About this image
Information taken from www.nottingham.ac.uk:
The Bigamous Duchess of Kingston
Elizabeth Chudleigh (c.1720-1788) came from an impoverished landed Devon family. In 1744 she married a Royal Navy officer, Augustus John Hervey (1724-1779) but concealed the marriage so that she could retain her position as maid of honour to the Princess of Wales. The marriage failed and she became the mistress of Evelyn Pierrepont, 2nd Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull (1711-1773), of Thoresby and Holme Pierrepont in Nottinghamshire (see image DCHQ200229).
Meanwhile, Hervey became heir to the Earldom of Bristol. When the 2nd Earl of Bristol fell ill in 1759, Elizabeth forged an entry in the church register, hoping to support a later claim as Countess. However, marriage to the Duke of Kingston was a better prospect. As Hervey also wished to make another marriage, the pair colluded in 1769 to conceal evidence of their wedding. Elizabeth committed perjury in the ecclesiastical court and married the Duke within weeks.
In 1773 Kingston died. While she remained a widow, Elizabeth was entitled to his estate revenues and all of his personal effects. The Duke's will was disputed by his disinherited nephew Evelyn Medows, who brought the bigamy case against her.
The 1776 trial for bigamy of Elizabeth Pierrepont, Duchess of Kingston, gripped the nation. Tickets for the trial were keenly sought by members of the public.
The trial for bigamy took place over five days, 15th-22nd April 1776, in front of the House of Lords. After hearing the evidence, all 119 Lords took it in turn to declare their verdict. Each spoke the word 'Guilty'.
Elizabeth immediately fled to the Continent. She retained a substantial fortune left to her by the Duke of Kingston. During the last two years of her life she lived in Russia, in part at the court of Catherine the Great, and in France. She died suddenly on 26th August 1788.
This image is one of a collection by the famous local antiquarian, Thomas Bateman, of Middleton by Youlgreave. (1821-1861). Bateman organized his collection by inserting them into a 4 volume copy of Lysons Magna Britannia, Derbyshire, creating a fascinating and unique illustrated record of the county. The purchase of the collection for Derbyshire Libraries was made possible by the generous bequest of Miss Frances Webb of Whaley Bridge, well known local historian, who died in December 2006.