Chapter 36: An Open Letter from Lord Benjamin Watts

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Dear Captain Bennett,

I have addressed this missal as an open letter to all who may be concerned with dealings whether existing or future, with the convict known as Miss Charlotte Caprice. Charlotte was a maid in my employ at Lamerton Hall in Lincolnshire, England. It was during her time as maid at Lamerton Hall that she was charged with the theft of my wife's ruby necklace. At the time of her arrest, both my wife and I became life threateningly unwell. In my own case, after suffering a heart attack, I am happy to say, I seem fully recovered. In the case of my dear wife, Lady Dorothea, I am heartbroken to say, she did not recover and was pronounced dead from suicide at Bedlam Asylum two days ago.

Lady Dorothea Watts has suffered her whole life from a melancholic manic disorder that became acute during the time of Charlotte Caprice's employ with us. I am ashamed, but morally obliged to now confess, that Charlotte Caprice was innocent of any crime and wrongly adjudged guilty of the theft of my wife's necklace. The truth is that my wife, in her illness, took an undeserved and heinous dislike for Charlotte Caprice and was obsessed with the desire to remove her from our house and our lives. To that end, my wife orchestrated the theft of the said necklace as well as responsibility for the theft to be landed at Miss Caprice's door. I repeat, Miss Charlotte Caprice is a completely innocent victim of a terrible illness that has since claimed the life of my beloved wife.

I now plan to have a legal appeal raised against Miss Caprice's conviction for theft. I understand that until such time as this appeal is successful, (which may take some time given the present state of judicial backlog), Miss Charlotte Caprice must remain as far as the law is concerned, a convict. But I would like the particular facts of her case and hence, the contents of this letter, known to as many persons as may be likely to have dealings with her. I do this in the hopes that their treatment of her may be favourable and if possible, that she be treated as her true character deserves – that of a free and educated woman of the highest and most morally outstanding reputation. This is a character reference which I personally give freely and by my own hand this eighteenth day of September in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and three.

Yours truly,

Lord Benjamin Watts

Lamerton Hall

18 September 1803

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