Introduction to Selected Letters of Eliza Gould Flower

The selection below of the letters of Eliza Gould Flower covers the period from 1794 to 1808, from her time as a school teacher in Southmolton through her time in London when she first met Benjamin Flower in Newgate Prison (where he was serving a six-month sentence for libelling the Bishop of Llandaff in one of his newspaper editorials) and her marriage with Flower and the birth of her two daughters, Eliza and Sarah. Shortly before opening her school in 1794, she had met John Feltham, to whom she would become engaged within a year. She experienced tremendous persecution in South Molton as a result of her distribution of Flower’s Cambridge Intelligencer, caus­ing her to close her school by the summer of 1795. After living for several months with her friends, the Quartleys, near Wellington, Eliza returned home to Bampton to assist her bankrupt father in satisfying his cred­­itors so that he can be freed and return to his family. In the fall of 1797, still engaged to Feltham, she removed to London to live with Feltham’s friends, the Ortons, during which time her relations with Feltham became increasingly strained. She left the Ortons in late 1797 and moved in with her new London friends, the Gurneys, in Walworth. In late summer 1798 she accepted a governess position with the Squire family of Kempston, Bedfordshire, where she remained for one year, returning to London to live once again with the Gurneys. During this time in Kempston she broke of her engagement with Feltham (March 1799). In August 1799 she met Flower, and they were married on 1 January 1800. After their marriage, the Flowers lived in Cambridge and then in Harlow, where Eliza died in 1810.