Lady Charlotte Susan Maria
Bury (1775-1861), novelist, youngest child of John Campbell, fifth duke of
Argyll, by Elizabeth, second daughter of John Gunning of Castle Coot in
Roscommon, and widow of James Hamilton, sixth duke of Hamilton, was born at
Argyll House, Oxford Street, London, 28 Jan. 1775. In her youth she was
remarkable for her personal beauty, and the charm of her manners rendered
her one of the most popular persons in society, while the sweetness and
excellence of her character endeared her more especially to those who knew
her in the intimacy of private life. She was always distinguished by her
passion for the belles-lettres, and was accustomed to do the honours of
Scotland to the literary celebrities of the day. It was at one of her
parties that Sir Walter Scott became personally acquainted with Monk Lewis.
When aged twenty-two she produced a volume of poems, to which, however, she
did not affix her name. She married, 14 June 1796, Colonel John Campbell
(eldest son of Walter Campbell of Schawfield, by his first wife Eleanora
Kerr), who, at the time of his decease in Edinburgh 15 March 1809, was
member of parliament for the Ayr burghs. By this marriage she had nine
children, of whom, however, only two survived her, Lady A. Lennox and Mrs.
William Russell. Lady Charlotte Campbell married secondly, 17 March 1818,
the Rev. Edward John Bury (only son of Edward Bury of Taunton) ; he was of
University College, Oxford, B. A. 1811, M.A. 1817, became rector of
Lichfield, Hampshire, in 1814, and died at Ardenample Castle, Dumbartonshire,
May 1832, aged 42, having had issue two daughters. On Lady Charlotte
becoming a widow in 1809 she was appointed lady-in-waiting in the household
of the Princess of Wales, afterwards Queen Caroline, when it is believed
that she kept a diary, in which she recorded the foibles and failings of the
unfortunate princess and other members of the court. After her marriage with
Mr. Bury she was the author of various contributions to light literature,
and some of her novels were once very popular, although now almost
forgotten. When the 'Diary illustrative of the Times of George IV ’
appeared in two volumes in 1838, it was thought to bear evidence of a
familiarity with the scenes depicted which could only be attributed to Lady
Charlotte. It was reviewed with much severity, and attributed to her
ladyship by both the ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Quarterly’ Reviews. The volumes,
however, sold rapidly, and several editions were disposed of in a few weeks.
The charge of the authorship was not at the time denied, and as no one has
since arisen claiming to have written the diary the public libraries now
catalogue the work under Lady Charlotte’s name. She died at 91 Sloane
Street, Chelsea, 31 March 1861. The once celebrated beauty, the delight of
the highest circles of London society, died quite forgotten among strangers
in a lodging-house, and her death certificate at Somerset House curiously
says, ‘daughter of a duke and wife of the Rev. E. J. Bury, holding no
The following is believed to
be a complete list of Lady Bury’s writings; many of them originally appeared
without her name, but even at that time there does not seem to have been any
secret as to the identity of the writer: 1. ‘Poems on several Occasions, by
a Lady,’ 1797. 2. ‘Alla Giornata, or To the Day,’ anonymous, 1826. 3.
‘Flirtation,’ anonymous, 1828, which went to three editions. 4.
‘Separation,’ by the author of ‘Flirtation/ 1830. 5. ‘A Marriage in High
Life,’ edited by the author of ‘Flirtation/ 1828. 6. ‘Journal of the Heart/
edited by the author of ‘Flirtation/ 1830. 7. ‘The Disinterested and the
Ensnared/ anonymous, 1834. 8. ‘Journal of the Heart' second series, edited
by the author of ‘Flirtation/ 1835. 9. ‘The Devoted/ by the author of ‘The
Disinherited/1836. 10. ‘Love' anonymous, 1837; second edition 1860. 11.
‘Memoirs of a Peeress, or the days of Fox' by Mrs. O. F. Gore, edited by
Lady 0. Bury, 1837. 12. ‘The Three Great Sanctuaries of Tuscany: Valambrosa,
Camaldoli, Lavemas/ a poem historical and legendary, with engravings from
drawings by the Rev. E. Bury, 1833. 13. ‘Diary illustrative of the Times of
George the Fourth,’ anonymous, 1838, 2 vols. 14. ‘The Divorced,’ by Lady C.
S. M. Bury, 1837; another edition 1858. 15. ‘Family Records, or the 'Two
Sisters,’ by Lady C. S. M. Bury, 1841. And 16, a posthumous work entitled
‘The Two Baronets,’ a novel of fashionable life, by the late Lady C. S. M.
Bury, 1864. She is also said to have been the writer of two volumes of
prayers, ‘Suspirium Sanctorum,’ which were dedicated to Dr. Goodenough,
bishop of Carlisle.
[Colburn’s New Monthly Magazine, xlix. 76-77 (1837), portrait; Burke’s
Portrait Gallery of Females (1833), i. 103-5; Allibone’s Dictionary of
English Literature (1859), i. 308.] G. C. B.