The Cato Street Conspiracy and Queen Caroline’s Return to England—Two Important Events of 1820
Historical Romance Author, Beverley Oakley, recently brought one of her characters, Miss Araminta Partington, to tea. Miss Partington, who has an extremely high opinion of her attractions, and of her knowledge of most matters, elucidated on the background to the new book in which she features called The Mysterious Governess, part of the Daughters of Sin series, which touches on the events before and after the Cato Street Conspiracy of 1820.
Miss Partington: Hello Susana, and thank you so much for inviting me to take a dish of tea in your parlor. I must say, it’s very comforting to know I can sleep at night in the knowledge that those dreadful men—Arthur Thistlewood, Edward Spence and the others – who call themselves “The Society of Spencean Philanthropists”, have been either hanged or transported for life for their parts in the Cato Street Conspiracy.
Susana: A delight to have you here, too, Araminta. Yes, what a shock to the public! What do you suppose they were hoping to achieve?
Miss Partington: Why, utter madness, in my opinion! Mr. Thistlewood talked of desiring a “Government of the People of Great Britain,” which would take power out of the hands of Parliament and the landed elite and place it into the hands of the people.” In my opinion, that’s tantamount to stealing Papa’s estate and giving it to Jane, my useless maid, who only last week lost one of my silver hairpins.
Susana: Goodness, that does sound dire! I’m referring to the plot, of course. Was there violence?
Miss Partington: Fortunately, the only violence was after the Coldstream Guards and Bow Street runners ran into the loft where these miscreants were plotting that night’s intended rampage through the home of the Lord President of His Majesty’s Privy Council, Lord Harrowby. Indeed, they were intending to murder the entire King’s Cabinet before taking to the streets of London to storm the Bank of England and the Tower of London. They hoped to stir up revolution in our country, like in America and France only a few decades ago.
Susana: Good Lord! How was it possible that law enforcement was able to apprehend the plotters?
Miss Partington: Well, apparently, the Government knew what they were about and had planted spies in their organization. My Cousin, Stephen Cranbourne, works for the Foreign Office. I’m sure he’d have confided in me had I not been on rather… er… friendly terms with Lord Debenham who is rumored to be associated with the Spenceans. He’s not, of course. I made sure to burn the incriminating letter his cousin wrote before she drank poison. Aren’t the daffodils beautiful at this time of year? I’ve trimmed my bonnet with several bunches. Sir Aubrey does think them fetching. Yes, I’ve transferred my affections to Sir Aubrey as I think he’d be far easier to manage than dangerous Lord Debenham.
Susana: Yes, the daffodils are, indeed, beautiful. And I was so sorry to hear about Lord Debenham’s cousin. I believe she was Sir Aubrey’s late wife. But, back to politics, do tell me, when was the Spenceans’ plot brought to nought? My apologies for my ignorance, I’ve been in France for some time.
Miss Partington: On February 23, 1820, but of course, it’s not really news any more since the gossip sheets—and indeed, the newspapers—are having much more fun giving us all the thrilling details of George IV’s estranged wife Queen Caroline arriving from continental Europe, a few months afterwards, and attempting to take her place as Queen consort. Personally, I think someone with such atrocious dress sense doesn’t deserve to be queen, but, not everyone agrees with me—which I always find rather odd, really. Of course, the Prince Regent only agreed to marry Princess Caroline of Brunswick back at the end of the last century so his father would clear his debts. £630,000 pounds is rather a lot of money, though I imagine that if I owed such a sum, I might be induced to marry Lord Debenham above Sir Aubrey, despite his wicked reputation and the fact Lord Debenham would be so much more difficult to manage.
Susana: Yes, your half-sister, Miss Larissa Hazlett, has inferred the same.
Miss Partington: My half-sister? [Miss Partington rises.]Let me assure you, I do not have a half-sister. Any resemblance between that dreary governess and myself is entirely coincidental. Now, if you’ll excuse me… while it has been most pleasant, I must leave now for an appointment I’ve just remembered. Yes, it’s all part of a little plan I’m implementing to put that dreary governess right back in her box!
About The Mysterious Governess
Two beautiful sisters—one illegitimate, the other nobly born—compete for love amidst the scandal and intrigue of a Regency London Season.
Lissa Hazlett lives life in the shadows. The beautiful, illegitimate daughter of Viscount Partington earns her living as an overworked governess while her vain and spoiled half sister, Araminta, enjoys London’s social whirl as its most feted debutante.
When Lissa’s rare talent as a portraitist brings her unexpectedly into the bosom of society—and into the midst of a scandal involving Araminta and suspected English traitor Lord Debenham—she finds an unlikely ally: charming and besotted Ralph Tunley, Lord Debenham’s underpaid, enterprising secretary. Ralph can’t afford to leave the employ of the villainous viscount much less keep a wife but he can help Lissa cleverly navigate a perilous web of lies that will ensure everyone gets what they deserve.
Although The Mysterious Governess is about Lissa, who is Araminta’s half-sister, the plot involves them equally. Lissa is hard-working and honourable, the antithesis of Araminta, as you will see below, in this short extract:
“Is everything all right, Miss? Were the fireworks grand? You’re back earlier than I’d ‘spected.” Jane, who was polishing the silver bottles on her mistress’s dressing table, looked up nervously as Araminta entered the room.
Without a word, Araminta brought one arm across the entire surface and sent powder bottles, perfume vials, hairbrushes and jewelry boxes crashing to the floor.
Then she threw herself onto her bed and burst into noisy tears.
“Oh, Miss, I take it things didn’t go to plan,” said Jane, going down on her knees to start to clean up the mess before changing her mind and putting a tentatively soothing hand upon Araminta’s back.
“No, they did not!” Araminta shrieked, beating her fists upon the counterpane.
“So, His Lordship didn’t ask you to marry him, then?”
“Yes he did!” Araminta rolled onto her back and glared at Jane. “He asked me to marry him and then said he had to go away on important business for two months! Two months! Where does that leave me? In an impossible situation, I don’t need to tell you. I might as well throw myself in the river, except the water’s far too cold and I’m hardly about to copy bacon-brained Edgar. There must be another way.”
“I mean to get out of this mess, you stupid girl!” Araminta screamed. Feverishly, she began to bite her fingernails before realizing the damage she was doing to an important asset. “Oh, Jane, don’t look like you’re related to a mule. Come up with a plan, for dear Lord’s sake!”
About the Author
Beverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. However, drowning her heroine on the last page was not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.
In 2009, Beverley published her first novel. Since then she has written more than thirteen sizzling historical romances, filled with mystery and intrigue, mostly set in England during the Georgian, Regency and Victoria eras.
Beverley lives near Melbourne opposite a picturesque nineteenth century insane asylum with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met in Botswana, their two beautiful daughters and a rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgeback the size of a pony.
Beverley also writes more psychological historicals, and Colonial-Africa- set romantic adventures, as Beverley Eikli.