Guest, Lady Charlotte Elizabeth

Guest, Lady Charlotte Elizabeth

Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Guest

1812 - 1895

Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Bertie was born to Albermarle Bertie, the ninth Earl of Lindsey, and his second wife, Charlotte Susanna Elizabeth (Layard) in 1812. At the age of six, her father died and three years later, when her mother married the Reverend Peter Parsons, Guest began keeping personal journals, a practice that would span seventy years.

The young Lady Charlotte was noted for her intellectual curiosity and, despite her stepfather's efforts to discourage education for girls, she taught herself French and Italian, and studied with her brothers' tutors to learn Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Persian. Additionally, Guest studied archeology and became well-read in medieval history and legends, which fascinated her.

At the age of twenty-one, she moved to London and met Josiah John Guest, a successful ironmaster and the first Member of Parliament from the town of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. The couple married on July 29, 1833 and moved into a new mansion built near the Dowlais Iron Company in Merthyr Tydfil. The marriage, a partnership of the upper and the trade class, was deemed scandalous by London's elite, who felt that Charlotte would now be living below her station.

Despite concerns over class difference, the company and community were the shared interests of Charlotte and John Guest. In addition to acting as a company accountant, Charlotte lobbied for her husband's political standing by learning the Welsh language, speaking to local voters, and using her skills as a writer on behalf of her husband. She also worked with John to improve educational standards in the working community. Charlotte visited the schools, teaching occasionally and establishing a system in which teachers trained in London colleges would conduct local classes.

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