…every precaution, such as searching the mail-coaches, and stationing proper people to watch on the great Northern Road, have been resorted to. The lady will shortly become possessed of a very great fortune.
Morning Post, 27 February 1805
… the attachment has been a growing one for some time, and is said to have been discovered by Lady P who acquainted her husband with it, and his Lordship in consequence, gave the gentleman intimation that it was his intention to procure him a more eligible situation. The tutor apprehensive that the scent had been discovered, hastened to secure her flight without delay. Lady P is said to be inconsolable on the occasion.
Morning Post, 28 February 1805
(Brother’s tutor – left her father’s house in Norfolk in a post chaise and four in company with 2 male friends of lover, tutor followed discreetly into avoid unpleasant circumstances. Traced to Whitechapel by Lord and Lady P, where they applied to Sir R Ford and other magistrates for assitance. Phillips is 30, lady is about 18.)
Morning Chronicle, 1 March 1805
“Your father is very well. He was sorry for the fate of the Slave Trade Bill last night. The Elopement and distress in the House of Petre has been the chief subject of conversation for the last few days. Miss Petre made her escape from her father’s house in Norfolk with her Brothers’ tutor on Monday last. It is said they are at Worcester and married only by a Catholic Priest. However, Lord and Lady P. are gone there and it is expected she will be brought back to-night. They can do nothing but get her married to the man at Church. She is 18, he 30, and no Gentleman. She was advertised and 20 guineas reward offered to anyone who could give an account of the stray sheep. It is a sad History. What misery this idle girl has caused her parents, and probably ensured her own for life.”
From The Letter-bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer-Stanhope
March 1st. (1805)
(Lord Petre got a letter to say the pair were at Worcester.)
Morning Chronicle, 2 March 1805
“You have doubtless read in the papers the account of Miss Petre’s elopement with her brother’s tutor, Mr Philips. He is a very low man, quite another class, always dined with the children, never associated the least with the family, a sort of upper servant. Lady Petre thought him rather forward, he was to have left them at Easter. She had seen her daughter at twelve the night before, and only missed her at breakfast . Her clothes were all gone. A friend of his, a brandy merchant, accompanied her in the chaise, the tutor rode first. A clergyman refused to marry them some time ago at Lambeth, but they have since been married at Oxford by a Mr. Leslie, a Catholic priest, which is not enough. They are not yet discovered.”
The Miss Petre referred to above was Maria Juliana, daughter of Robert Edward, 10th Baron Petre. She was born 22 January 1787, married on 30th April 1805, to Stephen Philips, Esq., and died 27th January 1824. I have been unable to find much else concerning her life, but here is her obituary, as it appeared in The Catholic Spectator: “The Hon. Mrs. Philips, wife of Stephen Philips, Esq. of H. M. Customs, and eldest daughter of the late Rt. Hon. Edw. Lord Petre, and Lady Mary, surviving, of a decline, aged 37. To the ardent and unremitting zeal of this Lady, in her personal and most charitahle attentions to the Female Catholir Charity School, at Stratford. Essex, may principally he attrihuted her lamented and premature decease, She has left five children and a hushand to deplore the loss of a model for the Christian wife aud mother.”
Miss Petre’s, or rather Mrs. Philips’s, ancestral home was Ingatestone Hall, about which we read in Chambers’s Journal (1883) – “Again, an important instance of these secret chambers is that existing at Ingatestone Hall, in Essex, which, it may be remembered, was in years gone by a summer residence belonging to the abbey of Barking. It came with the estate into possession of the family of Petre in the reign of Henry VIII., and continued to be occupied as their family seat until the latter half of the last century. The hiding-place, which is fourteen feet long, two feet broad, and ten feet high, was discovered in the south-east corner of a small room attached to what was probably the host’s bedroom. Underneath the floor-boards, a hole or trap-door about two feet square was found, with a twelvestep ladder to descend into the room below, the floor of which was composed of nine inches of dry sand. This, on being examined, brought to light a few bones, which, it has been suggested, are the remains of food supplied to some unfortunate occupant during confinement. The existence of this retreat, it is said, must have been familiar to the heads of the family for several generations; evidence of this circumstance being afforded by a packing-case which was found in the secret chamber, and upon which was the following direction: ‘For the Right Honble the Lady Petre, at Ingatestone Hall, in Essex.’ The wood, also, was in a decayed state, and the writing in an antiquated style . . ”
Ingateson Hall has long been rumoured to have been the setting for Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s novel, Lady Audley’s Secret. The estate was virtually self-supporting with its own millhouse, bakehouse, dairy, dovecote and granaries among other features. The Petre family also owns Thorndon Hall, complete with deer park. Formerly called “Thorndon Old Hall,” it burned down in the early 1880s and was rebuilt.
From The Letter-bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer-Stanhope
Marianne Stanhope to John Spencer Stanhope.
March 3rd. (1805)
(Lord Petre did not leave town on Friday night. On Saturday he received a letter from a friend, enclosed in one from the tutor who said lady was in perfect health and would reveal location when he was assured of his pardon.)
Morning Post, 4 March 1805
Mr Lessie, the RC priest, who married the Hon Miss Petre to Mr Philips, is arrived in town to explain to Lord Petre the deception which was practised upon him by the lovers, who assured him that they had previously been married agreeably to the rites of the Churc of England, which does not appear to have been the case. Lady Petre continues inconsolable and her worthy Lord is not less unhappy on the occasion.
Caledonian Mercury, 9 March 1805
…the man’s name is Phillips; he is the son of a village barber, who lives rent-free in a cottage built on the estate of W. Sheldon Esq at Braine, in Warwickshire. The son, who is a Catholic, but not a priest, was educated through the benevolence of Mr S. at Douay, in Flanders, and from his exemplary conduct was afterwards recommended to his patron Lord Petre, as a preceptor to his son. The fugitives, after quitting Bucknam, never stopped til they reached Oxford, where they were married by a priest according to the Catholic ceremony; and they were previously married conformably in the rites of the Est church; and in the case the marriage is illegal and will subject the Catholic priest to the pains and penalties attached to daring a violation of a criminal statute.
Leeds Intelligencer, 11 March 1805
On Tuesday se’ennight, at GG, Stephen Phillips, Esq to the Right Hon Julia Maria Petre, daughter of the Right Hon. Petre. As soon as this couple eloped from Lord Petre’s house, about six weeks ago, his Lordship dispatched a trusty person to prevent their marraige at Gretna Green; but, weary of waiting, he left that place the day before the young couple arrived and were united.
Hull Packet, 14 May 1805
Lord Petre, with infinite goodness of heart and parental affection, has pardoned his daughter’s disobedience. Though his Lordship has not yet condescended to see her in person, yet he kindly corresponds with her, and countenances visits to his friends and noble relatives; he has also made the young couple a very handsome allowance for their present subsistence, and encouraged them, as they are deserving, to hope for much from his future generosity and condescension.
Oxford Journal, 13 July 1805
A perfect reconciliation has at length taken place between Lord Petre and the successful fugitives – The happy interview took place at the House of Sir J. Throgmorton, on Thursday se’ennight,through the good offices of that gentleman and the Hon Mrs Creevy. The young couple were again married according to the rites of the Church of England, at Marylebone church on Thursday last.
Derby Mercury, 15 August 1805