All of Frances's aunts married into titled families.
- Lady Frances Pierrepont b. 8 Jun 1690, d. 4 Mar 1761 She married John Erskine from Clackmannanshire in Scotland the Earl of March
- Lady Mary Pierrepont b. 26 May 1689, d. 1762 Lady Mary Pierrepont was baptised on 26 May 1689 at St. Paul's Church, Covent Gardens, London, England.
- Lady Evelyn Pierrepont b. 19 Sep 1691, d. 26 Jun 1727 She married John 1st Earl of Gower and Viscount Leveson-Gower
- William Pierrepont, Earl of Kingston b. 21 Oct 1692, d. c Jul 1713 m Rachel Baynton
Mary was a friend of Elizabeth Montagu, and became part of her "inner circle"
It is her daughter Mary that would fit as the beneficiary of Jemima Medows' will
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (15 May 1689 – 21 August 1762) was an English aristocrat and writer. Lady Mary is today chiefly remembered for her letters, particularly her letters from Turkey, as wife to the British ambassador, which have been described by Billie Melman as “the very first example of a secular work by a woman about the Muslim Orient”.
She used the library in her father’s mansion, Thoresby Hall in the Dukeries of Nottinghamshire, to “steal” her education, teaching herself Latin.
Thoresby Hall had one of the finest private libraries in England, which she loved, but it was lost when the building burned in 1744. By about fourteen she had written two albums filled with poetry, a brief epistolary novel, and a prose-and-verse romance modeled after Aphra Behn's Voyage to the Isle of Love (1684).She also apparently corresponded with two bishops, Thomas Tenison and Gilbert Burnet, who supplemented the instructions of a governess she despised. Lady Mary would later describe her governess' teachings as "the worst in the world".
Marriage and embassy to Ottoman Empire
Her father pressured her to marry Clotworthy Skeffington, heir to an Irish peerage. Although Lady Mary had fallen in love with another unidentified man, in order to avoid marriage to Skeffington, she eloped with Wortley. They were married on 23 August 1712 in Salisbury.
When Lady Mary joined him in London, her wit and beauty soon made her a prominent figure at court. She was among the society of George I and the Prince of Wales, and counted amongst her friends Molly Skerritt, Lady Walpole, John, Lord Hervey, Mary Astell, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, Alexander Pope, John Gay, and Abbé Antonio Conti.
She survived, but while she was ill someone circulated the satirical “court eclogues” she had been writing. One of the poems was read as an attack on Caroline, Princess of Wales, in spite of the fact that the "attack" was voiced by a character who was herself heavily satirized.
Disgraced and unable to return to court, Lady Mary left London in August 1716 to accompany her husband on his embassy to Istanbul.
She had a daughter, who would grow up to be Mary, Countess of Bute, on 19 January 1718 in Istanbul. After an unsuccessful delegation between Austria and Ottoman empires, they returned to England.
While in Turkey, she also recorded a particularly amusing incident in which a group of Turkish women, horrified by the sight of the corset she was wearing, exclaimed that "the husbands in England were much worse than in the East, for [they] tied up their wives in little boxes, the shape of their bodies".
Lady Mary wrote that nowhere else were women as free as they were in the Ottoman Empire.
(Things have changed a bit since Mary was there)
In 1727 her husband inherited Wortley Hall, near Barnsley, Yorkshire, and commissioned a major remodelling of the house in 1742.
The last of the Istanbul letters to Pope purports to have been written from Dover on 1 November 1718. It contains a parody on Pope's Epitaph on the Lovers Struck by Lightning. The manuscript collection of these letters was passed round a considerable circle, and Pope may have been offended at the circulation of this piece of satire.
Jealousy of her friendship with Lord Hervey has also been alleged, but Lady Louisa Stuart says Pope had made Lady Mary a declaration of love, which she had received with an outburst of laughter. In any case Lady Mary always professed complete innocence of all cause of offence in public. She is alluded to in the Dunciad in a passage to which Pope affixed one of his insulting notes. A Pop upon Pope was generally thought to be her work, and Pope thought she was part author of One Epistle to Mr A. Pope (1730).
She had a romantic correspondence with a Frenchman named Rémond, who addressed to her a series of excessively gallant letters before ever seeing her. She invested money for him in South Sea stock at his desire and, as was expressly stated, at his own risk. The value fell to half the price, and he tried to extort the original sum as a debt by a threat of exposing the correspondence to her husband.
