By Martin C. Battestin
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Extra info for A Henry Fielding Companion
During HF’s childhood she was Edmund Fielding’s housekeeper at East Stour. To judge from the fact that in 1714 she was capable of lending Edmund the considerable sum of £600, she appears to have been much more than a menial member of the family. When HF’s father remarried in 1719, however, she lost her position, and in 1721 testiﬁed in Lady Sarah Gould’s behalf when HF’s grandmother successfully sued Edmund for custody 8 A Henry Fielding Companion of the children, at which time Bentham added to his discomﬁture by winning an action against him to recover the debt he had incurred seven years earlier.
There from 1720 Catharine and her sisters lived, and were educated at Mary Rookes’s school in the cathedral Close. In 1739 HF, his sisters, and his brother Edmund sold the farm at East Stour and moved to London, where Catharine took a house in Princes Court, Westminster, contiguous to St. James’s Park and the Verge of the Court; her sisters no doubt shared the house with her. On the death of Mrs. Cottington, her godmother, in December 1739 Catharine inherited a substantial estate that enabled her to come to the ﬁnancial aid of both HF and her father: she provided her father with a house, also in Princes Court, until he was conﬁned for debt in November 1740; and in March 1741, by acting as security for HF’s debts, she rescued him from a bailiff’s sponging house.
In October 1748 all “the sisterhood” were sharing a house in Duke Street, Westminster, near the House of Commons (see Letter 112). Catharine was sharing a house with Ursula and Beatrice at Turnham Green, a suburb near Hammersmith, Middlesex, when she Family and Household 13 died on 5 July 1750, probably a victim of the typhoid epidemic raging that summer. She left everything to Ursula, the next oldest sister. That HF deeply loved Catherine appears from a passage in Amelia (1751, II. iv–v) in which Booth grieves for a beloved sister who has died of “a violent Fever”: “ ‘Upon my Soul, I cannot yet mention her Name without Tears.
A Henry Fielding Companion by Martin C. Battestin
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