The Sterley's of Oakland Park

Chapter 8
Tea with Lady St Vincent

 “More tea my dear Lady St Vincent?” asked Lady Ann proffering the tea pot in the direction of Martha St Vincent. “No thank you Lady Ann I have been drinking far too many cups of tea of late,” said Lady St Vincent. It has been quite some time since I last visited the counties life in Town keeps one so busy that one seldom finds time to even consider a holiday in the counties,” said Lady St Vincent. “However since the peace John has found that he has much time for reflection and thus we are come at last to my dear nephew’s house,” said Lady St Vincent nodding in the direction of William Parker.

“Dear William and Emily have been so kind to us one hardly ever experiences such pleasant company in society now a days” said Lady St Vincent.  “Quite so” said his Lordship the Earl of St Vincent. They had come into the counties to visit with there relatives. Lady Ann upon hearing of there presents in the home of there brother-in law Parker had set out at once to make the esteemed couples acquaintance for she viewed it as a great privilege to meet the famed Earl who had done so much for England in the field of navel warfare.

She was certain that Sir Thomas would be most put out by the fact that he was currently away and would not have the occasion to meet the St Vincent’s. “Do you plan to stay long in the county asked Lady Ann?” “A fortnight maybe,” replied Lady Martha. “My dear husband will be so put out for not been here to have met you. However a matter of family business will delay him in London I should imagine,” said Lady Ann “That is a pity for I am sure that my husband and he would have much to speak about been old sea dogs,” said Lady Martha “ quite so” remarked the Earl as he took another sip of tea from the delicate china cup.

“Sir Thomas on one occasion related to me on his lordships wit in the House of Lords when been questioned, some thing about the French coming” said Lady Ann.  “Madam I can only assume it was the remark I made in the year 01, I do not say, my Lords that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea" said the earl.

“The very thing Sir Thomas said of you my Lord indeed a very sharp wit you have sir,” said Lady Ann “Will you step out with me sister-in-law? Asked Emily now growing aware that the earl whose countenance had been till this very moment one of fond remembrance exceedingly dark. For Emily parker perceived that the presence of Lady Ann was not to the liking of the old sea dog and as such she would not want it said that her husbands relative was been prevailed upon far more then polite society allowed.

“Yes shall we walk the maze for a spell?” asked Lady Ann linking her arm into that of her hostess. “I think I will obliged to join you” said Lady Martha who did not fancy the company of the gentlemen for she knew of old that men when in company prefer the females of society to amuse themselves with out making it an obligation of the men to keep them company when they speak of the hunt and guns and such other things that are in mans domain.

“It has been a fine summer uncommonly hot” said Lady Ann as they strolled in the maze. I should imagine that when winter comes we will long for these fine days,” remarked Emily.

“Sir Thomas of course is a man for all seasons, he can be found in the Avery at all hours of the day and night inspecting his birds” said Lady Ann. “does your husband collect birds? Asked Lady St Vincent lighting upon a subject for whom she had an interest in fact a very deep love for her husband had brought her a parrot on one of his trips from foreign parts. “Yes dear Lady he is exceeding fond of birds he plans to publish a book on the avian life of southern England before to long” replied Lady Ann. “That is the most remarkable thing for I am a great admirer of birds in there natural state, I have often watched the birds as they have flown south for the winter” remarked Lady Martha

The ladies wandered trough the garden enjoying the late summer afternoon until it was time for Lady Ann to depart. “You must come again soon sister-in-law” said Emily “Yes that I will,” said Lady Ann as she mounted the hack that had brought her. For she had a new and certain fondness for her new relatives the Parkers more over the chance of missing out on the pleasant company of Lady St Vincent was some thing she could not bear to forego, for while in the maze the woman had found much of common interest. Lady Ann’s inquisitive mind seeking out those aspects of the life of her new friend made her exceedingly happy.



Sir Thomas Sterley,

Picardy Hotel



Lady Ann Sterley,

Oakland Park


September 1814

Dearest Husband I have the pleasure of informing you that yesterday I had the great honor of taking tea with the Earl and Lady St Vincent at the home of William Parker.

It came as a pleasant surprise to me to discover that William is the nephew of Lady St Vincent. The Earl and his good wife had come into the county to visit with there relative sand had occasion to stop at the Parkers for a fortnight.

