Feuchères, Sophie, Baronne de (c. 1795–1841)

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Feuchères, Sophie, Baronne de (c. 1795–1841)

Anglo-French courtier. Name variations: Feucheres; Sophia Dawes. Pronunciation: Fe-SHAR. Born Sophie Dawes or Daws at St. Helens, Isle of Wight, around 1795; died in London, England, on January 2, 1841 (some sources cite December 1840); married Baron Adrien Victor de Feuchères, in 1818 (separated 1822).

Considered to be of "low birth," Sophie Feuchères was born at St. Helens, Isle of Wight, in 1795, the daughter of an alcoholic fisherman named Dawes. She grew up in the workhouse, went up London as a servant, and in 1811 became the mistress of Louis Henri Joseph de Bourbon (1756–1830), the last of the Condé princes. Since Sophie was eager to improve her station, the prince saw that she was well educated not only in modern languages but also, as shown in her still extant exercise books, in Greek and Latin. The prince took her to Paris and, to prevent scandal and to qualify her to be received at court, had her married in 1818 to Adrien Victor de Feuchères, a major in the Royal Guards. The prince provided her dowry and made her husband his aide-de-camp and a baron.

Baroness Sophie, educated and attractive, became a person of consequence at the court of Louis XVIII. When de Feuchères, however, finally discovered her true relationship with Condé, whom he had been assured was her father, he left her and obtained a legal separation in 1827. He also apprised the king Louis, who thereupon forbade Sophie's appearance at court. Thanks to her influence, though, Condé was induced in 1820 to sign a will bequeathing about 10 million francs to her; he left the rest of his estate—more than 66 million—to the duc d'Aumale, the fourth son of Louis Philippe (I), the future king of France. Again, she was in high favor. Louis XVIII's successor Charles X received her at court, Talleyrand visited her, her niece married a marquis, and her nephew was made a baron. Condé, tired of Sophie's requests and displeased with the government, had made up his mind to leave France secretly. When on August 27, 1830, he was found hanging dead from his window, Sophie was suspected and an inquiry was held; there was no evidence of foul play, however, and she was not prosecuted. But life in Paris was no longer agreeable to her, and she returned to London, where she died on January 2, 1841.

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Feuchères, Sophie, Baronne de (c. 1795–1841)

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