Stanhope, Lady Hester Lucy (17761839)

Stanhope, Lady Hester Lucy, born at Chevening, Kent, the eldest daughter of the third Earl of Stanhope, and niece of William Pitt; a woman of unusual force of character and attractiveness; from 1803 to 1806 was, as the confidant and housekeeper of her uncle William Pitt, a leader of society; retired with a Government pension after Pitt's death, but impelled by her restless nature, led an unsettled life in Southern Europe, and finally settled in Syria in 1814, making her home in the old convent of Mar Elias, near Mount Lebanon, where, cut off from Western civilisation, for 25 years she exercised a remarkable influence over the rude tribes of the district; assumed the dress of a Mohammedan chief, and something of the religion of Islam, and in the end came to look upon herself as a sort of prophetess; interesting accounts of her strange life and character have been published by her English physician, Dr. Madden, and others (17761839).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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