Anne of Great Britain

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: British History 1500-1750; Monarchs of Great Britain

Queen of Great Britain and Ireland;
prev. Queen of England and Scotland
Reign 8 March 1702 – 1 August 1714
Predecessor William II
Successor George I
Consort George of Denmark
William, Duke of Gloucester
HM The Queen
HRH Princess Anne of Denmark
HRH Princess Anne of York
Royal house House of Stuart
Father James II
Mother Anne Hyde
Born 6 February 1665
St. James's Palace, London
Died 1 August 1714 (aged 49)
Burial Westminster Abbey, London

Anne ( 6 February 1665 – 1 August 1714) became Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, when England and Scotland combined into a single state, Anne became the first sovereign of the Kingdom of Great Britain. She continued to reign until her death. Anne was the last monarch of the House of Stuart; she was succeeded by a second cousin, George I, of the House of Hanover.

Anne's life was marked by many crises relating to succession to the Crown. Her Roman Catholic father, James II, had been forcibly deposed in 1688; her brother-in-law and her sister then became joint monarchs as William III and Mary II. Anne suffered from Hughes syndrome or 'sticky blood' which resulted in miscarriages. The failure of both Anne and her sister to produce a child who could survive into adulthood precipitated a succession crisis, for, in the absence of a Protestant heir, the Roman Catholic James Francis Edward Stuart (the "Old Pretender"), son of James II, could attempt to claim the throne. It was for this reason that the Parliament of England passed legislation allowing the Crown to pass to the House of Hanover. When the Parliament of Scotland refused to accept the choice of the English Parliament, various coercive tactics (such as crippling the Scottish economy by restricting trade, see Alien Act) were used to ensure that Scotland would co-operate. The Act of Union 1707 (which united England and Scotland into Great Britain) was a product of subsequent treaty negotiations.

Anne's reign was marked by the development of a two-party system. Anne personally preferred the Tory Party, but endured the Whigs. Her closest friend, and perhaps her most influential advisor, was Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, though there was a falling out later when the Duchess of Marlborough was banned from court during the War of the Spanish Succession. The Duchess of Marlborough's husband was John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, who led the English—and after the Union, the British—armies in the War of the Spanish Succession.

Early life

The royal arms of Queen Anne
The royal arms of Queen Anne

Anne was born in St. James's Palace of London, the second daughter of James, Duke of York, (afterwards James II) and his first wife, the Lady Anne Hyde. Her paternal uncle was King Charles II and her older sister was the future Mary II. Anne and Mary were the only children of the Duke and Duchess of York to survive into adulthood. Anne suffered as a child from an eye infection; for medical treatment, she was sent to France. She lived with her grandmother, Henrietta Maria of France, and on the latter's death with her aunt, Henrietta Anne, Duchesse d'Orléans. Anne returned from France in 1670. In about 1673, Anne made the acquaintance of Sarah Jennings, who would become her close friend and one of her most influential advisors. Jennings later married John Churchill (the future Duke of Marlborough), who would later become Anne's most important general.

In 1673 Anne's father's conversion to Roman Catholicism became public. On the instructions of Charles II, however, Anne and her sister Mary were raised as strict Protestants. In 1678 Anne accompanied Mary of Modena to Holland, and in 1679 joined her parents abroad and afterwards in Scotland. On 28 July 1683, Anne married the Protestant Prince George of Denmark, brother of the Danish King Christian V (and her third cousin through Frederick II), an unpopular union but one of great domestic happiness, the prince and princess being comfortable in temper and both preferring retirement and quiet to life in the great world. Sarah Churchill became Anne's Lady of the Bedchamber, and, by Anne's desire to mark their mutual intimacy and affection, all deference due to her rank was abandoned and the two ladies called each other Mrs. Morley and Mrs. Freeman.

When Charles II died in 1685 (converting to Roman Catholicism on his deathbed), Anne's father ascended the Throne as James II. But James was not well-received by the English people. Public alarm increased when James's second wife, Mary of Modena, gave birth to a son ( James Francis Edward) on 10 June 1688, for a Roman Catholic dynasty became apparent. Anne was not present on the occasion, having gone to Bath, and this gave rise to a belief that the child was spurious; but it is most probable that James's desire to exclude all Protestants from affairs of state was the real cause. "I shall never now be satisfied," Anne wrote to Mary, "whether the child be true or false. It may be it is our brother, but God only knows ... one cannot help having a thousand fears and melancholy thoughts, but whatever changes may happen you shall ever find me firm to my religion and faithfully yours."

