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Madness, property and power: the strange case of Mary Davies

Leo Hollis untangles the bizarre 18th-century court case surrounding Mary Davies: a wealthy heiress married in mysterious circumstances

Leo Hollis untangles the bizarre 18th-century court case surrounding Mary Davies: a wealthy heiress married in mysterious circumstances. (Image by Getty Images)

In 1701, Mary Davies – a hugely wealthy widow struggling with bouts of unstable behaviour – took a room in Paris’s Hotel Castile. The coming days are a tangle of conflicting accounts, but it seems that she emerged from her rooms as a married woman, before hastening back to London and vehemently denying her change in circumstances. However, her husband soon came calling, demanding his rights to her extensive land and property. Leo Hollis explores a bizarre court case that shocked London.

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Leo Hollis is the author of Inheritance: The Lost History of Mary Davies: A Story of Property, Marriage and Madness (Oneworld, 2021)


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