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Lady Emily Foley was a key figure in the history of a wide area of Herefordshire and Worcestershire as well as being held in high regard in places further afield such as Staffordshire and London. Although she has been mentioned in numerous publications this is the first book to be published specifically on the life of this aristocrat. Part of its purpose is to examine the unusual role she played in the nineteenth century: a woman with power and influence in a Britain which, until the last few years of the nineteenth century, considered the property of any married woman to belong to her husband and did not entrust any woman with a vote in parliamentary elections until more than eighteen years after Lady Emily’s death.

Lady Emily was the daughter of the rich and influential Duke of Montrose and married the owner of the Stoke Edith estate in 1832. Within fourteen years her husband died, entrusting to her the management of a substantial estate which she controlled with unusual skill and dedication for the rest of the nineteenth century until her death in her ninety-fifth year on 1 January 1900.

Lady Emily was a very rich woman with a social conscience as well as an awareness of her rights as a substantial landowner. She was a controversial character who attracted some outspoken critics as well as countless loyal admirers. The evidence points to a most unusual and capable woman exercising influence and power in a manner that, beneath all the platitudes and courtesies of the time – as well as some bitter scorn – inspired much genuine affection and respect. Hers was, indeed, a most remarkable life.

Lady Emily Foley

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