Emily Frances Weston

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Emily Frances Weston (Esdaile)

Birthdate: (76)
Birthplace: Cothelstone House, Nr. Taunton, Somerset, England
Death: April 15, 1886 (76)
Dawlish, Devonshire, England
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Edward Jeffries Esdaile, Sir and Elizabeth Lydia Esdaile
Wife of Plowden Charles Jennett Weston, Lt. Gov. South Carolina
Sister of Elizabeth Margaret Drake Malet; Edward Jefferies Esdaile, Sir and William Clement Drake Esdaile

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About Emily Frances Weston

Emily was born into a privileged English family, whose wealth had come from Jamaican plantations and banking.

Her parents were banker (Sir*) Edward Jeffries Esdaile and Eliza Drake. Sir Edward was the owner or had an interest in many Jamaican plantations, i.e. Jamaica Hanover 14 (Belvidere), Jamaica Trelawney 538 (Carrickfoyle) and Jamaica Westmoreland 686 (York Pen). He was compensated c.1830, after the British Abolition of Slavery Act, for over 430 slaves on these three plantations).

Emily was born in Jan 1810, and died at Cothelstone Manor, near Taunton, Somerset, England. She lived in South Carolina during her married life.

Emily's brother Edward Jeffries Esdaile Jr. went to Harrow (Independent school for boys) School at Harrow-on-the-Hill, Middlesex and became a close friend of an American pupil - Plowden Weston. After graduating both friends were admitted to Cambridge University - at this point Emily met Plowden. Although Plowden's family supported an 'English' education, they were vehemently anti-English aristocracy, so Plowden decided to go back to South Carolina to speak to his father personally about his plans to marry Emily. His father gave his blessing and thus the couple were wed in Cothelstone Church, Cothelstone near Taunton, Somerset, England, before travelling to their new home at Laurel Hill Plantation, South Carolina, USA. She was older than Plowden, and the couple had no children.

Plowden had inherited a huge plantation (Laurel Hill - later Hagley) and rice plantations in the low country of South Carolina. They were known as benevolent slave owners, and Emily oversaw the building by master carpenter Renty Tucker of their homes at Hagley, Laurel Hill, Conway and Pawleys Island (now the Pelican Inn). Because it was illegal at the time to educate slaves, the Westons saw to it that they received religious education. The couple commissioned the building of 13 slave chapels - one of which - St. Mary's could seat over 300 slaves -and which was patterned after an English church (possibly one she had attended near Cothelstone), with imported stain glass windows.

In her spare time Emily painted and drew the scenes around her - pencil and pen and ink drawings and watercolors, beginning in the 1840s to the 1860s. The collection returned with her to England and passed down through her family until it was put up for sale through the auctioneers Bonhams in London. A collector bought them and took them back to the USA, where they passed into private hands. The current owner recognized their historic value to South Carolina and has made some available in travelling exhibits and lectures. The collection provides unprecedented views of the buildings, structures, and grounds of Laurel Hill and Hagley (Weston’s Waccamaw Neck properties), of their home at Snow Hill at Conway, and their seashore residence, “Weston’s Zoyland”, known today as Pelican Inn on Pawleys Island. In addition to the landscape paintings and architectural drawings, there are a number of detailed botanical watercolors of native flora and fauna, butterflies and other creatures, many accompanied by a dried, pressed plant. Emily Weston also made drawings of Camp Marion during the War Between the States."

Because of the Civil War, no post was getting through to them. And Emily was reluctant to write letters that might fall into the wrong hands. She nevertheless sent one or two paintings to her mother with some personal notes in pencil on the reverse. One of her brothers, the Rev. Esdaile, came across the Atantic to visit his sister and let her know that their mother had died. He kept a journal during that time with vivid descriptions of the area and people.

Emily's husband contracted TB during the Civil War. A little while after he died, Emily arranged for the transfer of all the properties to a cousin of her husband, with the arrangement of a small stipend to be sent to her and moved back to England. She is buried in the family vault at St. Thomas of Canterbury near Cothelstone, Somerset.


  • Not a Baron as reported in some articles.

Find A Grave website has recorded the following:

" Born: Jan. 5, 1810 Death: Apr. 15, 1886 Parents:

 Edward Jeffries Esdaile (1785 - 1867)
 Plowden C.J. Weston (1820 - 1864)

Inscription on plaque inside church: "Sacred to the memory of Emily Frances Weston, eldest daughter of Edward Jeffries Esdaile of Cothelstone and widow of Plowden C Jennett Weston of Laurel Hill S Carolina United States. Born January 5th 1810 died April 15 1886. This brass is placed here as a token of lifelong devotion by Clement her only surviving brother."

Burial: Cothelstone, St Thomas of Canterbury Churchyard Taunton Taunton Deane Borough Somerset, England

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Emily Frances Weston's Timeline

January 5, 1810
Nr. Taunton, Somerset, England
April 15, 1886
Age 76
Dawlish, Devonshire, England