Lady Hester Stanhope
1776 – 1839 A.D.
Lady Hester Lucy Stanhope, an English traveler. She was the eldest child of Earl Stanhope by Hester, daughter of the great Earl of Chatham. At the age of twenty she entered the family of her uncle, William Pitt, with whom she lived until his death in 1806, acting as his private secretary and sharing his confidences,
Indulging in dreams of a great destiny in the Orient, she repaired in 1810 to Syria, and visited Jerusalem, Damascus, and Palmyra. The Arabs, who were struck by her powers and display of wealth, treated her as a queen, and she skillfully acted the part of a modern Zenobia.
She established herself in 1813 at the deserted convent of Mar Elias, beside the little village of Jun. Here, wearing the dress of an emir, weapons, pipe, and all, she ruled her guards and servants with absolute authority. The old convent perched upon an isolated eminence among the wildest scenery of the Lebanon, was soon converted into a fortress, garrisoned by Albanians, and became a refuge to all the persecuted and distressed who sought her assistance. So powerful was the influence which she wielded in the surrounding country, that Ibrahim Pasha, when about to invade Syria in 1832, was constrained to solicit her neutrality. She practiced astrology and other secret arts, and promulgated some peculiar religious sentiments which she held to the last. That her mind was diseased on certain points is clear from the fact that she kept in a magnificent stable two mares, on which she fancied she was to ride into Jerusalem with the Messiah at his next coming.
She died with no European near her, and surrounded by a crowd of native servants, who plundered the house almost before life had left her body. She was buried in the garden adjoining her residence.
Her Memoirs as related by Herself, were published soon after her death.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.