Elizabeth Maitland, Duchess of Lauderdale

The Duchess of Lauderdale

Elizabeth Murray, by Sir Peter Lely, circa 1648
Born 28 September 1626
Died 5 June 1698 (aged 72)
Ham House
Resting place Petersham Parish Church
Spouse(s) Sir Lionel Tollemache
John Maitland
Issue Lionel Tollemache
Thomas Tollemache
Elizabeth Tollemache
Parents William Murray, 1st Earl of Dysart
Catherine Bruce

Elizabeth Maitland, Duchess of Lauderdale (née Murray; 28 September 1626[1] – 5 June 1698) was an influential Scottish noblewoman. In her own right she was the Countess of Dysart and through marriage the Duchess of Lauderdale. She is famous for the political influence she held, which was unusual for women of the period, and for her support for Charles II during his exile, as a member of the secret organisation known as the Sealed Knot.

Early life

Murray was the eldest of the five daughters of William Murray, 1st Earl of Dysart, a close friend and Gentleman of the Bedchamber of Charles I; and his wife Catherine Bruce.[1] Her father ensured that she received a full education, which was unusual for women of the period.[2][3]

Because of the English Civil War her father was delayed in finding her a husband but in 1648 she married Sir Lionel Tollemache. The couple had eleven children, five of whom lived to adulthood, including Lionel Tollemache, 3rd Earl of Dysart and Thomas Tollemache; their eldest daughter, Elizabeth Tollemache, married Archibald Campbell, 1st Duke of Argyll.[4]

Later life

Elizabeth did not want a quiet domestic life and based herself at her family home, Ham House near Richmond, London, which she spent much time and money redeveloping.[5] She was acquainted with the Parliamentarian Oliver Cromwell during this period and the friendship provided a cover for her own Royalist tendencies. In 1653 she joined the secret Royalist organisation, the Sealed Knot.[2] She was in correspondence with exiled supporters of Charles II and even visited Europe to see the king himself.

Upon her father's death in 1655 she inherited his titles, becoming suo jure Countess of Dysart and Lady Huntingtower.

In 1660, when Charles II resumed the throne, he rewarded Elizabeth with an annual pension of £800.[2] Her enemies accused her of witchcraft because of her political influence.[1]

The Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale

In 1669 her husband Lionel died in France. It is suspected that very soon after this she became the mistress of John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale,[2] the Scottish noble and politician, whom she eventually married in 1672, upon his own wife's death. He was a member of the notorious Cabal Ministry of Charles II and amongst his titles was that of Baron Petersham. The pair were known for their influence, wealth, and extravagance.[3]

Upon John's death in 1682 Elizabeth entered into a legal dispute with her brother-in-law over her late husband's debts and funeral expenses.[2]


The Duchess of Lauderdale died, at the age of 72, on 5 June 1698 at Ham House.[6] She is buried with other members of the Dysart family in a vault under the chancel of Petersham Parish Church.[7]

In Literature

Lauderdale is the subject of the novel Royalist Rebel, by Anita Seymour published by Claymore Books in 2013.


  1. 1 2 3 "Elizabeth Murray in Women in World History". Women in World History: A biographical encyclopedia. 1 January 2002. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Rosalind K. Marshall (2004). "Elizabeth Murray in ODNB". Oxford Dictionary National Biography. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  3. 1 2 Galleries Scotland "Elizabeth Murray Biography" Check |url= value (help). National Galleries Scotland. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  4. "Baronage of Duddingston History". Baronage.co.uk. 2005. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  5. "Ham House". National Trust. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  6. "Biography of Elizabeth Murray". Stanford.edu. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  7. "Churchyard (Petersham Village, Richmond Surrey)". Retrieved 11 July 2011.
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
William Murray, 1st Earl of Dysart
Earl of Dysart
Succeeded by
Lionel Tollemache, 3rd Earl of Dysart

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 5/14/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.