Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Quick Summary of Events, re: Walpole...

I leave it to you to discern how much of an impact that the lengthy travails of the Hon. Robert Horace Walpole must have had on his wife and family.

Walpole had dealt with Valerie Wiedemann, the German governess he had seduced in Istanbul and "shacked up with" for a short time in a local hotel, for some time discreetly. He'd had a private investigator lead Wiedemann, who had from all accounts borne a child of their brief relationship, on a merry chase around Europe in hopes of losing her, while she thought she was being brought to him. All the while, she kept a signet ring of his, a token she claimed was a gift and promise from him of his commitment to their future happiness in wedlock.

When Walpole was finally engaged to Louise Melissa Corbin, a daughter of multi-millionaire industrial magnate D. C. Corbin of Sokane, Washington, in the United States, her photograph [above, right] was published in Life magazine. Seeing this, Wiedemann started stalking and harassing Miss Corbin—behavior justifiable in her own mind.

Her sad case was taken up by local newspapers, notably the Pall Mall Gazette, and Walpole was dragged through three scandalous trials. He married Corbin on 17 May 1888, and the lengthy proceedings began by November of that same year—a short honeymoon for the couple, indeed.

You may recall the text an article from the Pullman [Washington] Herald dated 13 April 1889: From the time her child was born Mrs. Robert Horace Walpole, formerly Miss Louise Corbin of New York, has been very ill and her friends fear she cannot recover. Since the scandal between her husband and Miss Wieldman [sic] was exposed in court a few months ago she has been very nervous and in depressed spirits. Mr. Walpole is heir to the Earldom of Oxford.

No, Louise was not taking the scandal very well at all. What the above text doesn't relate is that Louise was post partum, having given birth to a daughter, Dorothy Rachel Melissa Walpole on 11 March 1889 in Kensington, London. Assuming the pregnancy to have been full term, the legal wrangling with Valerie Wiedemann would have begun when Louise had been with child for three months.

During the course of the trial, Louise—who had survived that scare back in 1889—once again became pregnant with a child who would hopefully become Walpole's own heir to the Earldom of Orford. Louise gave birth to Horatio Corbin Walpole on 9 January 1891. Little Horatio likely would have been conceived in May of 1890, between the appeal of the first Wiedemann v. Walpole trial in April and the onset of the second trial in June 1890.

Louise endured the anxiety and stress of that second trial during the first trimester of her pregnancy. She may not have, in fact, known during the June 1891 trial that she was, indeed, enceinte.

There is no public record of the details of Horatio's birth, and whether or not he was a healthy infant. However, Walpole's heir, young Horatio, died on 20 May 1893, suddenly leaving Robert Horace Walpole without a male heir—something that would become a real problem for him in the future. [Horatio's tomb is depicted at left.]

Instead, he had only a daughter remaining—the future Lady Dorothy Mills—and a wife, Louise, whom one can easily assume was still eroded and ailing afterthree years of scandal, trials, and embarrassment, estrangement from her father (a man who quite obviously disliked and disapproved of Walpole) and the death of her younger child.

Once the third and final trial was completed, what became to Valerie Wiedemann and her case against Walpole?

What did the future have in store for Louise Corbin Walpole and a her young daughter, Lady Dororthy Walpole?

We'll examine the answers to those questions in due time. Meanwhile, keep checking back at Who Is George Mills?, where we'll soon welcome our 6000th international visitor!

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