Marlborough, Sarah Churchill, duchess of

Marlborough, Sarah Churchill, duchess of,

1660–1744, confidante of Queen Anne of England. Born Sarah Jennings, she was a childhood friend of Princess Anne. In 1677 she married John Churchill, later 1st duke of Marlborough. On Anne's marriage (1683) she was appointed lady of the bedchamber and became a close confidante. Although temporarily out of favor (1692–94) owing to the political disgrace of her husband, Sarah maintained a close relationship with Anne (who succeeded to the throne in 1702) until 1705, when they began to quarrel over Whig cabinet appointments. Until then Sarah had wielded considerable influence at court, but gradually Abigail MashamMasham, Abigail, Lady
, d. 1734, favorite of Queen Anne of England. Her maiden name was Abigail Hill. A plain, intelligent person, she became (1704) bedchamber woman to the queen through the influence of her cousin Sarah Churchill, duchess of Marlborough.
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, a kinswoman both of Sarah herself and of the Tory leader Robert HarleyHarley, Robert, 1st earl of Oxford,
1661–1724, English statesman and bibliophile. His career illustrates the power of personal connections and intrigue in the politics of his day.
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, replaced her in Anne's affections. Finally dismissed in 1711, she and her husband went abroad in 1713. After the death (1722) of the duke of Marlborough, the duchess supervised completion of the building of Blenheim Palace, quarreling bitterly with its architect, Sir John VanbrughVanbrugh, Sir John
, 1664–1726, English dramatist, architect, soldier, and adventurer, b. London, of Flemish descent. In 1686 he obtained a commission in the army. He was arrested for espionage in 1690 and spent two years in a French prison.
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, and with most of her relatives.
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