Martha Davenport was born Martha Talbot in 1720, and was the third child and eldest daughter of John Ivory Talbot and Mary Mansel. She inherited a life interest in Lacock on the death of her brother John Talbot, and held it in trust until her death when it passed, on her brother’s wishes, to her third son William. Her eldest two sons were ill.
Martha married her cousin, the Reverend William Davenport, in 1751. They had five children. When she inherited Lacock, she and her husband moved from Bredon, where William had been the Rector, and brought many documents relating to the Davenport family, mostly her father-in-law Henry Davenport, who was a governor in the East India Company, and his brother Sharington Davenport who was in the army. Henry Davenport built Davenport House near Worfield in Shropshire in the 1720s. In the archive there are many East India Company records as well as estate records from Shropshire and personal Davenport papers including letters and accounts.
William died in 1781 leaving Martha with financial difficulties from his estates in Worcestershire, and responsibility for the welfare of her two sons Prideaux Sutton and John. The two sons were said to be lunatics (this appears in the archive) but it is possible they actually suffered from epilepsy, as often the symptoms were misinterpreted at the time as madness. Her third son William was a financial burden to her and was fond of spending money. Her eldest daughter Barbara did not marry but her other daughter Mary married John Shakespear. William married Elizabeth Theresa Fox-Strangways, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Ilchester.
Due to the financial strain on Martha’s personal life and her estates, she leased Lacock Abbey to the Countess of Shrewsbury, who lived there until her death in 1809.