The third wife of my fourth great grandfather Rowland Mainwaring was a part-Austrian woman named Laura Maria Julia Walburga Chevillard (b.~1811). Her house in Bournemouth was called ‘Ilmenau‘, after a small town near Weimar, where Laura had spent much of her childhood.

Laura Maria Julia Walburga Chevillard was born about 1811 in Prague. She was the daughter of an Austrian woman (about whom I know almost nothing) and Florian Chevillard, an officer in the army of Napoleon.

When Flora’s father Florian Chevillard, an officer in the army of Napoleon, died in Spain about in 1812, Laura was adopted by Caroline Jagemann (1777 – 1848), a notable German tragedienne and singer.

Caroline Jagemann was the mistress of Karl August, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, who raised her to the nobility as Freifrau (Baroness) von Heygendorff. He bequeathed her one of his properties, the ‘Heygendorf‘ manor. Caroline had three children by Karl August. Laura Chevillard was brought up with one of these, Marianne (1812 – 1836).

Caroline von Heygendorff born Jagemann portrayed in the role of Portia in the Merchant of Venice. 1828 portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler. Image from Wikimedia Commons.
The house in Weimar at Herderplatz 16 where Caroline Jagemann lived from 1806 to 1848 and where Laura Chevillard grew up.
Photograph by Krzysztof Golik – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

One of the first teachers of Laura and Marianne was a Weimar French fashion entrepreneur named Marie Iffernet. When Laura was 14 she and Marianne attended a Strasbourg boarding school from 1826 to 1828.

In 1830 Laura was living in Mannheim with her adopted mother Baroness von Heygendorff and the three children of the Baroness. 

Joseph Maximilian Kolb: Mannheim, market square with town hall and St. Sebastian’s Church. Steel engraving, coloured.

Laura met Rowland Mainwaring at Mannheim. A retired naval captain and widower, Mainwaring had travelled to Germany for the education of his younger children. He became acquainted with Laura at a Christmas party hosted by one of her adopted mother’s relatives.

Rowland and Laura were married on 11 November 1836 at Frankfurt by the Rev. Mr. Lindsay at the Hotel de Russie, the residence of the British Ambassador. Laura was Rowland Mainwaring’s third wife. Rowland was 54 and Laura about 25. They had eight children:

  •    Karl Heinrich August Mainwaring 1837–1906
  •    Randolph Mainwaring 1839–1902
  •    Eugene George Henri Mainwaring 1841–1911
  •    Laura Chevillard Mainwaring 1843–1843
  •    Frederic Mainwaring 1844–1922
  •    Guy Mainwaring 1847–1909
  •    Horatio Mainwaring 1848–1913
  •    Algernon Mainwaring 1852–1926

In 1837 Rowland Mainwaring applied for Laura’s denization. Denization gave foreigners certain rights normally enjoyed only by the King’s (or Queen’s) subjects, including the right to hold land. Mainwaring wished to settle 500 pounds per annum upon his wife on his decease; this would not have been possible had she not received Letters of Denization.

At the time of the censuses of 1841, 1851, and 1861, Laura was living at Whitmore Hall with a dozen servants, her husband and some of her younger children.

Rowland died in 1862.

Laura with her youngest son Algernon probably about 1862

In the 1871 census Laura was living at 68 Castle Street, Reading, Berkshire, with one female servant, Katherina Freyberger, age 24, born in Bavaria, who was described as a lady’s maid. Katharina was still with Laura 10 years later in 1881. By then Laura, aged 70, was an annuitant, living in Weimar Lodge, Craven Road, Reading. There were two servants in the household: Catherine Freyburger, aged 34, now described as maid and domestic servant, and Sarah Mansell, age 27, born Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the cook.

Laura’s home at 22 Craven Road Reading was named ‘Weimar Lodge’. Laura had spent much of her childhood at Weimar, the home of her adopted mother’s lover and where her mother was director of the theatre. The site of Weimar Lodge is now part of Reading Hospital.

Laura died on 17 March 1891 in Bournemouth.

Her will, that of Louisa [a transcription error for ‘Laura’? ] Maria Walburga Julia Mainwaring was proved at the Principal Registry on 28 April by her son the Reverend Algernon Mainwaring of Ilmenau, Bournemouth. She was described as formerly of Whitmore Hall, Staffordshire, but late of Ilmenau, Knyveton Road, Bournemouth in the county of Southampton.

At the time of the 1891 census, shortly after Laura’s death, Laura’s son Algernon, 38, an Anglican priest, was head of the household, residing at Knyveton Road, Bournemouth. Living with him was his brother Randolph, a widower aged 51, described as a journalist. The household had three servants, two of them Bavarians.

Ilmenau is a town in Thuringia, 60 kilometres south of Weimar. From 1800, it was the favourite resort of the German poet and writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832).

Ilmenau and Umgebungen
Taken from nature and drawn on wood by Herm. Heubner in Leipzig.
Image from page 474 of journal Die Gartenlaube, 1873. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

It is interesting to note that Goethe was the godfather of Caroline Jagemann’s oldest son Carl. Goethe’s portrait was painted several times by Ferdinand Jagemann, the brother of Caroline Jagemann, Laura’s adopted mother. Goethe was a close associate of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl August, Caroline Jagemann’s lover.

Map of places associated with the life of Laura

Further reading

Wikitree: Laura Maria Julia Walburga (Chevillard) Mainwaring (abt. 1812 – 1891)