Freda Dudley Ward

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"Freda Ward" redirects here. For information on the murder victim, see Alice Mitchell.
Freda Dudley Ward
Freda Dudley Ward.jpg
Born Winifred May Birkin
(1894-07-28)28 July 1894
Died 16 March 1983(1983-03-16) (aged 88)
Residence St Johns Wood, London
Nationality British
Other names Freda Birkin
Known for mistress of the Prince of Wales (1918–23)
Title Marquesa de Casa Maury
Spouse(s) William Dudley Ward (1913–31)
Pedro Jose Isidro Manuel Ricardo Mones (1937–54)
Children Penelope Ann Rachel Dudley Ward
Claire Angela Louise Dudley Ward
Parent(s) Colonel Charles Wilfred Birkin & Claire Lloyd Howe

Winifred May, Marquesa de Casa Maury (née Birkin; 28 July 1894 – 16 March 1983), universally known by her first married name as Freda Dudley Ward, was an English socialite best known for being a mistress of the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VIII.


Born Winifred 'Freda' May Birkin, she was the second child and eldest of three daughters of British Colonel Charles Wilfred Birkin (fourth son of a lace embroidery and tableware magnate of Nottingham, Sir Thomas Isaac Birkin)[1][2] and his American wife, Claire Lloyd Birkin (née Howe).

Freda was the mistress of the Prince of Wales from 1918 to 1934, when he fell in love with Wallis Simpson.[3] The relationship between the Prince of Wales and the married Ward was common knowledge in aristocratic circles.[4] In 1927, Sir Winston Churchill, after traveling with them on a train, observed, "It is quite pathetic to see the Prince and Freda. His love is so obvious and undisguisable."[5]

'Freda' Birkin married:

  • 9 July 1913 to Rt. Hon. William Dudley Ward, Liberal MP for Southampton. They had two daughters. Her first husband's family surname was Ward but with Dudley became their official surname through common usage. Their divorce took place on the ground of adultery in 1931.
  • 20 October 1937 to Pedro Jose Isidro Manuel Ricardo Mones, Marques de Casa Maury. From 1938, the couple took up residence in St Johns Wood, London, at 58 Hamilton Terrace, which they commissioned from the architects Burnet, Tait & Lorne.[6] They divorced in 1954.


  • Penelope Ann Rachel Dudley Ward (1914–1982), the actress Penelope Dudley-Ward, later Lady Reed, known as Pempie,[2] who married firstly in 1939 (divorced 1944) Anthony Pelissier, by whom she had a daughter, and secondly in 1948 film director Sir Carol Reed, by whom she had a son shown below.[7]
    • Tracy Reed (1942-2012 b. Clare Pelissier), actress; first wife of actor Edward Fox, who later played Edward VIII in Edward & Mrs. Simpson in which their affair is depicted; they had one daughter.
    • Max Reed (b. 1948)
  • Claire Angela Louise Dudley Ward (1916–1999) later Lady Laycock, or Angie,[8] who married in 1935 the commando leader Major-General Sir Robert Laycock,[9] by whom she had two sons and three daughters.[10] Of her five children, her son:
    • Joseph William Peter Laycock (Joe Laycock) (1938–1980) was married to actress Lucy Fleming niece of the writer Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond; and had issue.


  1. ^ "Bygones: The lace dynasty that made Nottingham". Nottingham Post. 13 April 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Anonymous. Obituary for her cousin Bindy Lambton, or the former Countess of Durham, published in The Daily Telegraph on 18 February 2003. [1]
  3. ^ "Marquesa, 'First True Love' Of Edward VIII, Is Dead at 88". The New York Times. 18 March 1983. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  4. ^ Morton, Andrew (2015). 17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History (ePub ed.). Grand Central Publishing. p. 98. 
  5. ^ Sebba, Anna. "17 Carnations by Andrew Morton (Review)". Chartwell Bulletin (Winston Churchill Centre). Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "House for Marques and Marquesa de Casa Maury". Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  7. ^ Lundy, Darryl (11 September 2006). "Penelope Ann Rachel Ward.". The Peerage. [unreliable source?]
  8. ^ Ibid.
  9. ^ Information on death date from Lundy, Darryl. "The Peerage database". The Peerage. [unreliable source?], retrieved 14 December 2007.
  10. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Lady Clare Angela Louise Ward". The Peerage. [unreliable source?], mistitled because she was Lady Laycock, but not Lady Clare Angela Louise Ward as daughter of an earl. Last edited 21 January 2006.


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