Henrietta Crofts, Duchess of Bolton

The Duchess of Bolton looks vaguely familiar, does she not?

Henrietta Crofts (née Scott), Duchess of Bolton by and published by John Smith, after Sir Godfrey Kneller. Image: The National Portrait Gallery, London.

If she does, it’s because she has a look of her father, the handsome Duke of Monmouth. This beautiful young lady married the 2nd Duke of Bolton in 1697.

In the course of researching the lives of those connected to the doomed Duke, I found this charming image of his daughter, Henrietta, in the National Portrait Gallery. Now, what I find truly striking is that this daughter, his last with Eleanor Needham, is that all available information is unclear as to the year of her birth. Since 1680, Monmouth’s attentions had been on Lady Henrietta Wentworth, and I do not believe that the naming of his daughter “Henrietta” was coincidental.

My theory is that Eleanor knew that his affection for her had waned, and that he was seeing Lady Wentworth frequently, and either she named the girl because of this, or Monmouth himself was so infatuated with Wentworth that he even named his daughter after her. Since the date of this Henrietta’s birth is circa 1682, I feel certain that it must have been more 1681, for this makes more sense. In 1685, John Evelyn stated in his Diary that Monmouth had lived in sin with Lady Wentworth for two years – or since 1683. Now, he pursued her since 1680, and all I have to do now is figure out what happened in those two years…

I love my job.

Hear ye! 2 thoughts — so far — on “Henrietta Crofts, Duchess of Bolton”:

  1. Tamara

    I’m so glad I found this article on Henrietta Crofts. That is because I have a special interest in her life and I’m always in search of a new information. I even create her family tree, which took me a lot of time I confess.
    Thank you very much for this article, and a beautiful picture of Henrietta.

    1. Colm Ó Ceallacháin

      Dear Tamara, I am writing in relation to a post from December 2013, so apologies for the ‘slight’ delay and I will understand if you have moved on in the meantime and do not reply. It is in relation to Henrietta Crofts, Duchess of Bolton, of whom you say you have created her family tree. I am currently researching a minor historical figure in Ireland, Sir James Cotter (c.1630-1705), who was part of a team involved in the assasination of the regicide John Lisle in Lausanne in 1664. This Cotter’s son, also James, was hanged in Ireland in 1720 for allegedly raping a woman. Where your research may intersect with mine is around this incident, as Henrietta Crofts was of course married to the Duke of Bolton, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1720 and would have influenced any efforts to have Cotter pardoned. There is a letter existing from Alan St. Leger, a landowner from County Cork (Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, Chancery Papers: Ridgeway-Pitt estate, T/3425/2/23) in which he refers to a visit he made to the condemned man, and states ‘I told him when he was under sentence of death that he ought to prepare himself for I really thought if all my friends could do would avail nothing for his father stabb’d my Lord Lisle the Dutchess of Bolton’s grandfather and gott the estate by ye means.’ This statement is puzzling, as I am aware that Henrietta Croft’s father was the Duke of Monmouth and her mother was Eleanor Needham. The Duke of Monmouth’s parents were obviously not the Lisles, while I can only trace one of Eleanor’s parents, Sir Robert Needham. I feel St. Leger’s information is wrong therefore, even though it has subsequently been cited by other historians. Incidentally, Henrietta would have had another reason to resent the Cotter family, as Sir James Cotter was knighted by James II following the battle of Sedgemoor after which both the Duke of Monmouth and Alicia, widow of John Lisle were beheaded. Alan St. Ledger may have confused these two figures somehow, but if I had access to Henrietta Croft’s family tree to her grandparents’ line it would definitively solve my problem. Any input would be greatly appreciated!! Best regards, Colm Ó Ceallacháin.


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