Lady Betty Cobbe
Lady Betty Cobbe, who lived at 22 Marlborough Buildings, was well-known in Bath in the late eighteenth century, because she was said to have been involved in a most unusual ghost story. In fact, it was Lady Betty’s grandmother, Lady Beresford, who encountered the ghost; Lady Betty, before her marriage, had inherited the title of Lady Beresford, and when Sir Walter Scott wrote a story about the incident, she was confused with her grandmother. She was frequently asked to describe the experience, and eventually found the whole business a source of annoyance.
Briefly, the story was this: the elder Lady Beresford awoke one night to find the ghost of an ancestor sitting at the foot of her bed. The apparition lectured her at some length on orthodox theology, and at one stage touched her wrist to emphasise the point. The wrist shrivelled alarmingly, and never recovered; and Lady Beresford was obliged to wear a black ribbon round it for the rest of her life, to conceal the marks of the ghost’s fingers.
7swsLady Betty, it seems, could have dispelled much of the confusion by leaving her wrists uncovered. But she never did, and she continued to be identified with the ghost’s victim. She probably enjoyed the notoriety for a time, but there can be no doubt that it palled eventually. Later in her life she received a letter from a lady-in-waiting to Queen Charlotte, requesting full details of the story. She replied brusquely, saying that ‘she presented her compliments, but was sure the Queen of England would not try to pry into the private affairs of her subjects, and she had no intention of gratifying the impertinent curiosity of a lady-in-waiting’.