Elizabeth Hamilton (Villiers), Countess of Orkney

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Elizabeth Hamilton (Villiers)

Birthplace: Probably Richmond, Surrey, England
Death: Died in London, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Sir Edward Villiers, Knight Marshal of the Household and Frances Villiers
Wife of Field Marshal George Douglas-Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney
Partner of William III, King of England, Ireland, and Scotland
Mother of Anne Douglas-Hamilton, suo jure Countess of Orkney; Frances Douglas and Lady Henrietta Boyle (Douglas)
Sister of Frances Villiers; Barbara Berkeley; Edward Villiers, 1st Earl of Jersey; Mary O'Brien; Katherine Villiers and 2 others

Occupation: Countess Consort of Orkney; Viscountess Consort of Kirkwall; Baroness Consort of Dechmont
Managed by: Ric Dickinson
Last Updated:

About Elizabeth Hamilton (Villiers), Countess of Orkney

From the English Wikipedia page on Elizabeth Hamilton:


Elizabeth Hamilton, Countess of Orkney (1655 – 19 April 1733), was the acknowledged mistress of William III & II, King of England and Scotland, from 1680 until 1695. She was a lady-in-waiting to his wife and co-monarch, Queen Mary II.

She was born to Colonel Sir Edward Villiers of Richmond, Surrey and Frances Howard, herself the youngest daughter of Theophilus Howard, 2nd Earl of Suffolk and Elizabeth Hume. As governess to the princesses Mary and Anne, Lady Villiers secured for her children both place and influence in the future Queen Mary II's household: Elizabeth's sisters Anne and Katherine were among the maids of honour who accompanied Lady Mary to the Hague, to serve as Princess of Orange; meanwhile, her brother Edward, later created 1st Earl of Jersey, was Master of the Horse.

Three years after the wedding of William and Mary, Elizabeth became his acknowledged mistress. In 1685, Mary's father James II exploited rumors of William's infidelity in an attempt to cause a split between his daughter and her unfaithful prince. After his ascension to the English throne, William settled on her a large share of the confiscated Irish estates of the late James II. Parliament revoked this grant in 1699.

Shortly after Mary II's death, William ended his relationship with Elizabeth Villiers, motivated, it is said, by his wife's expressed wishes.

In 1694, two men fought a duel possibly over the affections of Elizabeth Villiers. John Law, then still a penniless young man, killed Edward "Beau" Wilson on 9 April 1694. Wilson had challenged Law, although Law may have provoked Wilson on the instigation of Villiers, due to a conflict she had with Wilson regarding money and attempted blackmail. Law was tried and initially found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to a fine, upon the ground that the offence only amounted to manslaughter. Wilson's brother appealed and had Law imprisoned, but he managed to escape to the continent.

On 25 November 1695 Elizabeth was married to her cousin, Lord George Hamilton, fifth son of the 3rd Duke of Hamilton. He was gratified early in the next year with the titles Earl of Orkney, Viscount of Kirkwall, and Baron Dechmont. Elizabeth, newly Countess of Orkney, served her husband's interests with great skill and the marriage proved a happy one. She died in London on 19 April 1733.

Lady Orkney retained a degree of social importance in the Hanoverian era, and was hostess to both George I and George II at her estate at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire.


Elizabeth Villiers was a first cousin of Barbara Villiers, a mistress of Charles II, as their fathers were brothers. Her paternal aunt was Elizabeth Villiers, Countess of Morton, the godmother and governess of Princess Henrietta. Her brother was Edward Villiers, 1st Earl of Jersey, whose great-grandson married Frances Twysden, yet another royal mistress.


By George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney, son of Anne Hamilton, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton, and William Douglas-Hamilton, Duke of Hamilton, Elizabeth Villiers had three daughters, the eldest of which inherited her husband's estate and title:

  • 1. Lady Anne, suo jure Countess of Orkney, married her cousin William O'Brien, 4th Earl of Inchiquin (1700 – 18 July 1777) on 29 March 1720
  • 2. Lady Frances, married Thomas Lumley-Saunderson, 3rd Earl of Scarbrough
  • 3. Lady Henrietta, married John Boyle, 5th Earl of Cork

From Darryl Lundy's Peerage page on Elizabeth Villiers:


Elizabeth Villiers [1]

  • F, #19451,
  • d. 19 April 1733
  • Last Edited=11 Mar 2009
  • Consanguinity Index=0.0%

Elizabeth Villiers was the daughter of Sir Edward Villiers and Lady Frances Howard.[1]

She married Field Marshal George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney, son of William Douglas-Hamilton, 1st Earl of Selkirk and Anne Hamilton, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton, on 25 November 1695.[1]

She died on 19 April 1733.[1]

She was Main-of-Honour to Queen Mary II.[1]

She and William III Henry of Orange, King of Great Britain were associated.[1]

From 25 November 1695, her married name became Hamilton.[1]

Children of Elizabeth Villiers and Field Marshal George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney

  • 1. Anne Douglas, Countess of Orkney+ d. 6 Dec 1756
  • 2. Frances Douglas+ d. 27 Dec 1772
  • 3. Lady Henrietta Douglas+[2] d. 22 Aug 1732


  • 1. [S37] Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 2, page 2096. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition.
  • 2. [S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume III, page 423. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
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Elizabeth Hamilton (Villiers), Countess of Orkney's Timeline

Probably Richmond, Surrey, England
November 25, 1695
Age 40
City of London, Middlesex, England
Age 41
Maidenhead, UK
April 19, 1733
Age 78
London, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom