Vol. 9: Lowe, N. F.

Type: Article

Lowe, N. F. ‘Mary Wollstonecraft and the Kingsborough Scandal’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 9 (1994), Pp 44-56..

In October 1797, the family of one of Ireland’s wealthiest peers, the Earl of Kingston, was involved in a scandal alleging adultery, incest and murder. A few weeks prior to the outbreak of the scandal, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin — who had been governess to the family ten years previously — died in childbirth. According to Lowe, Wollstonecraft’s timely death provided the opportunity to accuse Wollstonecraft of having been a “licentious and corrupting influence” on Mary King, the young woman at the centre of the scandal. It was asserted that Wollstonecraft’s ideas were such as “could endanger the religious, moral and social order of the British state”. This article examines the facts of the scandal and surveys coverage of the events in both Irish and England newspapers as well as portrayals of the events by the family and the church. Lowe also discusses William Godwin’s Memoirs of The Author of ‘The Rights of Woman’, and the attacks on Wollstonecraft and other women writers who dared to speak out for their equality and freedom.