Historical Reads: Lady Letitia Lade


Heather Carroll remembers the infamous Lady Letitia Lade. To quote:

We can infer that she came from humble origins which led her to employment in seedy London as a servant in a brothel. It is here that the young Letitia met the first of her movie-worthy lovers, John Rann. Rann was a dashing highwayman, and we know how irresistible those can be! But bad boys are never good for the long haul.

Sixteen String Jack was captured and sentenced to death in 1774. Not one to go down without a show, he came out in a custom green suit, joked around with the executioner and crowd, then danced a jig before he was dropped through the floor. Letitia recovered from her loss and moved on from her romantic bad boy to a rich aristocrat, the Duke of York.

Climbing the social ladder proved to work out well for Letitia. Her connections with the Duke helped her form even more. Soon she was modeling for Reynolds under the name of "Mrs. Smith," the portrait of which was exhibited at the 1785 Royal Academy exhibition.


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