Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.
Charlotte Montagu Douglas Scott Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry
10 April 1811 – 18 March 1895
Charlotte Montagu Douglas Scott
Lady Charlotte Anne Thynne was born at the Thynne family seat of Longleat in Wiltshire on 10 April 1811. She was the youngest daughter and tenth child of Thomas Thynne, 2nd Marquess of Bath and the Hon. Isabella Elizabeth Byng, daughter of George Byng, 4th Viscount Torrington. Her siblings included Henry Thynne (later 3rd Marquess of Bath) and Louisa Lascelles (later Countess of Harewood as the wife of Henry Lascelles, 3rd Earl of Harewood).
On 13 March 1829 Charlotte married Walter Montagu-Douglas-Scott, 5th Duke of Buccleuch at St George’s, Hanover Square, London, becoming Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry. He had succeeded to the dukedom at the age of thirteen upon his father’s death, and was five years older than his wife. According to the contemporary journal The Lady’s Realm, their “romantic” engagement resulted when the young Duke visited her father and met Lady Charlotte. Upon their parting, he saw tears in her eyes which prompted him to turn his coach around and approach her father directly to ask for her hand in marriage. The couple would produce three daughters and four sons. Among their children were William Montagu Douglas Scott, 6th Duke of Buccleuch and Henry Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 1st Baron Montagu of Beaulieu.
In 1841, she succeeded the Duchess of Sutherland as Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria. The new prime minister, Robert Peel, personally selected her to be a member of his newly formed ministry. The post would later also be filled by her daughter-in-law Louisa. Her husband was a staunch Conservative and became Lord Privy Seal in Peel’s ministry from 1842 to 1846; the Duchess used the connection to help her brothers gain patronage.
The Duchess of Buccleuch and Queen Victoria were lifelong friends, and the latter considered the Duchess to be “an agreeable, sensible, clever little person.” In 1842 at Buckingham Palace, during Queen Victoria’s preparations to visit Scotland, the Duchess helped advise her on the country. The Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch helped entertain the Queen and Prince Albert when they arrived at Dalkeith. Historian Alex Tyrrell writes that the Duchess helped “consolidate Conservative influence in the royal household and counteract memories of the Bedchamber Crisis.” The Queen stood as godmother for the Duchess’ eldest daughter Victoria Alexandrine, who was christened at Buckingham Palace in April 1845. The Montagu-Douglas-Scotts were patrons of the artist Robert Thorburn, and commissioned him to paint several portraits of the Duchess, including a double portrait of her and Lady Victoria; this was given to Queen Victoria in 1847.
The Duchess of Buccleuch resigned the post of Mistress of the Robes in 1846, and was succeeded by the Duchess of Sutherland. She was a member of the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert, Third Class.
The Duchess’s high church faith was an influence of her brother Revd Lord John Thynne, who was high church canon of Westminster Abbey. She and her husband built St Mary the Virgin, an Episcopal church in Dalkeith. To the Duke’s distress, she converted to Roman Catholicism in 1860, “after struggling with her conscience for many years over the distress it would cause her Presbyterian husband.” Soon after being married, she befriended Cecil, Marchioness of Lothian, another prominent Roman Catholic in Scotland. The two engaged in philanthropic work in Edinburgh together, and Lady Lothian helped persuade the Duchess to come to the decision to convert. Her brother Lord Charles also converted to Catholicism.
The Duchess enjoyed gardening and landscaping, and spent much time overseeing the gardens of Drumlanrig Castle. Her husband died in April 1884, and she moved to Ditton Park in Slough, Buckinghamshire. She was much affected by the death of her son Lord Walter; The Lady’s Realm wrote that the Dowager Duchess “never recovered” from this. She died at Ditton Park on 28 March 1895, and was buried at Dalkeith Palace. She supported the religious congregation Poor Servants of the Mother of God until her death, and had engaged in other fund-raising activities as well.
- The Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch had a total of seven children, three daughters and four sons:
- William Henry Walter Montagu Douglas Scott, 6th Duke of Buccleuch 9 September 1831
- Henry John Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 1st Baron Montagu of Beaulieu 5 November 1832
- Lord Walter Charles Montagu Douglas Scott 2 March 1834
- Admiral Lord Charles Thomas Montagu Douglas Scott, GCB 20 October 1839
- Lady Victoria Alexandrina Montagu Douglas Scott 20 November 1844
- Lady Margaret Elizabeth Montagu Douglas Scott 10 October 1846
- Lady Mary Charlotte Montagu Douglas Scott 6 August 1851