Social Victorians/Marlborough House Set

Marlborough HouseEdit

The Marlborough House Set is what the Victorians called the intimate friends and "fast" social network of Albert Edward ("Bertie"), Prince of Wales, and Alexandra ("Alix"), Princess of Wales. This social network included members of the British aristocracy, intelligent and beautiful American women, successful businessmen (like Arthur Stanley Wilson) and members of the entertainment industry, as well as other cultural leaders like the Rothschilds who were not included in Victoria's networks.

Marlborough House was the London residence of the Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and Alexandra, Princess of Wales, renovated for them in 1861–1863, after which they lived there when in the city. Their country home was at Sandringham.

Raymond Lamont-Brown says,

<quote>Marlborough House, birthplace of the future George V, was to become the focus of a rival court to Queen Victoria's. Society was now divided into two camps, that of the retired and dismal circle around the widowed queen, and the rumbustious group around the Waleses. The couple entertained their guests both formally and informally and accepted invitations to visit their friends' houses. And for many, the Marlborough House Set, as they were dubbed, were the epitome of decadence. As Charles Wynn-Carrington, who had first procured Nellie Clifden for the Prince of Wales's bed, said, "When the Marlborough House Set fall out, husbands need no longer sleep alone."</quote>[1]

<quote>The Prince of Wales was fatally easily bored, so the whole credo of the Marlborough House Set was to stave off his ennui. This meant supplying him with a train of vivacious women.

The Marlborough House hothouse of intrigue was a male-oriented society, although the Prince of Wales, as Margaret Tennant (later Margot Asquith) noted, was not interested for long in men's company alone. She further commented that he loved women's gossip about their amours, sought their advice on his social programme and gave them a life-long loyalty if deserved; in all his dealings with females he "was a professional love-maker."</quote>[1]

The Marlborough House Set was Bertie's court and social networks as they evolved; members of his "household" and those of his near relations were functionally relevant as well, as they worked to arrange relationships and keep them running smoothly.

Also Follow Up OnEdit

  • “the fast racing set” (Magnus-Allcroft)
  • The “plutocratic and parvenu”[2]
  • Marlborough House
  • The Culture of Country Houses
  • British Aristocracy

People in the Marlborough House Set, the Social NetworkEdit

The Founding or Central Members of the "Fast Set"Edit

Landed Aristocracy and Old FamiliesEdit

Businesspeople, Actors and Actresses, and the Nouveau RicheEdit

Business EliteEdit

Cultural EliteEdit

  • Lily Langtree (Mrs. Edward Langtree)


Continental EuropeansEdit

  • Sir Ernest Cassel
  • Baron Hirsch, Maurice de Hirsch
  • Luis Maria Augusto Pinto de Soveral, Marquês de Soveral, a very close associate
  • Count Charles Kinsky
  • Duchess of Sermoneta, Vittoria Colonna (London, November 19, 1880 - November 17, 1954), Princess di Teano and Duchess di Sermoneta
  • Sarah Bernhardt
  • Prince Louis of Battenberg (1876)


Need to Be Categorized, Confirmed, Etc.Edit

Household and Functionaries Who ContributedEdit

  • Sir Francis Knollys, private secretary to the prince and groom of the bedchamber
  • Charles Harbord, 5th Baron Suffield, lord of the bedchamber
  • Earl of Gosford, lord of the bedchamber
  • Sir Dighton Macnaughton Probyn, Comptroller and Treasurer
  • Harry Stonor, groom of the bedchamber
  • Duke of Abercorn, Groom of the Stole
  • 9 equerries, including Baron Wantage (who probably promoted Arthur Collins?)
  • Sir William Jenner, Physician in Ordinary
  • Sir James Paget, Surgeon in Ordinary
  • Earl of Ducie, Lord Warden of the Stanneries
  • Earl of Leicester, Keeper of the Privy Seal
  • C. A. Cripps, Attorney General
  • Colonel Sir Robert Kingscote, Receiver-General

Households as of the Coronation in 1901Edit

The household of a ruling monarch is quite complex with a many departments and positions. Raymond Lamont-Brown says that the following people from "The Separate Royal Households, 1901" make up a "key checklist for social networkers like Alice Keppel and Agnes Keyser"[1] (n.p.). So this list of people is only the "key" social networkers."

Edward VIIEdit

  • Gen. Right Hon. Sir Dighton Macnaughton Probyn, "personal"
  • Edward Hyde Villers, the Earl of Clarendon, Lord Chamberlain's department
  • Sidney Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, Lord Steward's department
  • W. Cavendish-Bentinck, Duke of Portland, Department of Master of the Horse
  • There were other departments as well, of course.


