Belle Bilton

Belle Bilton, Countess of Clancarty

A cabinet card portrait of the beautiful Belle Bilton (1867-1906), later Lady Dudlo, later the Countess of Clancarty.

Born Isabel Maud Penrice Bilton, the daughter of sergeant in the Royal Engineers, she graced the stage as an actress and vocalist under the professional name Belle Bilton.

On 10 July 1889 she married Lord Dunlo at the Registrar’s Office in Hampstead. They were both aged twenty. The groom faced stiff opposition from his family. His angry father sent his newly-wed son to Australia a mere nine days after the ceremony, and forced him to petition for divorce. In court, he declared his belief in his wife’s innocence, and applause rang around the courtroom.

Two years later her husband succeeded his father, becoming the 5th Earl of Clancarty. She became the Countess of Clancarty. The couple had five children, including the 6th and 7th Earls of Clancarty.

She died of cancer on 31 December 1906 at Garbaldy Park, Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland.

Photographed by Alexander Bassano of London.

The photographer has retouched the original negative to make the sitter's waist look even smaller than it really was and the retouching marks are clearly visible on the print.

Code: 123815
© Paul Frecker 2023