The Early Courtship of James Butler and Elizabeth Preston.
“Anonymous Account of the Early Fife and Marriage of James Butler First Duke of Ormond”
“The Journal of the Kilkenny and South East of Ireland Archaeological Society, New Series, Vol. 4 No.2 (1863) and from Carte’s biography of the First Duke.
Young James Butler as young man has decided to court his young cousin Elizabeth Preston. Lady Elizabeth was the daughter of Lord Dingwall and Lady Elizabeth Butler the daughter of Thomas Butler the 10th Earl of Ormond, famously known as ‘Black Tom’ by his cousin Elizabeth I of England. After the death of her parents she was entrusted into the care of Lord and Lady Holland in the English courtside. Overall the Holland’s were kind to their young charge but very protective also. In order to make an instruction to young Lady Preston James Butler managed to gain the trust of a distant relative of the Preston family called Patrick Wemyss or Wemis. He was involving in managing the family estates and over time became a good friend to young James Butler. What follows is a short extract from the paper and apologies in advance as the language used in 17th Century and can be difficult to discern.
“The First step Mr. Wemis made towards this was to give his Lordship an opportunity for a view of the lady at Church next Sunday in the City of London (which was a good omen) without the privity of the Lady & whether designedly or by good fortune his Lords had the satisfaction of sitting with her Ladyship in the same seat. The next step after this interview with his Lordship made himself, by going in disguise (as a Romantic lover) unto Kensington with a pedlars pack upon his back, where he first encountering the young Ladys (daughter to the Earl of Holland), and his Lordship so charmed with his civil deport, yet they run into the House to Lady Eliz. & told her that at the back door one of the handsomest Pedlars they had ever seen, and Represented him so advantageously to her that they obliged her to come and view him and the wares in his pack. It is not improbable that notwithstanding the Earl’s disguise the young Lady had some impression & idea of the person who sat with her in the seat Sunday before, for upon opening his packe, he presented to her a pair of gloves, into one of which he before conveyed a letter, which she in his drawing on the glove, perceiving, pretended to have no money in her pocket to pay for the gloves. & notwithstanding the young Ladys offered to lend her money, she retired to her chamber to fetch money & being there perused the letter & soon returned with the gloves again (into which she as cunningly conveyed an answer) which she returned to the amorous Pedlar, pretending that had an ill smell. What were the contents of either of these letters can be no otherwise guessed at (because they were so secretly contrived, as all amorous intrigues are) than by the success, for within a small space, as the young couple liked one anther so well, notwithstanding the circumspection and the strict guards of the Countess of Holland, they were happily married to the great surprise and displeasure of the Court, the duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Holland”.
James and Elisabeth Butler, the later Duke and Duchess of Ormond were to have a very long and successful marriage. She was sadly to predecease him and was buried on the 24th July 1684 and he followed her on the 4th Aug. 1688. Both are buried in the lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey.