An interesting story about one of the notorious Gunning sisters!
Portrait of Duchess of Hamilton by Gavin Hamilton (1752-53) Commissioned by the Duke of Hamilton
He first sees her at an Opera House masquerade. She is the shy Gunning sister, demure compared with the spirited and more beautiful Maria, but the Duke of Hamilton is fascinated. Spurned by his former fiancée Elizabeth Chudleigh eight years prior, the bachelor Hamilton is freshly returned from his second continental tour. He sets foot in London when the Irish Miss Gunnings are the toast of town. They are 17 and 18, heralded as THE diamonds of 1752 despite hailing from an impoverished gentry, and soon the Duke of Hamilton will make one of them his duchess.
On the night of February 24, 1752 the dissolute gambler and drunkard, who is known to begin drinking anew as soon as his hangover diminishes, is hours away from the altar. Gossip would later say he acted upon…
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