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1801 to 1814

1801 May:   Mary Jane Vial is living at 27 The Polygon, Somers Town, London, as Mrs Clairmont, a widow with two children. She brings herself to the attention of her neighbour at No. 29, William Godwin.˚

July:   MJV has entered into an affair with Godwin.

October (end):   MJV is pregnant with Godwin’s child.

December 21:  Godwin and MJV marry, undergoing two ceremonies: one at St. Leonard’s Shoreditch, where MJV identified herself as Mrs Clairmont, a widow of the parish; and a second secret ceremony at St. Mary’s Whitechapel, where she is shown as a spinster .

The Polygon, Somers Town
1802 June 4:   MJV and Godwin’s son William dies.

1803 March 28:  MJV gives birth to another son, William Godwin Jr. ˚˚

˚ to ˚˚ Source: William St. Clair. The Godwins and the Shelleys: The biography of a family. London: Faber, 1989

1805 At MJV’s urging, the Juvenile Library of M.J. Godwin and Co. is established, with money borrowed from two publisher friends of Godwin’s.

1808 Before April:  MJV writes to Lethbridge. (This correspondence is not on record). She has hopes that the allowance will be increased, and some permanent arrangement made for Mary Jane’s future.  [#37M]

April 7: W L White writes to Beadon, following the letter from MJV to Sir John, asking what JL’s intentions might be and seeking remittance of the allowance due.  [#37M]

(After this, the allowance increases from 15 pounds to 20 pounds per year).

1811 January 7:  Mr and Mrs Godwin now living at 41 Skinner St., Snow Hill, London. She writes to Beadon asking for remittance of the 10 pounds due in September 1810, and the same amount which would be due in March. Mary Jane has been in perfect health for the last year.  [#38]

Jan 23:   Reminder letter to Beadon from MJV: money not received yet.  [#40]

February 8:  MJV writes to Beadon to acknowledge receipt of the allowance due. In answer to his enquiry, she tells him that Mary Jane is in perfect health, and “in mind and body the loveliest creature that ever held being in this world of sorrow”. She is short-sighted: Mrs Godwin has given up plans for Mary Jane to study drawing and music: her studies are now history, geography and languages. She asks Beadon to mark future letters “Private” to prevent them being opened by her clerk.  [#41]

"To the present moment, however, her little bosom has been the seat of peace and happiness -- all my consolation is the hope it will remain so."

1813 December 5:  Beadon writes to Mr. White regarding MJV’s affairs: this letter is not on record. White sends a copy on to Mrs. Godwin. 

c. Dec 15:   MJV replies to Mr. White: presumably the letter makes another appeal for funds, as well as an appeal to Sir John’s feelings. This letter is not on record.

Dec 17:  White replies to Beadon, enclosing MJV’s letter.* He suggests showing it to Lethbridge, and urges that some kind of compromise should be reached, perhaps through payment of a sum of 40 or 50 pounds for the “progression of the young person” as well as to secure MJV’s future silence and forbearance on the subject.  

* This letter presumably would have been passed on to JL, and is no longer on record.

1814 May 18:  White writes to Beadon: he is disappointed that he has heard nothing from Beadon regarding payment of a final lump sum from Sir John. He has had several more letters from Mrs. Godwin, who seems to be in genuine need. He urges Beadon to use his influence with Sir John to “induce him to comply with the plan…of silencing the Lady forever”.  [#43]

The Lethbridge correspondence ends here.

In July 1814, Mary Jane Clairmont ran away with her stepsister Mary Godwin and Mary's lover Percy Shelley.  Sir John Lethbridge died in December 1815.