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Harriot Beauclerk, Duchess of St Albans (née Mellon; 11 November 1777 – 6 August 1837) was a British actress who eventually starred at Drury Lane. She was successively the wife of banker Thomas Coutts and William Beauclerk, 9th Duke of St Albans.
Mellon was the daughter of strolling players (members of a travelling theatre company) and became an actress. When she was young, she appeared at the Duke Street Theatre, where she attracted the attention of an elderly wealthy banker, Thomas Coutts of Coutts & Co, the royal bank. Following his wife's death in 1815 she married him. She was widely celebrated for her beauty, and was painted by George Romney and Sir Thomas Lawrence.
In 1822, after her husband's death, she became very wealthy, have been bequeathed his entire fortune, including his interest in the family bank. She purchased the lease on a country property four miles away at the Holly Lodge in Highgate, holding parties there and at her town house at 78 Piccadilly. She also spent time at her house in Brighton, St Alban's House, 131 Kings Road, on the corner of Regency Square. In 1827 she married William Beauclerk, 9th Duke of St Albans, who was 23 years her junior. Sir Walter Scott wrote to her to congratulate her on this second marriage. Her reply to Scott is quoted in full in his journal for June 30 1827. They were "old and true friends" and she wrote to him, "What a strange eventful life has mine been, from a poor little player child, with just food and clothes to cover me, dependent on a very precarious profession, without talent or a friend in the world - first the wife of the best, the most perfect being that ever breathed ...and now the wife of a Duke! You must write my life... my true history written by the author of Waverley"
On her death in 1837, her property and fortune went to her stepgranddaughter, carefully selected as heir after careful scrutiny of the possible recipients, who as a condition of the inheritance adapted her name to Angela Burdett-Coutts.
- Lundy, Darryl (2 December 2010). "Harriet Mellon". www.thepeerage.com. Retrieved 24 January 2012.[unreliable source]
- Healey, Edna (Jan 2012). "Coutts, Angela Georgina Burdett-, suo jure Baroness Burdett-Coutts (1814–1906)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn (subscription required). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
- The Journal of Sir Walter Scott June 30 1827 (published 1891)
- There is one biography of Harriot Mellon: Joan Perkin's The Merry Duchess (Athena Press, 2002)
Old and New London Illustrated: A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places. Illustrated with numerous engravings from the most Authentic Sources. (6 vols) sub vol. 3&4 combined: Westminster and the Westminster Suburbs. 1881. pp. 278–281. Healey, Edna. Coutts & Co 1692–1992: The Portrait of a Private Bank. ISBN 0-340-55826-1.
- Old and New London Illustrated: A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places. Illustrated with numerous engravings from the most Authentic Sources. (6 vols) sub vol. 3&4 combined: Westminster and the Westminster Suburbs. 1881. pp. 278–281.
- Healey, Edna. Coutts & Co 1692–1992: The Portrait of a Private Bank. ISBN 0-340-55826-1.
- Joan Perkin article in History Today: From Strolling Player to Banker-Duchess http://www.historytoday.com/joan-perkin/strolling-player-banker-duchess