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Elizabeth Warleggan (formerly Poldark, née Chynoweth) (b. 1764 - d. 1799) was the Mistress of Trenwith.

She was wife of the late Francis Poldark when she had her first child, Geoffrey Charles Poldark. She was widowed and became the wife of George Warleggan. Her second child, Valentine Warleggan was biologically her first love's Ross Poldark's son. She passed away giving birth to her third child and first daughter, Ursula Warleggan.


Early life

Ross and Elizabeth before he left

Elizabeth was born in 1764 to Jonathan and Joan Chynoweth (née Le Grice) of Cusgarne.[1] At some point, she met Ross Poldark and they fell in love, but Francis Poldark and George Warleggan were drawn to her.[2]

In 1780, she attended a ball and she and Ross danced. Francis and George watched and wondered who would be fortunate enough to marry her and begin a family, before deciding it "will always be Ross".[2]

Ross was later arrested that year for brawling and joined the British Army to escape execution. He was sent to the Revolutionary War. Before he was taken, he took her ring, and promised her that he would be back soon and he wouldn't forget her. But he was thought to be dead less than a year later and sent nothing home to prove otherwise for two years.[4]

In that time, Joan wanted her daughter to marry into the Poldark family of Trenwith to elevate the now impoverished Chynoweth family back into high society. Elizabeth hung to hope that Ross would be back soon, but Joan eventually persuaded her daughter to think about marrying Francis. Elizabeth and Francis eventually became engaged.[4]

First marriage

In October 1783, Elizabeth and Francis attended a celebratory dinner for their engagement at Trenwith. During the dinner, Ross returned home and Elizabeth was being awkward and wanted to speak to Ross separately. He soon heard Francis was engaged and congratulated him, but he was disappointed to find out who he was engaged to.[4]

The next day, Joan found Elizabeth trying to leave and speak to Ross. She wanted to tell Ross what happened and discuss what to do now. Joan thought there was nothing to be done because she was engaged to Francis now, and he was rich and he loved her. Ross would bring her poverty and uncertainty, but she told Joan she didn't care. Joan then argued that if Ross loved her, he would be there fighting for her now.[4]

Later that day, Francis found her and told her that even though he was less brave and less interesting than Ross, he promised to love her their whole life together and be grateful she chose him instead. Elizabeth told Francis she can't wait to marry him and their wedding goes ahead. She and Ross finally spoke again at her wedding reception. She apologised for what happened and told Ross she was surprised he never came to speak to her, but he thought she was free to do whatever she wanted because there wasn't any formal status to their relationship. She hoped they could be friends.[4]

Elizabeth later spoke to Ross again and told him she was sorry. She was hurt to think he now hated her and Ross told her that she was the person he thought about the whole way home and he wanted to know if he ever even meant anything to her. She told him he should have asked her these things before she got married because now she can't answer that. She told him to forget her and begin a new life elsewhere, and he told her to tell Charles he was going to get that wish.[4]

They had a child, Geoffrey Charles Poldark, the following year.

Elizabeth loved her son very much, and cared for him. They were very close. They survived a sickness when they were cared for by Demelza Poldark. Demelza had married Ross, something which Elizabeth was shocked about because he married below his status.

Francis remained insecure about his marriage, because he knew of her former love for Ross. He gambled and their marriage suffered. Elizabeth was delighted when Francis started to improve, and invested in a new mine, Wheal Leisure, with Ross. She was devastated when Francis died.


Elizabeth and her remaining family struggled when her husband died, because they no longer had the wealth they once had. Her mother had a stroke, and Elizabeth struggled to provide proper care for her. The home was freezing and they were struggling to buy food. Ross Poldark sold his shares in Wheal Leisure and gave her the money, but it was not enough. When George Warleggan, the wealthy banker, found out about her situation, he agreed to help her pay for her mother's care and to keep Trenwith.

However, he had hoped Elizabeth would agree to marry him in return. Elizabeth thought she had no choice but to agree to the proposal, in the hope of improving the future of her son. She accepted his proposal, but when Ross found out, he was unhappy. Elizabeth had tried to spend more time with Ross since her husband died, and their unresolved feelings reached breaking point. They spent the night together, but Ross regretted his choice and departed early the next day. Elizabeth had thought there was a chance that Ross would leave Demelza and marry her. However, he later made his choice to stay with Demelza.

