Darcy Saga Characters: The Fitzherberts and The Drurys
Continuing on with the series delving into the many secondary characters inhabiting the nine novels and one novella comprising The Darcy Saga, this post will complete the study of the gentlemen and ladies comprising the closest friends of Darcy and Elizabeth. It is fun for me to revisit the plethora of pivotal, important characters interacting with the main characters. Hopefully it is a fun endeavor for all of you too!
These introspective and excerpt laden posts are publishing in order, more or less, based on when the characters are introduced in the novels. If the previous three posts were missed, I encourage reading them first.
For an overview of the vast number of characters within The Darcy Saga, visit the Characters page for lists for each novel and the extensive family tree I created. Additionally, the Portrait Gallery has images for each principle character.
As explained in the previous blogs, scattered throughout The Darcy Saga I expand upon the history of Fitzwilliam Darcy (as a child, youth, and young adult). As I imagine him, Darcy is a reserved person, quite shy actually, so his circle of friends would be small. He is also fiercely loyal to his friends and family. This is clearly revealed in Pride and Prejudice with his sister Georgiana, of course, but also with friends Charles Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Therefore, when I decided to create new characters to form a future inner circle for the newly-married Darcys, it was logical to begin with gentlemen who were already friends of Mr. Darcy. From this concept was born Stephen Lathrop, Gerald Vernor, Albert Hughes, and Rory Sitwell. To be honest, these four men added to the Austen-established Mr. Bingley and Col. Fitzwilliam were enough for the selective Darcy.
However, the equally, if not more important purpose for creating these men was to provide wives who would give Elizabeth the female relationships she desperately needed. Remember that Elizabeth, unlike her taciturn husband, was gregarious. Additionally, she had spent her life intimately surrounded by four lively sisters and lots of friends. After her marriage and relocation to far-removed Derbyshire, Elizabeth only had Georgiana in close proximity. Miss Darcy, while a delightful young woman Elizabeth grew to sincerely love, was much younger and unmarried. The new Mrs. Darcy needed older, married women to gradually fill the companionship void.
Upper class society in England was relatively modest, compared to the entire population at least, and Derbyshire society would be even smaller. Meaning, there would be few gentlemen or ladies from the region whom Mr. Darcy of Pemberley would not know and therefore mingle with from time to time. Of course, casual acquaintances are vastly different than close friends. In my mind, while Darcy would naturally lead the way introducing his wife, a woman as open and spirited as Elizabeth would have no trouble at all making friends on her own. She does, after all, have a talent for conversing easily with people she’s never met, unlike her poor husband!
In order to furnish the sociable Elizabeth with an abundant group of female friends while also limiting Darcy’s close male buddies, the final two Derbyshire couples entered into their lives via Elizabeth. Once again going back to Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One and Sir Cole’s annual Twelfth Night Masque held two months after the Darcys married, Elizabeth is introduced to dozens of residents invited to the “premier social affair” of the season.
Harriet (Vernor) and Lady Matlock escorted Lizzy about the room. There were an abundance of women roughly Lizzy’s age or a bit older who welcomed her graciously. Mrs. Samantha Cole fawned over her as if they were old friends, proudly presenting Lizzy to her sister-in-law Mrs. Katherine Cole and soon-to-be sister-in-law Miss Laura Creswell. There was the usual gushing over the dress and brooch and hair, intermingled with cunningly worded inquiries as to how she and Mr. Darcy had met, the wedding details, her family connections, and so on. Lizzy had a marvelous time.
Most of the young women were delightful and, if like Mrs. Samantha Cole they were not overly astute, Lizzy found them genuine and gracious. There were a number who reminded her vividly of Caroline Bingley, but Lizzy had fun with them as well. Three women in particular, Mrs. Alison Fitzherbert, Mrs. Julia Sitwell, and Mrs. Chloe Drury, connected instantly with Lizzy, as had Harriet Vernor. Before the night was over, the four women had arranged a date for tea the following week at Mrs. Fitzherbert’s home.
Before the Christmas season ended, a dinner party was held at Pemberley. The invitation list enlightened as to the relationship, or lack thereof, between Darcy and the two men.
George Fitzherbert and Clifton Drury were well into their late thirties and, although Darcy knew them from town, they were not close friends. Normally Darcy would not have been disposed to invite them to dine at Pemberley; however, Lizzy’s positive impression of their wives had pleased Darcy so he had happily included them.
George and Alison Fitzherbert
The name Fitzherbert was specifically chosen as a compliment to the name Fitzwilliam. Historically, Fitz derives from the Old French filz, fiz and French fils meaning “son of” and was a patronymic indicator used in Anglo-Norman England to help distinguish individuals by identifying their immediate predecessors. Fitz would precede the father’s forename, or less commonly a title held by the father. The list of English surnames with Fitz at the beginning is very long.
I suppose if I had known back in 2006 that I would be creating a prominent character named George, I may have chosen something different for Mr. Fitzherbert. Then again, every 18th-century English family had several Georges, for obvious reasons, so it made sense to keep it simple. Alison was chosen as an homage to one of my longest childhood friends.
Since I wanted Elizabeth to have nearby lady friends, I settled again upon the town of Baslow, eventually naming the Fitzherbert home Brashinharm. Over time I am certain the Darcys visited with the Fitzherberts at Brashinharm, but I never wrote any scenes there so have no excerpts to share. At one point in Loving Mr. Darcy, while our favorite couple tours the elite residential areas of London, I wrote a handful of short paragraphs noting where their friends’ townhouses are located. It never becomes important to the overarching story, but this snippet from the mouth of Darcy is a bit humorous–
“The Fitzherberts and Drurys reside in St. James’s Place, as do the Matlocks if you recall, which lies in the opposite direction from where we are headed. I am certain you will have opportunities to see their homes ere our sojourn is ended. The Fitzherberts, especially, have a remarkable townhouse. Do not tell Aunt Madeline I said this or she will box my ears, but it is actually finer than Matlock House, at least from the outside. I have never been a guest there.”
Clifton and Chloe Drury
For the final couple on the Darcys’ friend list I didn’t grab a name from the hat. Similar to the Vernors, research into Derbyshire history early in my writing days led to the discovery of a prominent generational family in the Derby area. Dating far back to the mid-1500s, the Drury-Lowes have inhabited a gorgeous estate and manor house named Locko Park. Using a real family is problematic, of course, so I dropped the Lowe and changed the house name to Locknell Hall. Clifton and Chloe were names chosen entirely to be different from the standard English names.
Despite being inspired by a real family and estate, I didn’t initially pin down where the Drurys lived. I suppose somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking Derby, but all I knew for certain was they lived somewhere further away from Pemberley than a frequent, in-one-day visit allowed. Staying vague proved fortuitous. In Loving Mr. Darcy, Darcy takes Elizabeth on an adventurous excursion through Derbyshire, beginning in Derby. I have always been an organic author open to whatever popped into my head as the saga unfolded. Placing the Drurys near Derby while the Darcys were visiting granted the opportunity for a short but fun section.
“Thank you.” Lizzy opened the note with a smile, having recognized the seal. The only people in the immediate vicinity that Lizzy and Darcy wished to visit were the Drurys. Their estate, Locknell Hall, was only a few miles outside of Derby. Lizzy had not been to their home as of yet, the Drurys instead traveling to Pemberley or seen while in London. Lizzy had written to Chloe when they arrived yesterday, hoping that they would be able to visit. Chloe’s reply was enthusiastic, her friendship with Lizzy a deeply felt one. Darcy and Clifton were not as close, but they had enough in common to spend a pleasant evening together, in truth extending the courtesy for the sake of their wives.
Lizzy squealed and hugged her tight. “Oh Chloe! That is marvelous news. When is your date of confinement? How are you feeling? Have you told anyone else?”
