Revd John Rawstorn Papillon
'I am very much obliged to Mrs. Knight for such a proof of the interest she takes in me, and she may depend upon it that I will marry Mr. Papillon, whatever may be his reluctance or my own. I owe her much more than such a trifling sacrifice.'
The family joke was still continuing in December 1816 when Jane wrote to her nephew, 'I am happy to tell you that Mr Papillon will soon make his offer, probably next Monday, as he returns on Saturday. - His intentions can be no longer doubtful in the smallest degree, as he has secured the refusal of the House which Mrs Baverstock at present occupies in Chawton & is to vacate soon, which is of course intended for Mrs Elizth Papillon.'
In fact the Rector did inherit a sizeable property at Lexden in Essex. In the early 17th century Sir
Thomas Lucas acquired the tenter house in Lexden Street, which was in ruins in 1561. He apparently built a new house on that site and gardens were laid out around and across the road, opposite the house, where Lexden springs were landscaped to give a prospect of ornamental water with plantations. In 1701 the manor was sold to Samuel Rawstorn of London. Thomas Rawstorn, son and heir of Samuel, devised the manor to his widow Sophia, with remainder to his daughter Ann. She then devised Lexden to the Revd. John Rawstorn Papillon. Lexden Heath, comprising 290 acres, was enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1821. Under the award John Papillon acquired 151 acres by allotment and bought common rights on 18 acres. By 1838 the Papillon family owned 1,216 acres out of 2,312 acres in the parish.
Miss Patience Terry and Miss Mary Benn
John Papillon was obviously considered a good catch even if Jane Austen had no interest in becoming Mrs Papillon. Two spinsters, Miss Patience Terry and Miss Mary Benn were after him. Miss Benn was desperate, being the unmarried sister of the rector of a neighbouring village who had 13 children. She lived on the charity of others, with invitations to dinner most evenings. The Papillons were generous towards her, having her for dinner on a very regular basis. The efforts of the two women did not go unnoticed by Jane Austen. In the same letter she noted,
'...I could see nothing very promising between Mr. P. & Miss P.T. She placed herself on one side of him at first, but Miss Benn obliged her to move up higher; - & she had an empty plate, & even asked him to give her some Mutton without being attended to for some time. - There might be some design in this, to be sure, on his side; - he might think an empty Stomach the most favourable for Love...'