  • Charles John Colville, Lord Colville of Culross, Lord Chamberlain

Prince George, Prince of Wales: George Frederick Ernest Albert (3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936)Edit

  • Lt.-Col. Hon. Sir William Carrington, Comptroller and Treasurer

Princess of Wales, Princess Mary of TeckEdit

  • Major-Gen. Sir Stanley de Astel Calvert Clarke

Marie of Russia, Duchess Alfred of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Duchess of EdinburghEdit

  • Baron Megden, Private Secretary

Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert, Duke of Connaught and StrathearnEdit

  • Col. Alfred Mordaunt Egerton, Comptroller and Secretary

Princess Louise of Russia, Duchess of Connaught and StrathearnEdit

  • Andrew Wilson Murray, Secretary

HRH Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont, Duchess of Albany (Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein)Edit

HRH Prince Christian of Schleswig-HolsteinEdit

  • Maj. James Euen Baillie Morton, Joint Comptroller and Treasurer
  • Col. Hon. Charles George Cornwallis Eliot, Joint Comptroller and Treasurer

HRH Princess Louise, Duchess of ArgyleEdit

  • Maj. N. Cuthbertson, Equerry and Secretary

HRH Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore, Princess Henry of BattenbergEdit

  • Col. Lord William Cecil, Comptroller and Treasurer

Princess Maud of Wales, HRH Princess Charles of DenmarkEdit

  • Col. Henry Knollys, Comptroller and Private Secretary

Notable EventsEdit

  1. 1883 May, the Prince of Wales organized the founding of the Royal College of Music.
  2. 1869 April 20 – 2 March 1870, the Mordaunt v. Mordaunt, Cole & Jonstone divorce proceedings in which the Prince of Wales testified as a witness.[7]
  3. 1874 September 26 – 11 May 1876, the Prince of Wales toured India, Malta, Brindisi (Italy) and Greece. While he was traveling in India, one of his companions, Lord Aylesford, learned that his wife was eloping with the George Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford, Lord Randolph Churchill's brother, the future Duke of Marlborough. He left the tour suddenly, causing a rift with the Prince of Wales. On 1877 May 22, Heneage Finch, 7th Earl of Aylesford and Edith Peers-Williams Finch separated. In 1881, Guy Bertrand was born, the son of Edith Peers-Williams Finch and George Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford[8]; he was baptized in 1883 as the of Heneage Finch, 7th Earl of Aylesford.
  4. 1890 September, the "Royal Baccarat Scandal," which began at the home of Arthur Stanley Wilson, father of Muriel Wilson.[9] Sir William Gordon Cumming was accused of cheating at baccarat at Sir Arthur Wilson’s country house, Tranby Croft. Daisy was implicated as the source when word got out about the illegal baccarat game and Sir Cummings’ cheating, earning her the nickname “Babbling Brooks." In June 1891, the Tranby Croft trial, about William Gordon-Cumming's cheating at baccarat, took place.[10]
  5. 1891, another scandal: Lady Charles Beresford intercepted a letter from Daisy, Lady Brooke (later Countess of Warwick) to Lord Charles Beresford that revealed a sexual relationship between them. She showed it to a number of people, including the Prince of Wales, Charles Beresford’s brother, Lord Marcus Beresford and George Lewis, solicitor to many in Society and then got pregnant by Lord Brooke, Daisy's husband. The Prince of Wales intervened in the affair to preserve the marriages and appearance of propriety, causing a permanent enmity between him and Charles Beresford. The sexual relationship between Daisy and Bertie followed.[11]

Marlborough House Set as Defined by the National Portrait GalleryEdit

Group in a Portrait in the National Portrait GalleryEdit

Is this a portrait? When was it taken, and by whom? Where is it, if it is an actual portrait somewhere? The names in this list are not the same as the names in the 1904 and 1906 photographs. George Payne died in 1878, Edward Montagu Stuart Granville Montagu-Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, 1st Earl of Wharncliffe in 1899, so it seems unlikely that all these people are in one photograph.

