Cynthia Spencer, Countess Spencer

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Cynthia Spencer
Countess Spencer
Portrait by John Singer Sargent, 1917
Spouse(s) Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer


Lady Anne Wake-Walker
Edward Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
Noble family Hamilton (by birth)
Spencer-Churchill (by marriage)
Father James Hamilton, 3rd Duke of Abercorn
Mother Lady Rosalind Bingham
Born (1897-08-16)16 August 1897
Died 4 December 1972(1972-12-04) (aged 75)
Althorp, Northamptonshire, England

Cynthia Elinor Beatrix Spencer, Countess Spencer, DCVO, OBE (16 August 1897 – 4 December 1972), known as Lady Cynthia Hamilton until her marriage, and from then as Viscountess Althorp until 1922 when her husband inherited his father's title of Earl Spencer, was a British peeress and the paternal grandmother of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Life and family[edit]

She was the daughter of James Hamilton, Marquess of Hamilton, later 3rd Duke of Abercorn (30 November 1869 – 12 September 1953) and Lady Rosalind Cecilia Caroline Bingham (26 February 1869 – 18 January 1958). Her maternal grandparents were Charles Bingham, 4th Earl of Lucan and Lady Cecilia Catherine Gordon-Lennox, a daughter of Charles Gordon-Lennox, 5th Duke of Richmond and Lady Caroline Paget.

Cynthia Hamilton married Viscount Althorp on 26 February 1919 at St. James's, Piccadilly, London.[1]

They had two children:

Countess Spencer was appointed a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth in 1937. She continued in the role after Elizabeth became Queen Mother in 1952, and remained in post until her death.[2]

She was the grandmother of Diana, Princess of Wales. Lady Spencer died at the Spencers' ancestral home, Althorp[3] of a brain tumour, aged 75. She was little known outside court and local circles until, twenty years after her death, Andrew Morton wrote that the Princess of Wales "believes that her grandmother looks after her in the spirit world."[4]


Notes and sources[edit]

  1. ^ Williamson, D. The Ancestry of Lady Diana Spencer In: Genealogist’s Magazine, 1981; Vol. 20 (#6) pp. 192–199, and Vol. 20 (#8) pp. 281–282
  2. ^ Mosley, C. (ed.) Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th edition (Burke's Peerage, Crans, Switzerland, 1999) vol. 2, p. 2673
  3. ^ The Times (London), Wednesday, 6 December 1972; p. 32, col. A
  4. ^ Andrew Morton, Diana: Her True Story (BCA, 1992) p. 24


  • G. E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H. A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910–1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), vol. XIII, p. 39.
  • Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, (Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd., 1999), vol. I p. 6 and vol. 2 p. 2673
  • C. F. J. Hankinson, editor, Debretts Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage, 147th year (London: Odhams Press, 1949), p. 1007.

External links[edit]