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Lock, Stock, and History

The Petticoat Duel of Almeria Braddock and Mrs. Elphinstone

In 1792 Mrs. Elphinstone made a social call to the home of Lady Almeria Braddock.  During a conversation Mrs. Elphinstone made a pretty rude comment on her age and beauty,

You have been a very beautiful woman. You have a good… face even now but you must acknowledge that the lilies and roses are somewhat faded. Forty years ago, I am told, a young fellow could hardly gaze upon you with impunity.”

Angered by Mrs. Elphinstone’s comment Lady Braddock insisted that she was under 30 years old.  Mrs. Elphinstone retorted that she was more like over 60.

Enraged by such a rude insult, Lady Braddock demanded satisfaction in blood.  She challenged Mrs. Elphinstone to a duel.  While dueling was rare among women, something typically reserved for upper class men, dueling among women was not unheard of.  Mrs. Elphinstone accepted the challenge.

The two women met at Hyde Park in London to do combat.  By then the quarrel between the two women had become public knowledge and was dubbed “the petticoat duel”.  Both women decided to fight with pistols at ten paces.  When the signal was given both fired and missed.  Despite pleads from their friends to stop, the women retired their pistols and continued the fight with swords.  After a lengthy sword fight Mrs. Elphinstone received a cut to the arm.  Often honor was considered satisfied when blood was shed, death did not necessarily need to occur.  The ladies curtsied each other and considered the matter closed.

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