My novel, Finding Darcy, came about as a result of my theory behind Miss Austen's inspiration for Mr Darcy and other well loved characters; I believe the John Darcy at the centre of my novel, who lived 1280 to 1347, is an ancestor of Jane's mother Cassandra Leigh. I think Jane knew this and possibly researched Darcy, as he married a de Burgh, was friendly with the Willoughbys and Ferrers and loved his daughter, Elizabeth, very much. He was Chamberlain to King Edward III of England, mentor of Longshanks and Sheriff of Ulster, as well as being squire of Knaith in Lincolnshire .
John Darcy and his brother Pip are orphaned at an early age and live in their manor house at Knaith in Lincolnshire being brought up by an old retainer, Eustacious.
Their uncle Philip, a squire knight to Longshanks, arrives when Darcy is fourteen to take the boys to court to meet their king. Darcy is overwhelmed when he is told he is to be companion to the heir to the throne Edward Caernarfon. Darcy enjoys his first visit to Westminster in 1294 and meets the love of his life, Anne, only to find that she is already bethrothed to Defriers, a French noble.
Longshanks likes the young Darcy and he is pleased to see that the boy does well in his chivalry and military lessons, so introduces him to old Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster. The Earl takes the young man to Ulster and gives him lands there. However, Darcy's brother Pip is more homely and goes to run the estate at Knaith and keeps the home fires burning while John has the adventures.
The job of a medieval knight seving the monarch is a full time occupation and Darcy is kept busy moving from post to post. He marries Emmeline from Nottingham the daughter of the Squire of Silkstone and has seven children with her before she dies in childbirth and, quite heartbroken he finds his old love, Anne Defriers, while on a peacekeeping treaty mission for Edward III at the French court.
There is so much more to the story and I really believe that Miss Austen is an ancestor of John Darcy through her mother, Cassandra Leigh. I hope readers will enjoy this new take on her inspirations!
Written content of this post copyright © Ellen Rose Eley, 2015.