I beg to inform you that should the matter of Tom be ended in good time you might take measures to hasten your return for as I informed his lordship you are an old sea dog and you would have much to speak about

Your loving wife


 “Well my dear it is settled “Lord Charles is very receptive to the idea of a match between our Tom and Arabella” said Sir Thomas as he warmed his backside over the fire. “This is most fortuitous news, we shall have to start preparations at once” said Lady Ann. “The meeting at fleet street went exceedingly well I even managed to call upon Lord Hood who you will remember my dear is an old friend of the navy,” remarked Sir Thomas.  “This news of Tom and Arabella we shall have to publicize,” said Lady Ann “Pray how long before the will have to leave for the colony?” asked Lady Ann “Sir Benjamin gave me to understand that it would be three months hence thus my dear we have at least two months in which to make and prepare for the wedding. Lord Charles has said he will consider a dowry of twenty thousand pounds for young Arabella,” said Sir Thomas. “That dear husband is the least he could do after leaving the poor child in our care for such an extended season. One contemplate son the fact that he has hardly seen his daughter for almost a year” remarked Lady Ann crossly for she was unaccustomed to such parental neglect in her immediate family. “I am given to understand that Lord Charles is to be married again with in the year,” said Sir Thomas.

“Sir you never cease to amaze me with your knowledge and facts pray what and who is the lady who is the object of his affections?” she asked. I t is I believe a lady of your acquaintance or at least some one you knew in your youth now a woman of most sober habits  Miriam Lady Fortescue you will of course remember her from an occasion when she spent a season at Moorcroft Hall,” said Sir Thomas

“Sir I liked her not then and I know I will no like her now a pugnacious child if memory serves,” replied Lady Ann who it seemed was growing agitated in the extreme with each bit of news her husband imparted to her concerning Lord Charles for had her beloved Cousin Sarah not been a good wife true they had been long separated because of the constraints of Lord Charles’s occupation in the House of Lords but lately departed Sarah’s memory deserved a better recognition then to be replace with in the year by a new mistress in the Fitz-Gibbon household.

“Indeed had her husband struck her with a poker she would not have been as surprised as she now was by the news of the impending nuptials of Lord Charles and Lady Fortescue.

“Pray dear husband is Arabella aware of these macerations of her papa?” asked Lady Ann “Lord Charles informs me that he has long since communicated his feelings of affection to the lady in question as she was a companion of dear Sarah,” replied Sir Thomas as he moved away from the fire which although hot upon his backside was not as hot as the interrogation that his wife was subjecting him to.

“I fancy that he has told a miss truth for if he had communicated such to Arabella she would of a certainty have informed me,” said Lady Ann “It is guilt Sir that makes Lord Charles to offer such a large dowry for I can see no other reason for he has neglected his daughter for company of another woman,” she remarked

“Dear sweet Ann peace, peace I beg you there is naught that we can do about Lord Charles, but for Arabella we can do much, pray content yourself with this knowledge we can make her one of us welcome her into the family love and cherish her as a daughter and a sister all the days of our lives. Fear not madam for already these past months the dear sweet child has found a place in the hearts of every one of us. She will be a good wife to Tom a wonderful daughter to us both and eventually a mother to our grand children Pray do not distress yourself madam. For I fear you will suffer the most frightful indigestion for you eat when you are upset and you take not recognition of your health, I beg you be at peace and think on the wonderful life that awaits the happy couple of whom we are so fond,” said Sir Thomas.

“As usual you are right, one cannot however believe that a man would be as insensitive as to remarry when his wife has been in the tomb less then a year,” said Lady Ann as she poured herself a glass of Elderberry wine. The occasions upon which she took strong drink were few and far between however on this occasion it seemed to her that she needed to have a little fortification with in before she faced young Arabella with the news that she was to be married. It was not as if the matter had not been discussed while Sir Thomas and young Tom were away however it was not at that time known as a certainty now that matters had come to a head the date of the impending nuptials would have to be agreed upon. Further more Lady Ann was troubled by little sleep of late as she was worried for Lydia who had grown uncommon big in the last month Lady Ann began to believe that the child when born might not be one but to by the size of Lydia’s belly. This was of great concern to her as Lydia was of a slight build and would if not helped correctly suffer greatly in childbirth.

Young Tom in the mean while had gone to find his dearest Arabella and impart to her the news that they were to be married there after they would depart to the Cape of Good Hope to take up the appointment which Sir Benjamin Bathurst had procured for Tom as an aid to Lord Charles Somerset.


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