I came across a mysterious payment into the bank account of a Mary B Mostyn in 1785, for a substantial amount of money – £14,659, which today would be worth a little under £2 million. On 16 December 1785, the day after his marriage, George Finch-Hatton, the husband of Lady Elizabeth née Murray ( Dido Elizabeth Belle’s cousin) received £15,859 into his bank and that very same day he paid the whole amount out to two beneficiaries, the £14,659 being paid to Mary. This payment appears to be in connection with the purchase of property. Mary B Mostyn seems to have been involved in several property deals during her life as it was a great way to invest money.
This led me to try to find out more about this seemingly mysterious woman, as I had no idea who she was, especially given that her name appeared in the National Archives numerous times, all pertaining to the buying and selling of property and land.
After much digging it transpired that Mary Bridget Mostyn was born in 1715 at Whitford, Flintshire, to parents, Sir Roger Mostyn, 3rd Baronet and his wife, Essex née Finch.
Essex Finch being the eldest daughter of Daniel, 2nd Earl of Nottingham (1647-1730) and his second wife, Anne nee Hatton. Essex Finch was also one of Lady Elizabeth Mansfield’s siblings (Lord Mansfield’s wife).
Sir Roger and Essex married in 1703 and had somewhere between 10 and 12 children, nine of whom were born before he wrote his will in 1719. It would be just two years in May 1721 that his wife, Essex died from smallpox at the age of 34 leaving Roger with quite a brood to raise alone, as he never remarried. Mary Bridget was just six years old at the time and would be a mere sixteen when her father also died, so it’s unclear as to who raised the younger children after his death, but it seems likely that there would have been a guardian put in place to care for them.
Just a month after the death of their father, the eldest daughter, Essex, married Robert Ker, who became 2nd Duke of Roxburgh. Whether Mary Bridget attended the wedding remains unknown.
In 1746, Mary Bridget was appointed to the position of Maid of Honour, to Augusta, Princess of Wales, wife of Prince Frederick (George II’s eldest son) and mother of the then future George III, which indicates that Mary Bridget would be very close to all the great and good of the day, added to which, of course, her maternal grandfather, 2nd Earl of Nottingham was one of the wealthiest men in the country and her maternal aunt was Lady Elizabeth Murray, wife of William, Lord Mansfield.
I would have thought Mary Bridget would have made an ideal Maid of Honour, as she and the princess were very close in age. Interestingly, her brother, John was also appointed as Groom of the Bedchamber to George II, in the same year, where he remained until his death in 1779. In his will he left his three surviving sisters, Anne, Elizabeth and Mary Bridget, £1,000 each.
This death was closely followed by another brother, Sir Thomas Mostyn the following year.
1751 saw the death of Princess Augusta’s husband and a period of mourning for the Princess and their eldest son, George became heir apparent.
1757 saw the death of her brother, Rear Admiral of the Red, Savage Mostyn, (the same post that would be held by Sir John Lindsay, some thirty years later).
In 1759, Elizabeth Mostyn joined her older sisters, Anne and Mary Bridget, as part of the Royal Establishment. Anne, it would appear was housekeeper at Hampton Court, with Elizabeth as her deputy, both living at Hampton Court Palace in Apartment 39, ‘The Lady Housekeeper’s Lodgings’ within the grace and favour apartments.
One of their brothers, Roger was also made Groom of the Bedchamber in 1758, so it appears that several of Mary Bridget’s several siblings were very much in the court circle. Not long after the ascension of George III in 1760, Elizabeth changed roles, becoming Keeper of his Majesty’s Privy Lodgings and Standing Wardrobe.
Princess Augusta had six Maids of Honour, at any one time, a position which was a junior attendant to that of Lady in Waiting. One such was Charlotte Dives, from 1736 to 1762, when in that year she married Samuel, 2nd Baron Masham and was replaced by a Miss Evelyn (unidentified but possibly one of the daughters of Sir John Evelyn). The others were:
Lucy Young from 1736 to 1742
Arabella Herbert from 1736 until her death in 1755
Albinia Selwyn from 1736 until her marriage to Sir William Irby in 1746. Albania’s daughter, Augusta Georgina would also become Maid of Honour.
Elizabeth Hamilton from 1738 to 1742, replaced by Elizabeth Granville from 1742 to 1772
Elizabeth Chudleigh 1743 until her bigamous marriage to the Duke of Kingston. Her mother was appointed as Housekeeper at Windsor Castle in 1751.
Elizabeth Drax for just one year from 1743 to 1744
Elizabeth Lawson from 1745 until her death in 1759. Her younger sister, Charlotte was Maid of Honour to princesses, Amelia and Caroline
Henrietta Egerton, daughter of Sir William Egerton from 1756 to 1772
Susannah Vansittart, daughter of Arthur Vansittart of Shottesbrook Park, Berkshire, from 1760 to 1772
Katrina Neville from 1765 to 1772
Susan Tracey Keck from 1770 to 1772, who married Francis Charteris in 1771. She was replaced by Augusta Georgina Irby
Mary Bridget would have known, or known of, the majority of these women during her lengthy service to the princess, witnessed many events and met many people, her name appearing quite often in the press as one of the Maids of Honour in attendance at major events.
She remained as a Maid of Honour until the death of Princess Augusta in 1772, by which time Mary Bridget was in her mid-fifties.
It would appear that after her loyal service she began investing in property, a low risk and relatively safe way to invest funds, with her name appearing in many financial transactions which is slightly unusual for a woman at that time, but of course as a spinster she was freer than a married woman, but also, she needed to plan for her later life.
In the 1780’s she lived at 25 Queen Anne Street, London, rubbing shoulders with the likes of the Duke of Chandos, Earl Cornwallis and lived next door to Lady Mary Duncan (neé Sackville Tufton).
At the beginning of 1785, her sister, Elizabeth was to die and was buried on 10 January at St Mary’s Hampton. Her burial entry confirms her role as Keeper of the Royal Lodgings, Hampton Court Palace. Reading Elizabeth’s will it sounds as if she had little to leave, as she simply bequeathed to Mary Bridget a ‘snuff box striped with blue and gold.’ The remainder of her estate was left to friends and consisted of equally small items.
In July 1789, Mary Bridget died, and was buried at Hendon on 14 July 1789. She left a will in which she stated that she wished to be interred in the vault at North End which she had recently purchased. She left several bequests to various nieces and nephews, but made no mention of George Finch Hatton, which makes the payment made to him probably just a business transaction.
This was not a rabbit hole I had planned to disappear down, but nonetheless, having disappeared down there, one thing led to another, and it turned out to be very much a genealogical rabbit hole, discovering eventually that the connection between Mary Bridget Mostyn and George Finch-Hatton, was that of cousin, and once again, it shows the family’s close proximity to the royal family of the day.
Flintshire Baptisms, Marriages and Burials. Wales: Archives and Records Council Wales.
Household of Augusta, Princess of Wales
Will of The Honorable John Mostyn, General
Copy of Court Roll Manor of L. Weldon; vfp &c. of George Hatton esquire & Hon. Mary Mostyn. 12 October 1782
Deed of Covenant on sale of copyhold lands 29 October 1784
Deed of absolute surrender 29 October 1784
Bond in £300 Mary Bridget Mostyn of Queen Ann Street East, St Mary le Bone, spinster. 13 December 1785
Admission of tenant: Mary Bridget Mostyn. 10 May 1785
Admission of tenant and surrender: MB Mostyn 10 May 1785
Copy of Reassignment of Mortgage in a trust to attend the inheritance of 19 October 1787
Admission of Tenant. 31 October 1789
Deed of Covenant for sale of estate. 5 November 1789
Will of Mary Bridget Mostyn. Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series PROB 11; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1181