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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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Dick, Quintin (1777–1858), politician and socialite, was born in March 1777 in Dublin, the eldest of four children of Samuel Dick (d. 1802), East India proprietor and merchant, and his wife, Charlotte, daughter of Nicholas Forster of Tullaghan, co. Monaghan, Ireland. Educated at ...

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Earle, Giles (c. 1678–1758), politician and wit, was born about 1678 at the family residence, Eastcourt House, Crudwell, near Malmesbury, Wiltshire, the sixth son of Sir Thomas Earle MP, a merchant and mayor of Bristol, and his wife, Elizabeth Ellinor Jackson. He was educated at the ...

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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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James Hare (bap. 1747, d. 1804) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, c. 1774–5 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hare, James (bap. 1747, d. 1804), social celebrity and politician, was baptized on 9 April 1747 at Somerton, Somerset, the second son of Joseph Hare, an apothecary at Wells, and his wife, Frances. For many years he was wrongly identified as the son of one ...

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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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Hay, Robert William (1786–1861), civil servant and dilettante, was born and baptized on 9 January 1786 in Brodsworth, Yorkshire, the eldest child of George William Auriol Hay-Drummond (1761–1807)—himself the youngest son of George Henry Hay, eighth earl of Kinnoull—author, poet, prebendary of ...

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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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Sharp, Richard [called Conversation Sharp] (1759–1835), politician and wit, was born in the garrison of St John's, Newfoundland, the elder son of Richard Sharp (1737–1765), a British army officer, and Elizabeth Adams (1739–1799), a citizen of St John's. He was related to the ...

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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