Foote, Maria (c. 1797–1867)

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Foote, Maria (c. 1797–1867)

English actress and countess of Harrington. Born, probably at Plymouth, England, around 1797; died on December 27, 1867; daughter of Samuel Foote (a descendant of the great actor Samuel Foote, 1720–1777); married Charles Stanhope, 4th earl of Harrington.

An English actress whose amatory and matrimonial affairs were somewhat sensational, Maria Foote appeared as Amanthis in Elizabeth Inchbald 's The Child of Nature at Covent Garden in 1814. She remained at Covent Garden until 1825, then did a stint at the Drury Lane before touring England and Ireland. Foote retired from the stage, after a relatively notorious career, in 1831, on her marriage to Charles Stanhope, earl of Harrington.

Maria Foote previously claimed that she had been seduced by a militia colonel named Berkeley who would not marry her. She also sought and won £3,000 damages for breach of promise from one Joseph Hayne, Esq., also known as "Pea Green" Hayne because of the color of his coat. A report of the 1824 trial of Foote v. Hayne, wherein the sympathy of the public was squarely behind her, sold for sixpence on the streets of London.