Queen Anne

Lesson at a glance

Suitable for: Key stage 1, Key stage 2

Time period: Early modern 1485-1750

Curriculum topics: Changing power of monarchs, Significant individuals, The Stuarts

Suggested inquiry questions: Who was Queen Anne? What can we learn about Queen Anne's rule from her image?

Potential activities: Design your own Great Seal of Queen Anne and a seal for yourself.

How can we find out about her?

During her brief reign, Queen Anne received numerous petitions. A petition was a formal written request to the monarch by a person or group of people for a specific purpose. They included appeals from people against being sent to prison, or requests concerning religion, the sale of goods, pleas for jobs in the government or the Navy and so on. These requests therefore, can give insight as to how a monarch was expected to govern and carry out their role.

Likewise, seals, used on most documents in the past to ‘close’ them and to prove that a document really was actually from the sender are useful sources for finding out about the monarchy. A Great Seal was particularly significant as it belonged to the monarch and was attached to all important documents which came from the crown. If a document had this seal, it had the monarch’s ‘seal of approval’ and reflected their commands. The seal used in this lesson is the Second Great Seal of Queen Anne and gives us clues about her image and how she wanted to be seen.

Finally, some documents were decorated with images of the monarch to show that their contents relates to a particular ruler. This lesson contains an official treasury document which reveals an initial portrait of Queen Anne. Can you use the sources in this lesson to find out more about this Queen?


Look at Source 1

A petition, or formal request made to Queen Anne from a man called Captain James Moody.

  1. Can you find these words at the top of the petition?
  • ‘Excellent Majesty’
  • ‘Most humble memorial’
  • ‘Sheweth’
  1. What do you think of the handwriting? Have you ever seen handwriting like this?
  • Try and read the document. You can use the transcript and simplified transcript or read it together with your teacher.
  1. Who is the petition from?
  2. Who is addressed to?
  3. How long has the writer served in the Navy?
  4. Why did King Charles suggest Moodie should serve Queen Anne?
  5. Why is Captain Moodie writing to the Queen?
  6. What do you think about the writing style? Is it:
  • wordy
  • easy to read
  • formal
  • friendly
  • convincing
  • surprising
  1. Can you explain why the writer uses capital letters for some of his words?
  2. Do we write like this today, why or why not?
  3. What does the petition show about what was expected of Queen Anne?
  4. What does it tell us about the role of a monarch?

Look at Source 2

Initial portrait of Queen Anne on document from the Treasury, the office responsible for the funds of the monarch, 1702.

  • What can you see in this image?
  • Who is this person?
  • How is this person dressed?
  • What does this suggest about her wealth and importance?
  • How old might this person be?
  • Why does this the image appear on a document from the Treasury (the office responsible for the funds of the monarch)?

Look at Source 3 (a)

The Second Great Seal of Queen Anne, used from 1707-1715, (Obverse: front)

  1. Do you know what type of source this is?
  2. Can you find:
  • The Queen seated on a throne
  • an orb and sceptre
  • coat of arms
  1. What is the Queen wearing?
  2. Can you describe her hairstyle?
  3. Why does she hold an orb and sceptre? Do you know what they stand for?
  4. Why would she want to include these symbols?
  5. How does the seal suggest Queen Anne wanted to be viewed?

Look at Source 3 (b)

The Second Great Seal of Queen Anne, used from 1707-1715 (Reverse: back)

  1. Do you know who the figure is on this side of the seal?
  2. What does she stand for?
  3. Why do you think a crown placed above a rose and thistle have been included on the seal?

The motto on the seal says: Anne, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith / Britain in the sixth year of the reign of Queen Anne.

  1. What big change had happened to explain why this figure and the words in the motto appear on this seal?

Now look again at Sources 2 & 3 (a) & (b)

  • Who might have seen the document image and seal?
  • Would these people have been important to Queen Anne?
  • Why would she want them to see her in a particular way?
  • What do all the images have in common?


Anne was born in 1665, the last Stuart Queen and the first monarch of Great Britain. Her parents were the heir in waiting, James II, Duke of York, and Anne Hyde. Her elder sister Mary was to become Queen before Anne succeeded as monarch.

