Elisabeth Pinchard The Ward of Delamere (1815): A Synopsis
[Vol. 1] Magdalena, introduced as a child, lives in the grand but solitary and cheerless Delamere castle. Lord Ennersdale is her ill-tempered guardian who places many unnatural restrictions upon her; like not talking to anyone, or not going anywhere unaccompanied. He also keeps her origin a secret and curses her father whom she has never met. Only by obeying his wish (which is, as yet, unknown to her) would Magdalena ever be restored legally. One evening, Magdalena is accidentally seen by Lady Isabella Montaubrey and her brother, Lord Reginald Montaubrey. She secretly becomes friends with them and soon Reginald expresses his wish to marry her, something that Magdalena accepts with pleasure. Reginald tries to befriend Lord Ennersdale and after heroically saving him from drowning he asks for his permission to marry the fair Magdalena. Lord Ennersdale becomes enraged, refuses and reveals what the couple had already been suspecting: Magdalena is to marry someone he has chosen for her. Reginald wants to elope with Magdalena but she refuses since she does not want to become a wife with unknown origins, or without any property, while, at the same time, she wants to avoid causing grief to Lord Ennersdale.
[Vol. 2] Lord Ennersdale reveals to Magdalena that she is the daughter of his child, Horatia, who was intended to marry Sir Eustace but chose another man against her father's wishes and eventually escaped with him and got married. Lord Ennersdale, however, found her out and imprisoned her in his castle, keeping her husband away. Suddenly, he stopped trying to see his wife and she fell sick and died soon after delivering Magdalena. Lord Ennersdale made an oath that Magdalena should take Horatia's place and marry Sir Eustace, to which the latter agreed provided that Magdalena wanted to as well. Lord Ennersdale, however, threatens to leave Magdalena's mother's name uncleared if she does not marry him and to lock her away in a castle if Eustace ever finds out she prefers marrying Reginald to him. Magdalena recognises now that her grandfather is mentally disturbed and chooses to go ahead with his plans in order, above all, to clear her dead mother's name. She meets Eustace who is awestruck by her resemblance to her dead mother. He seems to be a good hearted and moral man. Visiting Sir Eustace, Magdalena meets his sister's daughters: Miss Victoria Arlington and Miss Matilda Devereux, as well as Sir Eustace's ward, Miss Henrietta Arlington. Sir Eustace does not realise that Magdalena does not see him as her future husband and does not hide his wish to marry her. He will first, however, take her to London to make sure she does not change her mind about their upcoming marriage.
[Vol.3] During her trip, Magdalena sees Montaubrey who tells her he has been following her. She pleads with him not to since it puts her in a position which she feels conflicts with her duty. On another occasion they meet again in a theatre. Next to Reginald is a man who had recently returned to London after many years of military service; his name is Marquis of Grenalbin. It seems that he is intrigued by Magdalena and he approaches her. The play they are seeing is similar to Horatia's story and affects them both. Magdalena faints in the end and without meaning to reveals to the Marquis her situation with Reginald, so he proposes to help them, an offer that is refused. The Marquis continues seeing Magdalena but when he realises she is to marry Sir Eustace he declares that he can no longer see her. The night before Magdalena's marriage has come and Lord Ennersdale proves to everyone the lawfulness of her mother's wedding as well as her father's name: Dunkan Ormington. At that moment the Marquis enters and is recognised as the father. He takes Magdalena away leaving Lord Ennersdale in a state of rage. Magdalena's father explains to her that, even though he had planned to escape with Horatia again, he had been assaulted by smugglers who sold him to a ship going to the West Indies as their disobedient servant. He only managed to escape when he reached the Cape of Good Hope and when he eventually returned Horatia was being buried. He changed his name and decided to leave England forever -without knowing anything about a child- and only by chance happened to return to claim an inheritance. It was only a few hours before that Reginald had accidentally revealed her grandfather's name and he then rushed to save his newly found daughter. Eustace, even though disappointed, wants to help father and daughter to come to a reconciliation with the old and now sick Lord Ennersdale. Eventually the old man asks for them and to Magdalena's surprise he apologises and reveals that he has communicated with Reginald and that all is arranged for them to marry. The service takes place right away but in the course of the same night Lord Ennersdale dies. Lord Eustace marries Victoria Devereux who has always been in love with him.