Frances Hyde, Countess of Clarendon

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Frances Hyde, Countess of Clarendon (25 August 1617 (baptised) – 8 August 1667), born Frances Aylesbury, was an English peeress. As the mother of Anne Hyde, she was mother-in-law to James II and VII, the deposed king of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the maternal grandmother of Mary II and Queen Anne.

Biography[edit]

Frances Aylesbury was the daughter and eventual sole heiress of Sir Thomas Aylesbury, 1st Baronet, and his wife, Anne Denman. The translator William Aylesbury was her brother.

On 10 July 1634 she became the second wife of Edward Hyde, who was later created Baron Hyde (in 1660) and Earl of Clarendon (in 1661). He was Lord Chancellor of England 1658–1667. They had six children:

Character[edit]

Her husband in his memoirs wrote of his wife in somewhat guarded terms, but their surviving letters suggest that it was a close and affectionate marriage, strong enough to survive a four-year separation during the English Civil War. His unusually close friendship with Anne Villiers, Countess of Morton (a cousin of his first wife, Anne Ayliffe), never seems to have posed a threat to the happiness of his second marriage, and in any case ended in a bitter quarrel some time before Lady Morton's death in 1654. Frances's death after a short illness seems to have been a great blow to her husband, at a time when he was fighting desperately to stave off the threat of impeachment. In his will of 1666, he refers to Frances as "my dearly beloved wife who hath accompanied and assisted me in all my distress with greater resignation and courage and in all respects deserved much more from me than I can repay to her."

Another tribute to her character came from the diplomat Henry Coventry, who was then engaged in the peace negotiations at Breda, and wrote that the news of Frances's serious illness made him "very unfit for the business". On hearing of her death he wrote to Clarendon, "I do from the bottom of my heart condole with you."

In fiction[edit]

She is portrayed in a sympathetic light in The Piccadilly Plot, the seventh of the Thomas Chaloner mystery novels by Susanna Gregory.

References[edit]