“To be sure, the shock must be very great to you whenever you heard it; as indeed it was to us all here, being so sudden. It is to no purpose now to relate particulars, but only renewing our grief. I can’t forbear telling you the Duchess has behaved very oddly in endeavouring to get the guardianship of the young Duke and his sister, contrary to her husband’s will; but the boy, when he was fourteen, confirmed the trustees his grandfather left; so that ended all disputes; and Lady Fanny is to live with my aunt Cheyne. There is a vast number of things that have happened, and some people’s behaviour so extraordinary in this melancholy business, that it would be great ease of mind if I could tell it you; but I must not venture to speak too freely in a letter.”
A week or so later, some further details were forthcoming:
“I received yours, dear sister, this minute, and am very sorry both for your past illness and affliction; though au bout du compte, I don’t know why filial piety should exceed fatherly fondness. So much by way of consolation. As to the management at that time—I do verily believe, if my good aunt and sister had been less fools, and my dear mother-in-law less mercenary, things might have had a turn more to your advantage and mine too; when we meet, I will tell you many circumstances which would be tedious in a letter. I could not get my sister Gower to join to act with me, and mamma and I were in an actual scold when my poor father expired; she has shewn a hardness of heart upon this occasion that would appear incredible to any body not capable of it themselves. The addition to her jointure is, one way or other, L2000 per annum; so her good Grace remains a passable rich widow, and is already presented by the town with a variety of young husbands; but I believe her constitution is not good enough to let her amorous inclinations get the better of her covetous.”
Lady Mary was very angry, because she heard that at the end her father had really expressed a great deal of kindness to her, and even a desire of talking to her, which the Duchess would not permit. However, he left her in his will, she having married without a settlement, L6,000 for her separate use during her life, with reversion to her daughter.
As regards the heir, she wrote: “The Duke of Kingston has hitherto had so ill an education, ’tis hard to make any judgment of him; he has spirit, but I fear he will never have his father’s good sense. As young noblemen go, ’tis possible he may make a good figure among them.”
The young Duke was sent to France, and there was much discussion as to what should be done with his sister, Lady Frances Pierrepont. Her having L400 per annum for maintenance, has, Lady Mary remarked ironically, “awakened the consciences of half her relations to take care of her education, and (excepting myself) they have all been squabbling about her. My sister Gower carries her off to-morrow morning to Staffordshire. The lies, twaddles, and contrivances about this affair are innumerable. I should pity the poor girl if I saw she pitied herself.”