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Robinson, Mary (d. 1837)

Robinson, Mary (d. 1837)

Famed English beauty known as the Buttermere Beauty. Name variations: Mary of Buttermere; Maid of Buttermere; the Buttermere Beauty. Died in 1837; married to infamous forger and imposter John Hatfield under false pretenses, in 1802; married Richard Harrison; four children.

Mary Robinson, also known as the Buttermere Beauty, achieved such fame for her looks that Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William and Dorothy Wordsworth , and Charles and Mary Lamb all found her to be the most beautiful woman in England at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1802, she married John Hatfield, a notorious bigamist and forger who had already deserted at least two wives in addition to serving time in debtors' prison. Hatfield won Robinson's heart by pretending to be a man named Alexander Augustus Hope, but the following year his deception came out in a trial that captivated all of England. He was convicted of forgery and hanged in Carlisle.

The legend of Mary Robinson inspired poets to write verses extolling her virtue and grieving over her marriage to the scoundrel Hatfield. Coleridge and the Wordsworths recorded notes of the trial and circumstances in their journals. Later on, Robinson married Richard Harrison of Caldbeck, a town with a population of over 1,000 in the Northern Fells. They had four children. Robinson slipped into a quiet and genteel life, but her story remained famous even after her death in 1837.


Bragg, Melvyn. The Maid of Buttermere. NY: Putnam, 1987.

The Concise Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Jane Spear , freelance writer and editor, Canton, Ohio

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