Sarah in charge

October 15, Windsor castle

By Ruth Herman

This letter is likely to have been written in while the Duke was away after fighting the bloody but victorious battle at Malplaquet.  On 23 October 1710 Lady Cowper wrote to Sarah saying she was ‘glad my spouse’s advice has been of service’ and as Lovelace died in 1709 this is some time after that. It is unclear as to Sarah’s involvement in this transaction but one can speculate that she was overseeing her husband’s financial affairs while he was away.

John Lovelace, fourth Baron Lovelace secured military appointments through his family’s Whig connections eventually becoming a colonel of his own regiment of foot in 1706. Marlborough no doubt knew Lovelace as his regiment fought at both Ramillies and Oudenarde, major battles in the War of the Spanish Succession.  He died on 6 May 1709.  Lovelace was appointed Governor of New York and New Jersey in 1708. He had been forced to sell the family estate in Berkshire due to the huge debts that came with it.  Robert Gayer appears to have been the buyer, who later on also had to sell an estate to enable him to pay his father’s legacies, thereafter going to live in the Berkshire estate which he bought from the poverty stricken Lovelace. A Vincent Oakley of the Middle Temple seems to have been managing the matter and put out a call for creditors on 14 February 1709[1]


I have received the favour of your Lordship’s letter, to which I give you a great many thanks. I will write to Mr Gayer to employ Mr […] as a solicitor to my Lord Lovelace’s estate without naming your Lordship for I believe you know my friend’s infirmity but his health is so ill that it makes it necessary to give him some help.[2] Lord Marlborough will be home the beginning of the next month[3] which will be before anything of consequence can be done in this affair, but in the meantime I can rely entirely upon any person you have a good opinion of, as I hope you [see?] that I am with all the respect imaginable.

Your Lordship’s

Most faithful and humble servant

S. Marlborough


[1] (London Gazette)

[2]It is unclear who is meant by this.

[3] He arrived in England on 11 November.

This page was added on 26/02/2016.

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