A Brief History of Henrietta Laura Pulteney
28 July 2019
Last week’s blog looked at the history of the fountain which stands in the centre of Laura Place, and went on to mention that Laura Place is named after Henrietta Laura Pulteney. This week we’re taking a quick look at the life of Henrietta Laura Pulteney, the first countess of Bath.
Henrietta Laura Pulteney was the only child of Sir William Pulteney – the gentleman who was responsible for much of the building of the Bathwick area of Bath (the area of Bath across the river Avon from Bath city centre). Sir William Pulteney incidentally was reputedly the wealthiest man in Great Britain by the time he died in 1805, with the equivalent wealth in today’s money of over twelve billion pounds!
Henrietta was given the title of Baroness Bath in 1792 when she succeeded to the vast Bath estates of her father. There was a call for her peerage to be cancelled by some peers however, as it was a general rule that the same place name could not be used in the title of two separate peerages for separate people (a marquessate of Bath had been created for the 3rdViscount Weymouth in 1789). This was ignored and she went on to be given the further elevated title of Countess of Bath in 1803.
Henrietta married her father's first cousin, Sir James Murray,on July 17th1794, however she died in 1808 at the age of 41 with no children. This meant that her title of Countess of Bath became extinct – making her the first, and only, Countess of Bath; but one who is remembered to this day in many of the place names in Bath.
It wasn’t just during her lifetime that places were named after her however.
The nearby Henrietta Park was completed in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, but, perhaps because Bath already had a park bearing Victoria’s name (Royal Victoria Park which had been opened by the then 11 year-old Princess Victoria in 1830), the park was given the name Henrietta Park. It is, by the by, a park which is a joy to stroll in to this day, should the idea of a nice walk in nearby verdure take your fancy.