Paul Frecker
Fine Photographs


Duchess of Wellington
Mistress of the Robes

Volume 1, page 274, sitting number 1276.

[No image appears for this sitting in the Silvy daybooks.]

Lady Elizabeth Hay, the daughter of George Hay, 8th Marquess of Tweeddale and Lady Susan Montagu, was born at Yester on 27 September 1820. On 18 April 1839 she married Arthur Richard Wellesley, Lord Douro, from 1852 the 2nd Duke of Wellington, at St George's, Hanover Square. From 1843 to 1858 she was a Lady of the Bedchamber, and from 1861 to 1868 she was Mistress of the Robes. She was again Mistress of the Robes from 1874 to 1880.

Her husband died on 13 August 1884; the Dowager Duchess survived him by exactly twenty years to the day, dying on 13 August 1904 at the age of 83 at Bearhill Park, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. She was buried on 19 August 1904 at Stratfield Saye House, Basingstoke, Hampshire.

According to one obituary: 'Elizabeth Duchess of Wellington had lived in complete retirement since her husband's death just twenty-one [sic] years ago. She was a great figure in the highest English society both as Lady Druro and as Duchess of Wellington, and was an immense favourite at Court during a period of more than forty years. She was always très grande dame, but at all times truly kind and hospitable, and she was clever and well informed, and talked remarkably well. She was regarded as one of the most attractive and brilliant women in society. The Duchess held the office of Mistress of the Robes for many years, and she was one of Queen Victoria's most intimate and trusted friends. She devoted a great deal of time to charity' (Banbury Beacon, 3 September 1904).

[The Duchess is seen here with a backdrop which Silvy must have specially painted in advance of her visit to his studio. It shows in the distance the Duke of Wellington monument rising above the trees of Green Park. The statue and arch once stood outside Apsley House; the arch was relocated to the centre of Hyde Park Corner in the early 1880s and the much derided, giant equestrian statue relocated to Aldersthot.]

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Duchess of Wellington, Lady Elizabeth Hay, Elizabeth Hay, 2nd Duchess of Wellington, Wellington, Camille Silvy, Silvy