The Historical Birthday-Tea Party 12th February

Once more I am short of a specific birthday to celebrate, so back to the seventeenth century and to Frances Apsley 1653–1727.

Frances was the object of affection of a youthful Mary Stuart, who became that strange binomial monarch ‘William&Mary’, or more correctly Mary II of England. Mary was older sister to Queen Anne, and they both had a bit of a crush on Frances who was nine years older than Mary. There is no extant evidence that Frances reciprocated, but she clearly entered into the game of assumed names and ‘marriages’ the girls played or Mary’s side of their correspondence would not have been so protracted.

Mary and Anne were inclined to jealousy where Frances was concerned and a certain amount of out-doing each other became part of the letter writing. A particularly fine example of Mary’s style is shown in the following, written well before her marriage and removal to the Netherlands:

I may if I can tel you how much I love you but I hope that is not doubted I have give you proves enufe if not I will die to satisfy you dear dear husban if al my hares were lives i wold lose them al twenty times over to sarve of satisfie you… I love you with a flame more lasting than the vestals fire thou art my life my soul my al that heaven can give deaths life with you without you death to live. What can I say to persuade you that I love you with more zeal than any lover can I love you with a love that ner was know by man I have for you excese of friandship more of love then any woman can for woman and more love then even the constantest lover had for his mistress. You are loved more than can be exprest by your ever obedient wife vere afectionate fiand humbel sarvent to kis the ground where once you go to be your dog in a string your fish in a net your bird in a cage your humbel trout.

Despite the eccentric (even for the time) spelling and lack of punctuation, I think a girl would be flattered to get a letter like that.  Frances did eventually marry, but not until she was twenty-nine, which is rather old for the time – Mary was married at thirteen.

So yes, I think Frances gets her invitation, if only so that we can find out what it was that had two future monarchs vying for her attention…

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