Frances Scudamore, Duchess of Beaufort (1711–1750) was a noblewoman and heiress of questionable reputation. The only child of James Scudamore, 3rd Viscount Scudamore, she was his sole heir upon his death in 1716. Her mother, Frances née Digby, had introduced the family to Alexander Pope. Frances married, on 28 June 1729, Henry Somerset, 3rd Duke of Beaufort, who the following year took the surname Scudamore by Act of Parliament. The marriage was not a happy one, leading the Duchess to have an affair with William Talbot, 2nd Baron Talbot. In 1742, the Duke filed for divorce due to this affair; the Duchess countersued, claiming that the Duke was impotent. When the Duke disproved her claim before court-appointed examiners, the divorce was granted in March 1743, followed by the Duke suing Lord Talbot for damages.
Talbot, who would later be created Earl Talbot, was himself married, but he fathered a daughter by Frances, named Frances Matthews Talbot.
The year after her divorce, Frances remarried to Colonel Charles FitzRoy, an illegitimate son of the 2nd Duke of Grafton. Colonel FitzRoy also adopted the surname Scudamore after his own. They had one daughter, also named Frances, born in 1750, the year of her mother's death. The daughter Frances would go on to marry Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk, but became insane and was locked away for many years; after her death without children, the estate of Holme Lacy, formerly the property of the Viscounts Scudamore, fell into extensive litigation, eventually settling on Sir Edwin Stanhope, 3rd Baronet, who adopted the additional surname Scudamore.
Titles and styles
- 1711 – 28 June 1729: The Honourable Frances Scudamore
- 28 June 1729 – March 1743: Her Grace The Duchess of Beaufort
- March 1743 – 1744: Frances, Duchess of Beaufort
- 1744 – 1750: The Honourable Mrs FitzRoy-Scudamore
- Charles FitzRoy Scudamore at The Twickenham Museum. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
- Deed Poll Office: Private Act of Parliament 1729 (3 Geo. 2). c. 10
- Raymond Stephanson, "The Yard of Wit: Male Creativity and Sexuality, 1650-1750", Univ of Pennsylvania Press, 2003. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
- Angus McLaren, "Impotence: a cultural history", University of Chicago Press, 2007. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
- ThePeerage.com, "Frances Matthews Talbot".
- Burke's Baronetage