Tom Jones and the reluctant Heiress
Henry Fielding, author of the classic novel Tom Jones, had a short but dramatic brush with Lyme Regis.
In 1725, shortly after finishing Eton, he paid a visit to the town. The reason, though, was not a holiday, but passion. He had developed an infatuation with a young heiress Sarah Andrews, a distant cousin and a Lyme resident.
Sara's guardian, Andrew Tucker, had other plans; to marry Sara off to his son and nab the fortune.
Henry, soon found himself in front of the magistrate accused of assault after a drunken brawl with the town miller's servant. An incident which may have been instigated by Sara's dastardly guardian to discredit Henry.
Unbowed, Henry returned several months later with a not particuarly cunning plan. Accompanied by his servant he attempted to abduct Sara as she walked to church with her Guardian's family. Henry was thwarted and had to flee the town, but not before he left this rather pathetic scrawled note pinned to his enemy's door.
'This is to give notice to the World that Andrew Tucker and his Son John Tucker are Clowns, and Cowards. Witness my hand Henry F[ie]lding'
The note still exists and is to be seen in the town museum.
Fielding, always short of money went on to marry another heiress and after trying his hand as newspaper editor and playright he eventually found lasting success with Tom Jones in 1749.
Ian Dicks, Dorset Dorset
Published on 17/06/2012.