36 free quilt blocks, one a week with a guide to Jane Austen's England and posts about the people in her life.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Block 8: Eliza's Star for Eliza Hancock de Feullide Austen

Eliza's Star by Bettina Havig for Eliza Hancock de Feullide Austen,
Jane's cousin and her sister-in-law.

 Bettina positioned a stripe along the edge of piece C to get the illusion of a double frame.

Eliza Hancock (1761-1813) in her teens 

Eliza Hancock was born in Calcutta to Jane’s Aunt Philadelphia Austen and husband Tsyoe Saul Hancock.

The Impey family in India by Johann Zoffrey

Painter Zoffrey captured the colonial life the Hancocks lived 
while in Calcutta.

Eliza's Star by Dustin Cecil

The family returned to England when Eliza was young.

Financial difficulties sent Hancock back to India when she was about seven. Mother and daughter remained in England, living fairly well on Hancock's dwindling accounts and the promise of a fortune from Eliza's godfather Warren Hastings. That trust fund and gossip of the time raises the unanswerable question: Was Hastings merely Eliza's affectionate benefactor or was he her natural father?

Eliza's Star by Becky Brown

Eliza’s official parents differed about whether Philadelphia should raise Eliza in Paris, where Hancock worried she might pick "up the levity or follies of the French." 

The French court carried fashion
and licentiousness to extremes

Hancock died when Eliza was fourteen and a few years later mother and daughter were enjoying life in the French society of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, a court that was “upon the whole one of the most magnificent in all Europe,” wrote Eliza. Hancock wouldn't have been pleased with the outcome. Her grand-nephew recalled Eliza as a “highly accomplished” flirt “after the French rather than the English mode.”

At 19 Eliza married a Captain in the Queen's Dragoons, a handsome man from southern France who called himself Count Jean-François Capot de Feuillide. The marriage, arranged by her mother, was the typical trade of title and fortune, with both assets inflated to impress. Eliza's Hastings endowment was embellished and there is no evidence Feuillide really was a Count. His deception, however, gave Eliza permission to call herself the Comtesse de Feuillide for the rest of her life.

As France's long Revolution began, Eliza and the Count hopped from France to England, returning to his French estates when he thought it safe. Eliza, her mother and their child, named Hastings de Feullide after her godfather, spent most of their time in England.

In 1794 Capot de Feuillide fatally misjudged the temper of the times and was executed by guillotine. 

Mourning fashion

The widowed Eliza had 7-year-old Hastings as consolation, but her beloved boy had developmental disabilities, noted by various relatives in their letters. Eliza was always optimistic he was improving until he died at 13.

Aunt Phila, cousins Eliza and Hastings were welcome visitors to the Austens at the Steventon Rectory. Eliza endeared herself to Jane, fourteen years her junior, and beguiled brothers James and Henry, each of whom eventually proposed to their cousin. Eliza rejected both but after a long flirtation that began when Henry was in his mid-teens and Eliza in her mid-twenties, they married in 1797.

Eliza's Star by Becky Brown

That marriage seemed happy if unconventional, like everything Eliza did. Jane remained close to her cousin/sister-in-law and was at her side when Eliza died of breast cancer at the age of 51 in 1813.

Eliza's Star is perfect to recall the lively Comtesse de Feullide (she preferred that title to Mrs. Henry Austen.)

(BlockBase #2833)

The block was given the name by the small agricultural newspaper The Rural New Yorker in 1936.

Cutting a 12" Finished Block

A - Cut 4 squares 4-1/2" x 4-1/2".

B - Cut 2 squares for points and 1 for background 5-1/4" x 5-1/4". Cut with 2 diagonal cuts to make 4 triangles.

You need 12 triangles.

C - Cut 4 rectangles 1-7/8" x 6-7/8". Trim both ends to 45 degree angles.
D - Cut 1 square 3-3/8" x 3-3/8".


Eliza's Star by Georgann Eglinski

Austen authority Deirdre Le Faye has edited an edition of Eliza's letters. Click here to read more about
Jane Austen's 'Outlandish Cousin': The Life and Letters of Eliza de Feuillide.


  1. I've been looking forward to Eliza's week. Thank you! Love the illustrations, too.

  2. There is a frustrating lack of directions with these blocks. This one was very difficult and did not come out perfectly. Not everyone has the Block Base from Electric Quilt (if that is where the directions are) and so it would be really helpful if more instructions were included in the blog posts. Thank you.

    1. If you can find a triangle trimmer like fons and porter make it is designed to make adding triangles to sqaures and other shapes. Not a ruler just a trimmer works on any size piece of fabric. It really is helpful, and takes the stress out.

  3. I agree with Wendy on this one. Add the C pieces to the center square one at a time? I wouldn't presume to do it otherwise, but the mecahanics of this process is unclear. Still working on it. Can't imagine any sort of trimming tool solving the difficulty.