Edwina Mountbatten

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Edwina_Mountbatten Edwina Ashley was born Edwina Cynthia Annette Ashley in 1901, the elder daughter of Wilfred William Ashley, later 1st Baron Mount Temple (of the 1932 creation), who was a Conservative Member of Parliament.

Paternally, she descended from the Earls of Shaftesbury who had been ennobled as barons in 1661, and ranked as baronets since 1622. She was a great-granddaughter of the reformist 7th Earl of Shaftesbury through his younger son, The Hon. Evelyn Melbourne Ashley (1836–1907) and his wife, Sybella Farquhar (d. 1886), a granddaughter of the 6th Duke of Beaufort. From this cadet branch of the Ashley-Cooper peers would come inheritance of the estate of Broadlands, and of Classiebawn Castle in Sligo, Ireland.

Edwina Ashley's mother was Amalia Mary Maud Cassel (1879–1911), daughter of the international magnate Sir Ernest Cassel, friend and private financier to the future King Edward VII. Kassel was one of the richest and most powerful men in Europe. He lost his beloved wife (Annette Maxwell), for whom he had converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism. He also lost his only child, Amalia. He was then to leave the bulk of his vast fortune to Edwina, his elder granddaughter.

After Edwina's father's re-marriage in 1914 to Molly Forbes-Sempill, Edwina was sent away to boarding schools, first to The Links in Eastbourne, then to Alde House in Suffolk, at neither of which was she a willing pupil. Her grandfather, Sir Ernest, solved the domestic dilemma by inviting her to live with him and, eventually, to act as hostess at his London residence, Brooke House. Later, his other mansions, Moulton Paddocks and Branksome Dean, would become part of her Cassel inheritance.

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