William Cowper of the Inner Temple, Esq: A Study of His Life and Works to the Year 1768

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VIII
THEADORA

. . . her--through tedious years of doubt and pain, Fix'd in her choice, and faithful--but in vain.

'On the Death of Sir W. Russell', ll. 9-10

So far Cowper has been seen in a world of men, which is only a partial picture. From the death of his mother when he was six ( 1737) until the early 1750's, when he was at Chapman the solicitor's, he was like almost any other English boy of his station. It was scarcely possible for him to know any women, except, as he said, the maids at his boarding-house.1 But once the bonds of school life had been cut, Cowper moved quickly into the society of women. One he sought in particular: his cousin Theadora,2 whom he loved deeply.

She was a daughter of Ashley Cowper, who was a brother of William's father. The two young lawyers, Cowper and Thurlow, spent many hours with Theadora and her older sister Harriot (who married Sir Thomas Hesketh)3 and with her younger sister, Elizabeth Charlotte (who married Sir Archer Croft). Cowper slept at Mr Chapman's, but his days were spent in Southampton Row at Ashley's house, and here he and 'the future Lord Chancellor' were 'constantly

____________________
1
Latters, 1, 240.
2
I have followed the spelling of her name as found in her signature to letters now in the Panshanger Coll. ( Theadora to 3rd E. Cowper, 22 Dec. 1773 and 6 March 1778), and as given by Lady Hesketh (to Hayley, So Aug. 1801: Add. MSS. 30803 A, f. 155). She was known as 'Thea'.
3
Lady Hesketh habitually spelled her name 'Harriot': all her letters among the Hesketh MSS. in the Lancashire Record Office (DDF-413.2) are signed in this fashion; the Hon. Mrs Penelope Madan Maitland, her cousin and especially close friend, also, spelled H. Hesketh's name 'Harriot' ( Poems, pp 659-60; Madan Family, pp. 124-5); in the letter of attorney given to her by Sir Thomas, 8 March 1769, the is named as 'Dame Harriott Hesketh' (Lancs. Rec. Off. MSS.).

-119-

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