She seems to have been really alarmed, not at the imputation of gallantry, but lest her husband should discover the extent of her own speculations. This disposes of the second half of Pope's line "Who starves a sister, or forswears a debt" (Epilogue to the Satires, 113), and the first charge is quite devoid of foundation.
She did in fact try to rescue her favourite sister, the countess of Mar, who was mentally deranged, from the custody of her brother-in-law, Lord Grange, who had treated his own wife with notorious cruelty, and the slander originated with him.
She exchanged many love letters with Francesco Algarotti, Count Algarotti, competing with an equally smitten John Hervey for the Count's affections. She never remarried.
She lived at Avignon, at Brescia, at Gottolengo and at Lovere on the Lago d'Iseo. She was disfigured by a painful skin disease, (smallpox), and her sufferings were so acute that she hints at the possibility of madness. She was struck with a terrible fit of sickness while visiting the countess Palazzo and her son, and perhaps her mental condition made restraint necessary.
Ottoman smallpox inoculation
In 1717, she went to live in Turkey with her husband, the British ambassador to that country, and stayed for two years. In the Ottoman Empire, she visited the women in their segregated zenanas, learning Turkish, making friends and learning about Turkish customs. There she witnessed the practice of inoculation against smallpox—variolation—which she called engrafting, and wrote home about it.
Variolation used live smallpox virus in the liquid taken from a smallpox blister in a mild case of the disease and carried in a nutshell. Lady Mary was eager to spare her children, and had her son inoculated while in Turkey. On her return to London, she enthusiastically promoted the procedure, but encountered a great deal of resistance from the medical establishment, because it was an "Oriental" process
Then six orphan children were inoculated: they all survived. In 1722 King George I allowed Maitland to inoculate two of his grandchildren, children of the Princess. The children recovered.
In fact, using live virus did carry a risk of infection. About 3% of those inoculated developed smallpox and died. Others spent weeks recovering. However, that was preferable to catching smallpox in the wild, with its mortality rate of 20–40% and survivors left scarred and sometimes blind.
She wrote Six Town Eclogues, with some other Poems (1747). She was included in Dodsley's Collection of Poems. She wrote notable letters describing her travels through Europe; these appeared after her death in three volumes from Becket and De Hondt. During the twentieth century Lady Mary's letters were edited separately from her essays, poems, and play, and from her longer fictions.
The letters themselves frequently draw attention to the fact that they present a different (and, Montagu asserts, more accurate) description than that provided by previous (male) travellers: "You will perhaps be surpriz'd at an Account so different from what you have been entertaind with by the common Voyage-writers who are very fond of speaking of what they don't know."
Montagu provides an intimate description of the women's bathhouse, in which she derides male descriptions of the bathhouse as a site for unnatural sexual practices, instead insisting that it was “the Women’s coffee house, where all the news of the Town is told, Scandal invented, etc”.
(the women today are not allowed into the coffee houses, they have to meet in their own homes and courtyards)
However, Montagu's detailed descriptions of nude Oriental beauties provided inspiration for male artists such as Ingres, who restored the explicitly erotic content that Montagu had denied. In general, Montagu consistently derides the quality of European travel literature of the 18th century as nothing more than "trite observations…superficial…[of] boys who only remember the best wine or the prettyest women."
However, they also added corrections or elaborations to her observations. Julia Pardoe, in describing her own visit to a bathhouse, wrote "I should be unjust if I did not declare that I saw none of that unnecessary and wanton exposure described by Lady Mary Montagu. Either the fair Ambassadress was present at a peculiar ceremony, or the Turkish ladies have become more delicate and fastidious in the ideas of propriety."
Emmeline Lott, who wrote a book about her experience working as a governess for the son of Ishamel Pasha, claimed that Montagu's aristocratic rank meant that she had seen only the most attractive elements of Oriental life: "…her handsome train, Lady Ambassadress as she was, swept but across the splendid carpeted floors of these noble Saloons of Audience, all of which had been, as is invariably the custom, well “swept and garnished” for her reception."
However, Montagu's historical observations, both in the "Anecdotes" and the "Turkish Embassy Letters," prove quite accurate when put in context.