Ernest Aldrich Simpson

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Ernest Aldrich Simpson
Ernest Simpson 1937.jpg
Ernest Simpson in 1937
Born (1897-05-06)6 May 1897
New York City, New York, US
Died 30 November 1958(1958-11-30) (aged 61)
London, England, United Kingdom
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 Audrey Simpson Driggs (née Simpson)
Aharon Solomons (born Ernest Henry Child Simpson)
Parent(s) Ernest Louis Simpson
Charlotte Woodward Gaines

Ernest Aldrich Simpson (6 May 1897 – 30 November 1958) was an American-born naturalized British shipping executive best known as the second husband of Wallis Simpson, who later married the Edward, Duke of Windsor, former king of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the Commonwealth. He was a partner with the City shipbroking firm Simpson, Spence & Young.


Captain Ernest Simpson, Coldstream Gds, during WWI.

Born in New York City and educated at The Hill School and before attending Harvard, Simpson served as a Captain in the Coldstream Guards during World War I. His father, Ernest Louis Simpson, cofounded the international shipbroking Simpson, Spence & Young which has traded for over 130 years[1] and was a British citizen of Jewish background whose original surname was Solomon.[2] His mother, Charlotte Woodward Gaines, was American, daughter of an attorney in New York City.

His elder sister and only sibling, Maud Simpson (1879-1962), married, in 1905, Major Peter Kerr-Smiley MP.

Simpson applied for British citizenship and renounced his United States citizenship shortly after graduating from Harvard University during World War I.[2]

"In his younger years he was described as tall, with blue eyes, blond, curly hair, a neat blond moustache and a fastidious dresser," according to an article in The New York Times.[3]

First marriage[edit]

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), whom she married in May 1916 and divorced in April 1920. Born Dorothea Webb Parsons, she was a daughter of Arthur Webb Parsons[n 1], 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 American journalist Murray Rossant (died 1988) and, secondly on 1 April 1949, New York advertising executive Edmund Hope Driggs III.[4][5] Audrey Simpson Driggs died in Calgary, Canada on 2 November 2013. Simpson also had a stepdaughter by this marriage, Cynthia Josephine Dechert (born 1916)[n 2].

Second marriage[edit]

Wallis Simpson, later Duchess of Windsor

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."[6] 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.[6]

Third marriage[edit]

Mary Kirk Raffray, 1937

His third wife was Mary Raffray (née Mary Huntemuller Kirk, 1896–1941)[n 3], a daughter of Henry Child Kirk, owner and manager of the Kirk Silversmith Co. of Baltimore, Maryland and his wife, the former Edith Huntemuller.[7]

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, 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, England. Their son changed his name legally after 1958 to Aharon Solomons and became an officer in the Israeli Army.[1][8] Solomons is an A.I.D.A free-diving Instructor Trainer and currently teaches in Eilat, Israel.

Fourth marriage[edit]

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, RA and of His Serene Highness Prince George G. 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 on 30 November 1958 in London of throat cancer, aged 61.[9]

In art[edit]

He was portrayed by actor David Harbour in W.E., a 2011 romantic drama film about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's courtship; the movie was co-written and directed by Madonna.[10]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ This first wife was a great-granddaughter of Theophilus Parsons, a Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and President of Harvard University.
  2. ^ Who wed Robert Harold Baker (married 1937, annulled 1938) and James Imbrie Jr. (married 1950)
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ As they were married in England they would have to be divorced under English law, which had tight restrictions on divorce at the time
  1. ^ Simpson, Spence and Young in 1880
  2. ^ a b "Revealed: Wallis Simpson's Jewish secret". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "Ernest Simpson Dead in London", The New York Times, 30 November 1958
  4. ^ Fowler, Glenn (29 June 1988). "Murray J. Rossant Is Dead at 65; Journalist Led 20th Century Fund". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ "Mrs Rossant Is Bride of Edward Driggs 3d", The New York Times, 2 April 1949
  6. ^ a b "Ernest Simpson Died in London", The New York Times, 30 November 1958
  7. ^ Mary Raffray was the sister of author E. Buckner Kirk Hollingsworth, who dedicated her book Her Garden Was Her Delight to her memory. Mary Simpson's letters, along with her sister's, reside in the Harvard University archives.
  8. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "p. 35535 § 355348". The Peerage. [unreliable source]
  9. ^
  10. ^ url=