The Duchess of Northumberland
The Duchess in 1845 by William Oakley Burgess
Charlotte Florentia Clive

(1787-09-12)12 September 1787
Died27 July 1866(1866-07-27) (aged 78)
Burial placeWestminster Abbey
(m. 1817; died 1847)
Parent(s)Edward Clive, 1st Earl of Powis
Lady Henrietta Herbert

Charlotte Florentia Percy, Duchess of Northumberland (née Lady Charlotte Florentia Clive; 12 September 1787 – 27 July 1866), was governess of the future Queen Victoria.


Engraving of the Duchess published by La Belle Assemblée in 1829

Born as the younger daughter and third child of the politician Edward Clive, 1st Earl of Powis, and the mineral collector Henrietta Clive, Countess of Powis, she was paternally granddaughter of Major-General Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, and maternally granddaughter of Henry Herbert, 1st Earl of Powis. She married Hugh Percy, Earl Percy, son of General Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland, on 29 April 1817. On 10 July the same year, her father-in-law died and her husband succeeded to the dukedom.


In 1825, the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland attended the coronation of King Charles X of France in Reims as representatives of King George IV of the United Kingdom.[1] Charlotte accompanied her husband to Dublin during his time as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1829 to 1830. In 1831, being a friend of King William IV, she was appointed governess of his niece and heir presumptive, Princess Victoria of Kent, who ascended the British throne in 1837. The role was mostly ceremonial, and Victoria continued to rely mostly on Baroness Louise Lehzen. The Duchess was dismissed in 1837 by the Princess's mother, the Duchess of Kent, for attempting to become more influential in the girl's education[2][3][4] and refusing to submit to the Duchess of Kent's comptroller, Sir John Conroy.[5] She had earlier opposed the harshness of the Kensington System, designed by Conroy and the Duchess of Kent, and wrote to Princess Feodora of Leiningen (the Duchess of Kent's daughter and Princess Victoria's elder half-sister) to ask her to tell the King to intervene.[6] Feodora and the Duchess of Northumberland were also determined to protect Baroness Lehzen from the hostility of Conroy and his friend, Lady Flora Hastings.[7]

Death and legacy

This 1839 portrait of the Duchess by Thomas Overton was bought by Queen Victoria in 1870.

The childless marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland ended with the Duke's death on 11 February 1847. The Duchess died in Twickenham on 27 July 1866.[8] As a Duchess of Northumberland, she is buried in Westminster Abbey.[9]

The Duchess was born into a plant-loving family and was an avid plant enthusiast herself.[10][11] She was the first person in Great Britain to cultivate and bring to flower[12] Southern African plants belonging to the genus Clivia, named in her honour by the Kew botanist John Lindley in 1828.[13]



  1. ^ "History of the Green School". Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  2. ^ Gill 2009, p. 64.
  3. ^ Williams 2010, p. 223.
  4. ^ Rappaport 2003, p. 241.
  5. ^ Rappaport 2003, p. 219.
  6. ^ Weintraub 1987, p. 72.
  7. ^ Netzley 1996, p. 31.
  8. ^ Percy, Charlotte Florentia
  9. ^ "Elizabeth, Duchess of Northumberland". Archived from the original on 31 December 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  10. ^ Clivia Archived 26 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Noble family of Clive Archived 24 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Clivias Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Clivia San Marcos Growers. Retrieved 8 April 2006". Archived from the original on 7 May 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2012.