Friday 24 January 2014

Anne Horton, the Scandalous Duchess of Cumberland and Strathearn

Anne Horton,  Duchess of Cumberland and Strathearn (née Anne Luttrell; London, England, 24th January 1743 – Gorizia, Italy, 28th December 1808)

Anne, Duchess of Cumberland by Valentine Green, 1790
Anne Horton,  Duchess of Cumberland and Strathearn by Valentine Green, 1790

A scandalous lady joins us today; one who was known for her florid reputation as much as her marriage. Whatever one might think of Anne, Duchess of Cumberland and Strathearn, she was never dull though her somewhat glamourous life ended sadly.

Anne was born in Marylebone, London to Simon Luttrell, Member of Parliament and later first Earl of Carhampton and, Judith Maria Lawes. Her early life was one of privilege and wealth although her family were already just a touch notorious after a political scandal involving Anne's brother, Henry.

Considered something of a catch, it came as a surprise to society when Anne married a commoner and squire, Christopher Horton, at the age of 22. Although the marriage ended in widowhood just four years and a day later, it was not the end of her romantic story and rumours flew that Anne was somewhat free with her favours until, on 2nd October 1771, she was married to Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn. 

The marriage of prince and commoner caused discord in the royal household and was a direct cause of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 which forbade any descendant of George II to marry without the monarch's permission. The king was furious that his brother had chosen to marry into a family that had a hint of scandal about it, let alone the social standing of bride versus groom.

When Cumberland refused to turn his back on his bride, Anne pushed for official recognition as a princess. Following a continental tour, Anne and her husband established a salon at Cumberland House that became the talk of the town, with Anne exuding charm to all who came into her circle. Indeed, eventually this unofficial court found a number of followers and the Duke and Duchess lived on in luxury until Cumberland's ill-health forced them to quit London for Brighton in 1779.

Their finances dwindling, the couple once more travelled to the continent and did not settle in England again until 1786, where they remained until Cumberland's death in 1790, with no children to take his place. 

The scandalous bride of Cumberland fell heavily into debt following her husband's death and sold off many of his possessions. Eventually, she left England for the continent, where she died at Gorizia on 28 December 1808.

Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.

Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)


Gem Twitcher said...

Were they Whigs,Madame?

Catherine Curzon said...

They were Tories, sir!

Anonymous said...

George III's brother, surely? This was only eleven years after the King himself married.

Catherine Curzon said...

Brother indeed!

Unknown said...

Oh goodness stumbled on this! Duchess Anne Luttrell Horton is my 7th Great-Aunt, sister to Captain John Lutrell-Olmius, 3rd Earl of Carhampton, who was my 6th Great-Grandfather. Love anything ancestry!

Catherine Curzon said...

How marvellous!

J D Davies said...

Have just come across this- a fascinating piece! I'm interested in her because she was a close friend of Sir John Stepney, 8th baronet, who I've been researching for many years. They were alleged to be lovers, and Stepney took charge of her affairs at her death, as he was living nearby; it was he who sent the first report of her death to England.

Catherine Curzon said...

How fascinating! I've just finished a chapter on Anne for my forthcoming book on Georgian scandal. I'd love to know more about your research.

Unknown said...

I have an oil painting of the Duchess, by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Was very happy to read about her life and strength. Message me and I'll send you a photo of the painting.

Unknown said...

I have a painting of the Duchess. By Sir Joshua Reynolds. I've been intrigued by Anne, can you please send me info on your book I'd like to read more about her. Thank you.

Unknown said...

In 1791 Governor Phillip in Australia sent a botanical drawing of “the Cumberland tree” to Sir Joseph Banks. This tree, Clererodendrum he particularly wished to be named after the Duchess of Cumberland and he requested a copy sent to her sister Elizabeth. Governor Phillip also took a portrait of Anne with him to New South Wales. I’d like to know the connection ?