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Sarah, Lady Lyttelton, from a portrait at Hagley
Sarah Lyttelton, Baroness Lyttelton (née Spencer) (1787-1870) was a British courtier, governess to Edward VII of the United Kingdom and wife of William Lyttelton, 3rd Baron Lyttelton.

She was born Lady Sarah Spencer at the Spencer seat of Althorpmarker in Northamptonshire on 29 July 1787 and was eldest daughter of the Whig politician Sir George Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758 – 1834) and Lady Lavinia Bingham (1762–1831).


She married Sir William Henry Lyttelton, 3rd Lord Lyttelton on 4 March 1813. They had two daughters, Lavinia and Caroline (b. 1816), and three sons, George, (b. 1817) Spencer (b. 1818), and William (b. 1820). On 25 July 1839 her eldest son, George (by then 4th Baron), married Mary, the daughter of Sir Stephen Glynne. The marriage took place at Hawardenmarker, the seat of William Gladstone, who was simultaneously marrying Mary's sister, Catherine. George became a distinguished classical scholar like his father, but committed suicide in 1876 by throwing himself down the stairs. Sarah's daughter, Lavinia, was later to marry Reverend Henry Glynne, brother of Catherine and Mary Glynn.

Lady in waiting

Sarah Lyttelton was widowed in 1837, and shortly afterwards was offered the post of Lady in waiting to Queen Victoria. She is said to have commented to a friend at this time that "the character of an advisor, a woman of influence, a probable preserver or improver of the national morals is exactly the very last I could fill decently" Over time, Lyttelton earned the respect of the Queen and the Prince consort and, in April 1843, she was appointed governess to the royal children, who continued to called her "Laddle", even once they were grown.

She was made a Lady of the Bedchamber by Queen Victoria.

Sarah Lyttelton died at Hagleymarker on 13 April 1870 at the age of 82.


  1. Institute of Historical Research

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