Georgina Ward, Countess of Dudley

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The Right Honourable
Georgina, Countess of Dudley
RRC DStJ
Georgina Ward, Countess of Dudley, 1880s.jpg
The Countess of Dudley in the 1880s
Personal details
Born Georgina Elizabeth Moncreiffe
9 August 1846
Dunbarney, Perthshire, Scotland
Died 2 February 1929(1929-02-02) (aged 82)
Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park, London
Spouse(s) William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley (m. 1865; d. 1885)
Children seven, including
William Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley
John Hubert Ward
Awards Royal Red Cross
Dame of the Order of Saint John

Georgina Elizabeth Ward, Countess of Dudley RRC DStJ (9 August 1846 – 2 February 1929) was a Scottish noblewoman and a noted beauty of the Victorian era.[1][2]

Early life and family[edit]

Georgina was born in Dunbarney, Perthshire, Scotland – "the third of a series of sisters all famous for their good looks" – to Sir Thomas Moncreiffe of that Ilk, 7th Baronet, and Lady Louisa Hay-Drummond, daughter of Thomas Hay-Drummond, 11th Earl of Kinnoull.[2] Her sister Harriet became Lady Mordaunt; another sister, Louisa, married John Stewart-Murray, 7th Duke of Atholl.[3]

Marriage[edit]

In the summer of 1865, the engagement was announced between the 17-year-old Georgina and the 48-year-old William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley, a wealthy land and mine owner. The earl had been widowed since November 1851 as his first wife, Selina Constance (née de Burgh), died six months into their marriage. Georgina and the earl married on 21 November 1865 in London, and Dudley was proud to show off his beautiful new wife across Europe:

Over the course of their marriage, Georgina and Dudley had one daughter and six sons. Dudley spoiled his wife with the finest clothes and jewels, but gave her no say in the running of their magnificent homes at Witley Court and Dudley House.

The Dudley family estate at Witley Court, 1880

The theft of Lady Dudley's jewels on 12 December 1874 at Paddington Station was a famous crime in Victorian England. The jewels worth perhaps £25,000 were never recovered.[4][5]

In 1879, the earl suffered a stroke, on the same day they had been preparing for a large party with a poetry reading by actress Sarah Bernhardt. The countess at once took charge of both the management of the family estates and his health. She dutifully nursed him and stayed by his side, with the exception of when business required her elsewhere. She was only rarely seen at social engagements without him.[2]

He died of pneumonia on 7 May 1885.[3]

Later life[edit]

The Dowager Countess, circa 1902, in a photo by Alice Hughes

After the earl's death, Lady Dudley resumed a more active social calendar. She never remarried despite many offers for her hand in marriage, with a son of Prince Bismarck among her reported suitors. She remained wholly dedicated to her family and sons' education, as well as to national service and charitable organisations.[2]

In 1908, she was appointed a Lady President of the League of Mercy, an organisation established to recruit volunteers to aid the sick and suffering at charity hospitals.[6]

During the Boer War and World War I, she served with the British Red Cross Society. In late 1900, she was involved in running the Mayfair nursing home for disabled officers under its auspices. Her actions at that time proved to be pivotal in ensuring Captain Trenchard (later to become Marshal of the Royal Air Force) recovered from a wound he had received in action.[7] From 1914 to 1918, she worked nine hours per day at the convalescent hospital, taking care of the needs of the injured. She lost her youngest son in the early days of the war.[2]

She was a close friend of Queen Alexandra. As dowager countess, Lady Dudley lived at Pembroke Lodge in London, granted to her by "grace and favour" of King Edward.[2]

She died at Pembroke Lodge in February 1929[8] at the age of 82, having spent more than half of her life as a widow.

Children[edit]

The earl and countess had six sons and one daughter.[9] Their fourth son, Capt. Reginald Ward, died in 1904 after an appendectomy in London.[10] Their youngest son, Lieutenant Gerald Ward, a first class-cricketer for Marylebone Cricket Club,[11] was killed in action in 1914 while serving with the 1st Life Guards in [12] at Zandvoorde, Belgium.

Honours[edit]

The Countess was made a Dame of Grace of the Order of Saint John in 1901,[13] and promoted to Dame of Justice of that order in 1928.[14] She was awarded the Royal Red Cross in 1902.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Georgiana Countess of Dudley". The New York Public Library Digital Collections. Retrieved 24 March 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Georgina Lady Dudley: A Great Lady and Her Work". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 4 February 1929. p. 11. 
  3. ^ a b "Obituary: Lord Dudley". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 8 May 1885. p. 11. 
  4. ^ Griffiths, Arthur (1889). "Jewels stolen in transit". Mysteries of the Police and Crime. vol. 2. pp. 254–255. 
  5. ^ "Lady Dudley's Jewels. The Story of the Theft". The West Australian. 28 July 1891. 
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28152. p. 4649. 26 June 1908.
  7. ^ Boyle, Andrew (1962). "Chapter 3". Trenchard Man of Vision. St. James's Place, London: Collins. pp. 58–59. 
  8. ^ "Death of Georgina, Lady Dudley: A Great Lady of the Victorian Age". Glasgow Herald. 9 February 1929. 
  9. ^ Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire. Burke's Peerage. 1914. p. 658. Retrieved 24 March 2016. 
  10. ^ "Obituary: Captain The Hon. Reginald Ward". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 8 March 1904. p. 4. 
  11. ^ "Gerald Ward profile at". CricketArchive.com. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Ward, the Hon. Gerald Ernest Francis". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  13. ^ The Edinburgh Gazette: no. 11285. p. 306. 15 March 1901.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33396. p. 4264. 22 June 1928.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 27448. p. 4193. 24 June 1902.

External links[edit]