1746 Anne (d.1759), Duchess of Chandos by Joseph Highmore (Walker Art Gallery - Liverpool, Merseyside UK)

The blog dashingduchesses.com has this biographical sketch published 23 July 2012:  "History rarely serves up a more romantic true story than that of Anne Wells Bridges, a chambermaid whose husband sold her to a duke, who then made her his duchess.

The story goes that Henry Bridges, 2nd Duke of Chandos, first saw Anne while dining with a friend at the Pelican Inn in Newbury, where she worked.  A stir in the inn yard drew the duke’s attention. When he learned a man was about to sell his wife, His Grace reportedly replied, 'We will go and see the sale.'

Anne’s husband, a drunken inn ostler, had a halter around his wife’s neck. The duke, impressed with Anne’s beauty and patience, decided to buy her himself.

Another version of the story is that Henry saw the ostler beat his wife and, feeling sorry for her, offered the husband a sum of money for her.  The story gets a little murky here. One version suggests Henry, a widower, made Anne his mistress. Another is that his first wife had not yet died and that he placed Anne in the care of a vicar’s family.

During that time, it is said, Henry had her 'educated into a charming person.'

A few years later,  in 1744, Anne’s husband finally drank himself to death. Henry’s first wife had died several years earlier in 1738.

The same year her husband died, Anne married the duke on Christmas Day at Mr. Keith’s Chapel in Mayfair.

Impressions about what kind of person Anne, Duchess of Chandos, was are mixed.

Less than a month after her marriage, a gentleman known as Lord Omery remarked, 'Of her person and character people speak variously, but all agree that both are very bad.'

But at least, according to one account, she remained good to her family.

A man called Mr. Thicknesse recalled meeting Her Grace’s sister in a market place where the pretty young woman was selling groceries.

When he asked her about her relationship with her ducal sister the woman confirmed it was true, telling him that her sister still took notice of them.

'Though she had many sisters, her sister sent for them all up to London, when she would give them new clothes suitable to their stations, send a servant to show them the sights in town, besides make them a present of money and pay their coach fare back to the country,' concluding with, 'What else could she do for we are not fit to sit down to the Duke’s table.'     Anne and her duke had one daughter, Augusta Ann. They were married for almost fifteen years before the duchess died in 1759.

After her death, Henry himself praised his late duchess in the family Register, writing that she, 'possessed of every good quality…every paper relative to household affairs was left in the most exact order for the use of her surviving lord with directions indexed where to go to each paper, which must have been a work of some months, and plainly showed she was not insensible of her approaching dissolution.'

The duke remarried eight years after Anne died. His third wife was the daughter of a baronet. The couple had no children."

From bbc.co.

Duchess Anne's dress is topped by a peeress' ermine robes, but the robes do not encase the entire dress, a round gown.

Keywords:  1746, Highmore, straight coiffure, hair jewelry, chemise, trapezoidal neckline, lace, three quarter length under-sleeves, cuffs, bodice, vee décolletage, bows, elbow length flared over-sleeves, girdle, vee waistline, full skirt, draped bodice ornament, robes, round gown

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