Horatia in Tenterden
Lady Emma Hamilton started life in Cheshire as Amy Lyon in 1765. Her father, a blacksmith, died when she was just two months old and she was brought up by her mother and grandmother, without any formal education. She changed her name to Emma Hart, became a maid and moved to London where she gained employment.
Through the new friends she made, she went on to become very famous as a model for the artist George Romney who was infatuated with painting and sketching her, she being extremely beautiful.
Life led Emma to marry Sir William Hamilton, the British envoy to Naples – she was 26 and he was 60 when they married and moved to Italy. It was here that she met a married man - Lord Horatio Nelson.
Theirs was a story of romance and she helped Lord Nelson to end a revolution in Naples. Lady Hamilton played a part in exchanging messages with the Italian royal family, mainly helped by the fact she was a friend of Queen Maria Carolina (who incidentally was the sister of the French Queen Marie Antoinette).
Sir William Hamilton and Emma moved back to England … and in due course Lord Nelson returned to England from one of his voyages. Lady Hamilton was famously Lord Nelson’s mistress. One thing led to another (!!) and a baby arrived out of wedlock in January 1801 … a girl they called Horatia.
Due to the complications a HUGE scandal such as this would have brought about, a cover story was made up.
Horatia was Nelson’s only child and very much loved by her parents although their time with her was short. Lord Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar, on HMS Victory, in 1805 and her mother Lady Hamilton died when Horatia was just fourteen. Family members looked after Horatia until her marriage.
At the age of twenty-one, in 1822, young Horatia married the Reverend Philip Ward … who became the vicar of Tenterden in 1830. Here they lived happily in their community for many years and raised their ten children.
She named her first child Horatio. Nelson’s column was erected in the newly built Trafalgar Square in London in 1843 when Horatia was aged forty-two.
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