Capt. Ernest Simpson in 1937
|Born||6 May 1897|
NYC, New York, United States
|Died||30 November 1958 (aged 61)|
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
|Spouse(s)||Dorothea Webb Dechert (1923–1928; divorced)|
Bessie Wallis Warfield (m.1928–1937; divorced)
Mary Huntemuller Raffray (1937–1941; her death)
Avril Leveson-Gower (1948–1958; his death)
|Children||2, including Lt. Aharon Solomons|
Ernest Aldrich Simpson (6 May 1897 – 30 November 1958), an American-born & naturalized British citizen, was a London shipbroker, nowadays best known as the second husband of Wallis Simpson, later known as the Duchess of Windsor, wife of the former British King Edward VIII.
Born in New York City, Simpson was educated at The Hill School before attending Harvard University. Simpson was commissioned in the British Army serving as a Captain in the Coldstream Guards during World War I. His father, Ernest Louis Simpson, a British citizen of Jewish background whose original surname was Solomon, co-founded the global shipbroking firm Simpson, Spence & Young,[n 1] trading since 1880. His mother, Charlotte Woodward Gaines, was American, daughter of a New York City attorney.
His first wife, whom he married in New York City, on 22 February 1923 and divorced in 1928, was Dorothea Dechert (died 1967), the former wife of James Flanagan Dechert (died 1968), a Princeton University alumnus, whom she married in May 1916 and divorced in April 1920. Born Dorothea Webb Parsons, she was a daughter of Arthur Webb Parsons[n 2], a lawyer, and his wife, the former Frances Margaret Graves.
Dorothea and Ernest Simpson had one child, Audrey C. C. Simpson (born 1924), who married firstly on 5 October 1945, the celebrated[by whom?] American journalist Murray Rossant (died 1988, brother of architect James Rossant) and, secondly on 1 April 1949, New York advertising executive Edmund Hope Driggs III. Audrey Simpson Driggs died at Calgary, Canada on 2 November 2013.
Simpson's second wife was Wallis Warfield Spencer (1896–1986), the Baltimore-born former wife of Earl Winfield Spencer Jr. and the only child of Teackle Wallis Warfield. They married in London, England, on 21 July 1928, and divorced on 3 May 1937. As his obituary in The New York Times noted, the publicity over his second wife's remarriage to the Duke of Windsor and her subsequent fame thrust him into the role of "the forgotten man". The two remained friends, however, the newspaper noted, with the now Duchess of Windsor sending him flowers when he was in hospital for surgery and Simpson offering advice and clarification when his former wife was working on her memoirs.
His third wife was Mary Raffray (née Mary Huntemuller Kirk, 1896–1941)[n 3], a daughter of Henry Child Kirk, proprietor of the Kirk Silversmith Co. of Baltimore, Maryland and his wife, the former Edith Huntemuller, who dedicated her book Her Garden Was Her Delight to her memory. Mary Simpson's letters, along with her sister's, are held at Harvard University Archives.
A girlhood friend of Wallis Simpson's, Mary Kirk was a bridesmaid at her first wedding and introduced her to Ernest Simpson in 1925; she also was the "other woman" with whom Simpson took a hotel suite in Berkshire, in order to give his wife evidence of adultery, so that she could bring divorce proceedings against him[n 4]. Ernest Simpson and Mary Raffray were married in the Diamond Jubilee ballroom of the Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Connecticut on 19 November 1937, six months after the groom's divorce from Wallis Simpson and three weeks after the bride's divorce from Jacques Raffray, a French aviator (son of French explorer Achille Raffray), whom Mary had married on 29 July 1918.
Mary and Ernest Simpson had one child, Ernest Henry Child Simpson, who was born prematurely on 27 September 1939, and christened at the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, London. In June 1940, the Simpsons sent their infant son to the United States to escape the War including the Blitz. However, a month before Mary's death he returned with her to England. Mary Simpson died of breast cancer on 2 October 1941, at the couple's home in Wiltshire. Their son changed his name legally to Aharon Solomons before being commissioned as an officer in the Israeli Army.
