May 1660

The marchioness of Ormonde – probably writing from Dunmore House – to her friend Anne Hume


you are to desier hime to bee as sparinge as possiblie hee Cane in grantinge of Suites offises or imployments to anye perticuler Persons at the first, untell hee bee fullie and Rightlie possest how farr thay have Sarvede, or is Capabell to Sarve the Intrest now Established; or to M E or such of his relations w untell my Comminge over for it is apprehended that hee willbee very Cravinge

To acquant hime that such as recommendations as comes from mee, in the behalfe of Persons done rathar out of Complianse then respect, shallbee subcribed with the the Leavinge out of the Leter E, at the Ende of the word ormonde

To desier hime that in Cayse anye overtures bee made by EC for Machinge his Sone to B that hee doe not Entertane it but put it ofe Sivelie without disoblidginge the Parents of the Gentellman, with whom in all othar kinds I desier hee may presarve a faire Corespondansie and show a respect unto My Lady of R upon the accompt of hir kindnes to Mee,

To Let hime know that it has bine with great unwillingnes the many leters of recomendation that that [sic] has I have sent hime though thay couldnot bee well denyede nor Cane yet as affares dous Stand Soe as you are to make my Excuse for it

you are to acquant hime that I doe Conseve and Soe dous othar his frinds more Judginge then my Selfe that hee shouldbee generalie plausibell to all and admitt of the applicati[ons] of such as has relatione unto this Contrye yet Soe, as to kiepe himeselfe as free from promisses and ingadgments unto Perticular Persons, as may bee, untell hee doe reseve an impartiall accompt of Evrye ons Carrage and Intrest wherby the kinge and himselfe may the beter know how to Plase favours and rewards where thay are most desarvedlie dew which I shall make it my bussenes to procure; by the healpe of some Frin whous that knows beter then I doe, and by my owne perticuler observatione

To tell hime that Sir Paule Davise is honnest, and willbee tractabell to what hee will have hime doe, that I thinke Sir James Bary willbee Soe Likwise; and that great uss may bee made of Corronell Hill Sir John Clatworthye and the rest of that Gange whoe must bee all of them kindlie resevede by hime

To desier hime to resarve some imployment for Corronell Flower and Major Harmon and some othar of the Honnestest of his Frinds heare

To desier him to Lay his Command upon John Sayres to gett mee a good Cooke

To desier hime to write unto his Mothar and to such othar of his relations as hee thinks Fitt, and in perticular unto the olde Doctor as a Most affectionat and fathfull Person to hime and all his

If you Cannot be Sudanlie at London I pray send a way My leter unto My Lady of Ranalagh by the Post

To desier My Lord to order the way of his Eldest Sones Liveinge by himselfe, by reson I am alltogethar unprovided Ethar of house or furniture, fitt for ther resseptione, Nethar will I adventure upon it on anye Termes that thay should Live with mee fearinge thay might not Like of it, which my Experianse in the world has made me made givene mee more resone to feare then Expect the Contrarye though I am a bundantlie Satisfiede of the Ladys worth and discretione soe am I noe Les of his good Nature and obedianse, yet the troubell of haveinge a Nothar Familie in My House is; from Comminge from a retyrede life a troubill I cannot undertake but willbee willinge to healpe and assist them by my advise wherin it shallbee Sought and bee as kind to hir as to hime, shee beinge a Person Not like to desarve othar from mee

To desier my Lord to make a returne of kindnes unto My Lord of Broghall in what applicatione hee shall make to him

To desier hime to Stope the disposall of the Prothonotars offiss in the Court of Common Plees in Ireland and to Preferr mr wallter Plonket to it whoe had the Promise of it formarlie from hime, and has bine very desarvinge his regard by the Frindshipe hee has exprest for his Sake unto mee and all his relations heare

To desier hime to Countenanse and favour Sir Franses Hambellton as a Fathfull sarvant to the kinge and soe has bine his Sone allsoe

To desier hime to lay his commands upon John Sayres the kings Cooke to provide a good one for mee

Letter written by the marchioness of Ormonde – probably from Dunmore House – to her friend Anne Hume

The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford (Bodl., Carte Papers, 214, fols 221–22)

Letter written by the marchioness of Ormonde – probably from Dunmore House – to her friend Anne Hume

The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford (Bodl., Carte Papers, 214, fols 221–22)

Letter written by the marchioness of Ormonde – probably from Dunmore House – to her friend Anne Hume

The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford (Bodl., Carte Papers, 214, fols 221–22)

Letter written by the marchioness of Ormonde – probably from Dunmore House – to her friend Anne Hume

The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford (Bodl., Carte Papers, 214, fols 221–22)

Elizabeth was the 5th child and eldest daughter of Elizabeth, duchess of Ormonde. She married Philip Stanhope, 2nd earl of Chesterfield, as his second wife, sometime before 25 September 1660. According to Samuel Pepys, theirs was a marriage of convenience. They had one daughter Lady Elizabeth Stanhope , the ancestor of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, queen consort of George VI of the United Kingdom.

Portrait of Elizabeth Butler, countess of Chesterfield (1640-1665) by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680).

by kind permission of the Board of Trustees of the Chevening Estate.

According to Samuel Peppy, Philip Stanhope was a ladies’ man, he was one of the lovers of the notorious Barbara Villiers, mistress of king Charles II. Court gossip claimed that his wife, Elizabeth, tired of his neglect, began flirting with the king’s brother, the duke of York.

Portrait of Philip Stanhope, earl of Chesterfield (1634-1714),  by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680).

Private collection © Sotheby’s

This memorandum demonstrates the continued importance of female agents in the marchioness’s social and political activities in the early weeks of the Restoration.


Among a cluster of letters of recommendation the marchioness sent to her husband in May 1660 is a list of ‘remembrances’ intended to be delivered, not in writing but orally, by a messenger trusted by both husband and wife. Fourteen separate instructions represent an eclectic assortment of nine broadly ‘public’ and five ‘private’ concerns. The ‘private’ concerns range from the negotiations for the marriage of her eldest daughter, to reminding her husband to write to his mother; from finding a home for her eldest son and his new wife, to securing a domestic cook. The ‘public’ concerns focus overwhelmingly on the distribution of patronage.

The person tasked with delivering such sensitive content was Anne Hume, née French (d.1701). An heiress and one of the marchioness’s oldest and closest friends, she had married Thomas Hume, a friend of the marchioness’s father. The choice of Anne as messenger to the marquis in the early weeks of the Restoration reinforces the importance of women in the marchioness’s political activities at this time. Only one of the instructions concerned Anne directly: Elizabeth asked her to post a letter to Katherine Ranelagh if she could not deliver it in person. The marquis was also asked again to pay his respects to Lady Ranelagh in person.

The first confidential instruction directs him to be sparing in the granting of suits, offices and employment until he is able to check the petitioners’ credentials in consultation with Elizabeth. There was no question that the marchioness was best equipped to identify those Irish men who should be rewarded for loyalty, given her residence in Ireland during her husband’s prolonged exile. In the memorandum she recommends a range of men to her husband’s service.

The marchioness even directs her husband how to handle the patronage requests that he has received, suggesting that, without committing himself, he should be open to all applications: she explains that she does the same herself. Anne is told to make apologies to the marquis for the number of recommendations Elizabeth has sent him. A warning then follows that any recommendations given under duress will be signalled by Elizabeth signing her name with the ‘e’ omitted from the end of Ormonde. She obviously recognised the continued utility of a cipher. But it also shows how closely she identified with the terminal ‘e’ in Ormonde, which is why we adopt it in this exhibition.