Royal Mistress. Born Barbara Villiers, the only child of William Villiers, 2nd Viscount Grandison and his wife, Mary Bayning. She married Roger Palmer in 1659 against his family's wishes. The couple separated in 1662 some two years after she found favor with King Charles II. She remained married to Castlemaine, whom Charles created Baron Limerick and Earl of Castlemaine, until his death in 1705. Charles ordered his mistress be granted a position as Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen Consort in August 1662, a move opposed by both the Queen and in Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, one of the most powerful of the King's advisors and Barbara's arch enemy at court. Her house became the rendezvous for opponents of Lord Chancellor Clarendon, she was notably delighted at his fall from power in 1667. She was lauded as a beauty, criticized for her churlish manner, extravagant to the point where she became notorious for helping herself to money from the Privy Purse, she accepted bribes from the Spanish and French in order to sway opinion, and was well known for using her influence to her own benefit. She was also promiscuous. In addition to the King, she was known to have had affairs with many men including the Earl of Chesterfield, the Duke of Marlborough, the playwright William Wycherley, Ralph Montagu, 1st Duke of Montagu, Henry Jermyn, Charles Berkeley, James Hamilton, a theatre performer named Jacob Hall. She had six children, the paternity for several of whom is contended, and it was likely that at least three different men fathered her brood, despite the fact that Charles II generously acknowledged five of them. She was created 1st Duchess of Cleveland, 1st Baron Nonsuch, and 1st Countess of Southampton in her own right in August 1670. Her sons were also granted titles of their own: Charles, created Duke of Southampton in 1675; Henry, created Earl of Euston in 1672 and Duke of Grafton in 1675; and George, created Earl of Northumberland in 1674. Her favored status with the king began to wane after 1670, and by 1674 she had been replaced in his affections by Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth. She married the notorious rake, Robert Fielding on November 25, 1705, shortly after Castlemaine's death, and divorced him in May 1707. She succumbed to dropsy some two years later.
Bio by: Iola