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Cavendish, Georgiana (1757–1806)

Cavendish, Georgiana (1757–1806)

English social patron and duchess of Devonshire. Name variations: Lady Georgiana Spencer. Born Georgiana Spencer in London, England, June 7, 1757; died Mar 30, 1806; eldest dau. of John Spencer, 1st earl Spencer, and Georgiana (Poyntz) Spencer (eldest dau. of Stephen Poyntz); sister of Henrietta Frances Spencer (1761–1821); m. William Cavendish, 5th duke of Devonshire (1748–1811), June 6, 1774; children: Georgiana Cavendish (b. 1783, later countess of Carlisle); Harriet Cavendish (1785–1862, later Lady Harriet Leveson-Gower); William Spencer Cavendish (1790, the marquess of Hartington and later 6th duke of Devonshire, known as "Hart"); (with Charles, 2nd earl Grey) Eliza Courtney (b. 1792 and adopted by 1st earl Grey).

Married at 16 and soon bored, took to gambling within a year of her reign as hostess of Devonshire House and came under spell of Charles James Fox; campaigned for Fox in Westminster election (1784); also took up with Lady Elizabeth Foster (later Elizabeth Cavendish); a reigning queen of society, had portrait painted by Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough; was friends with Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Dr. Samuel Johnson.

See also Amanda Foreman, Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire (Random House, 2000); and Women in World History.

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