I love reading Jane Austen and Regency fiction. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite novels. Reading it, I could not help but wonder what sort of barrier race would be to marrying well if family history was such an impediment. I then read about the lives of Dido Elizabeth Bell and Sarah Forbes Bonetta and wondered what life would have been like for a wealthy black woman of some connections during that time.
This story is currently being revised and reposted chapter by chapter on my livejournal page. I'll update the chapters here once I've caught up to chapter 18 in my revisions. There are changes to the character's background as well as minor plot tweaks.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Love and Prejudice
By Candace M.
June 10th, 1815
Dear Mr. Darcy,
My name is Thomas Brambles, Esquire, solicitor and executor of the estate of your godfather, Lord Matthew Farthington. Upon his return from his most recent trip to Boston, Lord Farthington was stricken with a consumptive disorder. We had hoped that your godfather would recover, as he was of a hardy and healthsome constitution, but Lord Farthington succumbed to the disease on the evening of the fifth of June.
I know that you were an ardent supporter of Lord Farthington's work and he regarded you as if you were his own son. Please accept my deepest condolences for your loss. I share in your grief, as Lord Farthington was more than my employer. He was also a dear friend.
In addition to conveying the unfortunate news of your godfather's passing, I also wish to inform you of an inheritance left to you and to relate his final request.
Lord Farthington has bequeathed to you his property on the isle of New Sussex in the Caribbean. The property encompasses the entire island of fifty square miles and is rich in farmland. Upon his inheritance of the property some thirty years ago, Lord Farthington decreed New Sussex a free island and its remaining so is a condition of the inheritance. The farms are tended by free blacks and whites and clear fifteen thousand pounds a year. The island is currently under the direction of Mr. Krimpton, a capable and trustworthy steward who has served Lord Farthington for more than twenty years. I will provide papers formalizing the bequest should you accept and meet with you at a time you may set.
Lord Farthington has also made a final request of a more personal nature. A letter detailing his request and written by his own hand is enclosed with this missive. As a loyal employee and friend of Lord Farthington, I pledge to lend my services to aide you in whatever capacity is needed in order to grant his request.
Please write to me at your earliest convenience informing me of your decision.
Thomas Brambles, Esq.
Loland Manor, New Sussex
May 15th, 1815
If you are reading this letter, then I have lost my battle with consumption. I would protest that two and sixty is too young an age to be taken from this mortal sphere, but when so many loved ones have preceded me, something akin to gratitude fills my breast. I take comfort in the promise of being reunited with my friends, your good father being among that number. If I have regrets, they are few: that my life's work is incomplete and that I leave my daughter behind.
As you are aware, I have long served as the guardian of a young woman to whom I have given my name. Miss Mary Caroline Farthington came into my care in her infancy, after the passing of her mother, a noble woman who suffered greatly at the hands of the institution to which I have devoted my life to ending. I have come to love her as if she were my own flesh and blood. Mary is a well educated and accomplished young woman, having received the best education I could afford her. While I have been able, I have nurtured her as a most beloved daughter. In passing, my greatest fear is that she will be left unprotected at the tender age of 19. I was honored when your father accepted the title of Mary's godfather. It is my hope that you will fulfill his commitment in your father's steed.
I have left Mary a generous inheritance. She will have 5000 pounds a year - more than enough to ensure that she is well provided for – and the family estate in Sussex will pass to her possession upon her twenty-first birthday. Were circumstances different, her inheritance and accomplishments would make her a most desirable match for a gentleman of consequence. However, Mary is the daughter of a Negro slave whom I purchased to secure her freedom from a most brutal master. Her heritage and hue place her in a particularly precarious position in British society. While she and her brethren have recently been assured their freedom on English soil, Parliament has given them no such guarantees in the rest of the Empire.
Mary's heritage also renders her vulnerable to those who would seek to exploit her in the name of the greater good. During the past eighteen years, I have gone against the wishes of my abolitionist colleagues and kept my daughter out of the public sphere and ignorant of most of the vicious realities of slavery. It was my wish for my daughter to have the nurturing and stable upbringing that had been denied her parents. It is my sincere request that you serve as Mary's guardian, extending to her the same protection and guidance I strove to offer during my life.
It would give me great comfort to know that my Mary will not be left so wholly unprotected once I depart from this sphere. Should you fulfill my request, both my undying gratitude and that of my daughter are yours.
Lord Matthew Farthington