In last week’s post I mentioned the huge gambling losses of Charles James Fox.
Fox was a well-loved, over-indulged, we would say “spoiled” child, who grew up to be a gambler, a womanizer and a formidable politician whose goals clashed with the king’s on the issue of American independence. He was Britain’s first Foreign Secretary, and Secretary of State three times.
His personal life took an interesting turn when he met Elizabeth Armistead. The official U.K. site says that “from 1784 he lived with the actress, Elizabeth Armistead, and was loyal to her until his death.” In actuality, Elizabeth Armistead was one of the preeminent courtesans of the era, and the great love of Fox’s life. In Courtesans: Money, Sex, and Fame in the Nineteenth Century, author Katie Hickman tells their story, and says they did in fact marry on September 28, 1795.
Though Armistead’s letters to Fox did not survive, his letters to her did. On the eve of their marriage, answering her doubts and concerns, he wrote:
My dearest Liz, I have received your Wednesday’s letters, kind as usual, but yet full of doubts, that indeed are wholly unfounded. I do assure you I have long ago given the subject all possible consideration, and I am for many reasons convinced that by following our plan we are doing for the best…I can easily conceive what you say that you had rather see me married to another, than have to think that I repented being married to you and wished myself free; but indeed indeed my dearest Angel you never never shall have cause for such a thought, so on Monday morning you must say love and obey, and be Mrs. Fox.
Indeed, indeed, by all accounts Fox settled into blissful domesticity with his beloved. They lived happily together. and she was by his side when he died in 1806.