Katherine Villiers, Duchess of Buckingham

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Katherine, Duchess of Buckingham, with her son George, 1628 (detail of larger portrait).

Katherine Manners, Duchess of Buckingham, Marchioness of Antrim, 19th Baroness de Ros of Helmsley (died 1649) was the daughter and heir of Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland. She was known as the richest woman in Britain, apart from royalty. She married George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, the favourite, and possibly lover, of King James I of England; and secondly, she married the Irish peer Randal MacDonnell, 1st Marquess of Antrim.

The Duchess of Buckingham as a widow, c. 1628–32.

Family[edit]

Katherine Manners was the only daughter of Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland, by his first wife, Frances Knyvet (d. before 26 November 1605), widow of Sir William Bevill of Killigarth or Kilkhampton, Cornwall,[1] and third daughter and coheir of Sir Henry Knyvet of Charlton, Wiltshire,[2] by Elizabeth Stumpe, the daughter of Sir James Stumpe of Bromham, Wiltshire.[3][4]

Career[edit]

Katherine Manners was selected by the Countess of Buckingham to marry her son, George Villiers. However, Manners was a strict Roman Catholic, and the King refused to allow Villiers to marry her. In addition to this, the Earl of Rutland refused to accept the Countess of Buckingham’s demands for his daughter’s dowry. Manners converted to Protestantism, to satisfy the Villiers family, which almost caused her father to call off the marriage. Invited to visit the Countess of Buckingham, Katherine was forced to spend the night due to an attack of illness. Believing his daughter’s honor to be compromised, the Earl of Rutland refused to receive her back, and demanded that George Villiers marry her immediately. At this Villiers refused to marry her, but did a few weeks later, on 16 May 1620.[5]

The Duchess of Buckingham was one of the few women of rank of the time whose gentleness and womanly tenderness, devotion and purity of life, were conspicuous in the midst of the almost universal corruption and immorality of the Court. No scandal was ever breathed against her name, and the worst that was ever said of her was that by her influence she at one time nearly persuaded her husband to become a Roman Catholic, she herself having returned to her own faith soon after her marriage.[6]

She was the mother of Mary Villiers, Duchess of Richmond and of George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham (who inherited her title as 20th Baron de Ros). Katherine's first husband, Buckingham, was murdered in 1628 by John Felton. Upon the death of her father in 1632, without heirs male, she succeeded suo jure to the ancient barony of de Ros. In 1635 she married Randal McDonnell, Earl of Antrim, and went to live at Dunluce Castle, County Antrim, Ireland. Following the Catholic uprising in Ulster in 1641 the McDonnell family moved south to Wexford, then Waterford, where Katherine died in 1649.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ N.M.S. 1981.
  2. ^ Knyvet, Henry (c.1537-98), of Charlton, Wiltshire, History of Parliament; retrieved 29 August 2013.
  3. ^ Cokayne 1949, p. 262.
  4. ^ Stumpe, Sir James (by 1519-63), of Malmesbury and Bromham, Wiltshire, History of Parliament; retrieved 29 August 2013.
  5. ^  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1893). "Manners, Francis". Dictionary of National Biography 36. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 49–50. 
  6. ^ William H., Shaw (1882). George Villiers, First Duke of Buckingham. Oxford: B. H. Blackwell. pp. 12–14. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Peerage of England
Preceded by
Francis Manners
Baroness de Ros
1632–1649
Succeeded by
George Villiers