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BARONNE DE SOPHIE FEUCHERES (1795-1840)

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Originally appearing in Volume V10, Page 296 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BARONNE DE SOPHIE FEUCHERES (1795-1840), Anglo-French adventuress, was born at St Helens, Isle of Wight, in 1795, the daughter of a drunken fisherman named Dawes. She grew up in the workhouse, went up to London as a servant, and became the mistress of the duc de Bourbon, afterwards prince de Conde. She was ambitious, and he had her well educated not only in modern languages but, as her exercise books—still extant—show, in Greek and Latin. He took her to Paris and, to prevent scandal and to qualify her to be received at court, had her married in 1818 to Adrien Victor de Feucheres, a major in the Royal Guards. The prince provided her dowry, made her husband his aide-de-camp and a baron. The baroness, pretty and clever, became a person of consequence at the court of Louis XVIII. De Feucheres, however, finally discovered the relations between his wife and Conde, whom he had been assured was her father, left her—he obtained a legal separation in 1827—and told the king, who thereupon forbade her appearance at court. Thanks to her influence, however, Conde was induced in 1829 to sign a will bequeathing about ten million francs to her, and the rest of his estate—more than sixty-six millions—to the duc d'Aumale, fourth son of Louis Philippe. Again she was in high favour. Charles X. received her at court, Talleyrand visited her, her niece married a marquis and her nephew was made a baron. Conde, wearied by his mistress's importunities, and but half pleased by the advances made him by the government of July, had made up his mind to leave France secretly. When on the 27th of August 1830 he was found hanging dead from his window, the baroness was suspected and an inquiry was held, but the evidence of death being the result of any crime appearing insufficient, she was not prosecuted. Hated as she was alike by legitimatists and republicans, life in Paris was no longer agreeable for her, and she returned to London, where she died in December 1840.
End of Article: BARONNE DE SOPHIE FEUCHERES (1795-1840)
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