daughters of Alexander Leslie-Melville, 7th Earl of Leven and by 1814 she was employed as a governess for the Walmsley family of Castlemere, Rochdale. At this time she was completing her first book, Private Education, or, A Practical Plan for the Studies of Young Ladies: with an address to parents, private governesses and young ladies (1815). Following the success of this book, she continued to publish whilst employed at the Walmsleys. Her works include: Edgar; a national tale (1816), The Spring Bud; or, Rural scenery in verse (1818), The Poor Girl's Help to a knowledge of the first principles of the Christian religion, and to the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper (1819), Early Education, or, The Management of Children Considered with a View to their Future Character (1820) and The Youth's Guide to the French Language (1824).

In August 1816 Elizabeth travelled to France again, this time alone. On the crossing she met architect William Porden (1750-1822) and his daughter Eleanor Anne Porden (1795-1825) who was herself a published poet. The Pordens and Elizabeth Appleton travelled through France together and continued their friendship on their return to England.

In 1821, after leaving the employment of the Walmsleys, Elizabeth fulfilled a long term plan to move to London and achieve independence when she established a school for daughters of 'the Nobility and Gentry' at 6 Upper Portland Place (now 96 Portland Place). The school was a success and by 1825, according to the editor of her last, posthumous, publication, she was earning £4000 per annum. In July 1825, she married the Revd John Lachlan (sometimes referred to as John Lachlan McLachlan), at Holyrood Church, Southampton. According to the announcement of the marriage in the Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser of 4 February 1826, John Lachlan was a preceptor [tutor] to the Marquis of Waterford's family and nephew of the late General Campbell [probably General Archibald Campbell, (d.1825)].

The Lachlans continued to live at Portland Place until 1831, when financial ruin beckoned. Elizabeth gave a substantial sum to her uncle, John Barnet, who was acting for her in the purchase of the advowson of West Molesey in Surrey. John Barnet went bankrupt and the money was lost; the Lachlans were forced to move out of the house in Portland Place and subsequently spent much of their time living separately for fear of John Lachlan being arrested for debt.

Although Elizabeth attempted to continue her school in cheaper premises, her conversion to Evangelicalism damaged her reputation. In 1832 she published Narrative of the Conversion (by the Instrumentality of two Ladies) of James Cook, the Murderer of Mr, Paas. This was roundly condemned by a reviewer in the British Magazine (later quoted verbatim and discussed in the Leicester Chronicle on 3 and 10 November 1832) as fanaticism. Elizabeth became increasingly Evangelical and spent the next few years without any steady income, relying on the writing of religious works and financial support from her friends and former pupils; her husband, apart from a brief curacy at Cherington, Warwickshire in 1831, was also unable to find employment. Nothing is known about her life from about 1837 until her death from Cholera in 1849 but a memoir of her early life, and diary entries from 1831 to 1836 were published posthumously as 'Jehovah-Jireh'.

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