vol II date / index
St. Manus, A. D. 275. Sts. Liberatus, Abbot, and six monks, A. D. 483.
WIFE OF TWO HUSBANDS.
To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
I know nothing more respecting the subjoined marrative than that I am almost certain I copied it some years ago from that mass of trifling, the papers of old Cole, in the British Museum. It purports to be an extract fron [sic] the Cambridge journal, from whence he no doubt took it.
I am, Sir, &c.
Account of the Earl of Roseberry's Son, and a Clergyman's Wife, in Essex.
In the Cambridge Journal of October, 1752, is the following Article.
Extract of a Letter from Colchester, August 18.
"Perhaps you have heard that a chest was seized by the Custom-house officers, which was landed near this place about a fortnight ago: they took it for smuggled goods, though the person with it produced the king of France's signature to Mr. Williams, as a Hamburgh merchant: but people not satisfied with the account Mr. Williams gave, opened the chest, and one of them was going to run his hanger in, when the person to whom it belonged clapt his hand upon his sword, and desired him to desist (in French,) for it was the corpse of his dear wife. Not content with this, the officers plucked off the embalming, and found it as he had said. The man, who appeared to be a person of consequence, was in the utmost agonies, while they made a spectacle of the lady. They sat her in the high church, where any body might come and look on her, and would not suffer him to bury her, till he gave a further account of himself. There were other chests of fine clothes, jewels, &c. &c. belonging to the deceased. He acknowledged at last that he was a person of quality, that his name was not Williams, that he was born at Florence, and the lady was a native of England, whom he married, and she desired to be buried in Essex: that he had brought her from Verona, in Italy, to France, by land, there hired a vessel for Dover, discharged the vessel there, and took another for Harwich, but was drove hither by contrary winds. This account was not enough to satisfy the people: he must tell her name and condition, in order to clear himself of a suspicion of murder. He was continually in tears, and had a key of the vestry, where he sat every day with the corpse: my brother went to see him there, and the scene so shocked him he could hardly bear it, he said it was so like Romeo and Juliet.
"He was much pleased with my brother, as he talked both Latin and French, and to his great surprise, told him who the lady was: which proving to be a person he knew, he could not help uncovering the face. In short, the gentleman confessed he was the earl of Roseberry's son, (the name is Primrose,) and his title lord Delamere, [Dalmeny,] that he was born and educated in Italy, and never was in England till two or three years ago, when he came to London, and was in company with this lady, with whom he fell passionately in love, and prevailed on her to quit the kingdom, and marry him: that having bad health, he had travelled with her all over Europe; and when she was dying, she asked for pen and paper, and wrote, 'I am the wife of the rev. Mr. G. — rector of Th—, in Essex: my maiden name was C. Cannom; and my last request is to be buried at Th—.'
"The poor gentleman, who last married her, protests he never knew, (till this confession on her death-bed,) that she was another's wife: but in compliance with her desire, he brought her over, and should have buried her at Th— (if the corpse had not been stopped) without making any stir about it. After the nobleman had made this confession, they sent to Mr. G—, who put himself in a passion, and threatened to run her last husband through the body; however, he was prevailed on to be calm: it was represented to him, that this gentleman had been at great expense and trouble to fulfil her desire; and Mr. G— consented to see him. They say the meeting was very moving, and that they addressed each other civilly. The stranger protested his affection to the lady was so strong, that it was his earnest wish, not only to attend her to the grave, but to be shut up for ever with her there.
"Nothing in romance ever came up to the passion of this man. He had a very fine coffin made for her, with six large silver plates over it: and at last, was very loth to part with her, to have her buried: he put himself in the most solemn mourning, and on Sunday last in a coach, attended the corpse to Th—, where Mr. G— met it in solemn mourning likewise.
"The Florentine is a genteel person of a man, seems about twenty-five years of age, and they say, a sensible man: but there was never any thing like his behaviour to his dear, dear wife, for so he would call her to the last. Mr. G— attended him to London yesterday, and there were very civil to each other; but my lord is inconsolable: he says he must fly England, which he can never see more. I have heard this account from many hands, and can assure you it is fact. Kitty Cannom is, I believe, the first woman in England that had two husbands attended her to the grave together. You may remember her to be sure: her life would appear more romantic than a novel."
Snapdragon Toadflax. Anterrhenum Linaria.
Dedicated to St. Manus.