September 28 1812: Susan Vaughan, In Disgrace

While Byron scribbles, on September 28 1812, Susan Vaughan writes to him "in disgrace" from London. Vaughan had been Byron's Welsh maid at Newstead Abbey. Byron had an affair with her from December, 1811 to January, 1812.  Unfortunately, Byron's page, Robert Rushton, also  had an affair with her. Byron had forgiven Rushton but had coldly dismissed Vaughan. My earlier posts can be found here, here, here and here .

In September, Vaughan appears to be destitute and living in London. She wants to sell an expensive dress that Byron had given her but she is afraid that she will be accused or may have already been accused of having stolen the dress. She writes to Byron to confirm that he had given her the dress. It is not known whether Byron responded. Susan's fate is also not known. Fiona MacCarthy [1], Byron's biographer, provides some clues: 
In 1811 she [Susan Vaughan] had given (or Byron had taken) a curl of Taffy's [his nickname for her] strawberry blond hair. Two years later, in 1813, she sent a large sample by post from Doncaster with a pencilled note:
"My dear Lord Byron -- I should have been exceedingly pleased to have been seen you before I had sailed. Indeed I take it very unkind I never saw any one else ashamed at me. It is impossible to say how happy it would make me to see you again at sweet Newstead or anywhere else." 
Where was Susan sailing to? Was she emigrating? Had she even been transported? We shall never know.
Vaughan's letter of September 28 is reproduced below.

Susan Vaughan to Byron, from London, September 28th 1812:
Sepr 28th. 1812

My Lord, For the liberty I am taking in writing to your Lordship, I Sincerely beg pardon, which will I trust be granted when I state the true cause Of this freedom, I’m inclined to think your Lordship will remember the dress you were kind enough To give me tho’ undeserving as <you> {I} have since [been] though However I should be sorry to trouble your Lordship in Reading a long letter from me, therefore shall conclude this as hastily as I can for ’tis pain to me to write. 

In this distant manner but I am sorry to say that the result is, my wishing to dispose of this dress has caused Me some trouble out of which I cannot extricate – Myself Unless your Lordship will once more befriend Me, I was & am determined to suffer any thing rather Than use your Lordship’s name without your free Consent, I ask nothing further than if I may say t’was, From your Hands I received it, How shall I know whether I may or not. May, I dare, to ask, the favour of the word Yes, or no, from you, – how Miserable afraid afraid Just god, if your Lordship will be kind enough to  Write me what I ask please to direct it to Miss 
Vernon No 10 Upper Eaton Street Pimlico London.

And I’ll call and ask for it,  perhaps your Lordship will not be displeased to hear that Lucy [War]wickshire, [Letter not clear or struck out] 
The same as when I had  [the or your] Lordship’s
Consent to write, I remain,

I write this letter merely to say.  An Answer to this Soon will very much oblige me, in disgrace I must remain till then. Write me what I ask please to direct it to


1. Fiona MacCarthy, Byron: Life and Legend (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002) at 154. 

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