In place of my usual Saturday Snippets, I’m writing about the people and places from the Culpepper Saga. The third book, “John Culpepper, Esquire,” will be released in July. If you missed books one or two, click HERE or HERE.
One of the more tragic figures of “John Culpepper, Esquire” is Margaretta van Hesse, also known as Lady Culpepper (photo). She was an heiress from Denmark who married Lord Thomas Culpepper second baron of Thoresway in 1659 at The Hague. Lord Thomas (photo) was the son of Lord John Culpepper, known in the story as JC, cousin of our hero.
Following the English Civil War, JC had taken his family to Denmark while he watched over the exiled prince, but when the prince was welcomed back into England in 1660 as King Charles II, the whole family moved back. Lord Thomas and his new bride took up residence at Leeds Castle. She was newly married, probably didn’t speak the language or understand the English customs, and Lord Thomas unceremoniously dropped her off at the castle and moved to London to live with his mistress Susannah Willis.
Fortunately for Margaretta, John’s nephew Alex was asked by JC to stay at the castle and help her get settled in. There is no proof of Margaretta and Alex having any sort of relationship, but there are a few strange coincidences that make me scratch my head.
Alex’s mom, Katherine, died in 1658.
In 1671, Lord Thomas appointed Alex the Surveyor General of Virginia and tried to send him away. Records show Alex in Virginia for a short time, but he almost immediately came back to England.
In 1689, Lord Thomas became ill and died in his house in London. Margaretta didn’t even find out about it until well after his death. His mistress had him buried. He left a will in favor of the mistress, but Margaretta had the will suppressed, making sure Catherine got everything. Before Margaretta went to court, with Alex along to assist her, Alex, now 58-years-old, quickly and conveniently married Lord Thomas’s sister Judith, who moved into Leeds Castle with them. The woman was old and died a year later.
Alex died in 1694 and in his will, he left everything to Margaretta. He was buried at St. Margaret’s Church in Bromfield, Kent, near the castle.
Margaretta never re-married. She died in 1710 at Leeds Castle and was buried at St. Margaret’s.
A year after her inheritance, young Catherine married Lord Thomas Fairfax (photo) in 1690. Their children were: Thomas Fairfax, Henry Colpepper Fairfax, Katherine Fairfax, Margaret Fairfax, Frances Fairfax, Mary Fairfax, and Robert Fairfax. Family historians state that Catherine had all of her children baptized at St. Margaret’s and had built a family vault to bury her mother in. Nothing is ever mentioned about Alex’s connection or the fact that he is buried there also. Strangely enough, Catherine’s husband died the same year as her mother but was buried elsewhere.
Catherine died in 1719 at the age of 49. She was not buried with her husband. She was buried at St. Margaret’s with her mother and Alex.
The Culpepper Saga ends in the late 1670s, so we don’t learn about Catherine and Lord Fairfax, but in book two “John Culpepper the Merchant” their grandfathers were trying to kill each other during the civil war. I imagine their marriage was quite scandalous in both families, and I suspect there will be a juicy sequel about them coming this winter or early next spring. “The Culpepper-Fairfax Scandal” sounds like a good title.