Anne had poor health all of her life and her early years were spent in France until her mother’s death when she returned to England. Her father remarried a Catholic Princess, Mary of Modena in 1673. Anne and her sister Mary as royal children did not live with their parents and were brought up as Protestants. In 1683 she married Prince George of Denmark. Anne experienced many miscarriages, gave birth to six still-born infants, two babies who died soon after being born, two daughters who died as toddlers and a son who survived to age 11. In her later years she suffered from gout, a condition which gave her pain in her legs and made it difficult for her to walk, when she became Queen she had to be carried to her coronation.

Her father, James II became king in 1685, but was deposed in ‘The Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 and her elder sister, Mary, ascended the throne with her husband, William III of Orange of the Netherlands. After the death of Mary, and later William, Anne, heir to throne, became Queen of England in 1702.

One of the lasting achievements of her reign was the Act of Union of 1707. It meant that England and Scotland were united. From 1603 with the reign of James I of England and King James VI of Scotland, there existed a union under one monarch but the Act of Union formally united the English and Scottish crowns to create the Kingdom of Britain, with the new union Jack and coinage to reflect this in the reign Queen Anne.

Teachers' notes

Before you start the lesson tasks discuss with the pupils how we communicate with each other today using all types of social media, email, letters, phone, video, newspapers or magazines. We can use print/photographs/images, film or television. Communication can also be formal and informal. Explain it was different in the reign of Queen Anne. Can they think why?

This lesson is designed to introduce pupils to different historical sources to find out about Queen Anne in her role as monarch and how she presented herself to her subjects in the days before mass media.

Pupils can use the petition to discover more about the day to day to day business of being a ruler. For instance that Queen Anne was expected to award people jobs, know about the navy, give her opinion and of course deal with a lot of paper work. She would have talked to her private secretary about this request, or given a written instruction concerning her reply.

The visual sources in this lesson help pupils discover how Queen Anne, used imagery to convey her power and authority over her subjects. The Second Great Seal of Queen Anne reveals important clues about the impression the monarch wished to give to her subjects, but it also highlights her responsibilities as monarch.

A seal was created by pressing an engraved metal die or matrix into a mixture of resin and beeswax to create an impression to make the seal. A Great Seal was used to show that the document attached was ordered in the Queen’s name. The matrix was destroyed on the death of the monarch and the punishment for illegal copying of the Great Seal was death. Great Seals exist in a number of different colours, but often darken with age. Nearly all English great seals show on the front or obverse, the monarch sitting on their throne with the symbols of monarchical authority, the orb and sceptre. On the reverse they are usually shown riding a horse as a military leader and defender of the kingdom, Anne’s Second Great Seal is different as it shows the image of Britannia, reflecting the Act of Union and her role as Queen of Britain.

It is worth discussing with the pupils the notion of image and the sort of impression that a monarch would want to convey to their people. Why would this type of self-promotion have been so important?  You could explain that some of Anne’s contemporaries and those who spent time at her court, have described her in very unflattering terms. There are accounts of her being very overweight, with a poor complexion, unwashed and untidy. Ask pupils how these accounts contrast with the source images in this lesson. Who do they think might have written such accounts, and for what purpose? Can this help us understand why these official images of Queen Anne were created?

Pupils can work in pairs or small groups to study each sources and report back to the whole class to discuss the answers to the questions. Alternatively, pupils can work through the tasks independently.

Finally pupils could find out more about Queen Anne’s reign, or compare her with another female monarch such as Queen Victoria or Elizabeth I.


Source 1: Petition made to Queen Anne from Captain James Moodie (Catalogue ref: SP 34/31f44)

Source 2: Initial portrait of Anne, 1702 (Catalogue ref: T 40/4)

Source 3: The Second Great Seal of Queen Anne, used 1707-1715, Obverse & Reverse (Catalogue ref: C 110/26)

Connections to curriculum

Key Stage 1: Lives of Significant individuals in the past who have contributed to National and international achievements.

Key Stage 2: the changing power of monarchs

Back to top

Lesson at a glance

Suitable for: Key stage 1, Key stage 2

Time period: Early modern 1485-1750

Curriculum topics: Changing power of monarchs, Significant individuals, The Stuarts

Suggested inquiry questions: Who was Queen Anne? What can we learn about Queen Anne's rule from her image?

Potential activities: Design your own Great Seal of Queen Anne and a seal for yourself.

Related resources

Significant People

Who is who?

Jacobite Rebellion of 1715

Rebels with a cause?