Samuel Masham, 1st Baron Masham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Samuel Masham, 1st Baron Masham (1678/9 – 1758), was a courtier in the court of Queen Anne, and the husband of her favourite, Abigail Masham (née Hill), Baroness Masham.

Biography[edit]

Masham was born 1678/9, the eighth son of Sir Francis Masham, 3rd Baronet and Mary Scott, in the same house that John Locke spent his final years. He was introduced to the Royal Household as Page to Prince George of Denmark, the husband of the future Queen Anne. In 1701, he was promoted to the position of Equerry.

He met his future wife, Abigail Hill, in about 1704, when she was appointed Lady of the Bedchamber to Anne, who was now Queen. This was the year that the Queen confided to the Earl of Godolphin that she did not believe that she and Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough – her closest friend up until now – could ever be true friends again. The Duchess, a Whig, was frequently absent from the Court, sometimes for long periods, and had become too overbearing for the dull and easily confused Queen. Abigail, a Tory – helped by her flattery and subservience – quickly began to supplant the Duchess in the Queen’s affections.

The Tory leader, Robert Harley, probably advised Masham of the advantages of marrying a royal favourite. However, Masham himself described it as a love match. The couple were married some time in 1707, in the presence of the Queen, who contributed £2000 to Abigail’s dowry. The duchess, who was not consulted, discovered that the marriage had taken place several months later, and her subsequent argument with the Queen included accusations of lesbianism. This turned the Queen completely against her; but paved the way for Abigail’s rise.

Meanwhile, Masham was enjoying the rewards of Abigail’s position. He was promoted to Brigadier General in the army, and in 1710 became MP for Ilchester. In 1712, Robert Harley, now Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, requested that the Queen create twelve new peers to pass negotiations for the Treaty of Utrecht, which the Whigs were firmly against. Masham was one of those suggested to the Queen; but she only consented on the condition that Abigail continued to act as her dresser (a peeress was not expected to carry out the more menial duties of the bedchamber). He became Baron Masham of Otes.

After Queen Anne’s death in 1714, the new king, George I, reinstated the Whigs – and the Marlboroughs – to favour. Abigail retired into private life, but Samuel Masham became King's Remembrancer in 1716. He died in 1758, far outliving his wife.

References[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Edward Phelips
James Johnston
Member of Parliament for Ilchester
with Edward Phelips

1710–11
Succeeded by
Edward Phelips
Sir James Bateman
Preceded by
Richard Topham
William Paul
Member of Parliament for Windsor
with Richard Topham

1711–12
Succeeded by
Richard Topham
Charles Aldworth
Political offices
Preceded by
Viscount Rialton
Cofferer of the Household
1711–14
Succeeded by
The Earl of Godolphin
Preceded by
The Viscount Fanshawe
King's Remembrancer
1716–58
Succeeded by
The Lord Masham
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Masham
1712–58
Succeeded by
Samuel Masham
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Francis Masham
Baronet
(of High Lever)
1723–58
Succeeded by
Samuel Masham