A Real Life Georgian Love Story
Originally posted at Romantic Historical Lovers
The inspiration for Midnight Marriage: A Georgian Historical Romance
I am often asked where I find inspiration for my novels, and my standard reply is that it can come from almost anywhere. I love gazing at 18th Century inspired Genre paintings, walking around a Robert Adams room in a big house or it could be the embroidery detail in a gentleman’s gorgeous frockcoat. Usually, my inspiration is sparked delving into my collection of history books and biographies on the 18thCentury and dipping into the letters of that great 18th Century dilettante and gossiper Horace Walpole. However, in the case of Midnight Marrige, I can point directly to a real-life incident that sparked the germ of an idea that blossomed into Julian and Deb’s story.
Stella Tillyard’s excellent Georgian biography Aristocrats explores the lives of the Lennox sisters, Caroline, Emily, Louise and Sarah between the years 1740–1832. And it is the arranged but very happy marriage of their parents, the second Duke and Duchess of Richmond, that I drew my inspiration for Julian’s marriage to Deborah in Midnight Marriage.
The first Duke of Richmond was a great gambler and he owed a large debt to the Irish Earl of Cadogan. To pay the debt he offered his son Charles as a bridegroom for Cadogan’s daughter Sarah. The Earl accepted—his daughter would one day be an English Duchess! The marriage was quickly arranged, as the young bridegroom was about to embark on the Grand Tour with his tutor and would be away for many years.
Charles Lennox was just 18 and Sarah Cadogan 13 and still in the nursery. The children learned of the impending marriage on the day of the wedding and Sarah came before her young bridegroom just before the wedding service.
The little girl was speechless and the bridegroom horrified that he was being married to, as he put it, “a dowdy”. The marriage went ahead regardless of the children’s feelings and wishes, as was the norm for marriages made between politically powerful aristocratic families in the eighteenth century.
After the ceremony, the new husband went off to Italy with his tutor, and the bride went back to the nursery.
Fast forward three years and Charles Lennox returned to London from his Continental wanderings a young man of 21. Instead of going to claim, or even make a visit to his wife, he went to the theater. He noticed that just sitting a few boxes away from him was a beautiful young woman. He asked someone who she was. His informant declared that he must be a stranger in town because everyone knew the beautiful Lady March (Sarah Cadogan that was!). The beautiful woman Charles had been admiring was in fact his very own wife!
Very soon after, Charles Lennox as Lord March claimed his 16-year-old bride. The marriage was a huge success and the couple were devoted to one another for the rest of their lives. This was an outstanding accomplishment given the lax standards of Georgian aristocratic marriages, particularly given the marriage was an arranged one between two children.
As Duke and Duchess of Richmond, the couple had 12 children, 7 of whom survived to adulthood.
The circumstances behind the marriage of Julian, Marquis of Alston, heir to the Roxton dukedom, and Deborah Cavendish, cousin of the Duke of Devonshire, mirror the arrangements of the Lennox marriage, but for very different reasons that become apparent during the story. Deborah, a year younger than Sarah, is 12 years of age, the minimum legal age when girls in the 1700s were permitted to marry. After their midnight marriage, Julian is banished to the Continent to wander on the Grand Tour, and Deb is returned to the nursery. The couple do not meet again for nine years. How they meet up again and what happens next, you can find out by downloading a free copy of Midnight Marriage from all participating eBook stores! Enjoy!