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Astor [née Langhorne], Nancy Witcher, Viscountess Astor (1879–1964), society hostess and politician, was born at Danville, Virginia, on 19 May 1879, the eighth child in a family of eleven. Her father, Chiswell Dabney Langhorne (1843–1919), a veteran of the American Civil War, had made his fortune in railway construction and bought an estate at ...

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Nancy Witcher Astor, Viscountess Astor (1879–1964) by George Charles Beresford, 1920 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Pamela Fitzgerald (1776?–1831) by Mallary, 1800 [front, with her daughter Pamela] National Gallery of Ireland

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Fitzgerald, Pamela [formerly Anne Caroline Stéphanie Sims; Lady Edward Fitzgerald] (1776?–1831), celebrity and associate of Irish nationalists, was almost certainly the illegitimate daughter of Louis-Philippe Joseph, duc d'Orléans (1747–1793), cousin of Louis XVI of France, and his mistress, (Caroline) Stéphanie Félicité Brulart, ...

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Gibson [née Cullum], (Susannah) Arethusa (1814–1885), society hostess and political activist, was born on 11 January 1814 at Southgate Green, Bury St Edmunds, the only child of Revd Sir Thomas Gery Cullum, eighth baronet (1777–1855), and his first wife, Mary Anne, née...

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Greville [née Maynard], Frances Evelyn [Daisy], countess of Warwick (1861–1938), society beauty and socialist, was born at 27 Berkeley Square, London, on 10 December 1861, the elder of the two daughters of Colonel Charles Maynard (1814–1865), only son and heir of the ...

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Frances Evelyn Greville, countess of Warwick (1861–1938) by John Singer Sargent, 1905 [with son] Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, USA / Bridgeman Art Library

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Pamela Beryl Harriman (1920–1997) by Diana H. Walker, 1977 Getty Images – Diana H. Walker

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Harriman [née Digby; other married names Churchill, Hayward], Pamela Beryl (1920–1997), adventurer and diplomatist, was born on 20 March 1920 at Farnborough, Kent, the eldest of three daughters and oldest of the four children of Edward Kenelm Digby, eleventh Baron Digby...

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See Hobart, George, third earl of Buckinghamshire

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Dame Fanny Lucy Houston (1857–1936) by Bassano, c. 1909–10 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Houston, Dame Fanny Lucy (1857–1936), adventuress, was born on 8 April 1857 at Kennington, fourth daughter of Thomas Radmall, box-maker, and his wife, Maria Isabella Clarke. A juvenile actress known as Poppy Radmall, she eloped at the age of sixteen to Paris with the brewer ...

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Mary Isabella Manners, duchess of Rutland (1756–1831) by Valentine Green, pubd 1780 (after Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1780) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Manners [née Somerset], Mary Isabella, duchess of Rutland (1756–1831), politician and society hostess, was born on 1 August 1756, the fifth and youngest daughter of Charles Noel Somerset, fourth duke of Beaufort (1709–1756) [see under Somerset, Henry, second duke of Beaufort...

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Mosley [née Curzon], Lady Cynthia Blanche (1898–1933), politician and society figure, was born at The Priory, Reigate, Surrey, on 23 August 1898, the second of three daughters of George Nathaniel Curzon, later first Marquess Curzon of Kedleston (1859–1925), and his first wife, the American heiress ...

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Mary Catherine Stanley, countess of Derby (1824–1900) by James Rannie Swinton, 1850 The Marquess of Salisbury. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Stanley [née Sackville-West], Mary Catherine, countess of Derby [other married name Mary Catherine Gascoyne-Cecil, marchioness of Salisbury] (1824–1900), grande dame and politician manqué, was born, probably at Bourn, Cambridgeshire, on 23 July 1824, sixth of the nine children of George Sackville-West, ...

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Willyams, Sarah Brydges [née Sarah Mendez da Costa] (d. 1863), heiress and benefactor of Benjamin Disraeli, was the younger daughter of Abraham Mendez da Costa (d. 1782), of Bath, and his wife, Elizabeth Leigh, whom he married in 1775. Sarah was descended from a line of Peninsular–English Jews via ...