Henry and Ursula, and her younger siblings were Anne, Beatrice, and Edmund. Sarah's father, Edmund Feilding, the third son of John Feilding, was a military officer and relative of the Earls of Denbigh (his father, John, was the youngest son of the 3rd Earl). Although Edmund spelled his last name "Feilding" as often as "Fielding," both Henry and Sarah spelled the name "Fielding." When asked by an Earl of Denbigh why, Henry Fielding's son said, "I cannot tell, my Lord, except it be that my branch of the family were the first that knew how to spell" (Battestin 7-8). Sarah's mother, Sarah Gould, was the daughter of Sir Henry Gould, a judge on the King's Bench who had been reappointed to the Queen's Bench, and Sarah Davidge Gould. This descent is important for understanding the early life and education of Edmund Feilding's children.
Edmund left the care of his children to his wife's mother, Sarah Davidge Gould, while he built his career in London. The children grew up in her home in Glastonbury and their paternal grandfather's house in East Stour (John Feilding being a latitudinarian Cambridge-educated parish priest with three livings and who had been considered for a bishopric in Ireland) (Battestin 10). Henry was sent to Eton, but all of the daughters were sent to Mary Rookes's boarding school in Salisbury.
When Edmund's first wife (Sarah's mother) died in 1718, Edmund married Anne Rapha, a Roman Catholic widow, who brought with her several children, and later bore Edmund a son and half-brother for Henry and Sarah, the future reformer John Fielding. Sarah Davidge Gould and Sir Henry Gould (Sarah's maternal grandparents) had fallen out with Edmund prior to children's mother's death, and Lady Gould was extremely displeased with Edmund's second marriage, and Anne Rapha Fielding was the subject of much anti-Catholic sentiment from the elder generation of the family. Lady Gould was so set against Anne and her enlargement to the family that in 1721, she sued for custody of the children and ownership of the family house in East Stour. She eventually won, leaving the children unable to see their father for years.
Read more about this topic: Sarah Fielding
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