Attersoll, Ann [also known as Ann Holmes, Ann Hunter, Ann Doherty, Ann de la Pigueliere] (c. 1786–1831/1832)

Daughter of Thomas Holmes (1751–1827), a wealthy East India merchant, who changed his name to Hunter on inheriting the Gobions estate in Hertfordshire in 1802 from his wife’s grandfather. The same year, Ann Holmes eloped, aged sixteen, with Hugh Doherty, an impecunious thirty-year-old Irishman and officer in the Light Dragoons. Their marriage soon broke down, and Doherty published his account of events in The Discovery (1807). This revealed how, in an attempt to prevent the elopement, Ann had been confined by her parents in a ‘madhouse’, from which he had helped her escape. After her separation from her husband, Ann Doherty (as she was then known) published a number of novels, including Ronaldsha (1808), The Castles of Wolfnorth and Mont Eagle (1812) and The Knight of the Glen (1815). Her personal life remained complex. In 1811 Hugh Doherty successfully sued the architect Philip William Wyatt (d. 1835) for ‘criminal conversation’ with his wife. Her relationship with Wyatt did not last and by 1818 she was referring to herself as Ann Attersoll, probably because she was living with John Attersoll (c. 1784–1822), a wealthy merchant, banker and MP for Wootton Bassett 1812–1813. At this time she corresponded with Southey, sending him a copy of her Peter the Cruel King of Castile and Leon: An Historical Play in Five Acts (1818). By 1820 (possibly earlier) she was living in France and had dropped the name of Attersoll and adopted that of Madame St Anne Holmes (much to Southey’s confusion). A French translation of Roderick, the Last of the Goths, published in 1821 by Pierre Hippolyte Amillet de Sagrie (1785–1830), was dedicated to her. She remained in France and was later known by the surname de la Pigueliere.