The disreputable but wealthy old Lord Lovel married Josephine Murray, but later disowned her and her daughter, claiming that he had another wife at the time of their marriage. Without funds, but befriended by a tailor who had become interested in the case, his wife sued him for bigamy, and although he was acquitted, a cloud was left on her right to the title.
The old Earl returned to Italy and for twenty years the tailor supported the wife and her daughter Anna. Returning to England with a new mistress, Lord Lovel soon died, leaving his entire estate to the woman. The heir to the title claimed the estate, and attempted to prove by law that the Italian mistress had no right to it, and that the Countess had no right to her title. The courts upheld his contention as to the estate, but the case was so complicated by the claim of yet another woman calling herself the first wife that clear proof seemed impossible to obtain. Lawyers were sent to Italy, and were convinced that the woman was a fraud, but the story was too old to he proven conclusively.
As a compromise, they suggested that the young Earl and Lady Anna should marry. The Earl agreed and, after meeting Anna, offered not only his hand, but his heart.Anna, however, had already promised herself to Daniel Thwaite, son of the tailor. Lady Lovel, despite her obligation, was indignant at this misalliance, but not even virtual imprisonment by her mother was enough to shake Lady Anna’s determination to keep her word. Finally, in desperation, the Countess invited Daniel to a conference and when he appeared tried to murder him. He was only slightly injured, but she was afraid to oppose their marriage further. When the courts awarded the fortune to Lady Anna, she deeded a large part of her wealth to the young Earl, and with the remainder she and her husband emigrated to Sydney.
Trollope's readers censured him severely for allowing his heroine to marry the tailor rather than the young Lord Lovel, but Trollope says: "If I had not told my story well, there would have been no feeling in favour of the young lord."- Autobiography