Nagel tells the captivating and irresistible story of Mary Nisbet, whose life and letters give readers an intimate and astonishing insider's look into the British aristocracy during the Romantic era.Nagel tells the captivating and irresistible story of Mary Nisbet, whose life and letters give readers an intimate and astonishing insider's look into the British aristocracy during the Romantic era.Read Less
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Mary Nisbet Ferguson was a Scottish lass albeit a wealthy one. Her first husband, Thomas Bruce, Lord Elgin, married her for her money. He squandered part of it as he made bad business decisions and became a British Diplomat. However, a preponderance of his success as a diplomat was due to Mary, a vibrant breeze of fresh air who endeared herself to nearly everyone, aristocracy and commoner alike. Lord Elgin expected to use her fortune and that she was to inherit to pay off, debts, rebuild his estate and procure the "Elgin" marbles. During the Napoleonic Wars the two became prisoners in France but because of her fame and fortune they were well provided for. At this time they were separated and while she was working for his release he alienated her affections while having one of his childhood friends look after her, not expecting the friend would fall in love with her. Lord Elgin later sued the friend for alienation of affection in English court and won. He sued in Scottish courts to get a divorce from his wife and as it was early 1800s Britain got the children. However, the property issue was a different matter. With her family standing behind her and because it was Scots law, he did not get any property or money from the divorce itself. Both remarried, Mary wed the friend and they were successful gaining more wealth. Lord Elgin left his second family 120,000 pounds in debt. Mary's second husband was instrumental in passage of the Custody of Infants Act giving mothers the right gain custody of children under seven. I find it interesting as I read more about women to see how much they have been denied there rightful place in history by our education system
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