Princess Anne's sister and brother-in-law, Mary and William, subsequently invaded England to dethrone the unpopular and perceived despot James II. James attempted to flee the realm on 11 December 1688, succeeding twelve days later.

During the events immediately preceding the Glorious Revolution Anne was kept in seclusion. Her ultimate conduct was probably influenced by the Churchills; and though forbidden by James to pay Mary a projected visit in the spring of 1688, she corresponded with her, and was no doubt aware of William's plans. Her position was now a very critical and painful one. She refused to show any sympathy with the king after William had landed in November, and wrote, with the advice of the Churchills, to the prince, declaring her approval of his action. Churchill abandoned the king on the 24th, Prince George on the 25th, and when James returned to London on the 26th he found that Anne and her lady-in-waiting had during the previous night followed their husbands' examples. Escaping from Whitehall by a back staircase they put themselves under the care of the bishop of London, spent one night in his house, and subsequently arrived on the 1st of December at Nottingham, where the princess first made herself known and appointed a council. Thence she travelled to Oxford, where she met Prince George, in triumph, escorted by a large company. Like Mary, she was reproached for showing no concern at the news of the king's flight, but her justification was that "she never loved to do anything that looked like an affected constraint." She returned to London on December 19, when she was at once visited by William.

In 1689, a Convention Parliament assembled and declared that James had abdicated the realm when he attempted to flee, and that the Throne was therefore vacant. The Crown was offered to, and accepted by, William and Mary, who ruled as joint monarchs. The Bill of Rights 1689 settled succession to the Throne; Princess Anne and her descendants were to be in the line of succession after William and Mary. They were to be followed by any descendants of William by a future marriage.

William and Mary

Soon after their accession, William and Mary exalted Lord Churchill by granting him the Earldom of Marlborough. The subsequent treatment of the Marlboroughs, however, was not as favourable. In 1692, suspecting that Lord Marlborough was a Jacobite (that is, one who believed that James II was the legitimate monarch), Mary II dismissed him from all his offices. Lady Marlborough was subsequently removed from the Royal Household, leading Princess Anne to angrily leave her royal residence for Syon House, the Duke of Northumberland's home. Princess Anne was then stripped of her guard of honour, and the guards at the royal palaces were forbidden to salute her husband.

When Mary II died of smallpox in 1694, William III continued to reign alone. Seeking to improve his own popularity (which had always been much lower than that of his wife), he restored Princess Anne to her previous honours, allowing her to reside in St. James's Palace. At the same time William kept her in the background and refrained from appointing her regent during his absence. In 1695, William sought to win Princess Anne's favour by restoring Marlborough to all of his offices. In return Anne gave her support to William's government, though about this time, in 1696—according to James, in consequence of the near prospect of the throne—she wrote to her father asking for his leave to wear the crown at William's death, and promising its restoration at a convenient opportunity. The unfounded rumour that William contemplated settling the succession after his death on James's son, provided he were educated a Protestant in England, may possibly have alarmed her.

Princess Anne with her son William, Duke of Gloucester
Princess Anne with her son William, Duke of Gloucester

In the meantime, Prince George and Princess Anne suffered from a series of personal misadventures. By 1700, the future Queen had been pregnant at least eighteen times; thirteen times, she miscarried or gave birth to stillborn children. Of the remaining five children, four died before reaching the age of two years. Her only son to survive infancy, William, Duke of Gloucester, died at the age of eleven on 29 July 1700, precipitating a succession crisis. William and Mary did not have any children; thus, Princess Anne, the heir apparent to the Throne, was the only individual remaining in the line of succession established by the Bill of Rights. If the line of succession were totally extinguished, then it would have become simple for the deposed King James to reclaim the Throne. To preclude a Roman Catholic from obtaining the Crown, Parliament enacted the Act of Settlement 1701, which provided that, failing the issue of Princess Anne and of William III by any future marriage, the Crown would go to Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and her descendants, who descended from James I of England through Elizabeth of Bohemia. Several genealogically senior claimants were disregarded due to their Catholicism. Anne acquiesced to the new line of succession created by the Act of Settlement.

