Lavinia Spencer, Countess Spencer

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Lavinia Spencer
Reynolds - Lavinia, Countess Spencer.jpg
Lavinia, Countess Spencer by Joshua Reynolds
Died1831 (aged 68–69)
Spouse(s)George Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer
ChildrenJohn Spencer, 3rd Earl Spencer
Sarah Lyttelton, Baroness Lyttelton
Hon. Richard Spencer
Sir Robert Cavendish Spencer
Lady Georgiana Charlotte Quin
Frederick Spencer, 4th Earl Spencer
Ignatius Spencer
Parent(s)Charles Bingham, 1st Earl of Lucan
Margaret Bingham

Lavinia Spencer, Countess Spencer (née Bingham; 1762 – 1831) was a British illustrator.

Early life and family[edit]

Born in 1762, Lady Lavinia Bingham was the eldest daughter of the Irish peer Charles Bingham, 1st Earl of Lucan and his wife, the portrait miniature painter Margaret Smyth.[1][2] She had three sisters and one brother, Richard.[3]

Marriage and issue[edit]

Spencer impaling Bingham

Despite the lack of a dowry, George Spencer, Viscount Althorp fell "out of his senses" with Lavinia and offered her marriage. His parents Lord and Lady Spencer permitted the match, perceiving that Lavinia was pretty, intelligent, and morally acceptable.[2] The young couple married on 6 March 1782,[1] and had nine children:[4]

Georgiana Charlotte (Henry Pierce Bone)

A rising politician, Althorp succeeded his father as the 2nd Earl Spencer in 1783.[1] Earl and Countess Spencer resided at Althorp and Spencer House, London, eventually producing eight children. They entertained the era's most prominent political and intellectual leaders.[1]

The historian Malcolm Lester describes her as "a strong-minded and strong-willed woman of great erudition and charm [who] was perhaps the pre-eminent hostess in London society".[1] The biographer Amanda Foreman, however, details less attractive traits, describing her as "moody, vindictive, hypocritical" and "neurotically jealous" of her sisters-in-law the Duchess of Devonshire and the Countess of Bessborough and "a calm liar who maintained a veneer of politeness to her in-laws while freely abusing them in conversation elsewhere."[2]


Her drawing A Pinch of Snuff was included in the 1905 book Women Painters of the World.[5] She is known for engravings made after her drawings by the engraver Marino Bovi.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Lester 2004.
  2. ^ a b c Foreman 1998, p. 72.
  3. ^ Radford 2004.
  4. ^ Lodge 1849, p. 505.
  5. ^ Women painters of the world, from the time of Caterina Vigri, 1413-1463, to Rosa Bonheur and the present day, by Walter Shaw Sparrow, The Art and Life Library, Hodder & Stoughton, 27 Paternoster Row, London, 1905
Works cited
  • Foreman, Amanda (1998). Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire. Random House. ISBN 0375502947.
  • Lester, Malcolm (2004). "Spencer, George John, second Earl Spencer (1758–1834)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/26125.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Lodge, Edmund (1849). The Peerage of the British Empire as at Present Existing. Saunders & Otley.
  • Radford, Ernest (2004). "Bingham, Margaret, countess of Lucan (c.1740–1814)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2411.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)