Olivia Colman Reads an Amusing 17th Century Demand Letter From a Countess to Her Husband

During a 2019 Letters Live event at Union Chapel in London, the incredibly impressive Olivia Colman read aloud a very amusing, if not somewhat cheeky demand letter from Elizabeth (Eliza) Compton, Countess of Northampton to her husband Lord William Compton in 1618.

My Sweet Life,

Now I have declared to you my mind for the settling of your state, I supposed that it were best for me to bethink or consider with myself what allowance were meetest for me….

Eliza’s father Lord Mayor of London Sir John Spencer had died and left his vast fortune not to Eliza, but to William her husband, as was tradition until the passage of The Married Women’s Property Act in 1870. Being that William was a bit at sea with her father’s money, Eliza made very clear as to what she expected from the inheritance left to William.

On March 3rd, 1610, the one time Lord Mayor of London Sir John Spencer died, leaving behind a vast fortune to be inherited not by his daughter, Elizabeth, whom he had often treated terribly, but to her husband, Lord William Compton—an amount so large, in fact, that Compton was said to have “lost his way” for some time. It was in 1618, when Compton’s health was restored, that Elizabeth wrote him the following letter and listed the many ways in which was to spend some of her late father’s money.

Colman also read aloud a letter from Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother to her mother-in-law Queen Mary of Teck at another event in 2019 at Royal Albert Hall in London.

The brilliant Olivia Colman reads a letter written by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother to her ‘darling’ mother-in-law, Queen Mary, recounting the events of 13 September 1940, when German bombs hit Buckingham Palace when he King George IV was in residence.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.