Coventry, Anne (DNB00)

COVENTRY, ANNE, Countess of Coventry (1673–1763), religious writer, born in 1673, was the daughter of Henry Somerset, third marquis and first duke of Beaufort, by Mary, daughter of Arthur, lord Capel, and widow of Henry, lord Beauclerk. Before 1700 she married Thomas, second earl of Coventry, by whom she was the mother of Thomas, third earl. Her husband died in 1710 and her son on 28 Jan. 1712. She took up her permanent residence at her late husband's house at Snitterfield, Warwickshire, in 1726, and died there 14 Jan. 1763, aged 90, after a widowhood of fifty-three years. She was buried with her father at Badminton. The countess was renowned for her charity and piety. In 1707 appeared in duodecimo ‘The Right Honourable Anne, Countess of Coventry's Meditations and Reflections, Moral and Divine.’ A frontispiece by Berchet represents the authoress at prayer. Perfect copies of this volume are now very rare. The countess's friend, Richard Jago, vicar of Snitterfield, preached a biographical sermon after her death, which was printed at Oxford in 1763 under the title of ‘The Nature of a Christian's Happiness in Death.’

Another Anne, Countess of Coventry (1690–1788), born in 1690, was daughter of Sir Streynsham Masters of Codnor Castle, Derbyshire, and became the second wife of Gilbert, fourth earl of Coventry, shortly before his death in 1719. In 1725 she married Edward Pytts of Kyre, Worcestershire, by whom she had five daughters. She died on 21 March 1788, aged 98. This lady was the plaintiff in an important lawsuit which she brought against William, fifth earl of Coventry, a distant relative of the fourth earl, to compel him to give effect to a defectively executed settlement made on her first marriage. The suit, heard 18 May 1724, was decided in her favour. A full report was appended by Richard Francis to his ‘Maxims of Equity,’ 1728.

[Chambers's Worcestershire Biography, 322, 590; Gent. Mag. 1763, p. 277, 1788, pt. i. 277; Burke's Extinct Peerage; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

S. L. L.