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Here's another thing to bear in mind as you read the story - the British attitude to titles.

Being titled  "Lord " or  "Lady" still seems to imply aristocratic antecedents, maybe a stately home or two in the background and most certainly a level of wealth. The presence of these words on your Barclaycard  or your cheque book can galvanise shop assistants into a flurry of deference and over the phone can get you a table at your favoured restaurant or seats at a theatre.

 

Perhaps you thought you had to inherit such titles from your parents or wait for the New Year's  Honours list to heap them upon you in return for your public service. But you would be wrong. If you fancy a title why not shop for one  on E-bay?.We have just discovered a current bid of  £13500 for the ancient title of Lord and Lady of the Manor of Widford (yes - both partners get a title) and it will be perfectly legal to use these titles in any way that seems appropriate such as on bank accounts and getting a place for your child at a desirable nursery school etc.

 

Maybe you should read some of the fiction available to ordinary working people at the turn of the century to see what it meant to people trapped in dull, thankless jobs, to read that a pretty parlour maid could aspire to being the wife of a baronet or that by some brave deed, a young groom might so impress an aged earl that he was adopted by him as his son and eventually passed his lands and title on to him. And if you read enough of this type of fiction, what would be the effect on you? Might you not wish to convert your daydreams into reality?

 

That is exactly what Florence Elizabeth (Lizzie) Summers tried to do. It was a long hard slog which covered most of her life and she never really brought it off but she certainly gave it her best shot as many people were to discover to their cost..

Adventuress: A woman who schemes to win social position, wealth etc. by unscrupulous or questionable means.                                                                                                                                                     Collins Dictionary
 

Almost from the cradle, Lizzie Summers was troublesome and said to have no respect for the truth. She was totally manipulative and even conned the local vicar into re-baptising her as Florence Marcia Summers. She ran away from home to go to live with a gamekeeper whose wife had died - Job Jacks by name, who appears in the 1901 census with a "wife" called "Florence M Jacks" aged 22 and four children, three of whom were by Lizzie Summers.  They did eventually marry in 1907 but it was not a good start to Lizzie's life plan for herself. But better times were ahead. During the Great War, Lizzie met a Captain Arthur Ireland, a doctor who had come to England with the Canadian Medical Corps. She celebrated her first bigamous marriage in the September Quarter of 1917 by explaining to him that she was a 23 year-old widow but she was in fact 39 and still married to Job Jacks. It is all a bit sad and you will see later that Arthur Ireland probably loved her - in 1918, they had their only child,  a girl who they called Joan.

 

Arthur Ireland became something of an alcoholic and as their "marriage" began to fall apart, Lizzie  Ireland (as she now called herself) found her feet as a confidence trickster, managing to "buy" three houses which she let to tenants and then defrauding a gas company. In an effort to save their crumbling relartionship, the Irelands "adopted" a  little girl aged 10 but to no avail - in 1930 Arthur Ireland "divorced" Lizzie, who took the adopted child to France, put her in a convent school there and forthwith abandoned her. 

 

After this divorce, Lizzie decided that her next husband should give her a title. But how did you meet aristocrats if you are not in contact with titled people? Inexperienced and middle-aged, time was running out for Lizzie until she remembered how well many actresses had done for themselves in acquiring titled marriages.  It was a good move - she began to frequent  the kind of restaurants and cafes used by actresses and quickly found someone who she thought could help her to meet the "right" people - her target was  a widow called Edith Castle Biggs who was about to make just the kind of  marriage that Lizzie had in mind . On 25th March 1929, Edith married Lawrence William Palk, the 3rd Lord Haldon, and became Baroness Haldon in her own right.

 

 
 
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