Facts and Events
Anne Hyde (12 March 163731 March 1671) was Duchess of York and of Albany as the first wife of the future King James II of England. Originally Anglican, her father was a lawyer. Anne married James in 1660 after she became pregnant by him, but James is said to have promised to marry her in 1659. The two first met in the Netherlands while Anne was living in the household of James' sister Mary. James and Anne had eight children, but six died in early childhood. The two who survived to adulthood were Lady Mary, who succeeded her father after his deposition during the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and Lady Anne, who succeeded her brother-in-law and became the first monarch of Great Britain.
Born the daughter of a commoner – Edward Hyde (later created Earl of Clarendon), Anne is best known for her marriage to James, which caused much gossip. Two months after the marriage, Anne gave birth to the couple's first child, who had obviously been conceived out of wedlock. Until near the end of Anne's life, some observers disapproved of James' decision to marry Anne; but not King Charles II, James' brother, who wanted the marriage to take place. Another cause of disapproval was the public affection James showed towards Anne, such as kissing and leaning against each other, which was considered improper behavior during the 1600s.
James was a known philanderer who kept many mistresses, for which Anne often reproached him, once even complaining to the king, who sent one of James' mistresses to the countryside where she remained until her death. Nonetheless, James fathered many illegitimate children. Anne was the reason her husband converted to Catholicism, having both been exposed to Catholicism during visits to the Netherlands and France. Anne was so strongly attracted to this religion that she converted quickly after her marriage. Years later, James followed suit, which was a contributing factor to the Glorious Revolution. Anne suffered from advanced breast cancer and died shortly after giving birth to her last child.