Dorothy Smythe (Sidney) (1617 - 1684) MP

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Birthplace: Sion House, Isleworth, Middlesex, England
Death: Died in Leicester, Leicestershire, England
Managed by: Christian Miles
Last Updated:

About Dorothy Smythe (Sidney)

Dorothy Spencer (née Sidney; later Smythe), Countess of Sunderland (5 October 1617 (baptised) – 5 February 1684), was the wife of Henry Spencer, 1st Earl of Sunderland, and the daughter of Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester, and Lady Dorothy Percy. Lady Dorothy Sidney (or Sydney) was celebrated not only for her beauty but for wit, charm and intelligence. In about 1635, she rejected a marriage proposal from the poet Edmund Waller, who addressed verses to her under the nickname "Sacharissa" (which he based on the Latin word sacharum, meaning "sugar"). In 1639 she married Henry Spencer, and in 1643 he was created 1st Earl of Sunderland in recognition of his service to the king in the English Civil War. It seems to have been a love marriage and had her family's wholehearted approval. He was killed at the First Battle of Newbury shortly afterwards, leaving Dorothy with two children, and pregnant with a third, who died in infancy. Their children were: Lady Dorothy Spencer Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland Lady Penelope Spencer (c. 1642–1667), died unmarried. The widowed countess lived at Brington, Northamptonshire, but eventually returned to Penshurst Place in Kent to live with her parents. In 1652 she remarried to Sir Robert Smythe of Bidborough, Kent, and had a second son, also named Robert. Her letters show both her intelligence and clear-sightedness, even about those close to her. While her son and daughter-in-law could see no fault in their eldest son Robert, Dorothy wrote dryly of her grandson: "He has no good nature or humour, is scornful and pretending… comes to me seldom, seems weary in a minute, talks of my company [guests] as though I picked them up in the streets…" Her death has been attributed to grief caused by her brother Algernon's trial and execution for treason.

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Dorothy Smythe's Timeline

1617
October 5, 1617
Sion House, Isleworth, Middlesex, England
1639
July 20, 1639
Age 21
Penhurst, Kent, England
1640
1640
Age 22
1640
Age 22
Althorpe, Northamptonshire, UK
1641
September 5, 1641
Age 23
Paris, France
1642
1642
Age 24
Wormleighton, Warwickshire, England
1644
January 1644
Age 26
Althorpe, Northamptonshire, UK
1684
February 5, 1684
Age 66
Leicester, Leicestershire, England
February 25, 1684
Age 66
Brington, Northamptonshire, England
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