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Anne Hyde

Duchess of York and Albany
c. 1665 portrait by Sir Peter Lely. "Anne's teasing playing of her hair is deliberately suggestive of a royal consort's prime role – breeding – but also a reminder of her great wit."[1]
Born (1637-03-12)12 March 1637
Windsor, England
Died 31 March 1671(1671-03-31) (aged 34)
London, England
Burial Westminster Abbey, London, England
Spouse James, Duke of York and of Albany
Charles, Duke of Cambridge
Mary II
James, Duke of Cambridge
Charles, Duke of Kendal
Edgar, Duke of Cambridge
House House of Stuart
Father Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon
Mother Frances Aylesbury
Religion Anglicanism (later Roman Catholicism)

Anne Hyde (12 March 1637 – 31 March 1671)[1] was Duchess of York and of Albany as the first wife of the future King James II of England. Originally Anglican, her father was a lawyer. Anne married James in 1660 after she became pregnant by him, but James is said to have promised to marry her in 1659. The two first met in the Netherlands while Anne was living in the household of James' sister Mary. James and Anne had eight children, but six died in early childhood.[2] The two who survived to adulthood were Lady Mary, who succeeded her father after his deposition during the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and Lady Anne, who succeeded her brother-in-law and became the first monarch of Great Britain.

Born the daughter of a commoner – Edward Hyde (later created Earl of Clarendon), Anne is best known for her marriage to James, which caused much gossip. Two months after the marriage, Anne gave birth to the couple's first child, who had obviously been conceived out of wedlock. Until near the end of Anne's life, some observers disapproved of James' decision to marry Anne; but not King Charles II, James' brother, who wanted the marriage to take place. Another cause of disapproval was the public affection James showed towards Anne, such as kissing and leaning against each other, which was considered improper behaviour during the 1600s.

James was a known philanderer who kept many mistresses, for which Anne often reproached him, once even complaining to the king, who sent one of James' mistresses to the countryside where she remained until her death. Nonetheless, James fathered many illegitimate children. Anne was the reason her husband converted to Catholicism, having both been exposed to Catholicism during visits to the Netherlands and France. Anne was so strongly attracted to this religion that she converted quickly after her marriage. Years later, James followed suit, which was a contributing factor to the Glorious Revolution. Anne suffered from advanced breast cancer and died shortly after giving birth to her last child.


  • Early years (1637–60) 1
  • Duchess of York (1660–71) 2
    • Marriage 2.1
    • Domestic life 2.2
    • Death and legacy 2.3
  • Issue 3
  • Style and arms 4
  • Ancestry 5
  • Media portrayals 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Bibliography 9
  • External links 10

Early years (1637–60)

In 1629, Edward Hyde married his first wife, Anne Ayliffe of Grittenham. Six months into the marriage Anne caught smallpox, miscarried and died.[3] Three years later, Hyde married Frances Aylesbury. In 1637, Anne, the couple's eldest daughter, was born at Cranbourne Lodge in Windsor.[4] Almost nothing except that she was named after Edward Hyde's first wife is known of her life before 1649, when her family fled to the Netherlands after the execution of the deposed King Charles I.[5] They settled in Breda, where they were offered a home by Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, who had done the same with many English fugitives.[6] The Princess appointed Anne a maid of honour, apparently against the wishes of her mother and late father.[7]

Anne became a general favourite with the people she met either at The Hague or at the Princess of Orange's country house at Teylingen. She was very attractive and stylish,[8] and attracted many men. One of the first men to fall in love with Anne was Spencer Compton, a son of the Earl of Northampton.[9] However, Anne quickly fell in love with Henry Jermyn, who returned her feelings. Anne dismissed Jermyn as quickly as she fell in love with him, when she met James, Duke of York, the son of the deposed king.[10] On 24 November 1659, two[11] or three[12] years after she first met him, James promised he would marry Anne.[13] Charles, James' brother, forced the reluctant James to marry Anne, saying that her strong character would be a positive influence on his weak-willed brother.[14]

Duchess of York (1660–71)


A portrait of Anne, James and their two daughters, Lady Mary and Lady Anne (this portrait is based on an earlier portrait of Anne and James).

Anne was visibly pregnant and the couple were obliged to marry.[15] They held an official but private marriage ceremony in London on 3 September 1660, following the restoration of the monarchy. The wedding took place between 11 at night and 2 in the morning at Worcester House – her father's house in the Strand – and was solemnised by Dr. Joseph Crowther, James' chaplain . The French Ambassador described Anne as having "courage, cleverness, and energy almost worthy of a King's blood".[16] The couple's first child, Charles, was born in October of that year, but died seven months later. Seven children followed: Mary (1662–1694), James (1663–1667), Anne (1665–1714), Charles (1666–1667), Edgar (1667–1671), Henrietta (1669–1669), and Catherine (1671–1671). All of their sons and two of their daughters died in infancy.[2]

Even well after their marriage, some observers disapproved of the prince's decision, regardless of what he had promised beforehand.[17] Samuel Pepys said of the marriage: "... that the Duke of York's marriage with her hath undone the kingdom, by making the Chancellor so great above reach, who otherwise would have been but an ordinary man, to have been dealt with by other people ..."[18] After Anne's death, the royal court tried to find a new wife for James, but this new wife was not, under any circumstances, to be of humble birth.[19] As good a father as Pepys portrayed James to be, he strangely stated that Anne and James were unaffected by the death of their firstborn son.[20] Pepys also described Anne as "not only the proudest woman in the world, but the most expensefull."[18] Even in the minds of Anne's future son-in-law, William III of Orange and that of her cousin-by-marriage, Sophia of Hanover, the stigma of the Hydes' lowly birth remained.[21]

Domestic life

Anne, painted by Lely about 1670.

Anne experienced problems in her married life.[22] She was not very much liked at court[23] and James philandered with younger mistresses such as Arabella Churchill, with whom he fathered many illegitimate children, including two born during Anne's lifetime; thus he was called "the most unguarded ogler of his time."[24] Anne was not oblivious to this: Pepys wrote that she was jealous and chided James, but he also wrote that Anne and James were notorious for showing their affections publicly, kissing and leaning on each other. Pepys also wrote that when James fell in love with Lady Chesterfield, Anne complained to King Charles so insistently that Lady Chesterfield had to retreat to the countryside, where she remained until she died.[25] [26]

Anne became drawn to Catholicism, to which both she and James had been exposed during their time abroad[27][28] and converted to it almost immediately after the Restoration. John Callow states that Anne "made the greatest single impact upon his thinking."[29] James also converted to Catholicism eight or nine years after Anne, but he still attended Anglican services until 1676.[30][31] James preferred to associate himself with Protestant people, such as John Churchill,[32] whose wife later became a very close friend of Anne's youngest surviving daughter Lady Anne.[33][34] King Charles at the time opposed Catholicism and insisted that James' children be raised in the Anglican faith,[35]although he converted to Catholicism on his deathbed.[36] James and Anne's surviving daughters were raised as Anglicans.[37]

Death and legacy

Anne was ill for 15 months after the birth of her youngest son, Edgar.[38] She bore Henrietta in 1669 and Catherine in 1671.[39] Anne never recovered from Catherine's birth.[40] Ill with breast cancer,[41] she died on 31 March 1671.[4][2] On her deathbed, her two brothers Henry and Laurence tried to bring an Anglican priest to give her communion, but Anne refused[40] and she received viaticum of the Catholic Church.[41] Two days after her death, her embalmed body was interred in the vault of Mary, Queen of Scots at Westminster Abbey's Henry VII Chapel.[42] In June 1671, Anne's only surviving son Edgar died of natural causes, followed by Catherine in December, leaving Ladies Mary and Anne as the Duke of York's heiresses.[43]

After Anne Hyde's death, a portrait of her painted by Willem Wissing was commissioned by the future Mary II; this used to hang above the door of the Queen's Drawing Room of the Garden House at Windsor Castle.[44] Two years after the death of his first wife, James married a Catholic princess, Mary of Modena, who bore James Francis Edward, James' only son to survive to adulthood. James became king of England, Ireland, and Scotland in 1685, but was deposed during the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The throne was then offered by Parliament to Anne's eldest daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange.[45] After Mary died in 1694 and William in 1702, Anne Hyde's youngest daughter Anne became Queen of the three Kingdoms and, in 1707, the first sovereign of the united Kingdom of Great Britain.[46]


Name Birth Death Notes
Charles, Duke of Cambridge 22 October 1660 5 May 1661 Born two months after his parents' legal marriage, died aged seven months of smallpox.[47]
Mary II, Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland 30 April 1662 28 December 1694 Married her cousin William III, Prince of Orange in 1677. She and her husband ascended to the throne in 1689 after the deposition of her father. No surviving issue.[48]
James, Duke of Cambridge 12 July 1663 20 June 1667 Died of the bubonic plague.[49]
Anne, Queen of Great Britain 6 February 1665 1 August 1714 Married [50]
Charles, Duke of Kendal 4 July 1666 22 May 1667 Died of convulsions.[51]
Edgar, Duke of Cambridge 14 September 1667 8 June 1671 Died in childhood.[39]
Henrietta 13 January 1669 15 November 1669 Died in infancy.[39]
Catherine 9 February 1671 5 December 1671 Died in infancy.[39]

Style and arms

Anne Hyde's coat of arms.[52]

Following her marriage, Anne was styled as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York.[53][54]


Media portrayals


  1. ^ All the dates in this article are Old Style.
  2. ^ England used the Julian calendar (OS) during Anne's lifetime.


  1. ^ Portrait of the Duchess of York. Philip Mould Ltd.
  2. ^ a b Weir 2008, pp. 259–60.
  3. ^ Lister 1838, p. 9.
  4. ^ a b Weir 2008, p. 259.
  5. ^ Henslowe 1915, p. 18.
  6. ^ Henslowe 1915, p. 19.
  7. ^ Everett Green 1857, p. 235.
  8. ^ Melville 2005, p. 3.
  9. ^ Henslowe 1915, p. 34.
  10. ^ Melville 2005, pp. 3–4.
  11. ^ Melville 2005, p. 4.
  12. ^ Gregg 1984, p. 2.
  13. ^ Miller 2000, p. 44.
  14. ^ Softly 1979, p. 91.
  15. ^ Henslowe 1915, pp. 130–1.
  16. ^ Fraser 2002, p. 202.
  17. ^ Miller 2000, pp. 44–45.
  18. ^ a b The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 24 June 1667.
  19. ^ Strickland 1882, pp. 242–3.
  20. ^ The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 6 May 1661.
  21. ^ Gregg 1984, pp. 3–4.
  22. ^ Melville 2005, p. 17.
  23. ^ Melville 2005, p. 19.
  24. ^ Miller 2000, p. 46.
  25. ^ Melville 2005, pp. 21–2.
  26. ^ Melville 2005, pp. 25–7.
  27. ^ Miller 2000, pp. 58–9.
  28. ^ Callow 2000, pp. 144–5.
  29. ^ Callow 2000, p. 144.
  30. ^ Callow 2000, pp. 143–4.
  31. ^ Waller 2002, p. 135.
  32. ^ Callow 2000, p. 149.
  33. ^ Curtis 1972, p. 27.
  34. ^ Green 1970, p. 21.
  35. ^ Waller 2002, p. 92.
  36. ^ Hutton 1989, pp. 443; 456.
  37. ^ Van der Kiste 2003, p. 32.
  38. ^ Henslowe 1915, p. 289.
  39. ^ a b c d Weir 2008, p. 260.
  40. ^ a b Gregg 1984, p. 10.
  41. ^ a b Melville 2005, p. 32.
  42. ^ Henslowe 1915, p. 300.
  43. ^ Waller 2002, pp. 49–50.
  44. ^ James, Duke of Cambridge (1663-7) by Willem Wissing at the Royal Collection.
  45. ^ Devine 2006, p. 3.
  46. ^ Gregg 1984, p. 240.
  47. ^ Panton 2011, p. 455.
  48. ^ Weir 2008, p. 266.
  49. ^ The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 30 April 1667.
  50. ^ Weir 2008, pp. 267–8.
  51. ^ The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 14 May 1667.
  52. ^ Maclagan & Louda 1999, p. 27.
  53. ^ The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 19 August 1665.
  54. ^ The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 18 June 1662.
  55. ^ a b c d e f g
  56. ^ a b c Fuidge, N. M. (1981). "Hyde, Lawrence I (d.1590), of West Hatch and Tisbury, Wilts. and Gussage St. Michael, Dorset", The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558–1603, ed. P. W. Hasler
  57. ^ a b
  58. ^ a b c Alsbury, Colin (2004). "Aylesbury, Sir Thomas, baronet (1579/80–1658)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 20 September 2011. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  59. ^ a b Wilmshurst, Edwin (1908) The History of the Old Hall of the Manor of West Retford, Notts, Online
  60. ^ The Last King: full cast and crew. IMDb.


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