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Abigail Masham, Lady

Masham, Abigail, Lady (măshˈəm) [key], 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. In 1707 she married Samuel Masham (later a baron), a groom to Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark. Mrs. Masham gradually supplanted the duchess of Marlborough in the queen's affection and became the instrument through which Robert Harley, her kinsman, exerted his influence on Anne. In 1714, however, Mrs. Masham quarreled with Harley, secured his dismissal as lord treasurer, and assured Viscount Bolingbroke (Henry St. John) of supreme political power. After Anne's death (1714), she lived in retirement.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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