Henrietta Knight, Lady Luxborough

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Henrietta Knight
Henrietta Knight, Lady Luxborough
Henrietta Knight, Lady Luxborough
Died1756 (1757)

Henrietta Knight, Lady Luxborough (née St John;born 15 July 1699, died 26 March 1756),[1] was an English poet and letter writer.


Her mother, née Angelica Pelissary or Pillesary

She was the only daughter of Henry, Viscount St John, by his second wife, Angelica Magdalena, daughter of Georges Pillesary, treasurer-general of the marines, and superintendent of the ships and galleys of France under Louis XIV. Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, was her half-brother.[2]


On 20 June 1727, Henrietta St John married Robert Knight of Barrells Hall, Warwickshire. The marriage fell under an early cloud when her husband suspected her of an affair with her physician, Charles Peters. Horace Walpole describes her as wearing a portrait of her husband in her hair. Another suspicion caused the breakdown of the marriage. John Dalton was a tutor in the household of the Hertfords, where Frances Seymour, Countess of Hertford, was Henrietta's friend. Knight found love letters from Henrietta to Dalton, accused her of becoming pregnant by him, and arranged a separation, in 1736.[3]

Later life[edit]

Henrietta Knight went to live on her husband's estate at Barrells Hall, which she had laid out in the artificial style of landscape gardening. Here she was within easy reach of her friend and correspondent William Shenstone, whom she frequently visited at The Leasowes, and with whom she kept up a regular correspondence. Shenstone celebrated their somewhat artificial Arcadia in his ode on Rural Elegance, addressed to the Duchess of Somerset (1750). Another friend was the poet William Somervile.[2]

Dying towards the end of March 1756, Henrietta Knight and was buried in the church of Wootton Wawen; her remains were later removed to a mausoleum near Barrells Halls. She had been assumed to share her half-brother's atheism, but took the sacrament on her deathbed.[2]


Lady Luxborough's Letters to William Shenstone, Esq. were published by Robert Dodsley, London, 1775. Four poems, printed as "by a lady of quality" in Dodsley's Collection of Poems by several hands (1775), iv. 313, are attributed to her by Horace Walpole. Other correspondence appeared in Thomas Hull's Select Letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough … and others, London, 1778, 2 vols.[2]


By Lord Luxborough, she had a son, Henry, who married, 21 June 1750, a daughter of Thomas Heath of Stanstead, Essex, and died without issue in the lifetime of his father. There were also two daughters, one of whom married a French count. The other, Henrietta, married Charles Wymondesold of Lockinge, Berkshire. Eloping in 1753 with Josiah Child, son of Richard Child, 1st Earl Tylney, she was divorced, and married her lover on 7 May 1754.[2]


  1. ^ Journal of the Ex Libris Society, Vol. II, 1893, p. 39.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lee, Sidney, ed. (1892). "Knight, Henrietta" . Dictionary of National Biography. 31. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. ^ Lane, Joan. "Knight, Henrietta, Lady Luxborough". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/15720. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1892). "Knight, Henrietta". Dictionary of National Biography. 31. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

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