1765

THE COUNT’S CONTACTS

 

Count Waldstein had acquaintances in London and Kammell had brought with him either letters of introduction, or simply recommendations to introduce himself, to “Milor” Malton, “Milor” Hamilton and Miss Chudley, or Chudleigh.

“Milor” Malton was Charles Watson-Wentworth. He had been known as Lord Malton until 1750 when he became the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham. Perhaps Count Waldstein had known him before he became Marquess. Rockingham was a very powerful political figure, a Whig, and a supporter of the Duke of Newcastle – the same political party as Kammell’s later friend and patron Thomas Anson. After a period of falling out with King George III Rockingham found himself prime-minister during 1765, so this might have been a very useful contact, though there is no evidence that Kammell did approach the Marquess, who does not appear to have moved in the social circles that Kammell’s friends belonged to.

“Milor” Hamilton would have been Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803), whose second wife, thirty years later, became the mistress of Lord Nelson. Hamilton was a man of culture and an antiquarian. From 1764 he was British Ambassador to Naples, so the opportunities for Kammell to approach him with a letter of recommendation would have been limited.

“Miss Chudley” is mentioned several times in Kammell’s letters to Count Waldstein so it is more likely that she is someone he might have encountered in London society.

Elizabeth Chudleigh was born in 1721. She was a glamorous woman whose life included a dramatic scandal. She was tried by her peers in Westminster Hall for bigamy in 1776. She was a well-known figure in society and known to the general public as a beauty and celebrity. Reports of her activities, many mentioning dazzlingly expensive clothes and jewellery, appear in newspapers from all over the country. For example, an article in the Caledonian Mercury 12th September 1763, describes the Queen of Portugal as “much like Miss Chudleigh but something loftier.”

At the time of Kammell’s arrival in London though she was living as Miss Chudleigh she was actually the Countess of Bristol. She had been secretly married to Augustus Hervey, later 3rd Earl of Bristol since 1744, but was separated from him. Later she would be known as the Duchess of Kingston, though she was, in fact, only the mistress, rather than the wife, of the Duke of Kingston-Upon-Hull. Her notorious trial followed her attempts to prove that she had been married to the Duke. If she had been married a second time she would have been guilty of bigamy, but her claims to be Duchess seem to have been a reckless fraud. After the trial she lived abroad. She remained, for the rest of her life, legally the Countess of Bristol.

Why, then, would this lady have been known to Count Waldstein and thought by him a suitable person for his travelling timber salesman to introduce himself to?

The answer must be that Miss Chudleigh had travelled in Europe and was known in the grandest circles – which is remarkable for someone of quite humble origin. Presumably she achieved these heights from sheer glamour and personality, perhaps with a touch of notoriety. Perhaps her secret marriage was known about, but not talked about, giving her an aristocratic connection.  She was, also, involved in the political world. A newspaper report of 1763 mentions that she had put on a firework display in London, at her own expense, to celebrate the new government coalition.

Miss Chudleigh was in Prussia in July 1765 and been admired by Frederick the Great. She was “introduced at court” on July 15th.  According to the Salisbury and Winchester Journal “the very buckles in her shoes worth £8000.” This is an impossibly vast sum. Where did her wealth come from?

On October 6th 1766 the Caledonian Mercury, which made sure gossip about this lady was circulated in Scotland, reported that “the Electress of Saxony had presented the Hon. Miss Chudleigh with her Royal Highness’s picture, magnificently set with brilliants” and also “a magnificent set of jewels valued at 12000 crowns.”

The newspaper added that Miss Chudleigh had

“received the most distinguished marks of respect from the several courts she visited in her way to and from the baths in Bohemia, where she had a dangerous illness, but ever since her recovery from it, has enjoyed a perfect state of health.”

Miss Chudleigh seems to have publicised her travels and her success at European courts so much on her return that a report in October 1766 suggests that

 “in a short time we may hear of the Females of Fortune making the Grand Tour as well as Noblemen and Gentlemen.” (Derby Mercury 24th October 1766.)

The day after this report she was on her way to Holland from Harwich again.

Miss Chudleigh

 

She was back home in December.  The Leeds Intelligencer, 6th December 1766 reported that she had landed at Harwich “much indisposed” but was now at her house in Knightsbridge.

Her relationship with the Electress must have been very close as The Stamford Mercury reported, 24th December 1767, that the Electress had sent Miss Chudleigh “a magnificent suit of Dresden lace” worth £2000.

It is not clear whether or not Kammell actually met her in London. On November 30th 1765, presumably when she was at home between her several excursions to Europe, he wrote to Count Waldstein that he had been unable to see her to give her the Count’s best regards. He had been prevented because “the whole town was in mourning” for the Duke of Cumberland. He added that, because of this state of mourning he had been forced

 “to buy a couple of black suits, with everything which goes with it, which cost me much money, because a virtuoso must make a good figure here.” (FREEMANOVA 1)

 

Miss Chudleigh seems to have constantly been travelling, and she had certainly been as far as Bohemia in 1766. Perhaps Count Waldstein had met this remarkable woman on an earlier visit, in his own country, or at another North European court.

The association with the Electress of Saxony, resulting in personal and extravagant gifts, may have been the result of a common interest in music.

Duchess Maria Antonia of Bavaria (1724-1780), Electress of Saxony from 1747, was, more than anything else, a composer. She composed two operas, for which, unusually, she also wrote the libretti – “Il trionfo della fedeltà” (1754) and “Talestri, regina delle amazoni” (1760), and other works. It may be significant that Kammell’s benefit concert on May 6th 1768  included an overture by the Electress of Saxony. As this was a concert specifically to raise money for the composer, the inclusion of a work by Maria Antonia would have been at his own request. This is the only appearance of a work by the Electress in McVeigh’s Calendar of London Concerts 1750-1800.

Maria Antonia of Bavaria

Miss Chudleigh’s own connection with music might have been very significant and potentially useful to Kammell. She was the business partner of Theresa Cornelys, the promoter of the first series of subscription concerts in London, which became the showcase for Johann Christian Bach and his colleagues.

 

Kammell also mentions, in his letters, a Miss Batt, who is also an acquaintance of Count Waldstein’s. Who was she?

There was a Batt family from Wiltshire, including a John Thomas Batt, a London physician and his son, John Thomas Batt (1746-1831). The son was a friend of James Harris, MP for Salisbury, philosopher and one of Kammell’s most important patrons in his career in England, particularly through his involvement with the music festival in Salisbury where Kammell led the orchestra on many occasions. John Thomas Batt was a neighbour of Harris in Salisbury and in London he often accompanied members of the Harris family to concerts. In a letter of 1771 James Harris’s wife Elizabeth complains that Batt is on holiday in Twickenham and unable to keep her up to date with what was going on in the Opera.

As Batt is not a common name it is reasonable to suggest that Miss Batt was a relation of John Thomas Batt and that she was a link between the Count and this very significant world of music.  There are very few possible Miss Batts. John Thomas had no sisters but he did have an aunt Martha, baptised 4th March 1721 in Salisbury, daughter William and Martha Batt.  This will have to remain an unanswered question.

These acquaintances do not appear to have been very useful when it came to the business of the timber. Perhaps a letter of introduction to the Austrian Ambassador, Count Sailern, would have been more useful, but there is no mention of any contact with him.