Nell Gwyn

(1650—1687) actress and royal mistress

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference


Born in 1650 in Hereford, Nell first worked as a barmaid and then as an orange‐seller outside the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (London), before attracting the attention of Charles II. She became his mistress though sharing his affections with others. Charles was infatuated by her physical appeal and her natural wit. The birth of two sons, Charles Beauclerk, later earl of Burford and duke of St Albans, on 8 May 1670 and James on 25 December 1671, ensured that she remained in favour. Following Charles's death in 1685, she was given Bestwood Park near Nottingham, where she lived until her own death following a stroke on 16 November 1687.

Subjects: Theatre — British History.

Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.