Lady Elizabeth Butler, daughter of James Butler, first Duke of Ormond, second wife of Philip Stanhope, second Earl of Chesterfield. She died July, 1665 (see “Memoires de Grammont,” chap. viii.). Peter Cunningham thinks that this banishment was only temporary, for, according to the Grammont Memoirs, she was in town when the Russian ambassador was in London, December, 1662, and January, 1662- 63. “It appears from the books of the Lord Steward’s office . . . . that Lord Chesterfield set out for the country on the 12th May, 1663, and, from his ‘Short Notes’ referred to in the Memoirs before his Correspondence, that he remained at Bretby, in Derbyshire, with his wife, throughout the summer of that year” (“Story of Nell Gwyn,” 1852, p. 189).
This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.
Lady Chesterfield-another “virtuous lady, treated badly….(background to November 3, 1662 entry by Sam)
Lord Chesterfield was a rogue and a ladies’ man who “played the field”. He was a major lover of Lady Castlemaine before and during her marriage and overlapping the beginning time period of her affair with Charles II. During his period he feigned great affection for and then married married Elizabeth Butler, daughter of Ormond. Per Grammont” he had therefore married Lady Chesterfield without loving her, and had lived some time with her in such coolness, as to leave her no room to doubt of his indifference. As she was endowed with great sensibility and delicacy, she suffered at this contempt: she was at first much affected with his behaviour, and afterwards enraged at it; and, when he began to give her proofs of his affection, she had the pleasure of convincing him of her indifference.” Over time she began to “understand” and adopt to the ways of Charles’ court and realized her marriage as a loss. In her loneliness she had her eyes set not only on the Duke of York but also a cousin James Hamilton. Around this time her husband had started to “fall in love” with his wife, which, in the court of Charles II was a laughable act of a fool. Lady Chesterfield began flirting around between Hamilton and the Duke of York. In order to throw the suspicion elsewhere, Hamilton started to plant the seed in Lord Chesterfield’s head that his wife was having an affair with the Duke. This made Chesterfield, in his jealousy, ever vigilant of that relationship while Hamilton was sneaking letters back and forth with his wife unnoticed. As all of this progressed none of the parties were particularly honest with the other but Lord Chesterfield’s suspicions were growing as was his jealousy of the Duke. Finally after a few suspicious situations including an incident where his wife ended up alone with the Duke during a guitar playing session, Chesterfield walked into a bombshell. He explained to Hamilton, who was now his confidant (per Grammont) that the Duke “was just now with my wife at a card party in the Queen’s chamber…They imagined they were cleverly hiding in the crowd. I do not know what had become of the Duke’s hand, but I know very well that his arm had disappeared right up to the elbow. He turned round and saw me, and was so disconcerted by my presence that in drawing away his hand he came near to completely undressing Lady Chesterfield”, As Pepys reports Lady Chesterfield was scurried away. Per Grammont “ The court was filled with the story of this adventure; nobody was ignorant of the occasion of this sudden departure, but very few approved of Lord Chesterfield’s conduct. In England they looked with astonishment upon a man who could be so uncivil as to be jealous of his wife; and in the city of London it was a prodigy, till that time unknown, to see a husband have recourse to violent means to prevent what jealousy fears, and what it always deserves. They endeavoured, however, to excuse poor Lord Chesterfield, as far as they could safely do it, without incurring the public odium, by laying all the blame on his bad education. This made all the mothers vow to God, that none of their sons should ever set a foot in Italy, lest they should bring back with them that infamous custom of laying restraint upon their wives.” According to Allen Allen (‘The Royal Whore”, p87), nobody in the court at this time knew that Lady Chesterfield was four months pregnant. “Lady Chesterfield had a child at Bretby, and though Lord Chesterfield was uncertain whether he had become a father he saw that at least he had the decision on who should be godfather, and chose Lord Clarendon. He comforted himself with the thought that he, Chesterfield still wore among the courtiers the faint halo of the fathership of Lady Castlemaine’s first child”…
Pedro • Link
James and Lady Chesterfield.
“Charles’ witticism that his brother’s mistresses were so plain that they must have been imposed on him by his confessors as a penance is sometimes quoted as evidence of James’ general boorishness…there is something very unattractive about having a positive taste for plain women. Anne Hyde was undoubtedly plain, but perhaps this early experience gave James a good fright. For Lely made of James’ post-Restoration mistress Lady Chesterfield a doe-like creature with nothing plain about her.
(Antonia Fraser…King Charles II)
CGS • Link
Elizabeth Stanhope (née Butler), Countess of Chesterfield (1640-1665), 2nd wife of Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield. Sitter associated with 4 portraits.
Elizabeth Butler was eldest daughter of James, duke of Ormond, and second wife to Philip Stanhope, earl of Chesterfield.—It has been observed that a man could not turn round without being struck with beauties in the court of Charles II. The countess of Chesterfield was one of the most striking in the circle. Her husband did not know what a treasure he had in his possession, and treated her, at first, with disregard: but when every body else admired her, he became her admirer too, and was sufficiently slighted in his turn. He rightly concluded, that when the eyes of all the world were turned upon her, there were among them the eyes of some lovers. This naturally excited his jealousy, and he appears to have felt the most unhappy part of the passion of love in a more exquisite degree than any other. His suspicion particularly fell upon the duke of York, who, it seems, was not insensible of her charms, and was far from being the most cautious of men in the conduct of his amours. The name of Lady Ch ... d often occurs in the "Memoires de Grammont."
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1775.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.