Alice Emma Margaret “Margot” <I>Tennant</I> Asquith

Alice Emma Margaret “Margot” Tennant Asquith

Traquair, Scottish Borders, Scotland
Death 28 Jul 1945 (aged 81)
Burial Sutton Courtenay, Vale of White Horse District, Oxfordshire, England
Memorial ID 35241242 · View Source
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Author. She became known for her published memoirs, which gave details of the reign of Edward VII and the years of World War I in England. Born Emma Alice Margaret Tennant, she was the sixth daughter of eleven children of Sir Charles Tennant of The Glen, 1st Baronet and Emma Winsloe. She was educated at home in her father's vast library, attended a seminary in London, and spent five months in Dresden, Germany studying music and the German language. She was a free spirit, almost a tomboy, as a teenager, yet as an adult woman, she did not support women's suffrage. She loved riding in fox hunts. In childhood accidents, she had broken her nose and cut her lip with both leaving a scar. On May 10, 1894, she became the second wife of Herbert Henry Asquith, who became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. In 1925 she gained the title of the Countess of Oxford and Asquith when her husband was granted peerage, and introduced her husband to the life of high society. Not understanding post-traumatic stress disorder after World War I, she publicly accused her veteran step-son's behavior as being alcohol related. Nothing like the Prime Minister's first wife, she was outspoken politically with wit, which may have led to her husband's political downfall. Her outspoken behavior caused tension between her four step-sons and her step-daughter, who was only twelve years younger than she was. Since she disliked the idea of living at the Prime Minister's residence at 11 Downing Street, the family continued to reside at their mansion at 20 Cavendish Square. During World War I on September 15, 1916 her oldest step-son Raymond was killed in action in France. On December 5, 1916, her husband was forced to resign as Prime Minister. Her youngest step-son Arthur, who was a highly-decorated officer in the Royal Navy and been wounded four times, had his leg amputated in January of 1918 after receiving war injury. At the heart of Member of Parliament, Noel Pemberton Billing's 1918 obscene, criminal and defamatory libel trial was the famous Berlin Black Book that contained the names of “47,000 British sexual perverts, mostly in high places, being blackmailed by the German Secret Service,” and her name was listed in the book as a member of the secret society called the Unseen Hand. She had to hire a legal assistant to represent her interest for the trial. Billing was found not guilty of libel, but guilty or not, the damage to her and her husband's reputation had been done. By the time of her husband's death in 1928, the couple had been in debt for several years. Their Cavendish Square mansion was sold in 1920 and she had to sell her jewelry. Upon her husband's death, most of his money from his insurance was given to his seven children. In today's economy, she received nearly $20,000, which did not cover her lifestyle in high society. Starting in 1920, she published three memoirs, in 1920 “An Autobiography,” in 1933 “More Memories,” and in 1934 “More or Less about Myself.” She called names with little tact in her memoirs mentioning not only family matters, but political issues. Other books, which were focused on her life from her viewpoint, were in 1922 “My Impressions of America,” in 1925 “Places and Persons,” in 1927 “Lay Sermons,” in 1928 “Octavia,” in 1938 “Myself When Young,” and her last book in 1943 “Off the Record.” Besides selling her books, she made an income by advertising cigarettes, interior decorating, and depending on others to supplement her income. She was known to issue numerous “I.O.U.” in hope none would be redeemed. The couple had five children with only two reaching adult age: a son, Anthony and a daughter, Elizabeth. During World War II, her daughter Elizabeth, who had married Prince Antoine Bibesco of Romania, became trapped in Romania in 1940 with the Nazi and Russian invasion, thus unable to escape to sanctuary in England. In April of 1945, her daughter died of pneumonia. Brokenhearted, she died only months later living at 14 Kensington Square. With the 100th anniversary of World War I, her diaries dating 1914 to 1916 were published in June of 2014 by Oxford University Press as “Margot Asquith's Great War Diaries.”

Bio by: Linda Davis



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: julia&keld
  • Added: 27 Mar 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 35241242
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Alice Emma Margaret “Margot” Tennant Asquith (2 Feb 1864–28 Jul 1945), Find a Grave Memorial no. 35241242, citing All Saints Churchyard, Sutton Courtenay, Vale of White Horse District, Oxfordshire, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .