Consuelo Vanderbilt

Consuelo Vanderbilt

New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 6 Dec 1964 (aged 87)
Southampton, Suffolk County, New York, USA
Burial Bladon, West Oxfordshire District, Oxfordshire, England
Memorial ID 3462 · View Source
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American socialite heiress, Duchess of Marlborough. She was the only daughter of railroad millionaire William Kissam Vanderbilt and his wife, southern belle and suffragist Alva Erskine Smith. Her Spanish name was in honor of her godmother, half-Cuban socialite Maria Consuelo Yznaga del Valle. Consuelo's stunning beauty and fortune ensured that she was never without a suitor, and her mother had grand plans for her daughter's marriage. Though Consuelo was secretly engaged to Winthrop Rutherfurd, Alva arranged a marriage with Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough, a land-rich and cash-poor British noble who was the cousin and close friend of Winston Churchill. Her daughter was not interested, but Alva cajoled, begged, manipulated, and ultimately ordered her to go through with the marriage. Always obedient and gullible, Consuelo married the duke on November 6, 1895 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in New York City in what has been called a cash-for-class deal. It is said that Consuelo wept at the ceremony. She gave birth to two sons quickly, but the unhappy union was soon in name only. The duke and duchess divorced in 1921, and the Vatican annulled the union in 1926 on the grounds of coercion, which Alva admitted to saying "I always had absolute control over my daughter." On July 4, 1921 Consuelo married pioneer French pilot Lt. Col. Jacques Balsan, and the marriage was every bit as blissful as her first had been miserable. She published her ghost-written autobiography, "The Glitter and the Gold" in 1953 and was widowed in 1956. Consuelo died at Southampton, Long Island at the age of 87 and was laid to rest near her former home, Blenheim Palace beside her youngest son, Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill.

Bio by: Kristen Conrad






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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 18 Aug 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 3462
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Consuelo Vanderbilt (2 Mar 1877–6 Dec 1964), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3462, citing St. Martin's Churchyard, Bladon, West Oxfordshire District, Oxfordshire, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .