Lady Masham Abigail, the favorite of Queen Anne of England, born about 1670, died Dec. 6, 1 r.34. The place of her birth was probably London, where her father, Francis Hill, was a merchant, and married the aunt of the duchess of Marlborough, a Miss Jennings. He ruined himself by becoming a speculator, and Abigail, his eldest daughter, became a waiting woman to the wife of Sir John Livers. When the duches of Marlborough learned of the poverty of her relatives, the Hills, she afforded them great assistance. By her influence Abigail was appointed bedchamber woman to the princess; but the arrogance of the duchess offended all the recipients of her bounty. Availing herself of her confidential position in the service of Anne, who had become queen, Abigail Hill was steadily undermining the duchess of Marlborough at court. Samuel Masham, a gentleman of the bedchamber to the prince of Denmark, became attached to Abigail, and the queen was the confidante of their courtship, of which the Marlboroughs knew nothing. Anne was present at their marriage, which took place in 1707. After a long and bitter struggle, the Marlborough influence was overthrown, the whig ministry was dismissed, and the tories came into power, and made the treaty of Utrecht with Louis XIV. At the close of 1711 her husband was made Baron Masham of Otes, being one of the twelve peers created to enable the tory ministers to force their measures through the house of lords.
In the quarrel between Oxford and Bolingbroke, Lady Masham sided with the latter. On the death of Queen Anne in 1714, her court favor came to an end, and she and her husband retired to their seat at Otes.