Lady Sarah Lennox

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Lady Sarah Lennox
Lady Sarah Bunbury Sacrificing to the Graces by Joshua Reynolds..jpg
Lady Sarah Bunbury Sacrificing to the Graces by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1765
Born14 February 1745
DiedAugust 1826 (aged 81)
Spouse(s)Sir Charles Bunbury, 6th Baronet
The Hon. George Napier
ChildrenLouisa Bunbury
Sir Charles James Napier
Emily Bunbury, Lady Bunbury
Sir George Thomas Napier
Sir William Francis Patrick Napier
Richard Napier
Henry Edward Napier
Caroline Napier
Cecilia Napier
Parent(s)Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond
Sarah Cadogan

Lady Sarah Lennox (14 February 1745 – August 1826) was the most notorious of the famous Lennox sisters, daughters of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond.

Early life[edit]

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 aged thirteen. 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.[1]

When she was presented at court again at the age of fifteen, George III was taken with her. Lady Sarah's family encouraged a relationship between her and George III.[2] 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. Lady Sarah was asked by King George III to be one of the ten bridesmaids at his wedding to Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Family and marriages[edit]

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. He succeeded his father as sixth Baronet in 1764.

Lady Sarah had an affair with 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 abandoned her. Sir Charles refused to take her 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. Lady Bunbury resisted the motion, and it was not until 14 May 1776 that the decree of divorce was issued.

Lady Sarah married an army officer, The Hon. George Napier, on 27 August 1781 and had eight children:

  • General Sir Charles James Napier GCB (10 August 1782 – 29 August 1853) he married Elizabeth Oakeley in April 1827. He remarried Frances Philipp in 1835.
  • Emily Louisa Augusta Napier (11 July 1783 – 18 March 1863) she married Lt.-Gen. Sir Henry Bunbury, 7th Baronet on 22 September 1830
  • Lieutenant-General Sir George Thomas Napier (30 June 1784 – 8 September 1855) he married Margaret Craig on 22 October 1812. They had five children. He married Frances Blencowe in 1839.
  • Lieutenant-General Sir William Francis Patrick Napier KCB (17 December 1785 – 12 February 1860) he married Caroline Fox (granddaughter of his aunt Lady Carolina Fox) on 14 March 1812. They had five children.
  • Richard Napier (1787-13 January 1868) he married Anna Louisa Stewart, daughter of Sir J. Stewart, Bt., in 1817.
  • Captain Henry Edward Napier RN (5 March 1789;–13 October 1853) he married Caroline Bennett. They had three children.
  • Caroline Napier (1790–1810) died at the age of twenty
  • Cecilia Napier (1791–1808) died at the age of seventeen

In popular culture[edit]

In 1999, a 6-part miniseries based on the lives of Sarah Lennox and her sisters aired in the UK. It was called Aristocrats, and Sarah was played by actress Jodhi May. [1]


  1. ^ "Lady Sarah Bunbury Sacrificing to the Graces". Art Institute of Chicago.
  2. ^ Napier, Priscilla (1971). The Sword Dance: Lady Sarah Lennox and the Napiers. New York: McGraw-Hill.