Margaret I
12th Monarch of Wessex

Margaret I.jpg
Queen of Wessex
Reign 21 May 1703 - 13 January 1742
Coronation 1 November 1703
Predecessor Arthur III
Successor Elizabeth I
Spouse Henry, Duke of Portland
Issue Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Purbeck

Prince Henry, Duke of Portland

Full name
Margaret Sophia Holden
House House of Holden
Father Arthur III
Mother Elizabeth of Sydling
Born 13 December 1682
Palace of Winchester
Died 13 January 1742
Palace of Winchester
Religion Church of Wessex

Margaret I was the Queen of Wessex from 1703 until her death in 1742. She was the first female in Wessex history to became monarch in her own right, after her father, Arthur III, passed the Equal Succession Act five years prior to her becoming Queen. 

Her reign was marked by a period of peace and stability after the turbulent times endured by both her father and grandfather. The difficult relationship with neighbouring England became ever closer as Margaret, and her foreign counterpart, Queen Anne, ruled as the 'Queen's of Britain'. The naturally kind nature of Margaret meant that she proved popular with both the Royal Court and the people of Wessex, and ultimately the Court of St. James.

The later years of her life were marked by a gradual deterioration in her health following the early death of her husband, the Earl of Portland. Her eldest daughter, and heir, began to perform many of her mother's responsibilities as she slowly began to withdraw from public life. Margaret died in early 1742 after contracting a serious bout of illness in the months prior to her death. Her funeral took place at Winchester Cathedral where her body was interred into the Royal Crypt. 

Early Life

Margaret Sophia Holden was born the only child of Arthur III of Wessex and his wife, Elizabeth of Sydling on 13th December 168. Her parents had had five previous miscarriages which had led many to believe that the throne would pass to the King's brother, Prince George, Duke of Purbeck. With the birth of a baby girl however, the throne would continue to pass to Margaret's uncle because of the practice of Salic Law. She was therefore led to believe she would lead the life of a minor Princess of Wessex.

At the age of seventeen, Margaret's father, Arthur III, passed the Equal Succession Act alloiwng females to inherit the throne for the first time since the establishment of the Kingdom. Following the introduction of the law, Princess Margaret became heir apparent to her father's throne. This meant that she was entitled to the position of Duchess of Purbeck; a title which was held by her uncle, Prince George. Subsequently she was granted the title Crown Princess; the only time in Wessex royal history that the term was used. 


In the early hours of the 21st May 1703, Arthur III, passed away peacefully in his sleep while staying at Sherborne Castle. His daughter, the new Queen of Wessex, was staying at the Palace of Winchester. Following Margaret's immediate succession, there was a state of confusion about what political role the new Queen would play; a number of members of the Royal Court issued their support for the Duke of Purbeck who they considered as King George III. One of Margaret's first acts was to dismiss these supporters and replace them with those who favoured her late father. The Duke of Purbeck later travelled to Paris where he would die in exile seven years later. 


The winter of 1741 proved to be a difficult time for Margaret I. Her second child and only son, the Duke of Portland, died following a hunting accident in the New Forest. Her cousin and close confidant, Mary, Countess of Exeter also perished three weeks later. Both deaths affected the ageing Queen greatly who withdrew from public life for a period of two months. Following her return to performing her duties, Margaret became ill and yet again became incapaciatated. The illness proved fatal to the Queen who passed away in the early months of 1742 at the Palace of Winchester in the presence of her daughter and heir, Princess Elizabeth. 

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