The life of Elizabeth Gunning Hamilton Campbell DUCHESS OF ARGYLL



Elizabeth Hamilton Campbell, Duchess of Argyll & 1st Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon (née Gunning; c. December 1733 – 20 December 1790) was a celebrated Irish belle, lady-in-waiting and society hostess.

Her Grace is an English style used for various high-ranking personages. It was the style used to address Kings of England until Henry VIII[1] and the King or Queen of Scots up to the Act of Union of 1707, which united the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England. Today, the style is used when referring to archbishops and non-royal dukes and duchesses in the United Kingdom.

Examples of usage include His Grace The Duke of Norfolk; His Grace The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury; or “Your Grace” in spoken or written address. Royal dukes, for example The Duke of York, are addressed with their higher royal style, Royal Highness. The Duchess of Windsor was styled “Your Grace” and not Royal Highness upon marriage to Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor.

In the fictional world of A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones, it is the style used in Westeros for kings and queens.

The 1st Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon


December 1733

Hemingford Grey, Huntingdonshire

Huntingdon is a market town in Cambridgeshire, England, chartered by King John in 1205. Having been the county town of historic Huntingdonshire, it is now the seat of the Huntingdonshire District Council. It is well known as the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, who was born there in 1599 and its Member of Parliament (MP) for the town in the 17th century. The former Conservative Prime Minister (1990–1997) John Major served as the MP for Huntingdon from 1979 until his retirement in 2001.

Hemingford Grey is a village and civil parish in Cambridgeshire, England.[2] Hemingford Grey lies approximately 4 miles (6 km) east of Huntingdon. Hemingford Grey is situated within Huntingdonshire which is a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire as well as being a historic county of England.

In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties, or their combined form, the unitary authority. Civil parishes can trace their origin to the ancient system of ecclesiastical parishes which historically played a role in both civil and ecclesiastical administration; civil and religious parishes were formally split into two types in the 19th century and are now entirely separate. The unit was devised and rolled out across England in the 1860s.


20 December 1790 (aged 56–57)

Argyll House, London


Kilmun, Argyllshire


James Hamilton, 6th Duke of Hamilton

John Campbell, 5th Duke of Argyll


Elizabeth Smith-Stanley, Countess of Derby

James Douglas-Hamilton, 7th Duke of Hamilton

Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 8th Duke of Hamilton

Lady Augusta Campbell

George John Campbell, Earl of Campbell

George Campbell, 6th Duke of Argyll

Lady Charlotte Campbell

John Campbell, 7th Duke of Argyll


John Gunning


Hon. Bridget Bourke

Early life


Born in Hemingford Grey, Huntingdonshire, she was the daughter of John Gunning of Castle Coote, County Roscommon and his wife, the Hon. Bridget Bourke, daughter of Theobald Bourke (1681–1741), 6th Viscount Mayo. Elizabeth’s elder sister was Maria Gunning.

In late 1740 or early 1741, the Gunning family returned to John Gunning’s ancestral home in Ireland, where they divided their time between their home in Roscommon, and a rented house in Dublin. According to some sources, when Maria and her sister Elizabeth came of age, their mother urged them to take up acting in order to earn a living, due to the family’s relative poverty. The sources further state that the Gunning sisters worked for some time in the Dublin theatres, befriending actors like Margaret Woffington, even though acting was not considered a respectable profession as many actresses of that time doubled as courtesans to wealthy benefactors. However, other sources[who?] differ and point out that Margaret Woffington did not arrive in Dublin until May 1751, by which time Maria and her sister Elizabeth were in England.

In October 1748, a ball was held at Dublin Castle by the Viscountess Petersham. The two sisters did not have any dresses for the gathering until Thomas Sheridan (actor), the manager of one of the local theatres, supplied them with two costumes from the green room, those of Lady Macbeth and Juliet. Wearing the costumes, they were presented to the Earl of Harrington, the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Harrington must have been pleased by the meeting as, by 1750, Bridget Gunning had persuaded him to grant her a pension, which she then used to transport herself, Maria, and Elizabeth, back to their original home in Huntingdon, England. With their attendance at local balls and parties, the beauty of the two girls was much remarked upon. They became well-known celebrities, their fame reaching all the way to London, with themselves following soon afterwards. On 2 December 1750, they were presented at the court of St James. By this time, they were sufficiently famous that the presentation was noted in the London newspapers.

Elizabeth was immortalized in portraits by, among others, artists Sir Joshua Reynolds and Gavin Hamilton.

Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA FRS FRSA (16 July 1723 – 23 February 1792) was an English painter, specialising in portraits. John Russell said he was one of the major European painters of the 18th century.[1] He promoted the “Grand Style” in painting which depended on idealization of the imperfect. He was a founder and first president of the Royal Academy of Arts, and was knighted by George III in 1769

The title of Knight Bachelor is the basic rank granted to a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not inducted as a member of one of the organised orders of chivalry; it is a part of the British honours system.[1] Knights Bachelor are the most ancient sort of British knight[2] (the rank existed during the 13th-century reign of King Henry III), but Knights Bachelor rank below knights of chivalric orders.

There is no female counterpart to Knight Bachelor. The lowest knightly honour that can be conferred upon a woman is Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE), which is one rank higher than Knight Bachelor (being the female equivalent of KBE or Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, which is the next male knightly rank above Knight Bachelor). Also, foreigners are not created Knights Bachelor; instead they are generally made honorary KBEs.

George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 1738[c] – 29 January 1820) was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1820. He was concurrently Duke and Prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg (“Hanover”) in the Holy Roman Empire before becoming King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was a monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors, he was born in Great Britain, spoke English as his first language,[1] and never visited Hanover.[2]

George III

Coronation portrait by Allan Ramsay, 1762

King of the United Kingdom[a]

Elector/King of Hanover[b] (more…)


25 October 1760 –

29 January 1820


22 September 1761


George II


George IV


4 June 1738 [NS][c]

Norfolk House, St James’s Square, London, England


29 January 1820 (aged 81)

Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, England


16 February 1820

St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle


Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

(m. 1761; died 1818)


George IV, King of the United Kingdom

Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany

William IV, King of the United Kingdom

Charlotte, Princess Royal

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn

Princess Augusta

Princess Elizabeth

Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover

Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex

Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge

Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh

Princess Sophia

Prince Octavius

Prince Alfred

Princess Amelia

Full name

George William Frederick




Frederick, Prince of Wales


Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha




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