Millicent Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, The Duchess of Sutherland (20 October 1867 – 20 August 1955) was a British society hostess, social reformer, author, editor, journalist, and playwright, often using the pen name Erskine Gower. Her first husband was Cromartie Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 4th Duke of Sutherland. By her two later marriages, she was known as Lady Millicent Fitzgerald and Lady Millicent Hawes, the latter of which was the name she used at the time of her death.
Her 1904 portrait by John Singer Sargent, part of the estate of press agent Benjamin Sonnenberg, was sold at auction by Sotheby's in 1979 for $210,000, setting a record for the artist's work.
She became known as one of London's foremost hostesses, associated with both the Marlborough House set and the Souls, and she received the Croix de guerre for her Red Cross work during World War I. A set of ten oil paintings by Victor Tardieu (1870–1937) that record the tented field hospital established and run by Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland at Bourboug, twelve miles south-west of Dunkirk, during the summer of 1915 can be viewed where they are on sale at the Abbott and Holder gallery in London.
Born at Dysart House, Fife, she was the eldest daughter of the Scottish Conservative politician Robert St Clair-Erskine, 4th Earl of Rosslyn. Her sisters were Sybil Fane, Countess of Westmorland and Lady Angela Forbes. Through their mother, Blanche Adeliza Fitzroy, widow of the Hon. Charles Maynard, they were half-sisters to Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick.
Lady Millicent St. Clair-Erskine was married three times:
She married Lord Cromartie Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Marquess of Stafford, eldest son and heir of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland, on October 20, 1884, her 17th birthday. They had four children:
Lady Victoria Elizabeth Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1885–1888)
George Granville Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 5th Duke of Sutherland (1888–1963)
Alastair St. Clair Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1890–1921), married Elizabeth Demarest and had Elizabeth Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 24th Countess of Sutherland.
Lady Rosemary Millicent Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1893–1930), married William Ward, 3rd Earl of Dudley and had issue.
In 1914 (divorced 1919) Millicent, as the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, married Major (later Brig. Gen.) Desmond Percy Fitzgerald, 11th Hussars, at which time she became known as Lady Millicent Fitzgerald.
In 1919 (divorced 1925) Lady Millicent Fitzgerald married Lt. Col. George Hawes, at which time she became known as Lady Millicent Hawes.
One Hour and the Next, 1899 (novel)
The Wind of the World: Seven Love Stories, London: William Heinemann, 1902 (short-story collection, written as Millicent Sutherland)
How I Spent My Twenty-first Year (memoir)
The Conqueror, 1905 (play and lyrics to incidental music, written as R.E. Fyffe)
Six Weeks at the War, Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1915 (war memoir, written as Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland)