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.

16 comments:

  1. aww.. it's nice to read a story with a happy ending! Still looking forward to seeing the movie...I'm going to buy it tomorrow :)

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  2. I love Eliza's story just for that reason, it has such a nice happy ending!

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  3. I didn't know Eliza was a name Bess liked. Could she really be Miss Bingley in disguise?

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  4. Bess's formal name was Elizabeth; thus, Eliza, being a derivative of Elizabeth, at least had the appearnace of being named after her.

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  5. I'd wondered what happened to Eliza. Thanks for filling me in.

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  6. Hmmm... As much as I loved the movie, I would have to say I am upset that they lead you to believe that The Gray's loved and cared for Eliza very much, when in truth they didn't.

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  7. That really upset me too Aimee. Foreman (Georgiana's biographer whose book the movie was based on) even described Eliza's life as a "Cinderella story."

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  8. Then I wonder why they decided to go a different way when Historically speaking it didn't happen that way. Movies that are based on a true story are supposed to be as close as humanly possible. Right?

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  9. Apparently not. Her real was so much more interesting than the life they gave her in the movie...which seemed so stereotypical and what audiences expected women's lives to be back then.

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  10. they probably didn't want to infuse too much sadness and drama to the story. I myself haven't been able to watch the movie again because it was too sad already!

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  11. I just watched the movie of the duchess of devonshire the other day, and it's good to know that Eliza ended up happy after all. It would be horrible to have to give a child up like that because your husband is a worthless piece and to have to leave the man you truley loved, or never see your childern again. I'm glad I live in a world were such encounters never cross my path.

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  12. Just watched the movie loved it! I work in the beauty field in L.A. they eluded to the fact that she was not a fashion icon, but that she would commission her unique design to the taylor. So in modern day she would be fashion icon and a designer. I loved some of the costumes so much i gasped. Have any of the original drawings and dresses been preserved for the public to view?

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  13. She was the fashion icon of the time! I know I have seen an occasional drawing of her by Bess, but you fight find what your looking for in prints Thomas Rowlandson did of her. He is the artist who portrayed her in my blog banner.

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  14. Such a lovely story but the Grey's were so mean to her :(

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  15. Believe it or not Eliza is an ancestress of Sarah Duchess of York, just as her uncle is ancestor to DIANA princess of WALES.
    Craig Fairweather, SYDNEY.

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  16. Oh she's soo cute and Lovely. Amazing story and I want tihs picture!

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