Wolverhampton BTW

Jane Vigor

Vigor, Jane née Goodwin, previously Ward and Rondeau, 1699—1783

The preface to Eleven Additional Letters gives a short biography of the author whose Letters from a Lady who Resided Some Years in Russia [1775]) had been published anonymously: ‘The late Mrs. Vigor was the daughter of the rev. Mr. Goodwin, a clergyman of large fortune in Yorkshire, which, after her brother’s death, devolved to her, and was married, 1. to Thomas Ward, esq. Consul General to Russia, 1728; 2. to Claudius Rondeau, esq. Resident at that court, Nov. 23, 1731; and 3. to William Vigor, esq. of Taplow, Bucks, whom she long survived. She died at Windsor, September 12, 1784, aged 84’ (vi).

Katherine Turner (ODNB) and Leo Loewenson have since filled in the gaps. Vigor was the daughter of the Revd Edward Goodwin of Rawmarsh Hall, Yorkshire, and Jane Wainwright. After inheriting her father’s fortune, she married first Thomas Ward, Consul General to Russia and agent of the Russia Company, and, upon his death, Ward’s secretary, Claudius Rondeau, residing thus in St Petersburg from 1728 until 1739. After her second husband died in that year, Jane returned to England in poor health, meeting her third husband, a Quaker Merchant by the name of William Vigor (d. 1767) on the voyage home. They were married in 1740 and Jane Vigor settled down to a quiet life in Taplow and Windsor.

Some forty years after the events which they recount, her Letters from a Lady appeared in 1775, according to the Gentlemen’s Magazine, ‘to prevent a spurious and incorrect copy from being obtruded upon the public’. While these letters concern her time in Russia during her marriage to Claudius Rondeau, the posthumous Eleven Additional Letters go farther back to her initial residence in St Petersburg as ‘Mrs Ward’.

Sources:

Loewenson, Leo. ‘Lady Rondeau’s Letters from Russia (1728-1739)’. Slavonic and East European Review 35.85 (June 1957): 399-408.

Obituary [signed X–––N]. Gentleman's Mag. 53 (Oct. 1783): 892.

Turner, Katherine. ‘Vigor, Jane (1699–1783)’. ODNB.

Texts

Title Published
Eleven Additional Letters from Russia 1785

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