Lady Sarah Lennox
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|Lady Sarah Lennox|
Lady Sarah Bunbury Sacrificing to the Graces by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1765
|Born||14 February 1745|
|Died||August 1826 (aged 81)|
|Spouse(s)||Sir Charles Bunbury, 6th Baronet
The Hon. George Napier
Sir Charles James Napier
Emily Bunbury, Lady Bunbury
Sir George Thomas Napier
Sir William Francis Patrick Napier
Henry Edward Napier
|Parent(s)||Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond
After the deaths of both her parents when she was only five years old, Lady Sarah was raised by her elder sister Emily FitzGerald, Duchess of Leinster, in Ireland. Lady Sarah returned to London and the home of her sister Caroline Fox, Baroness Holland at 13. Having been a favourite of King George II since her childhood, she was invited to appear at court and there caught the eye of George, Prince of Wales (the future King George III), whom she had met as a child.
The next Queen of Great Britain?
When she was presented at court again at 15, George III was taken with her, and her family developed an ambition that she would be the next queen. Largely for this reason, the young king was discouraged from selecting her as a wife. Lady Sarah had also developed feelings for Lord Newbattle, grandson of William Kerr, 3rd Marquess of Lothian. Although her family were able to convince her to break with Newbattle, the royal match was scotched by the King's advisors, particularly John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, who feared losing his royal influence to Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, Lady Sarah's brother-in-law. Lord Bute prevailed, and Lady Sarah was asked by King George III to be one of the ten bridesmaids at his wedding to Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Lady Sarah confided to a friend, "Luckily for me, I did not love him, and only liked him".
Lady Sarah refused a proposal of marriage from James Hay, 15th Earl of Erroll before marrying Charles Bunbury, eldest son of Reverend Sir William Bunbury, 5th Baronet, on 2 June 1762 at Holland House Chapel, Kensington, London. Her new husband, who was known to love horse racing and was thought to be a great fop, succeeded his father as sixth Baronet in 1764. Within a short time, their marriage was on the rocks, and Sarah's conduct (including adultery and gambling) earned her a bad reputation.
She had an affair with her own first cousin, Lord William Gordon, the second son of the Duke of Gordon, and gave birth to his illegitimate daughter in 1768. The child was not immediately disclaimed by Sir Charles, and received the name Louisa Bunbury. Nevertheless, Lady Bunbury and Lord William eloped shortly afterwards, in February 1769, taking the infant with them. Lord William soon tired of his lover's incessant demands for attention, gifts and ceaseless entertainments and abandoned her. Sir Charles refused to take his runaway wife back, and Lady Bunbury returned to her brother's house with her child, while her husband, moved Parliament for a divorce on grounds of adultery, citing her elopement, not the birth of Louisa. Lady Bunbury piously resisted the motion, as she now wished to enjoy the benefits of respectable matrimony, and it was not until 14 May 1776 that the decree of divorce was issued.
Lady Sarah eventually found happiness with an impoverished army officer, The Hon. George Napier. They were married on 27 August 1781, and had eight children:
- General Sir Charles James Napier GCB (10 August 1782 – 1853)
- Emily Louisa Augusta Napier (1783–1863), married Sir Henry Bunbury, 7th Baronet
- Lieutenant-General Sir George Thomas Napier KCB (1784–1855)
- Lieutenant-General Sir William Francis Patrick Napier KCB (17 December 1785 – 12 February 1860)
- Richard Napier (1787–1868)
- Captain Henry Edward Napier RN (5 March 1789 – 13 October 1853)
- Caroline Napier (1790–1810)
- Cecilia Napier (1791–1808)
In popular culture
- Countess Ilchester, ed. The Life and Letters of Lady Sarah Lennox, 1745–1826 London: John Murray, 1901
- Curtis, Edith R. Lady Sarah Lennox: An Irrepressible Stuart, 1745–1826 New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1946.
- Hall, Thornton. Love Romances of the Aristocracy 2004 
- Tillyard, Stella. Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740–1826. London: Chatto & Windus, 1994.
- "Lady Sarah Bunbury Sacrificing to the Graces". Art Institute of Chicago.
|Ancestors of Lady Sarah Lennox|