THE DAYS OF DUCHESS ANNE by Rosalind K. Marshall


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The life of Lady Anne, Duchess of Hamilton, was exemplary. She married wisely, lived long, provided the House of Hamilton with numerous progeny, and devoted her adult years to rebuilding and refurbishing ancestral properties hard hit by the Civil War and the Cromwellian Interregnum. Marshall's reconstruction of the Hamilton household -- among the most illustrious in 17th century Scotland -- is based largely on the very careful accounts kept by the Duke's secretary, plus the elaborate wills and marriage settlements by which the aristocracy tried to ensure dynastic survival. The domestic life of Lady Anne and the Duke is inventoried and itemized down to the tapestries which adorned the palace walls, the titles in the Duke's library, the turnips, carrots and herbs in the garden, the contents of the wine cellar and the price -- in pounds and shillings -- of a new pair of boots for the children. Letters fly back and forth between the Duchess at home and the Duke in Edinburgh attending Parliament or in London on business -- letters full of the vexations of household management, servant problems (they had between 30 and 50 -- grooms, valets, a butler, cook, pageboys, personal maids and even ""a trumpeter for ceremonial occasions"") and child rearing. The Hamiltons are hardly a typical 17th century family -- the sense of holding an inheritance in trust for future generations is never forgotten -- but Marshall conveys both the intimate, recognizable familial details and, more broadly, the dress, manners and social obligations of a resplendent 17th century family. Engaging.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1974
Publisher: St. Martin's Press