Elizabeth Medora Leigh
|Elizabeth Medora Leigh|
Elizabeth Medora Leigh
|Born||15 April 1814|
|Died||28 August 1849
|Parent(s)||George Leigh (legally); George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (presumably) and Augusta Leigh|
Elizabeth Medora Leigh (15 April 1814 – 28 August 1849) was the third daughter of Augusta Leigh. It is widely speculated that she was fathered by her mother's half-brother Lord Byron, although her mother's husband Colonel George Leigh was her official father.
Three days after her birth, Byron visited Augusta and the baby. He later wrote to a friend, Lady Melbourne: "Oh! but it is 'worth while' — I can't tell you why — and it is not an Ape and if it is — that must be my fault." There was a folk belief, common in the 19th century, that a child born of incest would be an ape. (Benita Eisler, Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame 1999: 423). Byron was forced to go into exile as a result of the scandal surrounding his break-up from his wife Annabella Milbanke and his relationship with Augusta.
The child's middle name was taken from the heroine of Byron's poem The Corsair. In the family, she was known as Elizabeth or "Libby", but she also later used the name Medora.
Medora Leigh's later life was a troubled one. As a teenager, she had an affair with her older sister Georgiana's husband Henry Trevanion, and ran away with him. Trevanion fathered her daughter Marie Violette, (19 May 1834 - 1873), who became a Roman Catholic nun in France in 1856 under the name "Sister St. Hilaire". Leigh and her daughter were supported financially and emotionally for a number of years by Byron's former wife, Annabella Milbanke and by Byron's only legitimate daughter Ada Lovelace. Milbanke told Lovelace that Leigh was her half-sister and had been fathered by Byron.
Leigh later had an affair with a French officer who abandoned her. She ultimately ended up with his servant, a former sergeant called Jean-Louis Taillefer with whom she went to live in south Aveyron (a hilly region in southwestern France) in Versols et Lapeyre (near St. Affrique and Sylvanes). She bore Taillefer a son, Elie, (27 January 1846 - 29 January 1900), who later became a Roman Catholic priest in Aveyron. Leigh married Taillefer on 23 August 1848, legitimizing both children. She died in France on 28 August 1849 in Versols-et-Lapeyre, where the grave can be visited.
- Eisler, Benita, Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame