Millicent Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland
Millicent Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, The Duchess of Sutherland (née Lady Millicent Fanny St. Clair-Erskine, 20 October 1867 – 20 August 1955) was a British society hostess, social reformer, author, editor, journalist, and playwright, often using the pen name Erskine Gower. Her first husband was Cromartie Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 4th Duke of Sutherland. By her two later marriages, she was known as Lady Millicent Fitzgerald and Lady Millicent Hawes, the latter of which was the name she used at the time of her death.
Birth and family
She was born at Dysart House in Fife, the eldest daughter of the Scottish Conservative politician Robert St Clair-Erskine, 4th Earl of Rosslyn. Her sisters were Sybil Fane, Countess of Westmorland and Lady Angela Forbes.
Their mother, Blanche Adeliza Fitzroy, was the widow of the Hon. Charles Maynard, making them half-sisters to Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick. Their maternal grandfather was Henry Fitzroy, whose father, the Reverend Lord Henry Fitzroy, was a Canon of Westminster Abbey, and grandfather was the Prime Minister Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton. She .
Duchess of Sutherland
Lady Millicent St. Clair-Erskine was married three times. She married Lord Cromartie Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Marquess of Stafford, eldest son and heir of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland, on 20 October 1884, her 17th birthday. He inherited the Duchy of Sutherland on his fathers death in 1892.
They had four children:
- Lady Victoria Elizabeth Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1885–1888)
- George Granville Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 5th Duke of Sutherland (1888–1963)
- Alastair St. Clair Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1890–1921), married Elizabeth Demarest and had Elizabeth Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 24th Countess of Sutherland.
- Lady Rosemary Millicent Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1893–1930), married William Ward, 3rd Earl of Dudley and had issue.
She became a great society hostess at their London home, Stafford House, associated with both the Marlborough House set and the Souls. She also developed a reputation as an advocate for social reform, although to a lesser extent than her half-sister Daisy Warwick. She campaigned successfully to remove lead paint glazes from Staffordshire pottery. She also wrote novels, including One Hour and the Next (1899) and a collection of short stories, The Winds of the World (1902), and a play in blank verse. The Conqueror (1905) was performed at the Scala Theatre in London.
After the death of the Duke in 1913, she married Major (later Brig. Gen.) Desmond Percy Fitzgerald, 11th Hussars in October 1914, at which time she became known as Lady Millicent Fitzgerald.
After the outbreak of the First World War, she set up an Red Cross ambulance unit in France, which she ran until 1918. She was captured in the German advance in 1914, but escaped to direct the No. 9 British Red Cross Hospital in Calais. She moved with her unit to Roubaix in June 1918. A set of ten oil paintings by Victor Tardieu (1870–1937) that record the tented field hospital established and run by Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland at Bourbourg, 12 miles (19 km) south-west of Dunkirk, during the summer of 1915 went on sale at the Abbott and Holder gallery in London in early 2012. For her war service, she was awarded the French Croix de guerre the Belgian Royal Red Cross, and the British Red Cross medal.
She was divorced from her second husband in 1919, on the grounds of his infidelity.
She married for a third time, to Lt. Col. George Hawes, later the same year. The marriage was unhappy due to her husbands homosexuality and they also divorced in 1925. A semi-autobiographical novel, That Fool of a Woman, was published in 1924.
She lived mostly in France through the 1920s and 1930s, and also travelled. She living near Angers in 1940, and was captured after the German occupation of France. She escaped via Spain and Portugal to the United States, and returned to Paris in 1945.
She died in Orriule, near Sauveterre-de-Béarn, in south-west France. She was cremated at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, and her ashes were interred at the Sutherland private cemetery at Dunrobin Castle. She was survived by her eldest son, George Granville Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 5th Duke of Sutherland.
- How I Spent My Twentieth Year, 1889 (memoir)
- How I Spent My Twenty-first Year (memoir)
- One Hour and the Next, 1899 (novel)
- The Wind of the World: Seven Love Stories, London: William Heinemann, 1902 (short-story collection, written as Millicent Sutherland)
- The Conqueror, 1905 (play and lyrics to incidental music, written as R.E. Fyffe)
- Six Weeks at the War, Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1915 (war memoir, written as Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland)
- That Fool of a Woman (1924)
Titles and Styles
- The Lady Millicent St. Clair-Erskine, 1867–1884
- Marchioness of Stafford (as wife of heir to the Duke of Sutherland), 1884–1892
- Her Grace The Duchess of Sutherland, 1892–1913
- Her Grace The Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, 1913–1914
- The Lady Millicent Fitzgerald, 1914–1919
- The Lady Millicent Hawes, 1919–1955
- Stuart, Denis. Dear Duchess: Millicent Duchess of Sutherland, 1867-1955. David & Charles (April 1982). ISBN 0-575-03020-8 ISBN 978-0575030206
- "Women in Great Social Positions: Britain's Most Versatile Peeress, The Duchess of Sutherland
|Ancestors of Millicent Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland|
- Reif, Rita. "Sotheby's Sonnenberg Auction Draws 30,000 in $4.7 Million Sale; Auction Requested in Will", The New York Times, June 10, 1979. Accessed June 29, 2010.
- "Millicent Sutherland Ambulance". Abbott and Holder Ltd.
- Denis Stuart, ‘Gower, Millicent Fanny Sutherland-Leveson- , duchess of Sutherland (1867–1955)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 26 March 2013
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