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Queen Anne (1665 –1714)

Updated: Feb 12, 2022

Queen Anne reigned as Queen of England, Scotland & Ireland from 1702 - 1707, & Queen of Great Britain & Ireland from 1707 to 1714.

Her life was overshadowed by tragedy and ill health. Despite 17 known pregnancies she died without an heir, thus becoming the last monarch from the House of Stuart.

BORN: 6th February 1665, St James's Palace

FATHER: James, Duke of York, later King James II & VII

MOTHER: Anne Hyde

MARRIED: Prince George of Denmark 28 July 1683

REIGN: Queen of England, Scotland & Ireland between 8 March 1702 & 1 May 1707

On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of Union, the kingdoms of England & Scotland united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain & Ireland until her death in 1714.

DIED: 1st August 1714


Queen Anne, was the second daughter of King James II (1633-1701) by his first wife Lady Anne Hyde (1637-71), The future Queen was born at St James's Palace in London on 6th February 1665. Her sister Mary and her husband William of Orange ascended the throne (as Mary II and William III) when the Catholic James II fled the country and abdicated. Her reign is remembered for the Union of England with Scotland in 1707, and the Duke of Marlborough's victories in Europe during the War of the Spanish Succession, and the first daily newspaper (The Daily Courant, initially published on 11 March 1702).

Anne's early life

When Anne was a child, she suffered from an eye condition, known as 'Defluxion' which manifested as excessive watering. She was sent to France to receive treatment, where she lived with her paternal grandmother, Henrietta Maria of France, at the Château de Colombes near Paris. Following her grandmother's death in 1669, Anne lived with an aunt, Henrietta Anne, Duchess of Orleans. On the sudden death of her aunt in 1670, Anne returned to England. Her mother died the following year.

Following royal tradition Anne and her sister were brought up separated from their father in their own establishment at Richmond, London.

King Charles II insisted that they were raised as Protestants. They were placed in the care of Colonel Edward and Lady Frances Villiers, where their education was focused on the teachings of the Anglican church.

Around 1671, Anne first made the acquaintance of Sarah Jennings, who later became her close friend and one of her most influential advisors. Jennings married John Churchill (the future Duke of Marlborough) in about 1678. His sister, Arabella Churchill, was the Duke of York's mistress, and he was to be Anne's most important general.

In 1673, the Duke of York's conversion to Catholicism became public, and he married a Catholic princess, Mary of Modena, who was only six-and-a-half years older than Anne. Charles II had no legitimate children, and so the Duke of York was next in the line of succession, followed by his two surviving daughters from his first marriage, Mary and Anne—as long as he had no son. Over the next ten years, the new Duchess of York had ten children, but all were either stillborn or died in infancy, leaving Mary and Anne second and third in the line of succession after their father.

In November 1677, Anne's elder sister, Mary, married their Dutch first cousin, William of Orange, at St James's Palace, but Anne could not attend the wedding because she was confined to her room with smallpox.


King Charles II sought a suitable prince for his niece who would be welcomed as a groom by his Protestant subjects. A marriage treaty between Anne and Prince George of Denmark, younger brother of the danish King, Christian V, and Anne's second cousin once removed, was negotiated by Anne's uncle Laurence Hyde. The Danes were Protestant allies of the French, and Louis XIV was keen on an Anglo-Danish alliance to contain the power of the Dutch. Anne's father consented to the marriage eagerly because it diminished the influence of his other son-in-law, William of Orange, who was naturally unhappy at the match.

She married Prince George of Denmark (1653-1708), youngest son of Frederick III, King of Denmark, at Whitehall on 28th July 1683. Though it was an arranged marriage, they were faithful and devoted to each other. Within months of the marriage, Anne was pregnant, but the baby was stillborn on 12 May 1684.

Anne recovered at the spa town of Tunbridge Wells, and over the next two years, gave birth to two daughters: Mary, born on 2 June 1685 at the Palace of Whitehall. Mary was christened on 2 June 1685 by the Bishop of London; she was styled "the Lady Mary". Anne Sophia was born on 12 May 1686, at Windsor Castle. She was christened by the Bishop of Durham, and was styled "the Lady Anne Sophia".

The reign of James II and VII

In 1685 Charles II died, Anne's father became king as James II in England and Ireland and James VII in Scotland.

