Cecilia Underwood, 1st Duchess of Inverness

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Cecilia Underwood
1st Duchess of Inverness
Cecilia Underwood duchess of Inverness.JPG
Born Lady Cecilia Letitia Gore
c. 1785
Died 1 August 1873 (aged 87–88)
Kensington Palace, London
Burial Kensal Green Cemetery
Spouse Sir George Buggin
(m. 1815; d. 1825)
Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex
(m. 1831; d. 1843)
Full name
Cecilia Letitia
Father Arthur Gore, 2nd Earl of Arran
Mother Elizabeth Underwood

Cecilia Underwood, 1st Duchess of Inverness (née Lady Cecilia Letitia Gore; c. 1785 – 1 August 1873) was the second wife of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, sixth son of George III. As their marriage was in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772, it was considered legally void, and she could not be styled either as the Duchess of Sussex or a Princess. She was created Duchess of Inverness, in her own right, by Queen Victoria, on 10 April 1840.

Early life[edit]

Cecilia's exact date of birth is not known, although it is around 1785. Her father was Arthur Gore, 2nd Earl of Arran; her mother, Elizabeth née Underwood.[1] She was styled Lady Cecilia Gore at birth, the courtesy title of a daughter of an earl.


Lady Cecilia's first marriage was to Sir George Buggin, in May 1815. The marriage produced no children and Sir George died on 12 April 1825.[1]

She later married Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex,[1] the sixth son of George III, at Great Cumberland Place, London, on 2 May 1831. The Duke of Sussex had already married Lady Augusta Murray in 1793, but that marriage was annulled in 1794 as it contravened the Royal Marriages Act 1772, which required that all members of the British Royal Family seek permission of the sovereign before marriage. However the Duke of Sussex's second marriage also contravened the Act, making it legally void.

Duchess of Inverness[edit]

As the marriage was not considered lawful, Lady Cecilia could not take the style and title Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.[2] Instead she assumed the name "Underwood", her mother's maiden name, by Royal Licence and was known as Lady Cecilia Underwood.[3] The couple resided at the Duke's apartments in Kensington Palace.

However, Lady Cecilia was not accepted as a full member of the British Royal Family. Royal protocol restricted Lady Cecilia from being present at any functions attended by other members of the Royal Family, as she was unable to take a seat beside her husband due to her lower rank. To compensate for this, in 1840 Queen Victoria created her Duchess of Inverness,[3] in her own right, with remainder to the heirs male of her body lawfully begotten.[4] This recognised her husband's subsidiary title of Earl of Inverness.[3]

The Duke of Sussex died in April 1843 at Kensington Palace and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. The Duchess of Inverness continued to reside at Kensington Palace until her death in August 1873. She was buried next to her second husband.

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]


  • c. 1785–May 1815: Lady Cecilia Gore
  • May 1815–c. 1831: Cecilia, Lady Buggin
  • c. 1831–10 April 1840: Lady Cecilia Underwood
  • 10 April 1840 – 1 August 1873: Her Grace The Duchess of Inverness


Arms of Cecilia Underwood, 1st Duchess of Inverness
Coronet of a Duke
Quarterly: 1st & 4th, Azure, on a Fess Ermne, between three Annulets Or, a Lion passant Azure (Underwood); 2nd & 3rd, Gules, a Fess between three Crosses-Crosslet fitchée Or (Gore).


  1. ^ a b c "DEATH OF THE DUCHESS OF INVERNESS. - View Article - NYTimes.com". New York Times. 3 August 1873. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  2. ^ "Papers Past — Wellington Independent — 20 December 1870 — THE PRINCESS LOUISA AND SEE FUTURE SPOUSE". Paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  3. ^ a b c "Papers Past — Otago Witness — 11 April 1906 — THE ROMANCE OF A NECKLACE". Paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. 1906-04-11. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 19842. p. 858. 31 March 1840.
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Duchess of Inverness