Sophia Kingdom (1775 – 1854) was the youngest of sixteen children of a Plymouth naval contractor. Her father dead, she was entrusted to the tender care of a brother who thought revolutionary France would be a proper place for his young sister to go to school. Abandoned and penniless in the maelstrom that was the Reign of Terror, she managed to find work as a governess. Surrounded by suspicion and danger, she also found love.
Marc Isambard Brunel, a naval cadet from Normandy, shared her love of mathematics and drawing, as well as an active dislike for Robespierre, le dictateur sanguinaire. He had been keeping a low profile when he fell in love with Sophia, but government agents still caught up to him. He fled France, forced to leave his beloved behind. Soon after, she was imprisoned for allegedly spying for England. Daily expecting execution, Miss Kingdom managed to flee to England where she awaited the return of her lover.
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