James began to give Catholics military and administrative offices, in contravention of the Test Acts that were designed to prevent such appointments. Anne shared the general concern, and continued to attend Anglican services. Her protestant sister Mary lived in the Netherlands after marrying William The Prince of Orange, so Anne and her family were the only members of the royal family attending Protestant religious services in England. Her father attempted to get Anne's daughter Anne Sophia baptised into the Catholic faith, Anne became estranged from her father and stepmother (Mary of Modena 1658-1718, married in 1673) as James moved to weaken the Church of England's power.

Tragedy was about to strike, when in early 1687, within a matter of days, Anne miscarried (21 January 1687), her husband caught smallpox, and their two young daughters died of the same infection. Firstly the Lady Anne Sophia (2 February 1687), then the Lady Mary (8 February 1687). Rachel Russell wrote that George and Anne had "taken [the deaths] very heavily ... Sometimes they wept, sometimes they mourned in words; then sat silent, hand in hand; he sick in bed, and she the carefullest nurse to him that can be imagined." Still more was to some later that year when Anne again suffered another stillbirth. Anne suffered yet another miscarriage on 16 April 1688, and travelled to Bath to recuperate.

Anne's stepmother Mary of Modena gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward (1688-1766) on 10 June 1688, and a Catholic succession became highly likely. But rumours of a supposititious child eventually led to the 'Glorious Revolution'.


The Glorious Revolution

William of Orange invaded England on 5 November 1688 in an action, known as the 'Glorious Revolution', which ultimately deposed King James.

Anne had regular corespondence with her sister Mary and was aware of the plans to invade. On the advice of the Churchill's, she refused to side with her father James after William landed and instead wrote to William on 18 November declaring her approval of his action.

"God help me!", lamented James on discovering the desertion of his daughter on 26 November, "Even my children have forsaken me."

Anne returned to London on 19 December, where she was at once visited by William. James fled to France on the 23rd.

In January 1689, a Convention Parliament assembled in England and declared that James had effectively abdicated when he fled, and that the thrones of England and Ireland were therefore vacant. William and Mary were declared joint monarchs of all three realms. The Bill of Rights 1689 and Claim of Right Act 1689 settled the succession. Anne and her descendants were to be in the line of succession after William and Mary, and they were to be followed by any descendants of William by a future marriage.

Anne gave birth to a son, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester on 24 July 1689 who, though quite ill, survived infancy. As King William and Queen Mary had no children, it looked as though Anne's son would eventually inherit the Crown. In 1690 on 14 April, Anne gave birth to a daughter, that she named her Mary, she was two months premature and lived about two hours.

Anne gave birth to a son on 17 April 1692, and named him George. He lived only for a few minutes, just long enough to be baptised; he was styled "Lord George" Anne moved to Berkeley House in Piccadilly, London, and suffered another stillborn daughter in March 1693.

Queen Mary II of England sketch portrait. British royal family history
Queen Mary II of England

Her sister the Queen, Mary II died from smallpox in 1694, William continued to reign alone. Anne became his heir apparent. William allowed her to reside in St James's Palace and gave her Mary's jewels.

Early into the year Anne suffered another miscarriage on 21 January 1694. A contemporary chronicler Narcissus Luttrell wrote only that Anne "miscarried of a dead child".

The year 1896 brought more misery for Anne when she miscarried twice firstly a daughter in February, then again on 20 September 1696. Luttrell said Anne "miscarried of a son". But according to Dr Nathaniel Johnson in a letter dated 24 October 1696, and sent to Theophililus Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon, "Her Royal Highness miscarried of two children, the one of seven months' growth, the other of two or three months, as her physicians and midwife judged: one was born the day after the other." If so, the smaller foetus was probably a blighted twin or fetus papyraceus.

The following year the pattern of misery continued when Anne miscarried on 25 March 1697, then again in early December. According to Saunière de L'Hermitage, the Dutch resident in London, Anne miscarried twins who were "too early to determine their sex". Other sources say the pregnancy ended in a stillborn son, or "two male children, at least as far as could be recognised".

On 15 September 1698 Anne gave birth to a stillborn son, James Vernon wrote in a letter that Anne's physician thought the foetus "might have been dead 8 or 10 days"

25 January 1700 marked the final pregnancy of Anne's life, when she miscarried a stillborn son. She had been pregnant at least seventeen times over as many years, and had miscarried or given birth to stillborn children at least twelve times.

