Emma, Lady Hamilton’s birthday
Originally shared by Ed Pearce
Emma, Lady Hamilton was born Amy Lyon, at Ness, near Neston in Cheshire, England on April 26, 1765. The cottage where she was born still survives.
She was the daughter of Henry Lyon, a blacksmith who died when she was two months old.
Amy was raised by her mother, the former Mary Kidd, at Hawarden, Flintshire and received no formal education.
By the age of 12, Amy was working as a maid at the Hawarden home of Doctor Honoratus Leigh Thomas, a surgeon working in Chester.
At 16 Amy Lyon was an assistant to an immensely fat quack named James Graham, who advertised a mud bath as a beauty aid. At each performance to prove this, Amy, attired as a Goddess of Love, would be immersed up to her neck in the mud bath.
By her early twenties Amy was living in Naples and had changed her name to Emma Hart. She began there an affair with Sir William Hamilton, a British diplomat and envoy to the court of Naples, who was more than twice her age.
When Sir William Hamilton obtained leave of three months in Britain, he took the opportunity to marry Emma. The ceremony was a quiet one in St Marylebone parish church, Middlesex, taking place on September 6, 1791, two days before the couple’s return to Naples.
Emma, Lady Hamilton first met Horatio Nelson in Naples in 1793, but it was only when he returned five years later that their affair began. A fervid admirer of his exploits, she reportedly threw herself at him, shouting ‘Oh God, is it possible?’ before fainting.