Lady Hester Lucy Stanhope, an eccentric English woman, born in London, March 12, 1776, died at Jun, in the Lebanon, June 23, 1839. She was the eldest child of Charles, third Earl Stanhope, by Hester, daughter of the great earl of Chatham. When about 20 years of age 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. Pitt having recommended his niece to the care of the nation, she received a pension of £1,200, which proving inadequate to support her according to her former rank and style, she retired to solitude in Wales. Indulging in dreams of a great destiny in the Orient, she repaired in 1810 to Syria, and visited Jerusalem, Damascus, Baalbec, and Palmyra. The Arabs, who were struck by her powers and display of wealth, treated her as a queen, and she skilfully 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, and within eight miles of Sidon. Here, wearing the dress of an emir, weapons, pipe, and all, she ruled her Albanian guards and her 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. After the siege of Acre in the same year, she is said to have sheltered several hundred refugees. She practised 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 coining. During the latter years of her life she was constantly harassed by debts, and 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 " (3 vols. 8vo), and "Travels" (3 vols. 8vo) by Dr. Meryon, who had been her physician for several years, were published soon after her death.