  1. Queen Alexandra (1844–1925)
  2. Lord Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill (1849–1895)
  3. King Edward VII (1841–1910)
  4. Archibald Brabazon Sparrow Acheson, 4th Earl of Gosford 1841–1922)
  5. Henry Gerard Sturt, 1st Baron Alington (1825–1904)
  6. Evelyn Elizabeth Brinton (née Forbes) (1868–1928)
  7. Peregrine Francis Adelbert Cust, 6th Baron Brownlow (1899–1978) [can these dates be right?]
  8. Sir Ernest Joseph Cassel (1852–1921)
  9. Henry Chaplin, 1st Viscount Chaplin (1840–1923)
  10. Jeanette (“Jennie”) Churchill (née Jerome), Lady Randolph Churchill
  11. Luis Maria Augusto Pinto de Soveral, Marquess de Soveral (1855–1922)
  12. Spencer Compton Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire (1833–1908)
  13. Louise Frederica Augusta Cavendish (née von Alten), Duchess of Devonshire (formerly Duchess of Manchester) (1832–1911)
  14. Georgina Elizabeth Ward (née Moncreiffe), Countess of Dudley (1846–1929)
  15. Reginald Baliol Brett, 2nd Viscount Escher (1852–1930)
  16. Horace Brand Farquhar, 1st Earl Farquhar (1844–1923)
  17. Mary Emmeline Laura (née Milner), Lady Gerard (1854–1918)
  18. Louisa Augusta Beatrice (née Montagu), Countess of Gosford (1856–1944)
  19. Montagu John Guest (1839–1909)
  20. Charles Hardinge, 1st Baron Hardinge of Penshurst (1858–1944)
  21. Winifred Selina (née Sturt), Lady Hardinge of Penshurst (1868–1914)
  22. Charles Philip Yorke, 5th Earl of Hardwicke (1836–1897)
  23. Charles Stanhope, 8th Earl of Harrington (1844–1917)
  24. Frances Jane Horner (née Graham), Lady Horner (1854 or 1855–1940)
  25. Alice Frederica Keppel (née Edmonstone) (1868–1947)
  26. Sir Robert Nigel Fitzhardinge Kingscote (1830–1908)
  27. Sir William Thomas Knollys (1797–1883)
  28. Thomas William Coke, 2nd Earl of Leicester of Holkham (1822–1909)
  29. Hermione Wilhelmina Fitzgerald (née Duncombe), Duchess of Leinster (1864–1895)
  30. Sir George Granville Leveson-Gower (1858–1951)
  31. Sir Thomas Johnstone Lipton, 1st Bt (1850–1931)
  32. Sir John Pepys Lister-Kaye, 3rd Bt (1853–1924)
  33. Natica (née Yznaga), Lady Lister-Kaye (1857–1943)
  34. Charles Stewart Vane-Tempest-Steward, 6th Marquess of Londonderry (1852–1915)
  35. Louis Alexander Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven (Prince Louis of Battenburg) (1854–1921)
  36. Consuelo Montagu (née Yznaga), Duchess of Manchester (1853–1909)
  37. Francis Bingham Mildmay, 1st Baron Mildmay of Flete (1861–1947)
  38. Mildred Cecilia Harriet (née Sturt, later Viscountess Chelsea, later Lady Lambton), Lady Montagu (1869–1942)
  39. Hon. Oliver George Paulett Montagu (1844–1893)
  40. Sir Charles Mordaunt, 10th Bt. (1836–1897)
  41. Harriet Sarah (née Moncreiffe), Lady Mordaunt (1848–1906)
  42. Maurice Herbert Towneley-O’Hagan, 3rd Baron O’Hagan (1882–1961)
  43. George Payne (1803–1878)
  44. John Baring, 2nd Baron Revelstoke (1863–1929)
  45. Arthur Abraham David Sassoon (1840–1912)
  46. Reuben David Sassoon (1835–1905)
  47. Charles Harbord, 5th Baron Suffield (1830–1914)
  48. Cecilia Annetta (née Baring), Lady Suffield (1832–1911)
  49. Frances Evelyn (“Daisy”) Greville (née Maynard), Countess of Warwick (1861–1938)
  50. Henry Wellesley, 3rd Duke of Wellington (1846–1900)
  51. Edward Montagu Stuart Granville Montagu-Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, 1st Earl of Wharncliffe (1827–1899)
  52. Owen Lewis Cope Williams (1836–1904)
  53. Emilia Yznaga (1855–1944)

Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, 1904 and 1906Edit

This list is from the National Portrait Gallery, which has 2 photographs by David Knights-Whittome (1876–1943), 23 November 1904 ( and 10–17 September 1906 ( Links are to the National Portrait Gallery pages on these people.

