Susan Euphemia Beckford

Susan's father and husband were both extraordinary wealthy, passionate, artistic men. I should like to find out more about her!

Lived
1786-1857
Origin
Fonthill Gifford
Father
William Beckford. He inherited a million-pound fortune and several sugar plantations in Jamaica from his father, a Lord Mayor of London. This allowed William to enjoy art and architecture, building Fonthill Abbey (below), most of which collapsed in 1825 under the weight of its poorly-built tower. He was hounded out of polite English society after a homosexual affair with the Hon William Courtenay. He wrote the acclaimed gothic novel Vathec and travel writings. He was a great art collector and spent most of his fortune, but his son-in-law the Duke of Hamilton inherited most of his great art collection. He spent his later years in Bath, where he built 'Beckford's Tower', a folly to house his collection, now a museum to Beckford.
Mother
Margaret Gordon, daughter of the fourth earl of Aboyne (step-daughter of Mary Gordon. She died the year Susan was born, after 3 years marriage
Story
In 1809 the English Whig Hon William Spencer sent verses to Walter Scott which were 'to Susan Beckford who said that my verses did her good when she was ill.' Scott replied, 'The verses to Miss Beckford are truly beautiful':
    To sooth your painful hours, my humble strain,
    Inspir'd by you, in happier moments ran--
    So scentless gales, when Summer burns the plain,
    Borrow a fragrance from the rose they fan!
(3, Sep 16 1809)
Chapel connection
1814 (baptism)
Married on
16 April 1810
Spouse
Alexander Hamilton. Three years before he married Susan, while Ambassador in St Petersburg, he had apparently fallen violently in love and proposed to a Countess Potoka. (2 p.273-4)
Children
Susan Harriet Catherine Douglas Hamilton (1814), William Douglas-Hamilton, 11th Duke of Hamilton
Relations
Step-grandmother: Susan's mother Margaret was the daughter of Charles Gordon, earl of Aboyne, by his first marriage, after which he married Mary Haliburton. (2 p.273-4)
Connections
Helen Baker was from the same part of Wiltshire.

Fonthill Abbey


Sources

  1. Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
  2. The Complete Peerage, ed. H.A. Doubleday et al. (London, St Catherine Press, 1926) vol. 6
  3. H.J.C. Grierson, Letters of Sir Walter Scott (London, Constable and Co. 1932)

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