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distinguished herself by her freedom of conduct until she returned to England again, much to the disgust of Hervey, who now desired to marry another lady. He, therefore, in 1768, finally told her that he wished' a divorce and requested her to procure one. To obtain this it would of course be necessary for her publicly to avow her marriage, and though she feared that this revelation might turn her new captive, the Duke of Kingston, against her, yet as she herself wished the marriage formally annulled to further her own designs, she resolved to take such legal steps as might be necessary to set her free.
The solution of the dilemma was found in a suit of jacititation in the Ecclesiastical Courts. This ancient action enabled a person, whom another claimed to have married, to hale the boaster before the Court to prove the statement, and if the defendant failed to do this, he was ordered by the Court to pay the plaintiff damages and enjoined from making further matrimonial claims of this sort in the future, under heavy pains and penalties. The suit against Hervey in this instance was evidently a collusive one, for his defense was very feeble and the marriage register must have been concealed, for the Court duly pronounced her a spinster, February 11, 1769.
This obstacle having melted from her path under the rays of these ecclesiastico-legal luminaries, she proceeded to make hay while the sun shone, and so industriously did she pursue her task that in less than one month from the day of the judgment, she triumphantly led the Duke of Kingston and Baron Pierrepont of Holme Pierrepont to the altar. The ceremony was performed by virtue of a special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury and was celebrated with the approval of Royal George, the Defender of the Faith, who attended and wore her white wedding favors most conspicuously.
We can well imagine what a wagging of tongues these events must have occasioned by this time, among the tale-bearers and scandal-mongers of the London drawing rooms, and apparently some of this buzz and chatter had even found its way across the Atlantic to the prim home of James Pierrepont in simple old New Ilaven.
This was in 1773, twenty-three years after Dr. Wells returned his discouraging reply about his intimate knowledge of the condition of the Duke's temper, and in the meantime, while James Pierrepont had taken no further steps (as far as our correspondence shows) to push his claim in England, he must have been turning the matter over in his mind and planning a new line of attack. Poor man, he was now 74
years age and as yet with all his efforts, covering a period of fifty years, he had met with nothing but disappointments and rebuffs. He had tried to reach the Duke through the accredited agents of his Colony and when they had become interested in his suit, death had always intervened. He had tried to approach the Duke through those of his own household and his advances had met with scant encouragement. He, therefore, resolved to appeal to him through some one of influence at the British Court, one of the Duke's peers, to whom he could not refuse attention.
From his own connection with Yale College, Mr. Pierrepont was acquainted with the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock, President of Dartmouth College, and he finally decided to appeal to him to assist him in the matter. A letter to Mr. Wheelock, written June 1, 1773, expresses this thought as follows: "Rev. & Dear Sir, I have long wanted an opportunity of Personal discourse with you, Principally with a view of Craving your Kind Assistance in an affair of the utmost concern to me and Family, viz. To obtain ye favour of the Right Honable the Earl of Dartmouth, to recommend me to his Grace the Duke of Kingston. I am encouraged to hope his Lordship will not refuse this my request, when I am introduced to his knowledge by his own correspondent but what still strengthens my hope is, that His Lordship is Secretary of State for ye American Department and must needs have its private as well as Publick Interests much at Heart; but what heightens my hope is that I have heard his Lordship is an eminent Christain and so has ye same Godlike disposition to do good to all as he has opportunity; and I more than partly believe it, inasmuch as his Lordship has taken you and your college under his Patronage which was instituted
principally with a view to spread the Gospel among the poor Savage heathen.
I peceive dear Sr that it is a point with such Great men, not to regard Recommondations unless they come from those they have Intimacy with or near upon a rank with themselves which I suppose must be the principal reason my past endeavors to obtain ye Duke of Kingstons smiles proved abortive, the message failed because transmitted by unsuitable messengers."
He then proceeds to unfold the following plan of worldly wisdom to accomplish which he wishes the assistance of the Rev. Wheelock and his noble patron the Earl of Dartmouth:
"I presume you are sinsible (at least by common report) that I am the eldest in the male line of the Pierpont family in New England, which sprang from a younger branch of that Hon’able family in England—I am credibly assured that his Grace, ye present Duke of Kingston by ye providence of God, is ye only male of the family in England, who is far advanced in life and lately intermarried with ye Hon’able Miss Chudleigh late maid of Hon'r to the late Dowager of Wales, who was at ye time of marriage of an age past child bearing, so yt it is very improbable his Grace will have any legitimate offspring
The Hon’able Dr. Johnson, our late agent at ye British Court, informs me that his Grace had two natural daughters by Miss Chudleigh before marriage and that his Grace is attempting to have them legitimitized by Special act of Parliament but he thinks that ye Parliament will not do it.
