In the court it was pointed out that
The argument was over a bill in excess of three hundred pounds for riding habits and numerous alterations.
the defendant, Miss Walters, was a lady very well known in London and in Paris, and her personal attractions had secured for her a very considerable number of admirers, under the protection of some of whom she had from time to time lived.
Nor was this the only time Skittles name was to appear in the popular press. Just three years later, when she was in Paris, the following appeared.
Again, in 1890, her name featured in the case of Beauclerk v Beauclerk in which Skittles was named as having been intimately involved with the husband almost thirty years earlier. Such was the power of her name that it took precedence over the names of several others with whom the husband was involved. Although the couple had been living separately for twenty years, the court held that there were no grounds for a dissolution of the marriage since there was no proof that the husband had molested his wife or interfered with the custody of their child in the years of their separation.
Miss Catherine Walters, an English lady, who may, perhaps, be better known to some of your readers than she is to your correspondent, brought an action, which came on for hearing yesterday, against M. Faure, the well-known publisher, demanding damages for injury to her reputation occasioned by a book called 'Memoires d'une Biche Anglaise," with her portrait in the title-page. The curiosity of the public met with a disappointment, for it happened that - to use the words of a disappointed Irish attorney - a 'compromise broke out between the parties.' The publisher undertook to destroy all the copies of the work remaining on hand, and the lady's counsel declaring that she scorned to make the action a monetary speculation the affair was concluded.
During the sixties and seventies, the grand decades for the courtesans, Skittles was the most talked abut and admired of the breed. She was, as William Hardman so bluntly put it, “a w[hore] sir, much sought after by fast young swells.” With all of the most elegant women of the day she rode, through the season, in Rotten Row.
asked the journalist, George Augustus Sala. There the dandies of London gathered at the wooden rails, ladies in their crinolines strolled accompanied by their footmen, children played in the park and here and there one could see “wicked old bucks, splendidly attired, leering furtively under the bonnets” of respectable women.
The Danae! the Amazons! the lady cavaliers! the horsewomen! can any scene in the world equal Rotten Row at four in the Afternoon, and in the full tide of the season?
The “pretty little horsebreakers” as those of the demi-monde parading up and down the Row were known, could be seen
One correspondent to The Times of 29 January 1861 suggested that if its editors took chairs to Rotten Row they might then see, and be able to tell the public in a "leader",
in their ravishing riding-habits and intoxicatingly delightful hats: some with the orthodox cylindrical beaver, with the flowing veil; others with roguish little wide-awakes, or pertly cocked cavalier’s hats and green plumes.
"And there, as Alfred Austin, later Poet Laureate, wrote in 1861, “… defiant, spurning frown and foe,/With slackened rein swift Skittles rules the Row./Though scowling matrons champing steeds restrain,/She flaunts Propriety with flapping mane."
Who rides the best horse in the row? Who drives the most rampageous ponies? Whom do all the best girls ape in dress and deportment, and in equipage if they can; aye, and in talk too? Who first set the fashion of the ‘pork pie’ hat? Who restored the ancient chimney pot? Why one of our ‘pretty horse-breakers.
She had a passion for horses and was a first class rider. Sir Willoughby Maycock, as a young man, was riding home from the hunt with his father when two riders raced past “and were over the fence and in front of us in the twinkling of an eye.” One, a woman, “wore a habit that fitted like a glove, and a bit of cherry ribbon round her neck. … she was a perfect dream.” As they pelted past, she shouted to her companion, Jim Mason, the winner of the 1839 Liverpool Grand National, and one of the finest horsemen in England, that she expected when they reached home her bottom would be as red as her ribbon. It was, of course, the incomparable Skittles.
Born in 1839, at sixteen she became the mistress of George, Lord Fitzwilliam and, when she left him for Lord Cavendish, Fitzwilliam settled £300 a year on her and banked £2,000 in her name. Cavendish, later Marquess of Hartington, settled £500 a year on Skittles in addition to giving her horses and a house. The affair lasted for four years, and was frequently painful for both of them. Among her intimate friends were the Prince of Wales and the poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. W. E. Gladstone, who always had an interest in the demi-monde, sent her twelve pounds of Russian tea and brought her a bunch of narcissi, telling her she had a small waist and then testing his statement “by manual measurement.” “I have not,” he assured her, “come to talk politics.”
Skittles was painted by Sir Edwin Landseer and had poems written to her and about her by Wilfred Scawen Blunt aas well as Alfred Austin. Her notoriety was such that even without being named, it must have been clear to readers of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine that the criticism of Landseer’s “The Shrew Tamed” was referring to Skittles, especially since the model (not Skittles herself) looked so much like the lady in question.
Skittles lived into her eighties, long enough to see the end of the First World War. In her last years she would take the air, pushed in a bath-chair in Hyde Park, where once she had ruled the Row.
“The Shrew Tamed”--a high-bred horse of soft silken coat, dappled with play of light and shade as on velvet--subdued by a “pretty horsebreaker,” is certainly unfortunate as a subject. ... We hope it will now be felt by Sir Edwin Landseer and his friends that the intrusion of “pretty horsebreakers” on the walls of the Academy is not less to be regretted than their presence in Rotten Row.
To read the report of the case of Creed and another v Walters as it appeared in The Daily News (London, 6 May 1873), click here.