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Elizabeth Cellier

Author of Malice Defeated and the Matchless Rogue

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Short biography
Elizabeth Cellier was a 17th century London midwife. Nothing seems known of her life until her marriage to Peter Cellier, a Frenchman, and her conversion from the Church of England to the Roman Catholic faith. She came to prominence through the pretended "Meal-Tub Plot" of 1680, in which she was falsely accused of conspiring with the Countess of Powis and other Catholics to assassinate King Charles II. She was tried for high treason, but had little difficulty proving that the only witness against her was completely untrustworthy. She was found not guilty and published a pamphlet about the affair called "Malice Defeated; or a brief relation of the Accusation and Deliverance of Elizabeth Cellier." This publication led to her second prosecution for libel against the king and his ministers. This time, she was found guilty and sentenced to pay a fine of £1,000 and to stand in the public pillory. However, she re-emerged at the accession of King James II to propose the establishment of an organization of experienced midwives and a foundling hospital. It was described in her 1687 pamphlet, "A Scheme for the Foundation of a Royal Hospital, and Raising a Revenue of Five of Six-thousand Pounds a Year, by, and for the Maintenance of a Corporation of skilful Midwives."
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