Elizabeth Herbert, Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery

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Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery
Elizabeth Countess of Pembroke and Her Son 1764 67.jpg
The Countess of Pembroke and her son
BornJanuary/March 1737
Died30 April 1831
TitleLady Elizabeth Spencer
Elizabeth Herbert, Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery
Spouse(s)Henry Herbert, 10th Earl of Pembroke
ChildrenGeorge Augustus Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke, 8th Earl of Montgomery
Charlotte Herbert
Parent(s)Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough
Elizabeth Trevor

Elizabeth Herbert, Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery (January/March 1737 – 30 April 1831) was the daughter of Charles Spencer and Elizabeth Trevor.

Biography[edit]

Henry Herbert earl of Pembroke, portrait by Joshua Reynolds

Born Elizabeth Spencer to Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough and Elizabeth Trevor.

Her siblings were George, Charles, and Diana.

At nineteen she married Henry Herbert, 10th Earl of Pembroke.

She was admired by George III in the early 1760s, becoming a Lady of the Bedchamber to his wife, Queen Charlotte. The King and Queen stayed for two nights with Henry and Elizabeth at Wilton House in 1778.

"Husbands are dreadfull and powerful Animals" wrote the long-suffering Elizabeth after taking her husband back in 1762, though she did manage to prevent his illegitimate son from that affair from keeping the surname Herbert. She and Henry ended up living in separate quarters at Wilton (he downstairs, she upstairs), with her eventually leaving for Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park in 1788, which the king had put at her disposal. However, the King – who had been attracted to Elizabeth all his life – suffered his first bout of insanity that same year, and she had to endure the embarrassment of his sporadic and unwanted attentions until his recovery later that year.

Issue[edit]

Despite Henry's frequent affairs, they had the following issue:

Name Birth Death Notes
George Augustus Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke, 8th Earl of Montgomery 10 September 1759 26 October 1827 married firstly in 1787, Elizabeth Beauclerk and had issue; married secondly in 1808, Countess Catherine Vorontsova and had issue
Charlotte Herbert 14 July 1773 21 April 1784 died from consumption at age 10.

In fiction[edit]

  • She features in the movie The Madness of King George (1994) played by Amanda Donohoe.
    • It is set in 1788, and so she was actually much older than portrayed.
    • Its mention of a mother-in-law who "lost her wits" is an invention, since her mother-in-law Mary Fitzwilliam died in 1769.
    • the King introduces her: "Now, that's Lady Pembroke. Handsome woman, what? Daughter of the Duke of Marlborough. Stuff of generals. Blood of Blenheim. Husband an utter rascal. Eloped in a packet-boat.",
    • the movie shows the mad King harassing her, but she (and the Queen) remaining loyal to him.

Sources[edit]

  • Humphrys family tree
  • Henry, Elizabeth and George: Letters and Diaries of Henry, 10th Earl of Pembroke and his Circle (1734–80), 16th Earl, 1939, repub as: The Pembroke Papers vol. I (1734–80), 1942–50.
  • The Pembroke Papers vol. II (1780–94), 16th Earl, 1950, [EUL] 9(42073) Pem.
Court offices
Preceded by
The Countess of Hertford
Lady of the Bedchamber
1782–1818
Succeeded by
Death of Queen Charlotte