Simpson's fourth wife was Avril Leveson-Gower (née Avril Joy Mullens, 1910 – 28 November 1978), the former wife of Brigadier-General Hugh Nugent Leveson-Gower and Prince George Imeretinsky. She was the younger daughter of Sir John Ashley Mullens, of Manor House, Haslemere, Surrey, by his wife, the former Evelyne Maude Adamson. Simpson and Avril Leveson-Gower were married in London on 12 August 1948. By this marriage Simpson had a stepdaughter, Lucinda Gaye Leveson-Gower (born 1935, married Sir Spencer Le Marchant in 1955). Avril Simpson was killed in a car crash in Mexico.
Simpson died suffering from throat cancer, on 30 November 1958 in London, aged 61.
Notes and references
- In 1880 two shipbrokers Ernest Louis Simpson an Englishman and Lewis H Spence an American founded the firm of Simpson and Spence and set up an office in New York. This was an era of great change with world trade increasing in volume and steam gradually supplanting the clipper ships and schooners. In 1882 Captain William M Young was invited to join the partnership and open an office in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England. From then on the firm was known as Simpson Spence & Young.
In the following years offices were opened in London and for a time in over United Kingdom cities in order to service local principals, but it was New York and London that remained the focal points of worldwide shipping for several decades. In these two centres Simpson Spence & Young built up specialist teams of brokers and back-up staff, which were later to form the springboard for future development and expansion.
Thus it was in the 1960s that the partnership made the decision to expand directly into the truly international scene and in 1966 an office was opened in Australia. Encouraged by the success of this venture, which enabled the firm to export their services to a wider range of Charterers, Shipowners, Merchants, Traders, Energy and Commodity Companies, SSY opened an office in Vancouver in 1973 and in Hong Kong in 1975.
Today, with offices firmly established in New York, London, Sydney, Vancouver, Hong Kong and a new venture starting in Bogota, Colombia and a private in-house communications network, the flow of information and market intelligence circulating throughout the organisation enables all offices to give their clients a comprehensive worldwide service, unique amongst shipbroking companies, for Dry Cargo Chartering, Tanker Chartering, New-Building Contracting, Sale and Purchase of second-hand tonnage and Demolition. All offices and associates are backed by SS & Y Research Services Limited London who offer information, statistics, market studies and consultancy on all shipping matters. The Agency Department in London has a wealth of information on the ports of North America, in which subject it specialises. Our publication "Major Coal and Iron Ore Ports" is a textbook widely used throughout the shipping world.
Simpson, Spence & Young has remained a partnership totally independent of outside sources since commencing in 1880 and today we are one of the largest international shipbroking organisations. We maintain and jealously guard a high reputation in the forefront of a constantly changing industry, always with complete freedom to act in the best interests of clients in every sector. Most important of all, is the personal relationship between broker and client, a trust cherished by Simpson Spence & Young and fostered with the expertise, experience and imagination of the personnel who make up our global team.
Extract from SSY brochure, 1986
- This first wife was a great-granddaughter of Theophilus Parsons, a Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and President of Harvard University.
- former wife of Jacques Achille Louis Raffray, a French-born New York insurance broker. Jacques Raffray married again, this was on 2 December 1937 and chose as his new wife former stage actress Constance de Bower (née Constance Edna Farber, 1898–1987), the former wife of Herbert Francis de Bower. He died on 5 March 1971
- As they were married in England they were required to be divorced under English law, where tight restrictions on divorce applied at that time.
- Simpson, Spence & Young, founded 1880
- "Revealed: Wallis Simpson's Jewish secret". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- "Ernest Simpson Dead in London", The New York Times, 30 November 1958
- Princeton Alumni Weekly, Volume 51. Princeton, New Jersey: Library of Princeton University. 29 September 1950. p. 22.
- Fowler, Glenn (29 June 1988). "Murray J. Rossant Is Dead at 65; Journalist Led 20th Century Fund". The New York Times.
- "Mrs Rossant is bride of Edward Driggs III, The New York Times, 2 April 1949
- Who wed Robert Harold Baker (married 1937, annulled 1938)
- "Ernest Simpson Died in London", The New York Times, 30 November 1958
- Kirk Silversmith Co.
- [Mary Raffray was the sister of author E. Buckner Kirk Hollingsworth Kirk-Hollingsworth Papers