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Mary Chudleigh. Biography




Mary Chudleigh, Lady Chudleigh (August 1656 Ц 1710) was an English poet who was part of an intellectual circle which included Mary Astell, Elizabeth Thomas, Judith Drake, Elizabeth Elstob, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and John Norris. In her later years she published a volume of poetry and two volumes of essays, all dealing with feminist themes. Two of her books were published in four editions during the last ten years of her life. Her poetry on the theme of human relationships and human reactions has appeared in several anthologies and her feminist essays are still in print.

Mary Lee was born in Winslade, Devon, in August 1656, the daughter of Richard Lee and Mary Sydenham of Westminster. She was baptized in Cyst St. George, Devon parish on 19 August 1656. She was the oldest of three siblings. Her mother's family was the distinguished Sydenham family of Wynfold Eagle, Dorset. Lady Mary's uncle Colonel William Sydenham served on fought in the English Civil War on the side of Parliament; her other uncle, Dr. Thomas Sydenham was well known for his study of epidemic diseases and doctor to Anne Finch, Vicountess Conway. Her father was a man of property and included "esq" after his name.

She married Sir George Chudleigh, 3rd Baronet (died 1718) of Ashton, Devon on 25 March 1674. Her biographers argue as to whether their marriage was happy; her references to marriage as a trap that was psychologically stifling for women suggest that she may have had personal experience with an overbearing husband, but on the other hand, he did allow her to publish several feminist works during his lifetime, and her previously-unpublished work was saved carefully by the family after her death. They had at least six children, including:


Sir George Chudleigh, 4th Baronet (died 1738), eldest son and heir. He married Frances Davie (1697-1748), a daughter and co-heiress of Sir William Davie, 4th Baronet (1662-1707) of Creedy House, Devon, by whom he had four daughters and co-heiresses.


Col. Thomas Chudleigh, 2nd son, of Chelsea, whose son was Sir Thomas Chudleigh, 5th Baronet (died 1741) and whose daughter Elizabeth Chudleigh was wife of Augustus John Hervey, 3rd Earl of Bristol (1724Ц1779) and bigamous wife of Evelyn Pierrepont, 2nd Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull (171-1773), who built "Chudleigh House" for her.


Eliza Maria Chudleigh.


Like most women of her time, she received little in the way of formal education, but read widely and educated herself in theology, science, and philosophy. Little else is known about her life except that one of her daughters must have died young, as her grief is mentioned in her letters and some poetry. Mary Chudleigh died on 15 December 1710 from severe rheumatism.



Mary Chudleigh's Poems:
  1. To the Ladies
  2. The Wish

All Mary Chudleigh's Poems



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