The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Hon Walter Harbord

Hon Walter Harbord

Hon Walter Harbord was a Major in the 7th Hussars in 1875 when he was caught cheating at cards in a casino in Nice. The men whom he was trying to cheat beat him up and he was thrown out by the servants. The incident caused a huge international scandal, furnishing the foreign press with many column inches. Needless to say, Harbord was expelled from the Army and all his clubs. Amazingly, within a few months he had wed a wealthy widow who had taken pity on him and offered him her hand in marriage.

Despite the fact that marriage to him would mean social ostracism for his wife, Harbord accepted the offer with alacrity and on 5 May 1875, he married Lady Eleanor Fitzroy, daughter of the 7th Duke of Grafton. The couple were forced to live abroad for many years, in disgrace and under the ban of English and continental society. Despite her kindness and generosity, Harbord took much of his frustration, bitterness and resentment out on his wife. According to the reports of their divorce in 1900, he treated her ‘not only with persistent neglect and great unkindness, but also with personal violence.' He was, moreover, ‘constantly in the company of demi-mondaines.'

At the time of the divorce, Harbord was living – marriedly - in Jersey with a 19-year-old farmer’s daughter called Ada de Ste. Croix. At the time of the census the following year, she was still in Jersey, now abandoned and working as a housemaid, and he was living in a two-room dwelling in Portsmouth with a new wife less than half his age.

He died on 28 January 1913, at the age of 78. He left effects valued at £307

Photographed by Camille Silvy on 24 December 1860.


Code: 122436
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