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Katherine Stanhope, Countess of Chesterfield

Katherine Stanhope, Countess of Chesterfield (1609–1667) was the governess and confidante of Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, and was the first woman to hold the office of Postmaster General of England.

The Countess of Chesterfield
Katherine, Lady Stanhope.jpg
Katherine, Lady Stanhope by Anthony van Dyck
Died9 April 1667 (age 58)
Spouse(s)(1) Henry Stanhope, Lord Stanhope (d. 1634)
(2) Johan van der Kerckhove, Lord of Heenvliet (d. 1660)
(3) Daniel O'Neill (d. 1664)
ChildrenMary Stanhope (1629-1660)
Catherine Stanhope (c.1633-1662)
Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield (1634-1713)
Charles van der Kerckhove, 1st Earl of Bellomont (1643-1683)
Amelie van der Kerckhove (1646-1663)
Dorothea Helena van der Kerckhove (d. 1703)
Parent(s)Thomas Wotton, 2nd Baron Wotton (1587-1630) and Mary Throckmorton (d. 1658)



She was the elder daughter of Thomas Wotton, 2nd Baron Wotton by his wife Mary Throckmorton, a daughter of Sir Arthur Throckmorton of Paulerspury, Northamptonshire.


After the marriage of William and Mary in May 1641, she followed her husband to Holland as the governess to the princess Royal. As the princess came to age, Lady Stanhope grew to become her confidante and adviser. During the English Civil War, Lady Stanhope sided with Charles I and his heir, King Charles II; she is said to have supplied them both politically and financially, and to have been involved in much of the royalist plots of that decade. After the death of Heenvliet in 1660, Charles II created her Countess of Chesterfield in recognition of both her service and her friendship. She remained in princess Mary's service until the latter's death from illness on 24 December 1660. She then passed into the service of Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, and in 1662 to Queen Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II. In 1662 Lady Catherine married her friend Daniel O'Neill (d.1664), Postmaster General, another one of the King's men during the civil war. Upon his death in 1664, she increased her by then already considerable wealth by inheriting O'Neill's office of Postmaster General.[1]

Marriages & progenyEdit

She married thrice:


She died of an edema in 1667, and was buried on her father's estate.


  1. ^ "GPO - PMG's & Secretaries". Falmouth Packet Archives 1688-1850. Retrieved 5 March 2010.


Political offices
Preceded by
Daniel O'Neill
Postmaster General
(in right of her deceased husband)

Succeeded by
The Earl of Arlington