1904 SittersEdit

  1. Evelyn Elizabeth Brinton (née Forbes) (1868-1928), Former wife of William Dodge James, and later wife of John Chaytor Brinton; daughter of Sir Charles John Forbes 4th Bt. Sitter in 12 portraits (
  2. Eliza Caroline Burke (née Roche), Countess Friedrich of Hochberg (1857-1940), Wife of Friedrich Maximilian, Count Hochberg; daughter of 1st Baron Fermoy. Sitter in 3 portraits (
  3. Beatrix Jane (née Craven), Countess Cadogan (1844-1907), Society hostess and philanthropist; first wife of 5th Earl Cadogan; daughter of 2nd Earl of Craven. Sitter in 7 portraits (
  4. George Henry Cadogan, 5th Earl Cadogan (1840-1915), Politician; MP for Bath. Sitter in 17 portraits (
  5. George Herbert Hyde Villiers, 6th Earl of Clarendon (1877-1955), Public servant and courtier; Chairman of BBC. Sitter in 21 portraits (
  6. Sir Arthur Davidson (1856-1922), Soldier and Private Secretary to Edward VII. Sitter in 3 portraits (
  7. William Henry Grenfell, Baron Desborough (1855-1945), Fencer, rower and Liberal politician; MP for Salisbury and Wycombe. Sitter in 18 portraits (
  8. King Edward VII (1841-1910), Reigned 1901-10. Sitter associated with 505 portraits (
  9. Mary Venetia James (née Cavendish-Bentinck) (1861-1948), Society hostess and racehorse breeder; wife of John Arthur James; daughter of George Augustus Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck. Sitter in 3 portraits (
  10. William Dodge James (1854-1912), Landowner and traveller. Sitter in 3 portraits (
  11. Alice Frederica Keppel (née Edmonstone) (1868-1947), Wife of George Keppel; mother of Violet Trefusis; mistress of King Edward VII. Sitter in 8 portraits (
  12. Hon. George Keppel (1865-1947), Soldier; third son of 7th Duke of Albemarle. Sitter in 2 portraits (
  13. Consuelo Montagu (née Yznaga), Duchess of Manchester (1853-1909), Socialite; wife of 8th Duke of Manchester; daughter of Antonio #Modesto Yznaga del Valle and Ellen Maria Clement. Sitter in 7 portraits (
  14. Aline (née de Rothschild), Lady Sassoon (1865-1909), Daughter of Baron G. de Rothschild; wife of Sir Edward Sassoon, 2nd Bt. Sitter in 2 portraits (
  15. Sir Edward Albert Sassoon, 2nd Bt (1856-1912), Major, businessman and Liberal politician; MP for Hythe. Sitter in 3 portraits (
  16. John Lumley-Savile, 2nd Baron Savile (1853-1931), Diplomat and sportsman. Sitter in 6 portraits (
  17. Gertrude Violet (née Webster-Wedderburn), Lady Savile (died 1912), Former wife of Horace Augustus Helyar, and later wife of 2nd #Baron Savile; daughter of Charles Francis Webster-Wedderburn. Sitter in 11 portraits (
  18. Mary Sneyd (née Ellis) (died 1923), Wife of Ralph Sneyd. Sitter in 2 portraits (
  19. Sir Harry Stonor (1859-1939), Gentleman usher to Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and King George V. Sitter in 12 portraits (
  20. Sir John Hubert Ward (1870-1938), Major, royal courtier and equerry; son of 1st Earl of Dudley. Sitter in 6 portraits (

1906 SittersEdit

  1. Beatrix Jane (née Craven), Countess Cadogan (1844-1907), Society hostess and philanthropist; first wife of 5th Earl Cadogan; daughter of 2nd Earl of Craven. Sitter in 7 portraits (
  2. George Henry Cadogan, 5th Earl Cadogan (1840-1915), Politician; MP for Bath. Sitter in 17 portraits (
  3. Sir Arthur Davidson (1856-1922), Soldier and Private Secretary to Edward VII. Sitter in 3 portraits (
  4. King Edward VII (1841-1910), Reigned 1901-10. Sitter associated with 505 portraits (
  5. Lewis Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt (1863-1922), Liberal politician; MP for Rossendale and Secretary of State for the Colonies. Sitter in 15 portraits (
  6. Mary Ethel (née Burns), Viscountess Harcourt (died 1961), Wife of 1st Viscount Harcourt; daughter of Walter Hayes Burns. Sitter in 2 portraits (
  7. Alice Frederica Keppel (née Edmonstone) (1868-1947), Wife of George Keppel; mother of Violet Trefusis; mistress of King Edward VII. Sitter in 8 portraits (
  8. Sir Harry Charles Legge (1852-1924), Army officer and royal courtier. Sitter associated with 4 portraits (
  9. James Rochfort Maguire (1855-1925), Company director and imperialist. Sitter in 2 portraits (
  10. Hon. Julia Beatrice Maguire (née Peel) (1864-1949), Wife of James Rochfort Maguire; daughter of 1st Viscount Peel. Sitter in 3 portraits (
  11. John Lumley-Savile, 2nd Baron Savile (1853-1931), Diplomat and sportsman. Sitter in 6 portraits (
  12. Gertrude Violet (née Webster-Wedderburn), Lady Savile (died 1912), Former wife of Horace Augustus Helyar, and later wife of 2nd #Baron Savile; daughter of Charles Francis Webster-Wedderburn. Sitter in 11 portraits (
  13. Jane Thornewill (active 1906). Sitter in 1 portrait (
  14. Mrs Vyner (active 1906). Sitter in 1 portrait (
  15. Sir Hedworth Williamson, 9th Bt (1867-1942), Son of Sir Hedworth Williamson, 8th Bt. Sitter in 1 portrait (
  16. Lady Sarah Isabella Augusta Wilson (née Spencer-Churchill) (1865-1929), War correspondent; wife of Gordon Chesney Wilson; daughter of 7th Duke of Marlborough. Sitter in 9 portraits (

