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Astley [née Champernowne], Katherine (d. 1565), courtier, was the daughter of Sir Philip Champernowne (d. 1545), landowner, of Modbury, Devon, and his wife, Katherine, daughter of Sir Edmund Carew of Mohun's Ottery, Devon, and his wife, Katherine. She was related by marriage to all the leading gentry families of the west country. Nothing is known of her early life, although her distinctive, if old-fashioned, hand, her lifelong association with the reformed religion, and her key role in the education of ...

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Beauclerk [née Lovelace], Martha [Lady Henry Beauclerk] (bap. 1710, d. 1788), courtier, was baptized on 14 January 1710 in St James's, Westminster, the only daughter and the fifth of the five children of John Lovelace, fourth Baron Lovelace (d. 1709) [see under...

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Bloomfield [née Liddell], Georgiana, Lady Bloomfield (1822–1905), courtier and author, born on 13 April 1822 at 51 Portland Place, Marylebone, Middlesex, was the sixteenth and youngest child of Thomas Henry Liddell, first Baron Ravensworth (1775–1885), and his wife, Maria Susannah (c...

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Brett [née Mason], Anne [other married name Anne Gerard, countess of Macclesfield] (1667/8–1753), courtier, was born in Shropshire, the younger daughter of Sir Richard Mason of Shropshire, clerk comptroller in the royal household. At the age of fifteen, on 18 June 1683, she married ...

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Brooke [née Newton], Frances, Lady Cobham (b. after 1530, d. 1592), courtier, was the daughter of Sir John Newton (d. 1568) of Hanham, Gloucestershire, and his first wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir Anthony Poyntz. She was appointed a chamberer of the privy chamber in the initial warrant of 3 January 1559, but how her connection with ...

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Bulstrode, Cecily (bap. 1584, d. 1609), courtier and subject of poetry, was baptized on 12 February 1584 at Beaconsfield, one of the ten children of Edward Bulstrode (d. 1595), landowner, and his wife, Cecily (fl. 1575–1608), daughter of Sir John Croke...

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Mary Campbell of Mamore (bap. 1685, d. 1736) by J. Heath, pubd 1798 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Campbell [née Bellenden], Mary, of Mamore (bap. 1685, d. 1736), courtier, was baptized in Edinburgh on 4 May 1685, the third daughter of John Bellenden (formerly Ker), second Lord Bellenden (c.1660–1706), and Mary, dowager countess of Dalhousie (c.1669–1726)...

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Charlotte Elizabeth Canning, Countess Canning (1817–1861) by unknown photographer Christie's Images Ltd. (2004)

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Canning [née Stuart], Charlotte Elizabeth, Countess Canning (1817–1861), courtier and vicereine of India, was born at the British embassy in Paris on 31 March 1817, the elder of the two daughters of Sir Charles Stuart, later Baron Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845), diplomatist, and his wife, ...

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Elizabeth Chudleigh (c. 1720–1788) by Thomas Gainsborough Christie's Images Ltd. (2004)

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Chudleigh, Elizabeth [married namesElizabeth Hervey, countess of Bristol; Elizabeth Pierrepont, duchess of Kingston upon Hull] (c. 1720–1788), courtier and bigamist, was born probably at the family estate of Ashton, Devon. She was the younger daughter and youngest child of Colonel Thomas Chudleigh (...

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Sarah Churchill, duchess of Marlborough (1660–1744) by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1705 National Trust Photographic Library / Tim Stephens / The Egremont Collection / Petworth

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Churchill [née Jenyns], Sarah, duchess of Marlborough (1660–1744), politician and courtier, was born on 5 June 1660, probably at Holywell, St Albans, Hertfordshire, the fourth and youngest daughter of Richard Jenyns (c.1618–1668), whose name is often spelt Jennings by later writers, and his wife, ...

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Clayton [née Dyve], Charlotte, Lady Sundon (c. 1679–1742), courtier, was born on 11 December (according to poems addressed to her before 1735 by Mary Jones), though the precise year of her birth is unknown. She was the granddaughter of Sir Lewis Dyve...

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Colville [née Crewe-Milnes], Lady (Helen) Cynthia (1884–1968), courtier and social worker, was born on 20 May 1884, the third daughter of Robert Offley Ashburton Crewe-Milnes (1858–1945), Liberal politician, who the year after her birth succeeded as second Baron Houghton and who subsequently became the first and last ...

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Mary Cowper, Countess Cowper (1685–1724) by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1709 private collection. Photograph: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

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Cowper [née Clavering], Mary, Countess Cowper (1685–1724), courtier and diarist, was the elder of the two surviving children of John Clavering (bap. 1655, d. in or after 1702), landowner and mine owner, of Chopwell, co. Durham, and his first wife, Anne Thompson...

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Mary Delany (1700–1788) by John Opie, 1782 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Delany [née Granville; other married name Pendarves], Mary (1700–1788), court favourite and artist, was born at Coulston, Wiltshire, on 14 May 1700. The elder daughter of Bernard Granville (1671–1723) and his wife, Mary Westcomb (d. 1747), she was widely connected in court and political circles. Her father's elder brother was ...