Mary Capel, Countess of Essex
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Mary Capel, Countess of Essex

Mary Capel, Countess of Essex British countess

British countess
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro British countess
Countries United Kingdom
Occupations Noble
Type Royals
Gender female
Birth 1679
Death 26 August 1726
Father: William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland
Spouse: Algernon Capell, 2nd Earl of Essex
Children: William Capell, 3rd Earl of Essex
The details

Mary Capel, Countess of Essex (1679 – 20 August 1726), born Lady Mary Bentinck, was the daughter of William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland, a Dutch and English nobleman who became in an early stage the favourite of stadtholder William, Prince of Orange (the future King of England) and his wife Anne Villiers (died 30 November 1688).

Mary is one of the Hampton Court Beauties who was painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller for Queen Mary II. Despite sharing a surname, Mary's aunt, Barbara Villiers, Viscountess FitzHarding was not the renowned courtesan and Windsor Beauty the Duchess of Cleveland, although there is a relation; the Duchess of Cleveland was Mary's first cousin once removed through her mother, Anne Villiers. Nevertheless, Barbara Villiers was painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller.


Barbara Villiers(left), maternal aunt to Lady Mary Bentinck, playing cards with her closest friend, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, c. 1702

Lady Mary's paternal grandparents were Sir Edward Villiers and Lady Frances Howard, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Suffolk and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Home (died 19 August 1633), daughter of the 1st Earl of Dunbar. Through her grandfather, Sir Edward Villiers, she descended from Sir Oliver St. John and Margaret Beauchamp, mother to Lady Margaret Beaufort. Lady Mary's maternal grandparents were Bernard Bentinck, 6th Baron Bentinck of the Netherlands (died 29 July 1668), a descendent from an ancient and noble family of Guelders and Overijssel, and his wife Anne van Bloemendale (died 30 March 1685).


Lady Mary married twice.

On 28 February 1692, she married Lt.-Gen. Algernon Capel (1670–1710), 2nd Earl of Essex. The couple had three children.

1st: Lady Jane Hyde (died January 1723/24), daughter of the 4th Earl of Clarendon. The marriage produced two daughters.
2nd: Lady Elizabeth Russell (died 8 June 1784), daughter of the 2nd Duke of Bedford. Their son, William, became the 4th Earl of Essex.
1st: Samuel Molyneux,
2nd: Nathaniel St. André. Both marriages were childless.

On 2 August 1714, she married Rt. Hon. Sir Conyers Darcy (died 1758), son of Hon. John Darcy (1659–1688) and Bridget Sutton. The marriage was childless. *Thomas Capell born 1705 left for America in 1720.


  • 1679 – 28 February 1698: Lady Mary Bentinck
  • 28 February 1698 – 10 January 1710: Mary Capell, Countess of Essex
  • 10 January 1710 – 2 August 1714: Mary Capell, Dowager Countess of Essex
  • 2 August 1714 – 20 August 1726: Lady Mary Darcy


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