E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Cottage Countess (The).
Sarah Higgins, of Shropshire, daughter of a small farmer, in 1790 married Henry Cecil, Marquis of Exeter and Lord of Burleigh. The bridegroom was at the time living under the name of John Jones, separated from his wife, whose maiden name was Emma Vernon. She eloped with a clergyman, and subsequently to the second marriage John Jones, the lord of Burleigh, obtained a divorce and an Act of Parliament to legitimatise the children of his second wife. Sarah Higgins was seventeen at the time of her marriage, and John Jones was thirty. They were married by licence in the parish church of Bolas. Tennyson has a poem on the subject called The Lord of Burleigh, but historically it is not to be trusted.