(See original post here.)
Another message from my husband's aunt seems to indicate the belief that Eliza Tharm is the ancestor in question:
"this Eliza Tharm isn't a direct ancestor but down the line from either a brother or sister of one of our direct ancestors."
I had come across Eliza in my initial research as she was famously the maid living at Dr. Palmer's house who became Palmer's mistress after his wife's death.
Staffspasttrack.org.uk says that Eliza gave birth to an illegitimate son in the Palmer House and this child was sent to be cared for by a 'nurse'. It was claimed that Palmer sent for the young child saying that he wished to see that the child was well.
Sounds very much like the story originally given to me (see here) but that seems far too easy. If Palmer really was the rogue he was rumoured to be, there was sure to be other mistresses and possibly more illegitimate children. Google Books have available a copy of Illustrated Life and Career of William Palmer of Rugeley. I have yet to read it but a skim through revealed this snippet on page 55:
Some time after his marriage, William Palmer had an illegitimate child by a Rugeley woman, of the name of Jane Mumford, and he had, in consequence, to pay for its keep. It is related that this child, a little girl, was brought to him that he might satisfy himself that it was still alive; he saw the child, and sent her home again. Shortly afterwards she died.
Sounds tragically familiar...