L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Portraits of "Silence" - Sarah Sophia Child Villiers, Countess of Jersey

A miniature by Alfred Chalon, circa 1820s.

Sarah Sophia Child Villiers née Fane, Countess of Jersey (4 March 1785 – 26 January 1867, London), English noblewoman. The eldest daughter of John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland, and Sarah Anne Child. Her mother was the only child of Robert Child, the principal shareholder in the banking firm Child & Co. Under the terms of his will, the Countess of Jersey was the primary legatee, and she not only inherited Osterley Park and other Child property, but became a senior partner of the bank; a very unusual situation for the time, she held the position for more than sixty years. At nineteen she married George Child Villiers, 5th Earl of Jersey. They had seven children together, all of them surviving into adulthood. Her husband's mother, Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey, was one of the more notorious mistresses of King George IV when he was Prince of Wales. The younger Lady Jersey's own affairs, although conducted with discretion, were said to be numerous: Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, was thought to be one of her lovers. She was one of the patronesses of Almack's, the most exclusive social club in London, and a leader of society during the Regency era. Though much admired for her many acts of kindness and generosity, she was also known for her affectations, her rudeness, and her incessant gossiping. In addition, she was given the nickname "Silence", the nickname being ironic since, famously, she almost never stopped talking. She was immortalized as Zenobia in Disraeli's novel "Endymion", Caroline Lamb ridiculed her in her roman à clef "Glenarvon" - Lady Jersey got her revenge by barring the author from Almack's, though she later relented - and, in the following century, she became a recurring character in the Regency novels of Georgette Heyer. She outlived her husband and six of her seven children, dying at the age of eighty-one.

A miniature attributed to John Linnell the Elder, circa 1804-15.
Small notebook with a miniature by Nicholas-François Dun, circa 1804-15.
The back of the notebook, containing a lock of the Countess' hair.
Lithographic illustration from a portrait by Alfred Chalon, circa 1820s.
Lithographic illustration from a portrait by Edmund Thomas Parris, circa 1820s.
Lithographic illustration from a portrait by James Holmes of 1834.
The original portrait by James Holmes, 1834.
Sketch by Sir George Hayter, 1819.

1 comment:

  1. As a Georgette Heyer fan, I am familiar with Jersey but had never seen an image. Wonderful assortment of views.