The Mary Hamilton Papers : Letter from Jane Holman to Mary Hamilton

Holman (née Hamilton), Jane

The Mary Hamilton Papers

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Letter from Jane Hamilton to Mary Hamilton, relating to London society, family news and the Royal family.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Jane is sympathetic to the plight of Margaret Nicholson [c.1750-1828], a woman who had assaulted King George III with a dessert knife. The newspapers, she believes, are making more of the incident than they should, as 'the poor Woman was undoubtedly mad'. Jane continues: 'She has been in Bedlam [...] and I suppose (poor Creature!) will continue there, the remainder of her Life'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The letter also reports on George III's aunt, Princess Amelia [Princess Amelia of Great Britain (1711-1786), who died the day after this letter was written], whom the newspapers reported as dying. Indeed, Jane writes, she may already be dead as that morning's paper reported that she was barely alive the previous night. The papers note that Princess Amelia was a very charitable woman and will be a great loss. Although Jane is not sure if it is true, the papers also report that Princess Amelia had never recovered from the death of her cousin, the King of Prussia [King Frederick II, known as Frederick the Great (1712-1786)], as she believed that her death would soon follow.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Jane Hamilton has read about the birth of Lord Napier's [Francis Napier, 8th Lord Napier of Merchistoun (1758-1823), son of William, 7th Lord Napier of Merchistoun (d. 1775), Mary Hamilton's guardian] son in the newspapers (see <a target='_blank' class='externalLink uom-purple' href=''>HAM/1/20</a>), and she jokes with Mary Hamilton about the prospective godparents. She assumes that Hamilton will not be allowed to be a godmother to the child – 'As you say Lord Napier is an admirer of mine' – and that in gratitude for his admiration she will take his part rather than her cousin's, and that Napier is 'in the right, not to hazard his Son's Bones, by letting him have an opportunity of receiving any instructions from so saucy a Lady as [Hamilton]'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The letter also updates Mary Hamilton with family news and the death of Charles Hamilton of Bath [Hon. Charles Hamilton (1704-1786), great uncle of Mary Hamilton]. Lady Stormont [Louisa Murray (née Cathcart), Viscountess of Stormont, sister of Colonel Cathcart and Lord Cathcart and cousin of Mary Hamilton] has visited with her children and all have had measles with the exception of William. Lady Stormont hoped that he would have had it as well, as he is to go to Westminster soon [the public school]. Jane reports on a visit to the Hamiltons by Mrs. Siddons [Sarah Siddons (née Kemble) (1755-1831), famous actress, friend of Mary Hamilton], though she has seen her only once in public this season and hopes to see her at the theatre again soon. Dated at London.</p>

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