Thursday, January 1, 2009
Devonshire Progeny: Eliza Courtney
Perhaps you are wondering whatever happened to Georgiana and Charles Grey's child, Eliza? As you may know, after the Duke of Devonshire discovered Georgiana's pregnancy he forced her into France to have the child, leaving her to wonder whether he would also divorce her. Luckily for Georgiana she had the benefit of being very loved and was accompanied by a rather large party consisting of Harriet and her husband and daughter Caroline, Lady Spencer, Bess and her daughter Caroline St Jules. However, Harriet's bad health caused all but Bess and Caro St Jules to remain with Georgiana at the time of her child's birth. Since Georgiana had such a bad history with pregnancies she was sure she would not survive this one. As she waited in anticipation of what was to come she wrote her will and goodbye letters to each of her children. Georgiana's letter to Hart was written in her own blood. It was made no secret to her children why their mother was away but the rest of England was told that their favourite celeb was going on vacay. On 20 February 1791 Charles Grey's first child was born and named Eliza (a name Bess liked) Courtney. She was then quickly taken away from her mother and placed in foster care until Grey's parents were ready to take her.
Eliza grew up as a little Cinderella in the Grey household. She was raised to believe that her father was actually her older brother and was ignored by her "parents." It seems as though the Greys resented little Eliza for her parents' error. Grey himself also seemed unattached to his child while Georgiana was heartbroken. She would act as Eliza's kind godmother who would occassionaly visit (when allowed) and give Eliza toys since no one else would. Georgiana would write to Eliza, once telling her a story about a little orphan girl who was restored to her loving mother (who was really alive) eventually. Humble little Eliza never got the hint.
I'm not sure when Eliza found out the truth of her parentage. But luckily her sad story has a happy ending. Eliza grew into a very likeable young lady. She was also very beautiful, moreso than her half-sisters. Her inner and outer beauty grabbed the attention of a Colonel Robert Ellice who fell in love and married Eliza, saving her from her miserable life with the Greys. Robert adored his wife and the remainder of Eliza's life was happy. Georgiana's (legitimate) children kept in contact with Eliza who seemed to always be welcoming of their half-sister. As for Eliza's feelings for her birth mother, there was no bitterness. She only had the fondest memories and sympathy for her mother. Her first daughter was named Georgiana in memory of the mother Eliza loved so much.