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Hervey, who became Earl of Bristol, March 20, 1775, the records of the former marriage were unearthed and an indictment for bigamy was prepared and brought against her. The news came like a thunderbolt to the Duchess. She was in Italy at the time, and when her banker, bribed it is alleged, by the Meadows party, refused to furnish her with funds to return to England, she drew a pistol and compelled him to disgorge.
The trial in Westminster Hall, held in April, 1776, was one of the sensations of the time, and was conducted with great state and ceremony. The Heralds and Garter King at Arms, the Black Rod, Barons in ermine, Earls, Dukes and Peers, Masters in Chancery, Archbishops in their gorgeous gowns and the Judges in their scarlet robes, swelled the procession, and the hall was crowded with eager spectators, drawn from the highest rank and fashion.
The prisoner was dressed in black attended by her secretary, two ladies' maids, a physician and an apothecary, and was ably defended by six advocates.
In spite of this array of legal, medical and domestic talent, the evidence was against her, and she was at last found guilty by all but one of her peers. The penalty of her offense was branding, but by pleading the privilege of the peerage, which was allowed, she was dismissed with a severe reprimand by the Lord Chief Justice, and the payment of the immense fees incurred.
Smarting under this disgrace and fearing that her opponents were about to detain her in England, with a view to further proceedings, she escaped to Calais in an open boat and never returned to her native land again.
While these incidents were happening in Great Britain, events of vastly greater import were taking place in Ameņica.
The mutterings of discontent in the Colonies had culminated in the thunder of the Revolution, and poor James Pierrepont himself had died at last broken-hearted, June 18, 1776, after he had seen his last hopes to obtain the Kingston title fall before the volleys of the embattled farmers and the red-coats at Concord Bridge and on the slopes of Bunker Hill.
During the throes of the great struggle that ensued between the Mother Country and her American Daughter, Evelyn the son of James, like a true patriot, espoused the cause of the Colonies and as Lieutenant commanded a field piece at Beacon Hill, at the time of the British invasion of New Haven,* and when the country issued from the smoke of war, a free and independent nation, there was no longer any hope of a reconciliation between the two branches of the Pierrepont family.
There was traveling in Europe at this time one Robert Pierrepont, a cousin of sturdy Evelyn, the Continental soldier', and of John, who had caused his Cousin James such worriment of mind, who had struck up an acquaintance with the fascinating Chudleigh, who still called herself the Duchess of Kingston. He told her of his far New England home and of the claims of the New Haven Pierreponts to the Kingston title.
This seemed to offer her a chance to turn the succession from Charles Meadows, her accuser, and she at once grasped at this opportunity for revenge and advised Robert to write to America for the necessary proofs.
These facts we learn from a letter from Robert's father to his nephew, Evelyn, in New Haven. His letter, the last of the series, is as follows:
"RoXBURY 28th May 1786. Sir
I reca a letter yesterday from my son dated in March at Calais in France. He has been with her Grace the Duchess of Kingston & has travelled with her through the principal parts of Germany & has reca great favors from her Grace on acct of his Name. She was then at Paris & had been for six weeks past & left him the care of her family but he did not know when she would return to Calais.
The following is a postscript of his letter to me—P.S. Her Grace has charged me to write to you to send a list of our “Genealogy the reason is that notwithstanding the bulk of “the Kingston Estate is left to a Mrs Meadows there are several very fine Estates which are in the possession of the Female * Prof. Dexter's note, in his edition of Pres. Stiles' Diary.
“ line in favour of the male.Her Grace has heard there is “a person in America who has a title to the Dignity-This is
our cousin of New Haven; if he will send his papers she “ will lend him all the assistance in her power but this must “be kept an entire secret.
Robt Pierpont-Jun" If sir you think fit to send the papers or a Copy of them to her Grace & will enclose them to my care I will forward them to her by sending them to my Friend in London who is her Agent there from whence they will be forwarded to her Grace where ever she may be I think you had better send them by a carefull hand to be left at Mr. Benj" Pierponts at the corner of South School Street Boston, for me or let them be handed to me by some carefull hand so as not to be at the charge for Postage. But I would have you take the advice of some of your best friends who are good judges whether it is likely that your claims, will be sufficient to answer the purpose Taking great care that it be kept a profound Secret
I am Sir, Your Kingman & Friend Mr. Evelin Pierpont.
Robt Pierpont I hardly think Evelyn acceded to this request.
He had seen his father's life clouded by his pursuit of this will-o'-the-wisp, and his hard New England head, schooled in a war for liberty and equality, was not now to be turned by the alluring appeal of the syren Duchess.
At any rate, we find no letter to indicate an answer from him, and in 1788 Elizabeth Chudleigh died at Calais, vain and capricious to the last.
Charles Meadows, as the owner of the remainder, under his uncle's will, succeeded to most of the estate, and after assuming the name of Pierrepont by Royal Commission, was created Earl Manvers in 1806.
This was the final seal set on the door which barred an American Duke of Kingston from ever entering the gates of Holme Pierrepont.
The descent of the American Pierreponts from William Pierrepont, as I have said, was never proved by James, but family tradition has it, that when Edwards Pierrepont, who was the nephew of Evelyn, the Revolutionary soldier, went as Minister to England in 1878, he was entertained by the Earl of Manvers at his ancestral home in Nottingham, and saw the musty family records, that showed the descent from ancient William, with all the links complete, even as Mr. James Pierrepont had claimed they should be.
Alas, poor James! If he could but have seen those precious documents he might have sailed for England and become in time the rightful Duke of Kingston and Lord of Holme Pierrepont.
Beneath the Center church in New Haven he now lies buried with his saintly father, while English Evelyn, the last recognized Duke of Kingston, slumbers with his ancestors in the shadow of the old church of St. Edmund's at Holme Pierrepont; the ambitions of the one, and the follies of the other, aliko almost forgotten by their own descendants; for the memory of this sad romance, preserved only in these mouldering papers, has become to the present generation as dim and faded as are the letters we have just been reading.
STUDENT LIFE AT YALE IN THE EARLY DAYS
OF CONNECTICUT HALL.
By FRANKLIN BOWDITCH DEXTER, LITT.D.
[Read January 28, 1907.]
To begin with an evident truism, student life in 1750 was in essentials very closely akin to student life in 1907.
Undoubtedly there was more coarseness and less luxury, more formal relations with the governing body and less mental improvement, perhaps more experience in grace and certainly less experience in the world,—but this is only saying in another way that the college shared the general character of its century, and was not, as we should not expect it to be, ahead of the times.
And how different from our standard the times were !
A record is still extant of a part of the faculty judgments of these early days; and the opening entry, in 1751, affords us a homely picture of the average student coming up to college at the opening of the year, which may be worth quoting as an introduction to his story.
“Whereas Holmes (who was a great uncle of Oliver Wendell Holmes) on 10th of November last, being the Sabbath or Lord's day traveled unnecessarily, and that with a burden or pack behind him, from beyond Wallingford to this place: which is contrary to the divine and civil law, as well as to the laws of this college.
"It is therefore considered by the president, with the advice of the tutors, that the said Holmes shall be fined 20 pence sterling.” But the fine was remitted a week later, on his making public confession of his so-called “crime" in the hall.