Questions and NotesEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lamont-Brown, Raymond. Alice Keppel and Agnes Keyser: Edward VII's Last Loves. History Press, 2013. Rpt. of Edward VII's Last Loves, Sutton, 2005. Google Books: n.p.
  2. Ridley, Jane (2010-05-27). Marlborough House set (act. 1870s–1901). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
  3. Leslie, Anita. The Marlborough House Set. Doubleday, 1973: 81.
  4. Leslie 81.
  5. Leslie 81, 113.
  6. Leslie 63.
  7. "Harriet Mordaunt". Wikipedia. 2020-04-13.
  8. "Heneage Finch, 7th Earl of Aylesford." "Person Page – 2730." The Peerage: A Genealogical Survey of the Aristocracy of Britain as Well as the Royal Families of Europe (accessed August 2020).
  9. "Royal baccarat scandal". Wikipedia. 2017-11.
  10. Leslie 114.
  11. "Edward VII". Wikipedia. 2020-08-18.

Still-Running BibliographyEdit

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  • Bentley-Cranch, Dana. Edward VII: Image of an Era, 1841–1910. London: HMSO [in association with the National Portrait Gallery], 1992.
  • "Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire." Wikipedia,_1st_Marquess_of_Lincolnshire (accessed July 2015).
  • Cooper, Dana Calise. Informal Ambassadors: American Women, Transatlantic Marriages, and Anglo-American Relations, 1865–1945. Dissertation, 2006.
  • Cordery, S. A. Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts. 2012.
  • Cowles, V. Edward VII and His Circle. H. Hamilton, 1956.
  • Dooley, T. A. M. The Decline of the Big House in Ireland: A Study of Irish Landed Families, 1860–1960. Wolfhound Press, 2001.
  • Ellenberger, Nancy W. "The Transformation of London 'Society' at the End of Victoria's Reign: Evidence from the Court Presentation Records." Albion Winter 1990 (22.4): 633–653.
  • Horn, Pamela. High Society: The English Social Élite, 1880–1914. 1992.
  • Huggett, Frank E. Carriages at Eight: Horse-Drawn Society in Victorian and Edwardian Times. Guildford, England: Lutterworth Press, 1979.
  • Kehoe, E. The Titled Americans: Three American Sisters and the British Aristocratic World into Which They Married. New York: Grove, 2004.
  • Kennedy, Carol. Mayfair: A Social History. London: Hutchinson, 1986.
  • King, G. Twilight of Splendor: The Court of Queen Victoria During Her Diamond Jubilee Year. 2007.
  • Leslie, Anita. The Marlborough House Set. New York: Doubleday, 1973. Print.
  • Perkin, Joan. Woman and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century England. London: Routledge, 1989.
  • Pullar, Philippa. Gilded Butterflies: The Rise and Fall of the London Season. London: H. Hamilton, 1978.
  • Reksten, R. More English Than the English: A Very Social History of Victoria. 1986.
  • Ridley, Jane. "The Marlborough House Set." Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Stella, Margetson. Victorian High Society. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1980.
  • Waddington, Mary. Letters of a Diplomat's Wife, 1883 to 1900. New York: Scribner's, 1903.
  • Wilkins, K. "Elite Networks of the London Season: Perspectives from the New Mobilities Literature." PDF. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  • Woods, L. M. British Gentlemen in the Wild West: The Era of the Intensely English Cowboy. New York and London: Free Press, 1898.