Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire

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Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (7 June 1757 – 30 March 1806), formerly Lady Georgiana Spencer, was the first wife of the 5th Duke of Devonshire and mother of the 6th Duke of Devonshire. Her father, the 1st Earl Spencer, was a great-grandson of the 1st Duke of Marlborough. Her niece was Lady Caroline Lamb. Among the descendants of her family are the present Duke of Devonshire (via her granddaughter); Diana, Princess of Wales, and Sarah, Duchess of York (via her illegitimate daughter Eliza Courtney).

Contents

Life

The Duchess of Devonshire was a celebrated beauty and a socialite who gathered around her a large circle of literary and political figures—a salon. She was also an active political campaigner in an age when women's suffrage was still over a century away. Both the Spencers and the Cavendishes were Whigs. The Duchess of Devonshire campaigned for the Whigs—particularly for a distant cousin, Charles James Fox—at a time when the King (George III) and his Ministers had more direct influence over the House of Commons, principally through their power of patronage. During the 1784 general election, the Duchess was rumored to have traded kisses for votes in favour of Fox and was satirised by Thomas Rowlandson in his print "THE DEVONSHIRE, or Most Approved Method of Securing Votes".

Famously, when she was stepping out of her carriage one day, an Irish dustman exclaimed: "Love and bless you, my lady, let me light my pipe in your eyes!”, a compliment which she often recalled whenever others complimented her by retorting, "After the dustman's compliment, all others are insipid."[1][2]

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