A pauper woman, Abigail Hill, is orphaned and taken in by her wealthy cousin, wife to the Duke of Marlborough. Abigail is given a position in the royal household, emptying the queen's chamber pot, but eventually her kindness and wisdom wins over the queen. Because of this friendship, Abigail's influence on the queen was to have a profound effect on the war between England and France. More
There is talk today of a gulf between the rich and the poor people of England. In the time of this story, there was a huge disparity between the lower and higher classes, between commoners and the nobility--and yet a pauper, a woman named Abigail Hill, managed to bridge that gulf. Through misfortune she had lost her parents and thereby made the acquaintance of a cousin, Sarah Jennings, some years her senior whose parents were also dead but who had met and married John Churchill, later the famous Duke of Marlborough. Sarah looked after Abigail and her three siblings, finding Abigail a position in the queen’s household as a bedchamber-woman. One of her tasks was to empty the queen’s chamber-pot. However, through diligence and kindness, Abigail became a warm companion to her majesty, Queen Anne, who suffered from the loss of many children in childbirth, as well as dropsy, gout, rheumatism and lack of sleep worrying about the plight of legless and armless soldiers seen daily on the streets of London, England then being at war with France in the War of the Spanish Succession.
In the workplace Abigail answered to the name ‘Hill’, but ended her working life as Lady Abigail Masham: this is her story.