The reigning Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, nee Miss Florence Davis, the daughter of Mr. John H. Davis, of New York, is one of the prettiest of the American peeresses, and, when she lived in New York, was considered the most beautiful girl in that city. She was noted for her slight physique, light brown hair, and charming manner, and she was exceedingly popular. She has a fresh soprano voice, and at a concert given by her friend Madame Donalda at Bechstein Hall in 1910 she appeared on the platform and sang several songs with great effect. This experience, is not, however, likely to be repeated. Lady Dufferin's house in Cadogan Square is remarkable for the fact that each room is furnished to represent a different period, the curious and valuable furniture having been given to her by her father, who is a very wealthy man.
There are no fewer than eleven American countesses, the Countess of Orford (nee Miss Louise Corbin, of New York), the Countess of Suffolk (nee Miss Margaret Leiter, of Chicago), the Countess of Essex (nee Miss Adele Grant, of New York), the Countess of Tankerville (nee Miss Leonora Van Marter, of New York), the Countess of Granard (nee Miss Beatrice Ogden Mills, of New York), the Countess of Egmont (nee Miss Kate Howell, of South Carolina), the Countess of Donoughmore (nee Miss Elena Grace, of New York), the Countess of Rosslyn (nee Miss Anna Robinson, of New York), the Countess of Craven (nee Miss Cornelia Bradley Martin, of New York), Cora Countess of Stafford (Mrs. Colgate), and the Countess of Ancaster (nee Miss Eloise Breese, of New York).
By reason of the position of the Earl of Granard as Master of the Horse, the countess, naturally, occupies a most distinguished position in the social world of London, and she has had to entertain on a large and magnificent scale. She is a noted hostess, and her receptions have a great vogue and distinction. Before her marriage, which took place in the ballroom of her mother's house, under a bell of white lilies, the countess had lived much of her time in London, where her quiet elegance and her well-bred simplicity had given her a distinguished individuality and won for her a wide esteem. Among her wedding presents she received from her mother a diamond crown, each tip of which is finished with a large oval brilliant.
"A Lady in White"
The Countess of Essex, whose wedding, in !893. was the social sensation of the year, is a tall, graceful woman with soft eyes and dark hair, and what someone happily called a " magnolia tinted " complexion. Her portrait, under the title of " A Lady in White." was probably the "picture of the year " when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy, and brought unqualified praise to Sir Hubert von Herkomer, R.a., who painted it. Lady Essex was one of the celebrated" Lovely Five,' as society delighted to call certain ladies renowned for their beauty. They were, in addition to herself, the Duchess of Sutherland, the Countess of Westmorland, the Countess of Lytton, and the Countess of Warwick. Lady Essex, like her husband, is greatly interested in sport and in animals. She is noted for fine taste, one of her hobbies being the collecting of miniatures, and in her boudoir at Cassiobury Park, Watford, she has over a hundred portraits of the belles and beaux of bygone times, all beautiful specimens of the miniaturist's art.
The Countess of Suffolk was the twenty-third American girl to marry into the peerage, in which she had been preceded by her sister, the late Lady Curzon of Kedleston, who achieved the most exalted position ever occupied by an American - that of the Vicereine of India. Although the countess's baptismal name is Margaret, she has always been called "Daisy " by her family and her intimate friends. She is tall and dark, with very handsome features, and she bears a striking resemblance to her late sister, with whom she spent a great deal of her time during Lord Curzon's term as Viceroy of India. She enjoys a reputation for wit and cleverness, in which she resembled Mrs. Asquith, by whom she was chaperoned when she used to stay in London. Her wit was exemplified at one of the first dinners given at the Viceregal house in India. Next to her at table sat a man who evidently had not caught her name when she was introduced. They talked merrily for a while, and then the conversation turned on America. The man was surprised at his neighbour's knowledge of the country, and said, "I gather from what you say you know America pretty well - perhaps you have travelled there." The countess, who was then unmarried, looked up and smiled, "Well, I guess my name is Leiter."
When the earl and countess returned from America, where the wedding had taken place, to their country seat at Charlton, Malmesbury, the tenants took the horses out of the carriage and drew it, with the earl and countess in it, to the ancestral home, where a great arch had been erected on which were inscribed the words " Home, Sweet Home," flanked by the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes.
The Countess of Craven was for a time the youngest peeress in Great Britain, a position now occupied by Vivien, Lady Decies, the second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Gould, of New York. Her wedding was on a scale of great splendour, such as New York has not seen for a long time.
Only a few months after Lord Decies brought his bride home the young baroness was attacked with appendicitis and had to undergo an operation, from the effects of which she, happily, recovered. She may be regarded as one of the links between the peerage and the stage, for her mother was the beautiful actress Miss Edith Kingdon, who was a member of the company of the late Augustin Daly when that distinguished manager first came to London.
There are, however, two American actresses who hold direct rank in the peerage. They are the ex-countess of Rosslyn and the Baroness Ashburton.
The ex-countess of Rosslyn, who has appeared at the Criterion and other theatres in London, was Miss Anna Robin-son, of New York.
The Baroness Ashburton, who was Miss Frances Emily Donnelly, of New York, was known on the stage as Miss Frances Belmont. One of the notably pretty actresses, she made her first success in a servant's part in New York and subsequently was one of the famous sextette in " Floro-dora," in which capacity she appeared in London. Her most import-ant engagement, however, was with Mr. Charles Hawtrey, with whom she played leading parts for two years in the United States. In 1905 she left the stage quietly and went to Paris with the intention of pursuing her studies, that she might take a still higher place in her adopted calling. In Paris she met Lord Ashburton, and married him in 1906, the ceremony taking place at one of the English churches in that city.
The American viscountesses number two - the Viscountess Falkland (nee Miss Mary Reade, of New York) and Vicountess Deer-hurst (nee Miss Virginia Daniel, of San Francisco); the latter, however, is merely a courtesy title, Viscount Deerhurst being the eldest son and heir to the Earl of Coventry. The baronesses number ten, and include Lady Cheylesmore (nee Miss Elizabeth French, of New York), Lady Bagot (nee Miss
Lilian May, of Washington), Lady New-borough (nee Miss Grace Carr, of Louisville), Lady Ellenborough (nee Miss Hermione Schenley, of Pittsburg), Lady Decies (nee Miss Vivien Gould, of New York), Lady Ashburton (nee Miss Frances Donnelly, of New York), Lady Bateman (nee Miss Marian Graham, of New York), Lady Barrymore (nee Miss Elizabeth Wadsworth, of New York), Lady Leith of Fyvie (nee Miss Marie Louise January, of St. Louis), Lady Leigh (nee Miss Helen Beckwith, of New York). In addition there are two baronesses with courtesy titles - Lady Maidstone (nee Miss Margaretta Drexel, of Philadelphia), whose husband is the heir to the Earl of Winchilsea, and Lady Acheson (nee Miss Mildred Carter, of Baltimore), whose husband is heir to the Earl of Gosford.