LADY ELIZABETH HATTON [To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] Sin,—It
is diktressing to people who think they are reading a truthful book to be told by so respected a critic as Mr. Vers- choyle that it is " sometimes unreliable in its history," and it is still more distressing to the author after many months laboriously spent in sifting contemporary records in a deter- mined effort 'to be as historically accurate as possible. Mr. Verschoyle in his criticism of my book, The Lady oi Bleeding Heart Yard, quotes only one instance in support of his statenient, and this is that the Lady Elizabeth Hatton was the sixth daughter instead of the fourth of Lord Burghley, first Earl of Exeter. All the evidence 'before me is that she was the fourth, and this backed by so eminent an antiquary as Sir William Dugdale in his Baronage, edition 1076, vol. 2, page 407. If, however, Mr. Versehoyle has better evidence in favour of her being the sixth daughter, I shall be happy to learn it.
With regard to the Purbeck Peerage Case I said no more about that because an account of this claim is to form the sequel to my book. Concerning Lady Purbeck herself Mr. VerSchoyle has mistaken sympathy for illuSion. The fault here must be my own because several critics have accused me of credulity in the matter of her son. My intention was to state the facts on both sides leaving the lady the benefit of the doubt, but I thdught I had eXpressed my own opinion very delicately on page 141 of the book
"All the same this was no ret.son for calling the boy Robert, nor for hiding his birth, not only from her husband's family but from everybody else as well."' • May I vindicate myself from the accusation of credulity by stating that I agree with the Critics as to the paternity of Lady Purbeck's son ?—Yours very truly,
L. L. NORSWORTHY.
[Mr. Verschoyle writes : In charging Mrs. Norsworthy's book with being " sometimes unreliable in its history " I was not referring to the somewhat trivial question of Lady Elizabeth Hatton's numerical position among. Burghley's children, but to its author's rather dangerous tendency to fill in the political background to the social story which she tells so well with per. ' functory and sometimes, it seemed to me, ill-founded asser- tions—particularly in connexion with the political position of the Duke of Buckingham, against whom Mrs. Norsworthy seems content to accept any scandalous allegation, however . meagre its credentials, As to Lady Elizabeth Hatton, all the evidence that I have (including even that of Burke's Peerage) is that she was the sixth and not the fourth of Burghley's daughters. I suspect that Mrs. Norsworthy's error comes from only taking into consideration those of Burghley's &ugh• tern who survived to be married. Of these Lady Elizabeth Hatton was undoubtedly the fourth, but there were two othens, the eldest, Catherine, and the fifth, Susan, who died unmarried. I should like to add, what apparently I did not make clear in my review, that its occasional blemishes did little to diminish my pleasure in a very charming book.]