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Georgiana Poyntz, Countess Spencer

(b. May 8, 1737, St James's Palace, St James's, Westminster, London – d. March 18, 1814, St Albans, Hertfordshire )

Gender: F

Georgiana Poyntz (1737-1814) was born in St James’s Palace, where her mother was a maid of honour to Queen Caroline. In 1755 she secretly married John Spencer, great-grandson and heir of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough and one of the wealthiest men in the country; they had three surviving children, including Georgiana Cavendish, who became the Duchess of Devonshire. John Spencer was awarded a viscountancy in 1761 and an earldom in 1765 by the Duke of Newcastle as a reward for his loyalty to the Whig party; his wife was thereafter known as Countess Spencer. Lady Spencer and her husband her generous patrons, and hosted plays and concerts at Spencer House in London, which they built in 1764. She was also renowned as a philanthropist. She was renowned as intelligent and well-educated, was fluent in French and Italian and knew some Greek. According to Montagu Pennington, she was a lifelong friend of Elizabeth Carter whom she met in 1763 while taking the waters at Spa in Belgium [Memoirs of the Life of Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, ed. Montagu Pennington (London, Rivington, 1807), p. 197]. Spencer’s extensive correspondence with Mrs Howe is preserved in the British Library.

Also known as:

  • Georgiana Poyntz
  • Countess Spencer

Mentioned in 3 letters

Please note that all dates and location information are provisional, initially taken from the library and archive catalogues. As our section editors continue to work through the material we will update our database and the changes will be reflected across the edition.