Lady Archer was born in 1741 as Sarah West, the daughter of a Warwickshire landowner and MP. At the age of twenty, she married the Honorable Andrew Archer, who went on to become the 2nd Baron Archer of Umberslade upon his father’s death seven years later. She wasn’t especially pretty, she was as active in politics as a woman of her era could reasonably be, and she dared to dress in a confident, outdoorsy fashion. (Writing many years later, the Hon. Grantley Berkeley called her "a celebrated amazon of that time.") It was almost inevitable that she should become a favorite target of often-misogynistic caricaturists like Isaac Cruikshank, Thomas Rowlandson, and especially James Gillray. Though she was an excellent whip and rider to hounds, an active champion of Whig causes and politicians, and the mother of three daughters, caricatures of Sarah focus almost exclusively on two of her failings: she was an avid gambler, and she strove to enhance her rather plain looks.
Gillray's 1792 Modern Hospitality, or A Friendly Party in High Life is subtitled "The Knave Wins All." It shows Lady Archer presumably cheating at cards; the Prince Regent sits beside her, while Whig leader Charles James Fox reacts with dismay on the far right.
In Gillray's The Exaltation of Faro's Daughters, Lady Archer is on the right, while the woman with the dead squirrel soaring over her head is Lady Buckinghamshire.
In Gillray's La Belle Assemblée, Lady Archer is the hawk-nosed woman in red, leading a sacrificial lamb on a leash.
Rowlandson's Six Stages of Mending a Face depicts Lady Archer as a hag employing everything from a wig to a false eye to make herself presentable.
With respect. Oh, those regency caricaturists. They were such wags.
Alyssa Everett's debut regency romance, Ruined by Rumor, is currently available from Carina Press. She hopes you'll visit her website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook, where she promises not to spam you relentlessly.