Second marriage

Elizabeth married George less than a month after she and Ross slept together. She soon found out she was expecting her second child, and she knew the paternity of her child was unknown. She and Agatha thought it was likely that the father was Ross. However, Elizabeth knew she had to stay with George, and told him she was pregnant with his child to his joy. But when the pregnancy progressed, it was obvious to her that she was bigger than she would be if the child was George's.

By the time her child was born, things had changed for her family. Ross and Demelza no longer visited them and kept their distance, to the disappointment of her son and Agatha. George was strict and cold toward her Geoffrey Charles, and was open about the fact he didn't care for Agatha. He and Elizabeth preferred to keep their distance from Ross and she often felt like she had to agree with what George wanted.

Elizabeth was unhappy when George brought her cousin, Morwenna Chynoweth, to Trenwith to teach and care for Geoffrey Charles, without asking her. George told her that she needed to distance herself from her elder son, because he thought they should send him to boarding school the next year. Elizabeth had wanted to keep him with her, but George had the final word, telling her that she would have their child to care for soon.

Birth of Valentine

Elizabeth had given her support for the idea of changing Geoffrey Charles surname from Poldark to Warleggan, but she was very quiet when he let them know he would only let them change it to include the name Francis, being Geoffrey Charles Francis Poldark. At the time, Elizabeth's pregnancy was nine months, but she was claiming she was eight months and that her child would be born early in the eyes of George.

Elizabeth began to find ways to claim her labour had started early, and took to undertaking tasks that could induce labour. Elizabeth claimed she had a fall when George went out for the day. It's unknown whether she truly did fall, or whether she said she had when she went into labour, but she gave birth to her second son, Valentine Warleggan, following a long and worrying labour.

She managed to convince everyone that Valentine was simply born early, and George was delighted to have a son. However, Elizabeth struggled in light of her child's birth. She was quite cold toward him, and knew that he looked like Ross, even though George thought Valentine looked like him. She was upset when Geoffrey Charles said he and his brother looked very unalike, and that he also looked nothing like George.

Tensions between the Warleggans and Poldarks became very high, and contact between them was cut. Forbidden from spending time with Ross, Geoffrey Charles was later found sneaking out to meet him, which made Elizabeth and George very unhappy. Elizabeth later became very unhappy, and was sad at the news that Ross and Demelza had another child, a daughter. She and her son later moved with George to Warleggan House.

Unfortunately, Agatha and George later argue on the night of Agatha's passing, and she let George know Valentine was actually Ross's child. George was angry and would not even speak to Elizabeth, who attempted to persuade him Valentine belonged to him, and it worked. Elizabeth held her hand when she passed away, apologising for telling him.

George's doubts

Many years later, Elizabeth was now content and happy with her life with George. She found out she was expecting another child, knowing it was George's child, but she took the pregnancy to be an opportunity to persuade George that she only carries until she's eight months. She originally wanted to keep the pregnancy secret, and claim at two months pregnant that she was only one month. However, George called for a doctor because of morning sickness, and she had to admit the truth.

When Ross brought Geoffrey Charles back to Trenwith, she was showing Ross out when Valentine found them. Elizabeth panicked and was in the way of Valentine in order to keep Ross from an awkward encounter, but Ross wanted to look at Valentine and they shook hands. Elizabeth looked proud of them, and then waved Ross off, narrowly avoiding George from finding out about the meeting.

Elizabeth went with George, Valentine and Geoffrey Charles to London for a few months. When George's attempt to bankrupt Pascoe's bank went wrong, she encouraged George to gain favour by holding a charity ball, and they invited Ross and Demelza. Elizabeth and Demelza had a short, but friendly encounter at the ball.

One day, Geoffrey Charles walked in the same room of Elizabeth, George and Valentine, took one look at Valentine and commented on the fact he had never noticed how much Valentine looked like Ross until now. Elizabeth was gobsmacked, knowing that George now knew that Agatha was telling the truth. George then became angry with her again, and wouldn't talk to her.

The next day, they went for a walk. George walked in front of Elizabeth, and when Ross went over to him to give him the money Monk Adderley had owed him, George took the money and threw it at Ross. He then walked off, leaving Elizabeth speechless and with no idea what to tell Ross. She then followed George and left Ross amazed.


Elizabeth was worried about George's actions and hoped for a better life for Valentine. She knew she needed a plan of action in order to persuade George that Valentine belonged to him, and she went to an appointment with a doctor under a fake name and asked him for advice on how to induce early labour. She admitted that Valentine was born at full term and he gave her a potion, which she kept in a box.

