The Mistress of the Duke of Orleans, Grace Dalrymple Elliott

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Portrait of Grace Elliot by Thomas Gainsborough, circa 1778

Daly the Tall, Mistress of the Duke of Orleans, Grace Dalrymple Elliott was a courtesan to royalty.

An eighteenth-century beauty, Grace Dalrymple Elliott, was the youngest daughter of a Scottish lawyer who sent her to a French convent where she acquired the accomplishments expected of a Society lady. Pleased with his daughter, her father hoped that she would marry well. He eventually matched her with a wealthy older man.

The man was Sir John Elliott, a doctor who was twenty years older than her. The marriage was not happy. Elliott was not good-looking and only five feet tall. This must have been a disappointment to Grace Elliott who was nicknamed “Dally the tall.” He was also a philanderer. Elliott also apparently had several mistresses and illegitimate children. His neglected wife soon fell in love with a handsome man of “athletic form”, Lord Valentia. She soon eloped with Valentia.

Grace Dalrymple Elliot’s Affairs

Elliott’s brothers kidnapped the wayward young woman and sent her to another French convent. She was soon rescued by Lord Cholmondelely, with whom she had a long affair. Elliott obtained a divorce from her husband who settled £12,000 on her after a long and scandalous divorce. This was a huge sum in those days.

The beautiful courtesan soon had a short affair with the Prince of Wales, later George IV, and claimed that her daughter was his. She even registered her daughter as the Prince’s at her birth! The Prince of Wales provided Grace Elliot with an allowance but he didn’t agree that he was the father of her child. Georgiana Seymour, Elliot’s daughter, was raised by the Cholmondeleys and was probably Lord Cholmondeley’s daughter. Lord Cholmondeley also looked after Georgiana Seymour’s daughter after her mother died at a young age.

Elliott may have been tired of her scandalous career in England by now. She decided to try her luck in France.

Grace Dalrymple Elliott became the mistress of the wealthy and rebellious Duke d’Orleans in Paris and acquired a lot of property. She was a royalist who greatly admired the French Queen, Marie Antoinette, but the Duke was in favour of the Revolution and even voted for his cousin, Louis XVI’s execution. Elliot was apparently devastated when the King and Queen were executed. She escaped execution herself, but she was sent to prison by the dictatorial regime four times. The Duke couldn’t escape the Terror and he was eventually sent to the guillotine.

The famous courtesan wrote a memoir, A Journal of my Life during the Revolution. Much of it is made up but it apparently contains many fascinating stories. For example, Elliott wrote that she saved the Marquis de Champcenetz from a mob of Jacobins by hiding him under the bed.

Elliott died in France where she was the mistress of the Mayor of Haut-de-Seins.

A film, The Lady and the Duke, was based on her life.

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