MONSEY, Messenger (1694 -1788), physician. Two ALS to the Duke & Duchess of Leeds. 1761

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MONSEY, Messenger (1694 -1788), physician. Autograph letter signed to the Duke of Leeds, one side, with address panel on reverse, 4to, 15th August 3 o'clock [1761], plus enclosure [below] regarding the death of the son of the Duke and Duchess : "I was going to send this to her Grace but upon second thoughts I thought it better to submit it to Yr. Grace’s determination whether she should see it or no........ I sent for a Draught to have tried what effect it might have had, but alas He expired before it came. I am much obliged to yr. Grace for your kind enquiry after my Health amidst yr. own unutterable affliction ........ For my sake as well as yr own never think of replying one word to all this......". Docket on the reverse in the Duke’s hand "Dr Monsey 15th August 1761. Fatal". Small piece of paper removed from margin by the seal.

Together with the autograph letter signed cited above, addressed to the Duchess of Leeds from Monsey, but sent to the Duke, 2 sides of a 4to bifolium, St James’s, Aug. 14th 1761, 11 at night, comprising a long homily of one and a half sides upon the loss of her son. At the foot is a post script dated August 15th in which he adds “I wrote this last night when I came up from my Ld. G[odolphin] whose Heart I found sorely oppressed indeed & I cou’d not forbear giving vent to my own sorrows for you. I have seen the poor Child this morning, the rest yr. Grace will know too soon.  Do madam bear up for your own, the Duke of Leeds & your dear old fathers sake who is most grievously afflicted, & remember also your Sad distressed sister the D. of Newcastle”.

Messenger Monsey was the eldest son of Robert Monsey, rector of Bawdeswell, Norfolk, and Mary Clopton. He attended Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA in 1714; studied medicine at Norwich under Sir Benjamin Wrench; and set up in practice at Bury St Edmunds. By chance he was called to attend Francis 2nd earl of Godolphin, who had been taken ill on a journey, and made such an impression that Godolphin persuaded him to go to London where he later obtained for him the appointment of physician to Chelsea Hospital. Through their friendship, Monsey met and married Godolphin’s daughter Mary, and he was introduced to many leading noblemen and politicians of the day including Sir Robert Walpole. Eccentric and coarse-mannered, Monsey treated his noble patrons with ostentatious familiarity. He also acquired literary connections including Mrs Elizabeth Montagu, and David Garrick.

Thomas Osborne, 4th Duke of Leeds, politician and judge, succeeded as Duke of Leeds upon the death of his father in 1731. In 1740 he married Lady Mary Godolphin, daughter of Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin, who bore him four children, of whom only one survived. Their first child, a son, died in infancy; their second, Thomas, the subject of these letters, was born in 1747 and died 1761; the third, Francis Godolphin (1751-1799) survived to succeed his father as 5th Duke of Leeds; and a daughter, Harriet, died when young. Their mother the Duchess died in 1764, aged 41.