Anyone with the slightest knowledge of England’s greatest naval hero, Horatio Nelson, would have heard of Emma, Lady Hamilton.
It appears that Nelson was infatuated with her from their first meeting in 1793.
What I find strange is the fact that Emma’s husband, the much older Sir William Hamilton, apparently never had any inkling that his wife and good friend were involved in a relationship.
It seems he died with them both holding his hand.
Also, Emma and Nelson’s sister and sister-in-law were friends and while Nelson was away they used to keep each other company.
Emma: The Life of Lady Hamilton by J T Herbert Baily is a superb recollection of the life of Nelson’s one true love.
Through letters and memories from some who knew her (the original book was published in 1905), it tells of the beauty who took control of the man she loved and who lost everything after his death at Trafalgar in 1805.
Baily states that at no time did Emma ever admit to Nelson’s daughter Horatia being hers.
The baby was born in late January 1801 and, according to a story told by a nurse some years after, was taken secretly at night by coach to Little Titchfield Street, Marylebone, London where the child was cared for until the death of Sir William.
The baby was Christened Horatia Nelson Thompson.
She grew up to marry a clergyman and lived in Norfolk until her death in 1881.
She was the mother of eight children.
The original book can be seen and the new edition purchased from the public house named after her – The Lady Hamilton at 21 The Hard, Portsea.
Full of intrigue and history, it is a must for anyone with an interest in Portsmouth, Nelson and Emma.