Herstmonceux Castle, Hailsham, Herstmonceux BN27 1RN, Regno Unito
St Peter & St Paul, Lynsted, Sittingbourne ME9 0RH, Regno Unito
Anne Lennard (née Palmer), Countess of Sussex (25 February 1661 – 16 May 1721 or 1722), formerly Lady Anne Fitzroy, was the eldest daughter of Barbara Villiers, mistress to King Charles II. She became the wife of Thomas Lennard, 1st Earl of Sussex, 15th Baron Dacre.
Born Lady Anne Palmer in Westminster, she was the first child of Barbara Villiers, the only child of William Villiers, 2nd Viscount Grandison, and the wife of Roger Palmer, 1st Earl of Castlemaine, who was also one of the mistresses of King Charles II. According to legend, Anne was conceived on the night of Charles's Coronation. Both Villiers and the king acknowledged Anne as his daughter, and she was therefore known by the alias of Fitzroy, meaning "son of the king," but she has also been suggested as the daughter of Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield, "whom," says Lord Dartmouth, "she resembled very much both in face and person."
On 11 August 1674, at the age of thirteen, Lady Anne was married at Hampton Court to the 15th Baron Dacre, a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the King. On the same day her ten-year-old sister Lady Charlotte Fitzroy was contracted to Sir Edward Lee (raised from an early baronetcy to the Earldom of Lichfield two months before, and also a Gentleman of the King's Bedchamber). Both the wedding and her dowry were paid for by Charles II. Dacre was subsequently created Earl of Sussex.
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).
Anne's husband the Earl of Sussex was a "popular but extravagant man" 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.
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