Early reign

William III died 8 March 1702, leaving the Crown to Anne ( 23 April). At about the same time, the War of the Spanish Succession began; at controversy was the right of Philip, grandson of the French King Louis XIV, to succeed to the Spanish Throne. Although Philip was named in the will of the previous King of Spain, Charles II, much of Europe opposed him, fearing that the French royal dynasty would become too powerful. The will included a condition that Philip should give up his right to the throne of France, but Louis XIV had this condition overturned in case many of his heirs died. This was not an unrealistic worry: most of Louis XIV's family was killed by smallpox shortly before his death, leaving his five-year-old great-grandson Louis XV on the throne. England had also been angered by Louis XIV's proclamation of James Stuart, the Old Pretender, as " James III of England" following the death of James II. Therefore, England supported the rival claims of Archduke Charles, the Austrian cousin of the previous Spanish King.

The War of the Spanish Succession (known in North America as Queen Anne's War, the second of the French and Indian Wars) would continue until the last years of Anne's reign, and would dominate both foreign and domestic policy. Soon after her accession, Anne appointed her husband Lord High Admiral, giving him control of the Royal Navy. Anne gave control of the army to Lord Marlborough, whom she appointed Captain-General. Marlborough also received numerous honours from the Queen; he was created a Knight of the Garter and was elevated to the ducal rank. The Duchess of Marlborough was appointed to the post of Mistress of the Robes, the highest office a lady could attain.

Anne's first ministry was primarily Tory; at its head was Sidney Godolphin, 1st Baron Godolphin. The Whigs—who were, unlike the Tories, vigorous supporters of the War of the Spanish Succession—became much more influential after the Duke of Marlborough won a great victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. The Whigs quickly rose to power; soon, due to Marlborough's influence, almost all the Tories were removed from the ministry. Lord Godolphin, although a Tory, allied himself with Marlborough to ensure his continuance in office. Although Lord Godolphin was the nominal head of the ministry, actual power was held by the Duke of Marlborough and by the two Secretaries of State ( Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland and Robert Harley). One may observe that Lord Godolphin's son married the Duke of Marlborough's daughter, and that Lord Sunderland was the Duke of Marlborough's son-in-law. Several others benefited from Marlborough's nepotism.

Reign in Great Britain

Half-crown coin of Anne, 1708. The inscription reads ANNA DEI GRATIA (Anne by the Grace of God)
Half-crown coin of Anne, 1708. The inscription reads ANNA DEI GRATIA (Anne by the Grace of God)

The next years of Anne's reign were marked by attempts to merge England and Scotland into one realm. When it had passed the Act of Settlement 1701, the English Parliament had neglected to consult with the Parliament of Scotland or Estates of Scotland, who, furthermore, sought to preserve the Stuart dynasty. The Act of Security was passed by Scotland; failing the issue of the Queen, it granted the Estates the power to choose the next Scottish monarch from amongst the Protestant descendants of the royal line of Scotland. The individual chosen by the Estates could not be the same person who came to the English Throne, unless various religious, economic and political conditions were met. Though it was originally not forthcoming, the Royal Assent was granted when the Scottish Parliament threatened to withdraw Scottish troops from the Duke of Marlborough's army in Europe and refused to impose taxes. The English Parliament — fearing that an independent Scotland would restore the Auld Alliance (with France) — responded with the Alien Act 1705, which provided that economic sanctions would be imposed and Scottish subjects would be declared aliens (putting their right to own property in England into jeopardy), unless Scotland either repealed the Act of Security or moved to unite with England. The Estates chose the latter option, and Commissioners were appointed to negotiate the terms of a union. Articles of Union were approved by the Commissioners on 22 July 1706, and were agreed to by the Scottish Parliament on 16 January 1707. Under the Act, England and Scotland became one realm called Great Britain on 1 May 1707.

The Duchess of Marlborough's relationship with Anne deteriorated during 1707. The Duchess had proved a termagant, and had been undermined by another of the Queen's friends Abigail Masham. Mrs Masham, a cousin of the Duchess of Marlborough, was also related to one of Anne's Whig ministers, Robert Harley. Through Masham, Harley exerted influence over the Queen. Learning of Harley's new-found power, Lord Godolphin and the Duke of Marlborough grew jealous, seeking his dismissal. Anne was compelled to accept Harley's resignation in 1708. A group of five Whigs — Lord Sunderland, Thomas Wharton, 1st Earl of Wharton, John Somers, 1st Baron Somers, Charles Montagu, 1st Baron Halifax and Robert Walpole — dominated politics, becoming known as the " Junto". Also, Harley continued to retain influence with the Queen as a private advisor.

Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark, died in October 1708. His leadership of the Admiralty was unpopular amongst the Whig leaders; as he lay on his deathbed, some Whigs were preparing to make a motion requesting his removal from the office of Lord High Admiral. Anne was forced to appeal to the Duke of Marlborough to ensure that the motion was not made. After her husband's death, however, Anne grew more distant from the overbearing Duchess of Marlborough, preferring the companionship of the much more respectful Abigail Masham. The Queen terminated their friendship in 1709.

Later years

Queen Anne, by an unknown artist, studio of John Closterman (c. 1702)
Queen Anne, by an unknown artist, studio of John Closterman (c. 1702)

The fall of the Whigs came about quickly as the expensive War of the Spanish Succession grew unpopular in England; Robert Harley was particularly skilful in using the issue to motivate the electorate. A public furor was aroused after Dr Henry Sacheverell, a Tory clergyman who attacked the Whig government for offering toleration to religious dissenters, was prosecuted for seditious libel. Even more humiliating was the failure of the Whigs to obtain the desired sentence; Dr Sacheverell was merely suspended from preaching for three years, and did not face imprisonment, as some Whigs had hoped. In the general election of 1710, a discontented populace returned a large Tory majority.

Marlborough's relatives soon began to lose their offices. Lord Godolphin was removed on 7 August 1710; the new ministry was headed by Robert Harley and included Henry St John. Marlborough was dismissed on charges of misuse of public money. The new Tory government began to seek peace in the War of the Spanish Succession, for (as later events proved) an unmitigated victory for Austria (Great Britain's primary ally) would be just as damaging to British interests as a loss to France. The Tories were ready to compromise by giving Spain to the grandson of the French King, but the Whigs could not bear to see a Bourbon on the Spanish Throne.

The dispute was resolved by outside events: the elder brother of Archduke Charles (whom the Whigs supported) conveniently died in 1711 and Archduke Charles then inherited Austria, Hungary and the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. To also give him the Spanish throne to which he had aspired was no longer in Great Britain's interests, as he would become too powerful. But the proposed Treaty of Utrecht submitted to Parliament for ratification did not go as far as the Whigs wanted to curb Bourbon ambitions. In the House of Commons, the Tory majority was unassailable, but the same was not true in the House of Lords. To block the peace plan, the Whigs made an alliance with Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham and his Tory associates in the Lords. Seeing a need for decisive action, the Queen and her ministry dismissed the Duke of Marlborough, granting the command of British troops to James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde. To erase the Whig majority in the House of Lords, Anne created twelve new peers, namely Lords Compton, Bruce (both by writ of acceleration), Hay, Mountjoy, Burton, Mansell, Middleton, Trevor, Lansdowne, Masham, Foley and Bathurst, all on 1 January 1712. Such a mass creation of peers was unprecedented; indeed, Elizabeth I had granted fewer peerage dignities in almost fifty years than did Anne in a single day.

Under the terms of the ratified treaty, Philip, grandson of the French King Louis XIV, was allowed to remain on the Throne of Spain, and was permitted to retain Spain's New World colonies. The rest of the Spanish inheritance, however, was divided amongst various European princes; Great Britain obtained the Spanish territories of Gibraltar and Minorca. Various French colonies in North America were also ceded to Great Britain. Thus ended Great Britain's involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession (as well as Queen Anne's War).


Anne died of suppressed gout, ending in erysipelas, which then produced an abscess and fever, at approximately 7 o'clock on 1 August 1714. Her body was so swollen that it had to be buried in Westminster Abbey in a vast almost-square coffin.

She died shortly after the Electress Sophia ( 8 June of the same year); the Electress's son, George I, Elector of Hanover, inherited the British Crown. Pursuant to the Act of Settlement 1701, the crown was settled on George as Electress Sophia's heir, with the possible Catholic claimants, including James Francis Edward Stuart, ignored. However, the Elector of Hanover's accession was relatively stable: Jacobite risings in 1715 and 1719 both failed.


The reign of Anne was marked by an increase in the influence of ministers and a decrease in the influence of the Crown. In 1708, Anne became the last British Sovereign to withhold the Royal Assent from a bill (in this case, a Scots militia bill). Preoccupied with her health (she suffered from porphyria), Anne allowed her ministers, most notably Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, as well as her favourite companions ( Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough and Abigail Masham) to dominate politics. The shift of power from the Crown to the ministry became even more apparent during the reign of George I, whose chief adviser, Sir Robert Walpole, is often described as the "first Prime Minister."

