Harriet Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland

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Harriet Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland
Winterhalter - Harriet Howard.jpg
Harriet Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland
Born The Hon. Harriet Howard
(1806-05-21)21 May 1806
Died 27 October 1868(1868-10-27) (aged 62)
Stafford House, St James's, London
Resting place
Trentham, Staffordshire
Nationality British
Title Duchess of Sutherland
Mistress of the Robes
Spouse(s) George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 2nd Duke of Sutherland
Children Elizabeth Campbell, Duchess of Argyll
Evelyn Stuart, Lady Blantyre
Caroline FitzGerald, Duchess of Leinster
George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 3rd Duke of Sutherland
Lady Blanche Sutherland-Leveson-Gower
Lord Frederick Sutherland-Leveson-Gower
Constance Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster
Lady Victoria Sutherland-Leveson-Gower
Lord Albert Sutherland-Leveson-Gower
Lord Ronald Sutherland-Leveson-Gower
Lady Alexandrina Sutherland-Leveson-Gower
Parents George Howard, 6th Earl of Carlisle
Lady Georgiana Cavendish

Harriet Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland (21 May 1806 – 27 October 1868) (née Lady Harriet Elizabeth Georgiana Howard), was Mistress of the Robes under several Whig administrations: 1837–1841, 1846–1852, 1853–1858, and 1859–1861; and was a great friend of Queen Victoria. She was an important figure in London's high society, and used her social position to undertake various philanthropic undertakings including the protest of the English ladies against American slavery.

Family and early life[edit]

Harriet was the third daughter of George Howard, 6th Earl of Carlisle and his wife Lady Georgiana Cavendish, who was a daughter of the famous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.[1]

Marriage[edit]

On 28 May 1823 she was married to her cousin George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Earl Gower (1786-1861),[1] who had been elected M.P. for St. Mawes, Cornwall, in 1808, and succeeded his father as second Duke of Sutherland in 1833. Gower was twenty years older than her, but their union proved one of affection and produced four sons and seven daughters.[1][2]

The Duchess of Sutherland held a social position of high influence, aided by her friendship to Queen Victoria as well as her family's great wealth.[3] By the Duchess' influence Stafford House, St. James's Palace, became an important centre of society,[4] and the starting-point of various philanthropic undertakings. There the protest of the English ladies against American slavery was framed in 1853.[2] The Duchess stance on slavery was heavily criticised by Karl Marx when her mother-in-law, the previous Duchess was then (1853) associated for the Highland Clearance of local Gaels in Sutherlandshire three decades prior, so that she could reuse 794,000 acres of land for commercial sheep farming.[5] The facts were also carried over in Carlo Cafiero's "The Compendium of The Capital" (1878).

Mistress of the Robes[edit]

On the accession of Queen Victoria the Duchess was appointed Mistress of the Robes,[note 1] and held that post when the Whigs were in office until her husband's death (August 1837 to September 1841, July 1846 to March 1852, January 1853 to February 1856, June 1859 to April 1861). From the Queen's refusal to part with the Duchess and her other ladies arose the Bedchamber Crisis of 1839, with the result that the Whigs returned to office. Victoria gave a sympathetic description of the Duchess's character,[7] and after the death of Prince Albert, the prince consort, spent the first weeks of her widowhood with the Duchess as her solitary companion.[8]

In 1861 the 4th Rogart Company of the 1st Sutherland Volunteer Rifle Corps formed up and bore the title, Duchess Harriet's Company Rogart upon the pouch-belt plate.[9]

The Duchess's last public appearance was at the Prince of Wales's marriage in 1863. In that year she was seized with an illness from which she never recovered. However, she was able to entertain Garibaldi, for whom she had great admiration, at Chiswick House and Trentham, Staffordshire, during his visit to England in April 1864. She died 27 October 1868,[8] at her London residence, Stafford House, aged 62. She was subsequently interred in the Dukes of Sutherland's mausoleum in Trentham. Gladstone was one of the pall-bearers at her funeral.[10] The Duchess's letters, of which a selection was published by her son Lord Ronald Gower in Stafford House Letters, pts.iv-vi., prove her to have been possessed of an affectionate disposition, with some sense of humour. She had also an interest in architecture and gardening.[8]

Issue[edit]

On 18 May 1823 Harriet married George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Earl Gower, eldest son of the 2nd Marquess of Stafford, and a man twenty years her senior. Her father-in-law was created Duke of Sutherland in 1833, and was succeeded by his son later that year, whereupon Harriet became the Duchess of Sutherland.

They had eleven children:

In 1871, while her son-in-law, the Duke of Argyll, was serving in the Cabinet, his son (Harriet's grandson), Lord Lorne, married one of Victoria's daughters, Princess Louise. Harriet's eldest son became 3rd Duke of Sutherland in 1861.[citation needed]

Ancestry[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Duchess served several times as Mistress of the Robes to her friend Queen Victoria, a post which was later held by her eldest daughter Elizabeth Georgiana (Duchess of Argyll) and her daughter-in-law Anne (Duchess of Sutherland).[1][6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Reynolds 2004.
  2. ^ a b Sanders 1893, p. 152.
  3. ^ Reynolds 1998, p. 122.
  4. ^ Sanders 1893, p. 152 cites Lord Ronald Gower, Reminiscences, vol. i. chap. i.
  5. ^ Marx 1853.
  6. ^ Reynolds 1998, p. 222.
  7. ^ Sanders 1893, p. 152 cites Martin, Prince Consort, ii. 246
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Sanders 1893, p. 153.
  9. ^ Grierson (1909), Records of the Scottish Volunteer Force [full citation needed]
  10. ^ Auden, W. H. "Family Ghosts". University of Stanford. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Lodge 1834, p. 437.
  12. ^ a b c d Lodge 1834, p. 89.

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]

Court offices
Preceded by
New Reign
Mistress of the Robes
1837–1841
Succeeded by
The Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry
Preceded by
The Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry
Mistress of the Robes
1846–1852
Succeeded by
The Duchess of Atholl
Preceded by
The Duchess of Atholl
Mistress of the Robes
1853–1858
Succeeded by
The Duchess of Manchester
Preceded by
The Duchess of Manchester
Mistress of the Robes
1859–1861
Succeeded by
The Duchess of Wellington