Anna Maria Radcliffe, Countess of Derwentwater (1693-1723)

The wife of James, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, Anna Maria was the eldest daughter and heiress of Sir John Webb of Great Canford in Dorset and Hatherop in Gloucestershire.

The Webbs were fervent Jacobites and descended from the innermost circle of rich Catholic nobility. Anna Maria had met the young James Radcliffe whilst she was at a Convent School in Paris. The Countess of Derwentwater with engraved picture of the EarlThey married on 10 July 1712.

After her husband's imprisonment, she lodged with him in the Tower, campaigning unsuccessfully for his release. In 1721, in order that her son and daughter could be brought up as Catholics, she left England and went to live in Brussels, where she died of smallpox in 1723. The Countess is traditionally blamed for her husband's fate, supposedly having urged him to take up arms when he was having doubts about the wisdom of the enterprise and wasreluctant to participate.

Despite the disparaging story, she appears to have been a most caring wife. In a letter from the Earl, written during his last days in the Tower, he addresses her as 'My Dearest Worldly treasure' and in another to her parents, claims that she has made him ' the happiest of men.' After the death of the Countess, this letter, together with other Radcliffe papers and a number of relics, were kept by her daughter, who married into the Petre Family of Ingatestone in Essex.