In 1709 Anne issued a proclamation to the people of the German Palatinate of the Rhine known as the Golden Book. In it she urged the population to make their way down the Rhine river to Rotterdam where they would embark on Royal Navy ships and be taken to British colonies of the Americas. However, the Palatinate had been so devastated by the War of the Spanish Succession that thousands made their way to the Dutch Republic. As a result, the British government was forced to settle over 3,000 Germans (800 families in total) in Ireland, mainly in County Limerick and County Wexford, their cause being publicised by the writer Daniel Defoe. As all of these people were Protestant, they were each given a standard British Army musket affectionately labelled a "Queen Anne Musket". Their descendants live there to this day though their numbers are greatly diminished, with the unique dialect of German virtually extinct.

The age of Anne was also one of artistic, literary, and scientific advancement. In architecture, Sir John Vanbrugh constructed elegant edifices such as Blenheim Palace (the home of the Marlboroughs) and Castle Howard. Writers such as Daniel Defoe, Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift flourished during Anne's reign. Sir Isaac Newton lived during Anne's reign, although he had reached his most important discoveries under William and Mary. Her name remains associated with the world's first substantial copyright law, known as the Statute of Anne (1709), which granted exclusive rights to authors rather than printers.

Anne had a fondness for brandy, which sometimes led to her being known as "Brandy Nan."

Queen Anne's County in the state of Maryland is named for Queen Anne. She was Queen when the county was established in 1706.

Titles, Styles, and Arms


  • 6 February 1665- 28 July 1683: Her Royal Highness Princess Anne of York
  • 28 July 1683- 8 March 1702: Her Royal Highness Princess Anne of Denmark and Norway
  • 8 March 1702- 1 May 1707: Her Majesty The Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland
  • 1 May 1707- 1 August 1714: Her Majesty The Queen of Great Britain and Ireland

Styles and Arms

The official style of Anne before 1707 was "Anne, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc." (The claim to France was only nominal, and had been asserted by every English King since Edward III, regardless of the amount of French territory actually controlled.) After the Union, her style was "Anne, by the Grace of God, Queen of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc."

Anne's arms before the Union were: Quarterly, I and IV Grandquarterly, Azure three fleurs-de-lis Or (for France) and Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or (for England); II Or a lion rampant within a tressure flory-counter-flory Gules (for Scotland); III Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland). After the Union, the arms of England and Scotland, which had previously been in different quarters, were "impaled," or placed side-by-side, in the same quarter to emphasise that the two countries had become one Kingdom. The new arms were: Quarterly, I and IV Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or (for England) impaling Or a lion rampant within a tressure flory-counter-flory Gules (for Scotland); II Azure three fleurs-de-lys Or (for France); III Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland).

Ancestry and descent


Anne's ancestors in three generations
Anne of Great Britain Father:
James II of England
Paternal Grandfather:
Charles I of England
Paternal Great-Grandfather:
James I of England
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Anne of Denmark
Paternal Grandmother:
Henrietta Maria of France
Paternal Great-Grandfather:
Henry IV of France
Paternal Great-Grandmother:
Marie de' Medici
Anne Hyde
Maternal Grandfather:
Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon
Maternal Great-Grandfather:
Henry Hyde
Maternal Great-Grandmother:
Mary Langford
Maternal Grandmother:
Frances Aylesbury
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Sir Thomas Aylesbury
Maternal Great-Grandmother:
Anne Denman


Name Birth Death
By George of Denmark ( April 2, 1653– October 28, 1708; married in July 28, 1683)
Stillborn Daughter 12 May 1684 12 May 1684
Mary 2 June 1685 8 February 1687
Anne Sophia 12 May 1686 2 February 1687
Stillborn Child January 1687 January 1687
Stillborn Son 22 October 1687 22 October 1687
Stillborn Child 16 April 1688 16 April 1688
William, Duke of Gloucester 24 July 1689 29 July 1700
Mary 14 October 1690 14 October 1690
George 17 April 1692 17 April 1692
Stillborn Daughter 23 April 1693 23 April 1693
Stillborn Child 21 January 1694 21 January 1694
Stillborn Daughter 18 February 1696 18 February 1696
Stillborn Child 20 September 1696 20 September 1696
Stillborn Child 21 September 1696 21 September 1696
Stillborn Daughter 25 March 1697 25 March 1697
Stillborn Child December 1697 December 1697
Charles 15 September 1698 15 September 1698
Stillborn Daughter 25 January 1700 25 January 1700

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