The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Frances, Countess Dowager of Waldegrave

Frances, Countess Dowager of Waldegrave

This sitter appears in the daybooks as 'Frances, Countess of Waldegrave.' At the the time of the sitting, however, she was correctly styled 'Countess Dowager of Waldegrave' and was in fact married to her third husband, George Granville Vernon-Harcourt.

Born Frances Elizabeth Anne Braham on 4 January 1821 at 3 Tavistock Square, London, her father was the tenor John Braham (1773-1856). She married, firstly, the eldest but illegitimate son of the 6th Earl Waldegrave; then, secondly, on 28 May 1840, his brother, George Edward, 7th Earl of Waldegrave, on whose death on 28 September 1844 she became possessed of the Waldegrave estate. On 30 September 1847 she married, thirdly, George Granville Harcourt of Nuneham and Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire. He died on 19 December 1861 and on 20 January 1863 she married her last husband, Chichester Fortescue, created Baron Carlingford on 28 February 1874. Asked once on which day of the week she had been married, she replied 'Oh, my dear, I have been married nearly every day of the week.'

The Dowager Countess Waldegrave was one of the more important political hostesses of the mid-nineteenth century. Her salon at Strawberry Hill (she reopened the house in 1862) and her residence at 7 Carlton Gardens, London, were two of the chief meeting places of the Liberal leaders. Other frequent guests included Benjamin Disraeli, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the youngest son of King Louis-Philippe, the duc d'Aumale.

The Dowager Countess of Waldegrave died at 7 Carlton Gardens, London, on 5 July 1879.

[From an album compiled by Elizabeth Van de Weyer, wife of Jean Sylvain Van de Weyer, Belgian ambassador to the Court of St James.]

Photographed by Camille Silvy on 24 February 1861.


Code: 122272
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© Paul Frecker 2018