Charlotte Grenville [Lady Williams Wynn]
Her outlook on society shows a keen interest, she has a lively sense of humour, her powers of observation are quick and her sympathies alert. When her children are absent her pen never flags; she keeps them abreast of the politics of the day, the doings of her friends and acquaintances, and all the affairs of the family. [Leighton]
A portrait in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is likely to be of Charlotte.
Leighton on Charlotte Grenville
Her outlook on society shows a keen interest, she has a lively sense of humour, her powers of observation are quick and her sympathies alert. When her children are absent her pen never flags; she keeps them abreast of the politics of the day, the doings of her friends and acquaintances, and all the affairs of the family.
Charlotte Grenville, born in 1754, was the eldest daughter of the Right Honourable George Grenville and his wife Elizabeth Wyndham. The influences surrounding her childhood are worthy of notice, for they include not only the cultured and political atmosphere of the highest circles of English nobility, but also- the romantic traditions inevitably hanging round adherents to the cause of the Royal House of Stuart.
On her mother’s side, Charlotte was the granddaughter of the famous Elizabeth Percy, Duchess of Somerset, who succeeded the Duchess of Marlborough as Mistress of the Robes to Queen Anne. This lady began her married life at the age of 14, and married her third husband, the sixth Duke of Somerset, in 1682, when she was 17. The daughter of this marriage, Catherine, became the wife of Sir William Wyndham, a personal friend of the Queen. In 1714 he joined Queen Anne’s last Cabinet as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Tory interest. The advent of the Hanoverians, on the Queen’s death in the same year, heralded the downfall, of the Tory party, and Wyndham, already involved in plots for the restoration of the Stuarts, was arrested at his own house in Somersetshire, Orchard Wyndham, on the outbreak of the rebellion in 1715. He was sent to the Tower, where he spent some months, but was liberated on bail and never brought up for trial. His was a personality typical of his age, in touch with the gay, the literary and artistic, the scheming political circles of the Courts of Anne and George I.
His daughter Elizabeth did not marry Mr. George Grenville until nine years after his death, and her youngest son and youngest daughter were named after her father and mother, William Wyndham and Catherine, making up a generation of adventurous spirits with the more conventional figures of Georgian times.
As a young widow she was called upon to administer the great Welsh estates during the three years’ minority of her eldest son. Under her husband’s will, made within twelve months of his death, she had the entire control of everything while his children’ were minors. The will is a long one, no child is mentioned by name, one name and one name only is inscribed in this document other than that of the testator and his witnesses: “My dear wife, Charlotte.” His trust and confidence in her powers and in her judgment must have been boundless, for he appointed no co-trustee, no co-executor, no other guardian for his children. Charlotte was the sole administrator.
Lady Elizabeth Percy, only child of Joceline, 11th and last Earl of Northumberland, mar. Ist, when 14 years of age, in t679, Henry Earl of Ogle, who d.s.p. 1680. In 168t she was “contracted” to Thomas Thynne of Longleat, but he was murdered by Count Königsmarck in February 1682. In the following May she married, as his first wife, Charles; 6th Duke of Somerset, by whom she had eight children. She died 1722.
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