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Hannah Mariah Jones
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Plot Synopsis of Rosaline Woodbridge; or, The Midnight Visit, a Romantic Tale (1827) by Hannah Maria Jones

Fiona Alexander

Rosaline is the daughter of Will Woodbridge, who is gamekeeper for the St Aubyn family. From childhood, Rosaline is educated with Frederic and Emily St Aubyn, but is forced to leave the Hall (their home) after there are rumours that she hopes to be the next Lady St Aubyn. Rosaline returns to her father's cottage and after Sir Granville St Aubyn dies, the family moves abroad. During this time, Emily also dies and the family return to England with the Dewarden family, as Lady Julia Dewarden is expected to marry Sir Frederic St Aubyn. One night, Will Woodbridge disappears, leaving only a note for Rosaline that says she must sell the cottage and move away.

Rosaline leaves the St Aubyn estate despite having a very close relationship with Frederic and moves to the nearby village. She is reunited with her father, who collects from her all the proceeds of the cottage. He says that he will never see her again and flees. Rosaline becomes dangerously ill after seeing him and is looked after by a Doctor Lenox. The Doctor becomes a close friend and even asks Rosaline to marry him, but Rosaline rejects him. Frederic seeks her out but Rosaline moves to London, to be the companion of Lady Lessington, a close friend of Doctor Lenox.

Lady Lessington and Rosaline get on very well, but Lady Lessington is manipulated by her 'friends' the Bradshaws into thinking the worst of Rosaline, because of her friendship with Lady Lessington's adopted son, Mr Trelawney. Rosaline eventually flees from the house, moving in with a milliner. Rosaline advertises in a paper for a position but is traced by Sir Frederic who wants her to be his mistress or even marry him, but Rosaline cannot bear to tarnish the name of a family that has treated her so well. Whilst out walking, Rosaline meets her father and they decide to get an apartment together and try to make some money. On the first night, Sir Frederic visits their apartment and Rosaline realises that her father has manipulated her, so he can force Sir Frederic on her for his own financial gain. Rosaline runs away again and stays in an apartment with one of the other women in the house, Mrs Elmore, who has been disgraced by the Earl of Roseburn. Arundel Ramsay, the Earl of Roseburn's younger brother, still helps Mrs Elmore and also helps Rosaline by finding her a position as a companion for Maria Cornwall.

Rosaline and Maria get on extremely well and Mr Cornwall is struck by the resemblance that Rosaline has to Lady Rosaline Dewarden. Maria is in love with Arundel Ramsay and Rosaline resolves never to encourage him, despite the fact that they are very attracted to each other.

Arundel is put in jail and on release goes abroad to avoid expense. Both Maria and Rosaline are very upset when they discover that he has been in a duel and has been seriously wounded. Rosaline's melancholy alerts Mr Cornwall to the relationship which exists between Rosaline and Arundel and he tells her to leave the house, knowing his daughter's feelings towards the gentleman. Rosaline moves in with one of the servants' wives until she becomes dangerously ill again, having heard nothing from Arundel. It happens that the family doctor is Doctor Lenox, who moves Rosaline to a cottage and says he will always look after her as his ward. The Earl of Roseburn tries to seduce her whilst she is there but fails. Rumours circulate that Rosaline has married Doctor Lenox, who becomes Sir William Lenox after a death in the family. However, shortly after this, Sir William dies, bequeathing all his fortune to Rosaline and arranging for her to stay at a parsonage with some close friends, the Stanhopes.

All goes well until the rightful heir to Lenox Hall returns for the party season, this being Mr Tyrawley, accompanied by the Earl of Roseburn. It is not until after she has slighted the Earl that Rosaline discovers that it is Arundel Ramsay who has inherited the Roseburn title after his elder brother's death. They are reunited and declare that they still love each other and arrange to marry. That night, the parsonage is broken into and it happens to be that Will Woodbridge is one of the burglars. Will is fatally shot in the confusion and confesses that Rosaline is actually the daughter of Sir Edward and Lady Rosaline Dewarden. It transpires that Rosaline should actually have been heir to the Winterborne estate. Will explains that he swapped his own child for Rosaline to exact revenge on his younger brother, Sir Edward Dewarden, as Will is Sir Edward's illegitimate older brother and would have inherited the estate had he not been a bastard. Rosaline's true identity is confirmed by the Earl of Winterborne, her proper title is established as Lady Rosaline Dewarden and not long after, she marries Arundel, the Earl of Roseburn. Sir Frederic St Aubyn marries Lady Amelia, the vain and selfish daughter of the Countess of Lessington and Maria Cornwall and Mr Tyrawley become very close. The Countess of Lessington is reunited with Rosaline but dies not long after her wedding.