“Slow down, Elizabeth!” Chloe laughed. “One question at a time, please. The baby should arrive in late January, I am feeling as well as can be expected, and other than immediate family, we have told no others. There. Any other queries, Mrs. Curious?” They both laughed, Lizzy bending to pour tea.
“Well, I am overjoyed. Our children will be months apart. In fact, we all seem to be procreating at an alarming rate, rather like rabbits! Filling Derbyshire with the next generation of citizens in one fell swoop.” Lizzy handed Chloe a cup. “Mr. Drury must be ecstatic. Tell me, is he as ridiculous as my husband? If he is, be warned, as the nursery will be decorated lavishly, and there may be no toys remaining in the little shop on Oak Street!”
Chloe smiled sweetly. “Clifton is yet refusing to allow himself to anticipate fully.” She glanced at Lizzy’s puzzled face and sighed. “I have told few this, Elizabeth, but I lost a child four years ago.” Lizzy squeezed her hand in sympathy, instinctively resting the other on her own baby, safe and secure in her womb. Chloe continued, “We had been married but a few months when I conceived. All seemed well until the third month.” She swallowed in remembered grief, shaking her head briefly and then smiling weakly. “Since then we have tried but to no avail. The physicians all said there was no reason why I should not conceive, but it simply did not happen until now. We waited to be sure, but quickening has occurred and I am feeling well. Clifton is yet afraid to hope and would rather I maintain the secrecy, but I am too happy.”
“Oh Chloe, I am certain all will be well! It must be! You appear hale enough, better than I did at your stage as a matter of fact.” Chloe laughed, confirming that she had hardly been ill a day, Lizzy declaring that horribly unfair, and the two pregnant friends embarked on a long discourse of all things baby.
The quote below, from The Trouble With Mr. Darcy as the families gather to prepare for the Easter holiday celebrations, is a perfect example of how these secondary characters were incorporated into the novels in scene after scene after scene.
The boiling of eggs had occupied a portion of the kitchen staff’s time on Friday, those cooled eggs now added to the dozens brought by Jane Bingley, Lady Simone Fitzwilliam, Mary Daniels, Marilyn Hughes, Harriet Vernor, Julia Sitwell, Amelia Lathrop, Chloe Drury, and Alison Fitzherbert. The babies were taken to the nursery for age-appropriate play while the other children eagerly flocked the cluttered long table. Baskets of eggs sat among the bowls of paints, dye, and adhesive to decorate with the glass pieces, feathers, beads, seeds, ribbons, lace, and more. Adult supervision was essential, especially for the littler children. Artistry was encouraged, some eggs a masterpiece of precision adornment and painting while others were sadly lacking any finesse, but each an expression of individuality and definitely colorful. The fathers aided the procedure for a time, managing to decorate one or two eggs themselves, before retiring to Darcy’s billiard room and leaving the chaos to the women.
In conclusion, all of these created duos were critical for my goal of writing a real, complete life for Darcy and Elizabeth. It is true that within the pages of The Darcy Saga novels these secondary characters are predominantly kept in the background. Their individual personalities are not deeply fleshed out. They rarely have a line of dialogue and rarer still do they say anything too profound. Most of their children are given names but only one (Fiona Lathrop) grows to be more than a childhood playmate for the Darcy offspring. This seems a bit unfair, I suppose, but hopefully my readers comprehend how important all of these fine people are to the Darcys. I didn’t merely drop their names into a scene to add to the word count!
At nearly every significant event, some if not all of these friends are present. All of us need friends and family to enhance our existence and add joy to this experience called life. We require supportive loved ones, shoulders to cry upon, people to make us laugh. The Vernor, Hughes, Sitwell, Lathrop, Drury, and Fitzherbert families join the Bingleys and Fitzwilliams in sustaining the Darcys.
And, never forget, that William and Elizabeth furnish the same for their friends.