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Balfour [née Lytton], Elizabeth Edith [Betty], countess of Balfour (1867–1942), social hostess and biographer, was born on 12 June 1867 at Hyde Park Gate, London, the eldest of the five surviving children of Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton, first earl of Lytton (1831–1891), viceroy, diplomat, and poet, and his wife, ...

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Harriet Mary Baring, Lady Ashburton (1805–1857) by Henry William Pickersgill photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Baring [née Montagu], Harriet Mary, Lady Ashburton (1805–1857), literary hostess, eldest child of George John Montagu, sixth earl of Sandwich (1773–1818), and his wife, Lady Louisa Lowry-Corry (1781–1862), daughter of Armar Lowry-Corry, first earl of Belmore, was born on 14 May 1805. The early death of ...

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Margaret Cavendish Bentinck [Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley], duchess of Portland (1715–1785) by Joseph Brown, pubd 1861 (after Christian Friedrich Zincke, 1738) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bentinck, Margaret Cavendish [née Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley], duchess of Portland (1715–1785), collector of art and natural history specimens and patron of arts and sciences, was born on 11 February 1715 in London, the only surviving child of Edward Harley, later second earl of Oxford...

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See Blount, Martha

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Boscawen [née Glanville], Frances Evelyn [Fanny] (1719–1805), letter writer and literary hostess, was born at St Clere, near Wrotham in Kent, on 23 July 1719, only child of William Evelyn, MP and high sheriff of Kent, and his wife, Frances Glanville (1696/7–1719)...

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Mary Boyle, countess of Cork and Orrery (1746–1840) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, c. 1777–8 © Tate, London, 2004

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Boyle [née Monckton], Mary [Maria], countess of Cork and Orrery (1746–1840), literary hostess, was born on 21 May 1746, the youngest child and only surviving daughter of John Monckton, first Viscount Galway (1695–1751) and his second wife, Jane (d. 1788), fourth daughter of ...

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Boys [née Illey], Sibylle, Lady Boys (b. c. 1370, d. in or after 1455), literary patron, was the daughter and heir of Sir Robert Illey of Plumstead Parva in Norfolk (d. c.1398) and his wife, Katherine Gymyngham (d. 1417)...

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Brookfield [née Elton], Jane Octavia (1821–1896), literary hostess and writer, was born on 25 March 1821, at Clifton, near Bristol, the youngest of the eight daughters (there were also five sons) of Sir Charles Abraham Elton, sixth baronet (1778–1853), of Clevedon Court...

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See Bunsen, Christian Karl Josias von, Baron von Bunsen in the Prussian nobility

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Burdett [née Francis], Jane, Lady Burdett (d. 1637), literary patron, was the only daughter and heir of William Francis of Foremark, near Repton, Derbyshire, and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of William Francis of Ticknall. Details of her early life are unknown. In 1602 she married ...

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Carey [Carew], Elizabeth, Lady Hunsdon [née Elizabeth Spencer; other married name Elizabeth Eure, Lady Eure] (1552–1618), literary patron, was born on 29 June 1552 at Althorp, Northamptonshire, the sixth child of thirteen born to Sir John Spencer (d. 1586), of Wormleighton...

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Elizabeth Christiana Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire (1757–1824) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1787 Chatsworth House. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Cavendish [née Hervey; other married name Foster], Elizabeth Christiana, duchess of Devonshire (1757–1824), society hostess and patron of the arts, was the middle daughter of Frederick Augustus Hervey, fourth earl of Bristol (1730–1803), and his wife, Elizabeth Davers (1730–1800), and was known for most her life as ...

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Mary Constance Charteris, countess of Wemyss (1862–1937) by Sir Edward John Poynter, 1886 in a private Scottish collection; photograph courtesy the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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Charteris [née Wyndham], Mary Constance, countess of Wemyss (1862–1937), hostess, was born on 3 August 1862 at 44 Belgrave Square, London, the eldest of the five children of the Hon. Percy Wyndham (1835–1911), second son of the first Lord Leconfield, and his wife, ...

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Cockburn [née Rutherford], Alison (1713–1794), writer and literary hostess, was born on 8 October 1713, the youngest of six children of Robert Rutherford of Fairnalee, Selkirkshire, and his wife, Alison, née Ker (d. 1723/4); her birthplace was the family's mansion house at ...

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Colefax [née Halsey], Sibyl Sophie Julia, Lady Colefax (1874–1950), hostess and interior decorator, was born on 4 December 1874, at The Poplars, Wimbledon Common, Surrey (the house of her uncle, Walter Bagehot). She was the third but only surviving daughter (and fifth and last child) of ...