18th Century Papparazzi Profile: Lady Elizabeth Webster Holland

13 Jul


Lady Elizabeth (nee. Vessall) was born in 1771 and was married young to a much older man, Sir Godfrey Webster. They were married in 1786 when Elizabeth was only 15! Can you even imagine?! Her marriage was a most unhappy one and she often lamented of her poor marital circumstances in her letters to her friends or in her private journal entries.

In order to spend as little time with her husband as possible (or so many have speculated) Lady Webster spent most of her time traveling abroad throughout Europe. Sir Godfrey very rarely accompanied his wife on these travels and when he did, according to Lady Webster, he was most unpleasant. It was while she was abroad that she took Thomas Pelham as a lover though she did not marry him once her marriage to Sir Godfrey ended.

After her (scandalous!) divorce from Sir Godfrey, Lady Elizabeth went on to wed Henry Richard Fox, 3rd Holland. This marriage was much more amiable and she spent the rest of her days traveling around Europe with Fox. Lady Holland and her husband were active members in the Whig Party (a party made fashionable during the time by Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire). It was also said that Lady Elizabeth was jealous of Georgiana’s popularity both with the people and her fellow aristocratic friends and she sought to make Holland House in London, just as popular as Devonshire House, though she never succeeded.

Not only did Lady Elizabeth defy 18th century norms by getting a divorce (a very difficult thing for a woman of this period to do) but she also dared to venture abroad, an activity that made many men uncomfortable and that many women were terrified to do themselves.


One Response to “18th Century Papparazzi Profile: Lady Elizabeth Webster Holland”


  1. Elizabeth webster | Mystorycd - August 28, 2012

    […] 18th Century Papparazzi Profile: Lady Elizabeth Webster Holland … […]

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