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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Title: Old Myddelton's Money

Author and Title: Mary Cecil Hay. Old Myddelton's Money

First Edition: London: Hurst and Blackett, 1874. 3 volumes, post 8vo, 31s. 6d.

Serialization: The Family Herald, 2 May 1874 to 12 September 1874 (weekly)

Summary: Old Myddelton was a miser: after a falling out with his only nephew and heir Gabriel Myddelton, he changes his will and is soon after murdered at his estate Abbotsmoor. Gabriel is the chief suspect but he escapes from jail and flees to America with the help of Margaret Territ, a cottager. Old Myddelton's fortune is left to his only sister, Lady Lawrence, who lives in India. The novel follows the lives of Old Myddelton's extended family, all of whom look forward to inheriting a part of the fortune on the death of Lady Lawrence. The good Honor Craven and her flighty cousin Phoebe Owen, two poor orphans, live with their guardian, another cousin Lawrence Houghton. The imperious Houghton, a lawyer, pursues Honor but she does not return his affection. More cousins, the snobby Mrs. Trent and her daughter Theodora, live close by Honor; another cousin, Capt. Hervey Lawrence Trent, is a frequent visitor. Into this world comes two new faces: the wealthy traveler Royden Keith and the poor widow Mrs. Payte. The former takes an interest in the history of the family, especially the murder of Old Myddelton and the fate of Gabriel. Mrs. Payte lives with her invalid companion Mrs. Disbrowe, and ingratiates herself with the family. Honor befriends Mrs. Payte, to the chagrin of her family, and helps to nurse Mrs. Disbrowe. Royden and Honor become friends—the jealous Houghton attempts to separate them, suspecting that Royden is the fugitive Gabriel returned. The family, sans Honor, eagerly awaits the return of Lady Lawrence from India when she will meet her family and make her will leaving Old Myddelton's fortune to one or all. On the day of going to London, Honor stays behind to attend the death of Mrs. Disbrowe knowing her decision may cost her an inheritance. On arriving in London, Honor and the family meet Lady Lawrence and are shocked to discover that she has disguised herself as Mrs. Payte in order to find out the true natures of her family. Besides token amounts, she leaves the fortune to Honor knowing she will use it wisely. Lady Lawrence introduces Honor to society before she dies and leave everything to Honor. She quickly becomes a target of fortune hunters. Meantime, Royden investigates the murder of Old Myddelton, eventually tracking down Margaret Territ who confesses that her father was the true murderer. Armed with her confession, Royden makes a desperate ride home to share the news with Gabriel's wife who he has been hiding in his home. (During his travels in America, Royden met the fugitive Gabriel and promised to help him.) While crossing a bay, the tide comes in and Royden nearly drowns. He sets into motion the clearing of Gabriel's name before succumbing to typhus. Honor rushes to his side to nurse him back to health. They marry. (TJB)

References: BL; EC