Of her five liveborn children, four died before reaching the age of two. Anne suffered from bouts of "gout", pains in her limbs and eventually stomach and head, from at least 1698.

Anne' was lame for much of her later life due to gout. She was carried in a sedan chair, or used a wheelchair. Around her estates, she used a one-horse chaise, which she drove herself. She gained excessive weight as a result of her sedentary lifestyle. Sir John Clerk, described her in 1706 "under a fit of the gout and in extreme pain and agony, and on this occasion everything about her was much in the same disorder as about the meanest of her subjects. Her face, which was red and spotted, was rendered something frightful by her negligent dress, and the foot affected was tied up with a poultice and some nasty bandages. I was much affected by this sight ...".

Prince William, the Duke of Gloucester, Anne's sole surviving child died at the age of eleven on 30 July 1700.

Anne and her husband were absolutely devastated, and Anne ordered her household to observe a day of mourning every year on the anniversary of his death.

Now with king William III childless and the Duke of Gloucester dead, Anne was the only individual remaining in the line of succession established by the Bill of Rights 1689.


Her reign

When William III died on 8 March 1702, Anne succeeded to the throne. n her first speech to the English Parliament, on 11 March, she distanced herself from her late Dutch brother-in-law and said,

"As I know my heart to be entirely English, I can very sincerely assure you there is not anything you can expect or desire from me which I shall not be ready to do for the happiness and prosperity of England."

Within a few weeks she had named the Duke Marlborough as her Captain-General, he was created a Knight of the Garter and was elevated to the rank of duke. The Duchess of Marlborough was appointed Groom of the Stool, Mistress of the Robes, and Keeper of the Privy Purse. Her longtime friend Sidney Godolphin was named as Lord Treasurer.

Anne was crowned on St George's Day, 23 April 1702. Afflicted with gout, aged only thirty-seven, she was already a permanent invalid. The Queen had to be carried to Westminster Abbey in an open sedan chair by Yeoman of the guard, with a low back to permit her train to flow out behind her. A witness stated that Anne wore a dress of crimson velvet with an under-robe of gold tissue, very rich embroidery of jewels about it, her petticoat the same gold tissue with gold and silver lace between rows of diamonds embroidered, her head as well dressed with diamonds she also wore a wig 'with long locks and puffs'. During the five hour service two bishops were required for physical assistance & had to prop her up whenever she was standing.

The new Queen took a lively interest in affairs of state, and was a patron of theatre, poetry and music. She subsidised George Frideric Handel with £200 a year. She sponsored high-quality medals as rewards for political or military achievements. They were produced at the Mint by Isaac Newton and John Croker. She knighted Newton when she visited Cambridge in 1705.

For most of her reign, these two men executed her policies at home and abroad. Forming an alliance with the Netherlands and the Holy Roman Empire, the queen declared war on France in May, and Marlborough won significant victories at Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708), and Malplaquet (1709).

Despite these unprecedented successes, domestic politics were fierce. The Tory party gained a substantial majority in the election of 1702, and withstood an attempt by the ministry to break their power in 1705. The Whigs swept into power in 1708, but were soundly defeated in 1710 and 1713.

Because the party holding a majority in parliament did not automatically gain all the ministerial posts, the queen was subject to relentless partisan pressure from both sides, yet she managed to prevent party passions from erupting into violence, and achieved a major success in forging the Union with Scotland in 1707.

Her later years were sad. Prince George died in 1708, and Anne’s long association with Sarah Churchill ended bitterly in 1710. A Tory ministry headed by Robert Harley, intent on making peace, persuaded the queen to part company with Godolphin and then with Marlborough. Although her war-weary nation welcomed the Peace of Utrecht (1713), the queen did not have long to enjoy its benefits: worn out by physical ailments and party strife, she died on 1 August 1714, and was succeeded by George I, the first of the Hanoverian monarchs.

To avoid a succession crisis and stop a Catholic restoration, the Parliament of England enacted the Act of Settlement 1701, which provided that, failing the issue of Anne and of William III by any future marriage, the Crown of England and Ireland would go to Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and her Protestant descendants. Sophia was the granddaughter of James VI and I through his daughter Elizabeth Stuart, who was the sister of Anne's grandfather Charles I. Over fifty Catholics with stronger claims were excluded from the line of succession. Anne's father died in September 1701.


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God Save The Queen

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