This blog attempts to collate various materials in connection with the year 1735.


First Lady Diana Spencer

“Dear little Di,” as her mother called her, was born in London, in 1710. She was the daughter of the Countess of Sunderland. When only six her mother died and she was sent to be raised by her famous grandmother.

This 18th century Diana’s mother, Anne, (see both in pic) was the daughter of John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, and his wife, Sarah, chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne. Diana’s Churchill grandfather had served five monarchs and been briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London. Little Diana’s father, Charles Spencer, was the third Earl of Sunderland and England’s Secretary of State.
It is Diana’s brother John (1708-1746) and his wife, Lady Georgiana Caroline Carteret, who are the ancestors of Lady Diana Spencer who married Charles, Prince of Wales, in 1981. The line runs from their son John, the 1st Earl Spencer, his son George (2nd Earl Spencer), George’s son Frederick (4th Earl Spencer), Frederick’s son Charles (6th Earl Spencer), Albert (7th Earl Spencer), and Edward (8th Earl Spencer), the father of Princess Diana.

Troubled Household
The first Diana’s father had been dismissed as Secretary of State by Queen Anne the year she was born. His life, like his father’s, was full of political intrigue and he began thinking of his position after the aging Queen’s death. Using connections, he ingratiated himself with King George I and became First Lord of the Treasury. His name was tied to a financial fiasco, he resigned in 1721 and died in 1722 when Diana was 12.
Diana’s brother Robert became 4th Earl of Sunderland, but died at age 28. It was her brother Charles who salvaged the family and insured its prominence for more than two centuries. On his mother’s side of the family, the Churchill Dukedom of Marlborough passed to him; in addition, he was the next Earl of Sunderland. The next historical Lady Diana Spencer was the daughter of this Charles Spencer and named for his sister.

Grooming Diana to Wed Royalty
After her mother’s death, Diana’s upbringing was overseen by her maternal grandmother, the Duchess of Marlborough. Diana had an intense interest in the arts and music. One biographer notes that Handel was a guest next door and notes from the musical soirees floated into her nursery.
Grandmother had great aspirations for Diana. She was planning a royal alliance with Frederick, Prince of Wales, consideration being given more to the prince’s need for fortune than to any consideration of mutual affection. It was one of the few things the powerful grandmother was unable to manage. King George II arranged for Frederick to wed Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha and in 1731 Lady Diana married Lord John Russell.

Duke and Duchess of Bedford
A year after Lady Diana was married to British statesman John Russell (1710-1771), his older brother died and Lt. Gen. John Russell became Duke of Bedford. He was the fourth son of Wriothesley Russell and Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Howland of Streatham in Surrey.
Lady Diana brought a 30,000 pound dowry to the marriage and inherited 100,000 pounds upon the death of her grandmother, The Duchess of Marlborough. She died almost four years after she and Lord Russell married. Their only child had died the day it was born in 1732.

Winston Churchill’s Ancestry
The Duke of Bedford held many important British offices during decades of stormy politics. He remarried and had two children, Francis and Caroline. His son Francis died at age 28 after falling from a horse. He was a member of Parliament, married, and had three sons, Francis (5th Duke of Bedford), John (6th Duke of Bedford) and Lord William Russell. Lady Caroline Russell married George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough, which made her a niece of her father’s first wife, Lady Diana. George, who adopted the Churchill surname, and Caroline are ancestors of numerous Dukes of Marlborough and of Sir Winston Churchill.
For those who want to know more: The First Lady Diana: Lady Diana Spencer 1710-1735, Victoria Massey’s deeply researched 1999 biography, is available online (both new and used) at reasonable prices.

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