Anna Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury

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Anna Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, by Peter Lely, c.1670

Anna Maria Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury (née Lady Anna Maria Brudenell) (25 March 1642 – 20 April 1702) was Countess of Shrewsbury from 1659 to 1668, by virtue of her marriage to Francis Talbot, 11th Earl of Shrewsbury.


Born on 25 March 1642, she was the eldest daughter of Robert Brudenell, who succeeded to the earldom of Cardigan as the second earl in 1663. Her mother was Anne Savage, the earl's second wife. Her brother was Francis Brudenell, Lord Brudenell whose daughter was Lady Frances Brudenell - later noted in Dublin for her bisexuality.

Anna Maria married Francis Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury on 10 January 1659,[1] and they had one son, Charles Talbot, 1st Duke of Shrewsbury born on 24 July 1660.

She was a passionate woman (harsher critics have called her a nymphomaniac). Her numerous lovers included Henry Jermyn, 1st Baron Dover and Colonel Thomas Howard (younger brother of Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Carlisle). In 1662 they fought a celebrated duel for her favour in which Jermyn was left for dead and his second, Giles Rawlings, was killed.[2]

In 1667, the countess embarked on an affair with George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, and the earl challenged Villiers to a duel. The countess is said to have been present, disguised as a boy, and to have held the duke's horse. Her husband died of the injuries inflicted on him in the duel which was fought with swords at Barn Elms on 16 January 1668, and was commented upon by Samuel Pepys in his diary the next day.[3] The sovereign, King Charles II strongly disapproved of duelling within his realm and the duke temporarily fell out of royal favour as a result.[4]

For a time, the Duke of Buckingham kept Anna Maria as his mistress in his family home where his wife, Mary also resided. She gave birth to his illegitimate son and created a scandal at court by having the boy baptised in Westminster Abbey.[4] Their affair was finally broken off in 1673. The countess went to France and spent some time in a convent. Her legitimate son had been removed from her care. While both his parents were Roman Catholics, his own upbringing was Protestant and as an adult he conformed to the Church of England.

Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury later returned to Britain and remarried in 1677 George Rodney Brydges (aft.1649-1714) MP for Haslemere 1690-1698 and Winchester 1700-1714[5] Her second husband was a younger but 2nd surviving son of Sir Thomas Bridges (d. 1707) of Keynsham, Somerset by his wife Anne Rodney, daughter and coheiress of Sir Edward Rodney MP of Stoke Rodney, Somerset. From 1678 to 1685, he served as Groom of the Bedchamber, thanks to his wife buying him a place. The former Countess and George Rodney Brydges had one son George Brydges (1678-1751) also an MP, who died childless.[6]

The former countess continued to be a famous beauty. Her portrait was painted by Sir Peter Lely and is held by the National Portrait Gallery in London. The folk dance, "Anna Maria", is thought to have been named after her.



  1. ^
  2. ^ Diary of Samuel Pepys 19 August 1662
  3. ^ " Lord Shrewsbury is run through the body, from the right breast through the shoulder: and Sir John Talbot all along up one of his armes; and Jenkins killed upon the place, and the rest all, in a little measure, wounded...", Friday 17 January
  4. ^ a b Fraser, Antonia (1979). King Charles II. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p.280
  5. ^ He was a notable gallant of the Restoration court, but was deeply in debt. According to the History of Parliament online, "he had secured his fortune at the expense of what remained of his reputation by marriage to the notorious Countess of Shrewsbury, the former lover of the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, a domestic rearrangement which entailed his bringing an action in the court of arches for jactitation of marriage against his own previous mistress, .... with whom he had evidently cohabited for some years. The Countess paid £4,500 to buy him a place as groom of the bedchamber."
  6. ^ His estate was bequeathed to a distant cousin Henry Brydges, 2nd Duke of Chandos and to another cousin George Brydges Rodney (1718-1792), later a famous admiral but already making his name known in the 1740s

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