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Love and Madness

Love and Madness
A Story Too True
Herbert Croft

In 1775, Mr James Hackman, an army officer who subsequently became a clergyman, met and fell in love with Martha Ray (or Reay), a singer and for many years the mistress of the Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty who treated her generously and had given her several children. After (perhaps) some initial encouragement she rejected Hackman, no doubt thinking that mistress of a nobleman was a better condition than wife of an impoverished rural parson. Hackman, in a frenzy of jealousy and frustration, shot her and then himself in front of the Covent Garden Opera House on 7th April 1779. She was killed outright, but he survived to be hanged. This book purports to be a collection of their correspondence, showing the progress of the affair to its tragic end. However, it is actually a work of fiction published the following year. It includes a long account of Thomas Chatterton, whose Rowley Poems are also on this site.



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Critical Essay by Ellen Levy
Newgate Calendar account of the Murder
Portrait of Martha Ray

Portrait of James Hackman

Artist's Impression of the Murder

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