Anne Lennard, Countess of Sussex

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Anne Lennard, Countess of Sussex : biography

25 February 1661 – 16 May 1721

At some point Anne had an almost certainly lesbian relationship with Hortense Mancini, a mistress of her father, Charles II, and therefore a rival of her mother, his maîtresse en titre. To put an end to the affair, Anne’s husband, Lord Sussex, removed his wife to the country. In the summer of 1678, Lady Sussex was abducted from a convent in Paris and seduced by Ralph Montagu (afterwards 1st Duke of Montagu). She was 17 years old. He was successively the lover of mother and daughter (the Duchess of Cleveland and Lady Sussex).Cunningham and Goodwin’s The Story of Nell Gwyn, 1903, page 196. In a letter to King Charles, dated "Paris, Tuesday the 28th, 1678," her mother wrote:

I was never so surprised in my whole life-time as I was at my coming hither, to find my Lady Sussex gone from my house and monastery where I left her, and this letter from her, which I here send you the copy of. I never in my whole life-time heard of such government of herself as she has had since I went into England. She has never been in the monastery two days together, but every day gone out with the Ambassador (Ralph Montagu), and has often lain four days together at my house, and sent for her meat to the Ambassador; he being always with her till five o’clock in the morning, they two shut up together alone, and would not let my maitre d’hôtel wait, nor any of my servants, only the Ambassador’s. This has made so great a noise at Paris, that she is now the whole discourse. I am so much afflicted that I can hardly write this for crying, to see a child, that I doted on as I did on her, should make me so ill a return, and join with the worst of men to ruin me.

Anne’s husband the Earl of Sussex was a "popular but extravagant man"From John Heneage Jesse’s Memoirs of the Court of England During the Reign of the Stuarts, 1855, page 170. who, by extravagance and losses by gambling, had to sell the estate of Herstmonceaux and others. Lord and Lady Sussex separated in 1688, and she was widowed in 1715. The dowager countess of Sussex died 16 May 1721 or 1722, and was buried at Linsted, County Kent.