In 1885, Lucy Coverdale, aka Lucille Yseult Dudley, made an unsucessful attempt on the life of Rossa. She was found to be insane at trial and ended up in a lunatic asylum at Auburn, in New York. Capt. Bedford Pim, Royal Navy, member of Parliament, helped secure her return to England in 1891. Was she a spy or was she insane?
The following is an article from Te Aroha News, Volume II, Issue 97, 11 April 1885, Page 3:
Several of the newspaper*, referring to "Mrs Dudley," who shot O'Donovan Rossa, describe her as the daughter of an ex-military officer now residing in New Zealand. Mrs. Dudley is illegitimate, and was born in the parish of Kingston-on-Thames, on 1st October, 1860. Her true name is Keenan. She is the daughter of Ellen Keenan, a single woman, who was cohabiting at Surbiton with the officer referred to. The prisoner's mother died when she was five years old. In 1862 a Chancery suit was instituted by Miss Keenan for breach of marriage against the officer, and a verdict was given for £3,500, which was appealed against. While the appeal was pending, she died, and the case lapsed.
Lucillo Herself. Whilst in England Miss Dudley assumed several aliases, amongst others — Coverdale, Dudley, Keenan, Boyle, Doyle, Dale and Dureen. A friend of mine, a young doctor named Baldock, who makes a specialty of cases of insanity, knew Mrs. Dudley when she was a sick nurse at an asylum, and speaks very highly of her. He describes her as a very prepossessing ladylike girl, amiable, well-educated, and an experienced nurse. Unfortunately, the suicidal mania, which he fancies must be inherited, was very pronounced in her. Bottles of poison were continually found under her pillow, and in certain moods she required to be most carefully watched. The "fall Mall" speaks of Mrs. Dudley's father as "an officer in ' the army, rich and reckless." Mrs Dudley possesses literary tastes. She has filled volumes of MSS. with verses and stories, adores " Ouida's " novels, possesses considerable histrionic abilities, and is altogether very remarkable. The writer in the •Tall Mall Gazette in a special article says: "At her mother's death, in 18G5, from cancer, induced by riding, the child Lucille was consigned to the care of the rector of a quiet Yorkshire village, on the understanding that a certain sum should be paid yearly, whether by the father or mother seems doubtful, for her support. The money was, we hear, never forthcoming, and the child remained at the rectory as the adopted daughter of the rector and his wife. At this period of her life, she was known as Lucy Dale, a name she changed more than once to suit her purposes. It is at present difficult to say at what age she launched herself in London, and her adventures here are pretty well-known by this time, Endowed with many attractions of face and manner, she seems to have captivated all hearts, and among them that of Mr. " Dudley," whom she first met at Camdentown lodging-house. Those who know "Dudley" prefer to remain silent for the present. One child, which was born at Barnet under the roof of some friendly cottager, was the result of this intrigue; then Mrs. "Dudley" appears to have moved to Walthamstow, then to Stoke Newington, devoting the intervals to nursing. Mr. "Dudley" took himself off one day; the child died, was buried at Southgate Cemetery, and he was heard of no more. Mrs. "Dudley" must for some years have supported herself, but she never seems to have applied herself with tenacity to any single object. She attended a medical school, and obtained several engagements in West End houses as a professional nurse, accepting a case of small-pox, or typhoid, or one of measles, with equal indifference. Vivacious, decidedly clever, with a pretty face and a lissome figure, it is not surprising that Mrs. "Dudley" bethought herself of the stage as a means for gaining a livelihood. She took a few lessons in London, and applied in vain for a London engagement. In Manchester she was successful, and appeared in a pantomime there, Mrs " Dudley " is said by one or two of her friends to have been a facile composer of verses and romance at the early age of eight, and for many years composition has been her chief amusement. She filled reams upon reams of paper, but unluckily none of her effusions have been preserved. "Ouida" was her favourite novelist. Those who know her say thither poisonings were merely little dramas got up for the edification of her friends. On her return to the old country, Lucy Dale, edicts Lucille Yseult Dudley alias: Miss Dorigne, need have no lack of engagements, matrimonial or theatrical.