Friday, June 19, 2009

Tart of the Week: Albinia, Countess of Buckinghamshire

I've been dying to make Albinia a tart of the week for ages but always had to put her aside due to lack of information on her. But every tart deserves her day, and Lady Buckinghamshire was quite notorious in her time, so here is her tribute.

Albinia was the lovechild of Lord Bertie and the illegitimate Anne Casey. Being the illegitimate child of an illegitimate child, you would think Albinia was very well screwed in the marriage department, especially since she didn't exactly have looks on her side. But as luck would have it she ended up marrying the wealthy George Hobart, 3rd Earl of Buckinghamshire, a politician and ambassador. By all accounts, Albinia was a good wife of nobility; that is she was able to give the Earl children. She was also very good at entertaining.

Albinia was so good in this department, in fact, she became quite notorious for her gambling parties. Albinia's addiction to the gaming tables made Georgiana's look like a trip to the playground. Because Albinia was a society hostess she was a well known member of the gentry, but it was her love of faro that made her a celebrity. Albinia and her gambling lady friends were always attacked in satirical prints because of their over the top gambling parties. When Lord Chief Justice Kenyon promised to be a bit of a gambling-czar and punish even "the highest ranks of society" who were convicted of illicit gambling with physical punishment or jail time, all eyes turned to Lady Buckinghamshire's gaming tables. No one actually believed Kenyon's threat. Rightly so, for when Albinia was charged and found guilty of running her faro table and taking in a little too much money on it (she was a cheater) she received a slap on the wrist, a fine.

Albinia continued to gamble and be over the top in all aspects of her life, be it gaming, clothing, or the society she kept. She died, unapologetic in 1816.

For a dose of just how lampooned the popular countess was by satirical artists, check out the Nation Gallery's collection of depictions of her here.


  1. I really love the first portrait of her, I had not seen it before. Very atmospheric...I like the high contrast.

  2. Danielle took the words out of my mouth! I like her hair--I wish hair like that was in fashion today! But who of us doesn't?

    Anyway, I bet it would've been neat to spend a night on the town with her! It sounds like she had a lot of fun!

  3. I just looked through the prints on the NPG site and had a good laugh. Funny that they're all by Gillray! And it's funny to me that I can always recognize Charles James Fox. He looks exactly the same in every satire, regardless of who drew it. I bet he actually looked like that! Why does Gillray make fun of Albinia's weight? She doesn't look fat in that portrait.

  4. Died unapologetic. Way to go! Though I'm sure seeing a portrait of oneself in the pillory causes pain no matter how bold one is. Those satirical prints can be really harsh. (But, oh, how I love them!)

    It's so true. Fox is so easily recognizable with his belly and swarthy face. I've always felt that I would have liked him.

    Do you know who Lord Bertie is? All I can picture is Bertie Wooster and I know that can't be right! (A secret love of mine.)

  5. Not really! His name was Lord Vere Bertie and he was the son of Robert Bertie, 1st Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven.

    And yes, it is so convenient how recognizable Fox is!

  6. Love the prints! But who was this naughty Hannah Humphreys, who sold these beautiful but scandalous sheets? Tart material???

  7. Ooo Miss M, I like the way you think

  8. Stumbled across this site. Glad to know my great-great-great-great-great grandmother was a party animal. LOL! I'm descended from her daughter Lady Henrietta Hobart (m. Rt Hon John Sullivan).

  9. That's fantastic! She was the queen of the gaming tables, so I consider her royalty