I could Reva Sir very readily devise a natural and easy way to effect what his Grace desires as to having ye Honors and Estate descending to his own natural Issue Viz. would he permit me and my eldest son Evelyn* to wait upon him and in person pay our Devoirs to his Grace, he acknowledging us to be of ye family as well as name, and approve of my son (who is in his nineteenth year) marrying with one of his Grace's daughters, would unite the two branches of the family, prevent the name and ye Honors sinking into oblivion and the Estate going to strangers— These things Revd and Dear Sir are great, but not too great for ye Great God to effect, and it would undoubtedly afford you no small pleasure & satisfaction to find you have been an Instrument in ye hand of God, to bring them about, but what pleasure and satisfaction can you conceive my Lord Dartmouth would have, when he finds he has pre vented a name being obliterated which hath been Hon’able in ye English Annals ever since Willm Ye Conqueror and transplanted a native of his American Department into the British Court whose affection to his Native land will incline him to promote its true interests to ye utmost in prosecuting those plans of Extensive and lasting good to ye plantations which his Lordship's Generous heart has devised, while my Lord is enjoying ye Glorious Rewards of his. Gracious Labours.
* The birth of Evelyn, the heir apparent, was thus announced in the current issue of The Connecticut Gazette.
“New Haven, May 17, 1755." We are credibly informed that on the 16th of March last, the wife of Mr. James Pierrepont of New Haven, was happily delivered of a fine, well featured son, who the same day was christened by the name of Evelyn, which is the Christian name of the present Duke of Kingston; and as Humble Servt NEW HAVEN
Thus Rev'd Sir I have briefly hinted to you what I more Especially wanted to discourse with you about, and beg you favor me with an answer & your thoughts and advise me in this matter.
I now, wishing you health & prosperity in all things but Especially in the Great undertaking of training up for our dear Immanuel those who in his name and with his assistance shall call his Spouse from ye Lyons Den and from ye mountains of Leopards. Rev Sir Yr Sincere friend & most Obednt
James Pierpoint June 1st 1773"
it is said that this child is descended from the eldest branch of the Pierpont family, excepting that of the present Duke, and as the present Duke is far advanced in years and has no heirs of his body, it is possible this young Evelyn may in time succeed to the honors and estate of that ancient and honorable family of Great Britain."
Ah, James, James ! Would thy Puritan father, or thy stern brother-in-law, Jonathan Edwards, have sanctioned such a scheme as this! And were these the doctrines that the mighty Whitfield preached from thy house to crowds upon the Green! I fear thy long musings for fifty years over the baubles displayed in the Vanity Fair of London, have turned thy thoughts from that Road to the Celestial City which those Pilgrims followed, and dost thou really think thy son, Evelyn, would be as happy with one of the offspring of that wicked' baggage, Elizabeth Chudleigh, with all the Kingston land and titles added, as he would be with gentle Mistress Rhoda Collins, with her good New England ways, whom he will marry in seven years when thou art laid to rest in the old burying ground on the Green?
Whether such moralizing as I have just indulged in ever occurred to James Pierrepont or not, I do not know, but with all the energy of a man who feels his race is almost run, he bent himself to carry out his latest plot. The letter I have last read was quickly followed by another lengthy one to Mr. Wheelock, narrating the entire history of the case and urging the necessity of haste in communicating with the Earl of Dartmouth; but alas! on September 23rd, 1773, before anything had been accomplished by anyone, that great event happened for which all his schemes had been prepared! Evelyn, the last Duke of Kingston, died leaving no male issue, and the title was in abeyance! But again, alas! Before this eventful news could reach America, and, therefore, before Mr. Pierrepont could take any action to secure his rights, those who were interested in England had started the title rolling toward a different goal. By his will, his Grace left all his land to the Duchess Elizabeth for life and all his personalty to her as long as she remained his widow, and with her estates and title, both as she supposed secure, she went abroad to spend her season of mourning.
Hardly had she left England when the Duke's nephew, Evelyn Meadows, whose hopes to succeed to his uncle's domains as heir-at-law had been thwarted by this fair adventuress, began to plan her overthrow. With the assistance of her ex-husband