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Masham, Abigail, Lady

Masham, Abigail, Lady măsh´əm [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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