Page One of the 10 February 1785 edition of The Times of London carried two unrelated items concerning two unrelated families.
The first reported a visit by King George III (the mad one) and his family to the theatre. The second speculated on the reason for the domestic violence visited on the famously promiscuous Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, by her husband.
In 1923 these two families would unite when Albert, Duke of York, great-great grandson of George III married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, great-great granddaughter of the Countess. Their union later produced Queen Elizabeth II.
Mary Eleanor Bowes became the wealthiest heiress in Britain at the age of 11 when she inherited a fortune worth up to $AU300 million in today's money. After flirting with a couple of suitors she became engaged at 16 to the 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, John Lyon, renowned as one of the most beautiful men of the age.
John, 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, and Mary, his Countess.
Mary, with a daughter.
Then came trouble.
She had an affair with Andrew Stoney, an army officer who'd already benefited from the death of his first wife - a lesser heiress. He was determined to marry the Countess. Mary wasn't about to give up control of her fortune again, and marrying Stoney would see her slide many rungs down the social ladder. Things were perfectly fine as they were.
- he must have had some secret charm -
not much to look at!
He then had a miraculous and immediate recovery.
Stoney himself had written the articles defaming his beloved, and paid a newspaper to publish them. Like wise he'd paid the editor to fight him in a duel, and the injuries were faked. He could now take over Mary's fortune.
But Mary had been burnt once. She'd secretly arranged a 'pre-nup'. The only way he could get control of the money was if Mary died leaving a male heir he'd fathered. He abused her mentally and physically - but he couldn't kill her - the money would all go to her kids by the Earl.
Stoney kept the Countess prisoner for 8 long years of mental and physical abuse. Meanwhile he raped servants, brought prostitutes into the house, and fathered a number of illegitimate kids. Eventually Mary escaped with the help of a maid. Stoney kidnapped her back and dragged her across the countryside on horseback during an exceptionally cold winter.
This is when the article in the Times was printed - a story planted by Stoney to explain the goings on. Mary's ordeal was over though. A maid had alerted the authorities, the cry rang out around the countryside - Mary was rescued and Stoney arrested.
She got to keep her fortune, while Stoney died a bankrupt. She retired to a quiet life, devoted to her pets. Her descendant Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was born at Glamis Castle, where so much of Mary's fortune had been spent, in 1900.
George III with his wife and younger children.
Young Prince Edward.
Albert, Duke of York marries Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon