Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hyde, Anne
HYDE, ANNE, Duchess of York (1637–1671), eldest daughter of Edward Hyde afterwards earl of Clarendon [q. v.] and of his second wife, Frances, was born 12 March 1637 at Cranbourne Lodge in Windsor Park which was occupied by her grandfather, Sir Thomas Aylesbury [q. v.], then master of requests. In May 1649 she accompanied her mother, sister, and brothers to Antwerp. In the Autumn of 1653 the Princess of Orange (Princess Royal of England) assigned to Lady Hyde and her children a residence at Breda, and in the following year Anne was appointed one of the maids of honour to the princess, apparently against the wish of her father and the Queen Henrietta Maria (cf. Life of Clarendon, i. 302-7, and Continuation of Life, 373 n; Mrs. Everett Green, Lives of the Princesses of England, 1855, ii. 235). At the princess's country residence of Teyling, or at the Hague, Anne was conspicuous in the court gaieties, and was the especial favourite of the light-hearted Queen of Bohemia (cf. Evelyn, Correspondence, 211, 225). She wrote a 'portrait' of the prince, which inspired Waller's graceful verses,' her mistress. Waller mentioned her as the `nymph' who so admirably ' described the worth' of the princess (Poems, ed. Bell, pp. 175-6; cf. Horace Walpole, Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, in Works, 1798, i. 467-8). As early as 1655 Charles playfully mentions Sir Spencer Compton's passion for Anne (Evelyn, Correspondence, iv. 211n.) In January 1656 Anne accompanied the Princess of Orange on a visit to the princess's mother at Paris, and there she first met the Duke of York, then twenty-two years of age. Whatever relations may have then been established between them (Life of James II, i.307-8), Anne does not appear to have seen the duke again for some time afterwards (Evelyn, Correspondence, iv. 323n.; Memoirs of Grammont, p. 118). But when York renewed his acquaintance with Anne at Breda he contracted an engagement of marriage with her, 24 Nov. 1659 (Kennett, Register and Chronicle, p. 246, and Life of James II, i. 387).
The return of the duke to England with the king in May 1660 materially altered the position and prospects of Anne, who now appears to have quitted the service of the Princess of Orange and to have gone back to her own family. Despite the king's original reluctance, and the violent zeal of many of his own friends and servants against the match, James was privately married to Anne at Worcester House, Sir Edward Hyde's residence, in the Strand, 3 Sept. 1660, between 11 at night and 2 A.M. by the duke's chaplain, Dr. Joseph Crowther, Lord Ossory giving away the bride (Kennett, Register, u.s.) By 21 Dec. the marriage had been publicly owned (Pepys), and on the following day Evelyn kissed the duchess's hand at Worcester House.
According to Anne's father (Continuation of Life of Clarendon, i. 371-404), the duke had previously informed his brother of his engagement, and entreated his sanction for a public marriage, in default of which he (the duke) was resolved to quit the country for ever. The king thereupon applied for advice to Clarendon, who thus heard of the matter for the first time. Clarendon, struck to the heart,' in his first agony proposed to send his daughter to the Tower, whereupon an act of parliament which he would willingly himself propose should be immediately passed for cutting off her head; and this advice he repeated to the king. Charles II was at the time still unmarried, and Anne's father might, if the marriage stood, besides incurring an immediate storm of indignation, find himself the father of a reigning queen (cf. Mlle, de Longueville's case in Hist. of Rebellion, vi. 591-2). He afterwards regarded her elevation as the true cause of his downfall. Soon, however, he found the marriage to be an unquestionable fact, for which the king saw no help, and by which parliament and the public were not vehemently affected. The passionate opposition of the queen-mother, then on the point of paying a visit to England, counted for little against the persistent friendliness of the king. A new danger, however, arose for Anne when the duke himself began to falter in his purpose. By way of keeping him in this temper Sir Charles Berkeley (afterwards Lord Falmouth), the same courtier whom Clarendon charges with having originally sought to injure him by promoting this match, induced the younger Henry Jermyn, Lord Arran, and others, 'all men of honour' (Grammont, pp.162 sqq.), to furnish the duke with personal evidence of his wife's misconduct with them before her marriage, The duchess was on 22 Oct. 1660 delivered of a son. But it was still some little time before, Berkeley having confessed his fraud, a complete reaction took place in the duke's mind. Though neither the Princess of Orange, then on her ill-fated visit to England, nor the Duke of Gloucester could welcome her to court, yet her worst enemy, the queen-mother, was converted by an opportune letter from Cardinal Mazarin. While she now very graciously received both the chancellor and his daughter, the latter accepted the submission of Berkeley and promised to forget his offence Finally the king assured Clarendon that in sum he was contented with the match; 'his daughter was a woman of great wit and excellent parts;' she would take good advice from her father, and exert her beneficial influence over her husband. This prediction was very incompletely fulfilled.
The Duke and Duchess of York had a family of eight children, but only two of these, Mary and Anne, lived more than a year or two beyond infancy. The eldest of their four sons (whose identities have been much confused; they are distinguished accurately in Lister, Life of Clarendon, ii. 485, from Sandford, Geneal. Hist.; cf. Doyle, Official Baronage, i. 298, ii. 268; and W. A. Lindsy, Pedigree of the House of Stuart, 1889), Charles, duke of Cambridge, died 5 May 1661 (cf. Hartlib to Worthington in Worthington, Diary and Correspondence, i. 310); the same title was bestowed upon two younger brothers, James and Edgar, born 1663 and 14 Sept, 1667 (cf. Pepys); the third, Charles, born 4 July 1666, was created Duke of Kendal, but died 22 May 1667, only a month before the death of his elder brother James (20 June 1667; cf. Pepys, 14 May 1667; Marvell’s savage epigram `Upon his [Clarendon's] Grandchildren,' Works, i.392). Two younger daughters likewise died in infancy. The duchess clearly exercised in many ways a salutary influence over her husband; and it was even asserted that, while reserving a handsome margin for her own expenditure on jewels and the like, she kept a tight hand over the duke's general budget (Pepys, 27 Jan. 1668). Her court was thought more select while less numerous than that of Queen Catherine (Grammont, p.110; see Jesse, iii. 475-6). She patronised Sir Peter Lely, who painted many portraits of her, and whom she is said to have commissioned to paint an entire series of the handsomest persons at court (Grammont, p.191). Nor was she without literary talents; in addition to the sketch of the Princess of Orange she began a narrative, founded on her husband's journals, of part of his career (see Burnett, vi. 307; and cf. Horace Walpole,u.s., pp. 417-418). Her quickness of intelligence and readiness to make friends even of enemies account for the impression which prevailed that 'the Duke of York, in all things but in his amours, was led by the nose by his wife' (Pepys, 30 Oct. 1668). According to Clarendon (Continuation of Life, iii. 65-8) attempts were made about 1666, by bringing this impression home to the king, and at the same time by urging the duke and duchess to insist on an increase of their allowance, to help in sowing ill-will between the royal brothers, and the duchess was, notwithstanding her father's advice, found ready to listen to such insidious counsels. Unfortunately, however, the duke's constant succession of amours could not fail of itself to produce trouble, and the duchess had grounds enough for a jealousy which, according to Pepys (15 May 1662), was very burdensome to her consort. Soon she was said to have complained to the king and to her father about the duke's attachment to Lady Chesterfield, who in consequence had to withdraw into the country (ib. 3 Nov. 1662), where she died. Other intrigues followed with the duchess's maids of honour (Grammont, ch. ix.) and other ladies; and in one case the malevolence of the enemies of the duchess did not shrink from asserting that she had taken deadly vengeance upon her rival; a lampoon attributing the death of Lady Denham (6 Jan. 1667) to poison administered by order of the duchess was actually affixed to the door of her palace (see Marvell, Last Instructions to a Painter, l. 44, and Clarendon's House Warming, st. vii.; Works, i. 342, 385; and art. Denham, Sir John, 1615-1669).
In consequence, it was suggested (Grammont, p.274), of the duke's amour with the ugly Arabella Churchill [q. v.], the duchess was said to have resorted to a more ordinary method of revenge by countenancing the advances of Henry Sidney, the youngest son of the Earl of Leicester. He had been attached about 1665 as groom of the bed-chamber to her husband's household, and was subsequently appointed master of the horse to the duchess herself. It must be left an open question whether there actually existed between them relations of a nature'to justify the ebullition of anger in the duke, and whether this was the cause of Sidney's temporary banishment from the court (Pepys, 9 Jan. and 15 Oct. 1666; cf. Memoirs of Sir John Reresby, ed. 1873, p. 65).
Shortly after Clarendon's fall from power Pepys (3 Sept. 1667) found her and her husband alone, `methought melancholy, or else I thought so.' Under the new régime it was rumoured that a kind of cartel had been arranged between the pair and Lady Castlemaine to operate against Buckingham and Arlington (Pepys, 16 Jan.1669; cf.6 April 1668). About the same time it was noticed that she had ceased to communicate as a member of the church of England, while in conversation she displayed a marked inclination to the doctrines and usages of Rome (Burnet, i. 566). In August 1670, with a view, it has been suggested, to recover her influence over her husband, himself already to all intents and purposes a convert, she was actually received into the Roman catholic church. Her conversion was not made public till her death, though in December 1670 her 'intention' had been made known by the duke to the king. No other person except Father Hunt, a Franciscan, who reconciled her, and a lady and a servant in attendance, was privy to the transaction (Life of James II, i. 452-3); but it became known to her father (see his ' Two Letters to the Duke and Duchess of York, occasioned by her entering the Roman Catholic Religion,' in State Tracts under Charles II (1689), pp. 439-42). A paper dated 20 Aug. was left behind her after her death explaining with clearness and dignity the motives of her conversion (it will be found in Kennett, History of England, iii. 292-3). It was published by James II in 1686, together with papers of the same kind by Charles II, and produced in the same year an ' Answer ' followed by a `Reply.' Some years afterwards Father Maimbourg, in his 'Histoire du Calvinisme,' while printing the duchess's paper, attributed her change of faith to the negligence of the two prelates upon whose guidance she depended. The names of the bishops implicated are variously given as Morley, bishop of Winchester (KennettandBurnet,i.307), Archbishop Sheldon, and Blandford, bishop of Worcester. Morley vindicated himself in an 'Answer to a Letter written by a Romish Priest,' together with which he published a ' Letter to Anne, Duchess of York, a few months before her death' (Evelyn, Correspondence, iii. 401-2 and note; cf. Burnet, i. 567-8; and Rochester, ' Meditations,' &c., 1675, in Correspondence of Lords Clarendon and Rochester, 1828, ii. 647, Appendix iv.)
On 31 March 1671 the Duchess of York died, after receiving the viaticum of the church of Rome. Her husband and Queen Catherine were present during her last hours. By her desire Blandford, bishop of Worcester, on his arrival with Laurence Hyde, at that time still in doubt as to his sister's conversion, was informed of the fact by the duke. Before taking his departure the bishop contented himself with a short exhortation, on the conclusion of which the dying woman asked, `What is truth?' and in her agony reiterated the word ' truth ' before she breathed her last (Burnet, i. 568). After her death a letter arrived from her father, expostulating with her on her conversion (see for this Lister, Life of Clarendon, ii. 481-4). She had for some time suffered from the disease (cancer in the breast) of which she died. She was privately interred in the vault of Mary Queen of Scots in Henry VII's chapel at Westminster (Jesse, iii. 482; Marvell, Works, i. 256).
Anne Hyde was doubtless not very different in manners and morals from her surroundings, but the charges both horrible and loathsome brought against her in Marvell's satires may safely be rejected (Last Instructions to a Painter, 1667, ll. 49-68; also Advice to a Painter, ll. 44-54, and An Historical Poem, l. 20, Works, i. 255-6, 314-15, 343; ib. ii. Introd. xvii sqq.) Manifestly she was not popular; the Duke of Gloucester amiably said that his sister-in-law smelt of her father's green-bag, and in a parvenue the pride habitually imputed to her was naturally resented (cf. Pepys, 11 April 1662 and 23 June 1667; Burnet, i. 568). She was also reputed to be extravagant in expenditure and 'state,' and too fond of eating (Grammont, p.274). But though in some ways unattractive, and not beautiful, she was a woman of exceptional talents and accomplishments, and gifted with discretion and tact, together with a certain innate grandeur of both manner and spirit (Burnet, i. 307).
The most favourable of the numerous portraits of the duchess painted by Sir Peter Lely is thought to be that at Wentworth, which is probably the picture inspected by Pepys 18 June 1662 (cf. ib. 24 March 1666 as to a later portrait). Others are at the Grove, Watford, in the National Portrait Gallery, and elsewhere (see Lewis, Lives of the Friends of Clarendon, iii. 372-4). An original portrait was said to decorate a panel in the manor-house at Wandsworth (Times, 24 April 1889).[Clarendon's Life, with Continuation, and History of the Rebellion, Oxford, 1826-7; Life of James II, 2 vols. 4to, London, 1816; Burnet's History of his own Time, vol. i., Oxford, 1833; Evelyn's Diary and Correspondence; Pepys's Diary; Memoirs of Count Grammont, Bohn's edit., 1846; Works of Andrew Marvell, ed. A. B. Grosart (Fuller Worthies Library).]