Sarah Fielding was born on November 8, 1710. She was the fourth of seven children and by all appearances entered the world with considerable advantage. Her mother, Sarah Gould (1682–1718), descended from a family of “substantial, prudent people,” who—as merchants, landowners and lawyers—acquired enough wealth and status to provide orderly, secure lives for their children. 1 Her father, Edmund Fielding (1676–1741), came from aristocratic stock and was connected to the Earls of Denbeigh and Desmond. The Fielding family, with ancestral ties to Leicastershire and Warwickshire, had, as the Battestins note, “grown rich through a series of prosperous marriages.” 2 Sarah was the first of Edmund and Sarah’s children to be born on a farm in East Stour, Dorset. Her older siblings—Henry (b. 1707), Catherine (b. 1708) and Ursula (b. 1709)—were all born thirty-some miles away in the Gould family home, Sharpham House, in Gastonbury, Somerset. The East Stour property had been purchased only a few months earlier and included a large comfortable home—“a great homely barn of a place,” as the Battestins describe it—and enough land to provide a modest income.