Elizabeth Cavendish Egerton,
countess of Bridgewater (1626–1663)
Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
Mourns Her Children
Daughter of a staunch and wealthy royalist, William Cavendish (later duke of Newcastle) and his first wife, Elizabeth Bassett, Elizabeth Egerton (1626–1663), stepdaughter of Margaret Cavendish, grew up in a courtly atmosphere. There is no sign that she was well educated, but she partook of the literary culture in which her family was immersed; a manuscript at Oxford University's Bodleian Library contains poems and “Concealed Fancies,” a closet drama she composed with her sister. (Another manuscript, at Yale University, does not include the drama.) After marrying John Egerton, the future second earl of Bridgewater, Elizabeth Egerton lived a retired life at Ashridge, the family estate in Hertfordshire. There she raised a large family until her early death in premature childbed with her tenth child. Egerton's writings after her marriage concern family and religious matters. Like many parents in a time of high childhood mortality, Egerton buried several children. The following selections, mourning two of them, are from a contemporary fair copy of a journal in the British Library (MS Egerton 607).