George continued to act off-hand Elizabeth and Valentine, and became exceptionally cold towards him. It affected Elizabeth deeply and Valentine was becoming very upset by the actions of George completely ignoring him. When Elizabeth found out Morwenna was to marry Drake Carne, she went to spend time with her and wished her well, apologising for her part in separating them years earlier. Morwenna then accompanied Elizabeth back to Trenwith and met Valentine.

When they ate dinner together later on, George came home and continued to act angry with Elizabeth. He called Valentine "the child", wanting him to be taken out the room when he spoke during the meal and upset Elizabeth further by bullying Morwenna who left the room. When Ross showed up to find Morwenna, he and George argued. Elizabeth then asked Ross to go, and she let Ross know that she had forgiven him.

It led to an argument between Elizabeth and George who was adamant that Valentine belonged to him and she was angry that he would throw her voice and love away because of a comment made by another. George apologised and admitted he wanted to believe her, but the doubt was made by Agatha long ago and he had no idea how to move on from it. Elizabeth told him that Agatha only wanted to hurt him because he cancelled her birthday party.

Elizabeth then argued that she has no way of proving to him that Valentine was their child, and that he would throw away an heir and a good life by continuing to think wrong of her. She then left the room and decided she actually would be able to prove it by taking the potion she brought from a doctor. She fainted and when George found her, she woke up in pain when the baby moved.[2]

George called for both Doctor Enys and Choake, and when Doctor Enys arrived, they found Elizabeth was in labour. During the labour, Enys noticed odd spasms but he put it down to the fall, and Elizabeth gave birth to a healthy daughter. Doctor Enys then left comfortable that Elizabeth would be fine. George then went to spend time with her and the baby, and he apologised, saying he knew now that Valentine was simply born early.[2]

George and Elizabeth made up and he promised her and their family a better life. Elizabeth was happy and content, and George let her know he was to be given a knighthood, calling her Lady Warleggan. Elizabeth then named the baby Ursula Warleggan. However, the next day Elizabeth was taken very unwell. Doctor Enys noticed her fingers and toes had a loss of blood supply and she was suffering from an infection.[2]

Elizabeth continued to deteriorate and eventually became blind, telling George she was afraid of the dark. She passed away with George holding her hand. Ten minutes later, Ross came by to find out how she was, and found out from George of Elizabeth's death. He went to spend time with her, kissing Elizabeth for the final time. George admitted he loved her very deeply, and had no idea how to move on without her, feeling he had nothing to live for until Ursula was given to him. He then commented that she looked nothing like Elizabeth.[2]

Elizabeth was later buried in a service, and during the wedding of Morwenna and Drake, George was found mourning at the grave with Valentine and Ursula. Verity and Geoffrey Charles commented that Elizabeth would forever be a true Poldark, and not Warleggan. Ross grieved Elizabeth in another way, mainly for the memory of their love and everything Elizabeth could have done, but never will.[2]


George and Valentine struggled in their grief for Elizabeth. Valentine would often go back to Elizabeth's headstone, and George could barely look at a painting of her.[5]

George had promised Elizabeth he would treat Valentine as his own child, but he struggled to show fatherly affection because he couldn't ignore connections Valentine had to Ross. He began hallucinating Elizabeth and speaking to her like she was there, and she encouraged him to show affection for Valentine.[5]

By early 1800, a portrait of her was put up in Trenwith next to that of her late first husband, Francis, Charles and Agatha Poldark. George found it hard to live in Trenwith because it reminded him of Elizabeth, so he took the family to live in the Warleggan house in Truro. Her eldest son, Geoffrey Charles later held a party at Trenwith and proposed a toast to her, and every Poldark in the past and present.[5]

George soon decided he wanted a portrait of Elizabeth, Valentine and Ursula done and went back to Trenwith to fetch a portrait of her.[5] Geoffrey Charles later reminisced in a park about playing their with her as a boy. He then showed a small portrait of her to Cecily Hanson, to which she replied she was indeed "a beauty".[6]

Notes and sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 See this image
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Poldark, Series 4, Episode 8 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "4Ep8" defined multiple times with different content
  3. The Angry Tide, Book 3, Chapter 16
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Poldark, Season 1, Episode 1
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Poldark, Series 5, Episode 1
  6. Poldark, Series 5, Episode 2