Mary Harrison (Maid of Buttermere), St Kentigern’s Church, Caldbeck,
Posted by: bill&ben
N 54° 44.951 W 003° 02.988
30U E 496794 N 6066882
Quick Description: The final resting place of Mary Harrison, known throughout Britain as the Maid of Buttermere.
Location: Northwest England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 9/11/2012 6:52:25 AM
Waymark Code: WMF8Q6
Mary Robinson (b1778) was the daughter of the innkeeper of the Fish Hotel, Buttermere. She came to the attention of Joseph Palmer, the author of A Fortnight’s Ramble in the Lake District, who named Mary as the fair maid of Buttermere in his book. The publication of the book encouraged many tourists to come to the lakes to see Mary. She achieved even higher status by being mentioned in Wordsworth’s The Prelude.
In 1802 a man, purporting to be Colonel Alexander Hope, MP for Linlithgow and brother of the Earl of Hopetoun, stayed at the inn and took a shine to Mary. The couple were duly wed at Lorton Church on 22nd October 1802. Unfortunately for Mary’s new husband the marriage was immediately reported in the London papers, courtesy of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
By November 6th the Sun newspaper had discovered that the real Colonel Hope was abroad and that Mary’s husband was an impostor. Further, the paper discovered that his real name was John Hatfield and that he was already married. Hatfield fled Cumbria, but was apprehended near Swansea and taken to Carlisle for trial. After a short trial he was sentenced to be hanged for bigamy and personation.
Mary had become a national figure and was received well by her local community. She went on to marry Richard Harrison of Caldbeck. She died on February 7th 1837.
Recently Lord Melvyn Bragg has published a novel, The Maid of Buttermere, based on her story.
Mary Robinson achieved public acclaim originally due to the attention of the Lakeland poets Wordsworth and Taylor Coleridge.
Her betrayal by a bygamist, later caught and hanged, was widely reported in the national press, giving her immense support.
Date of birth: 1/1/1778
Date of death: 2/7/1837
Area of notoriety: Crime
Marker Type: Headstone
Fee required?: No
Web site: [Web Link]
Visiting Hours/Restrictions: Not listed
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