Nancy Astor

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Nancy Witcher Langhorne
Nancy Viscountess Astor by John Singer Sargent.jpeg
Portrait of Nancy Astor by John Singer Sargent, 1909
Member of Parliament
for Plymouth Sutton
In office
28 November 1919 – 5 July 1945
Preceded by Waldorf Astor
Succeeded by Lucy Middleton
Personal details
Born (1879-05-19)19 May 1879
Danville, Virginia, U.S.
Died 2 May 1964(1964-05-02) (aged 84)
Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire, England
Political party Coalition Conservative
Spouse(s) Robert Gould Shaw II
(m. 1897–1903; divorced)
Waldorf Astor
(m. 1906–1952; his death)
Parents Chiswell Dabney Langhorne
Nancy Witcher Keene
Residence Cliveden and Grimsthorpe Castle
Occupation politician
Religion Christian Science

Nancy Astor, Vicountess Astor CH (Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, 19 May 1879 – 2 May 1964) was an American-born English politician and socialite.

She was the first woman to sit as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons.[1] Her second husband was Waldorf Astor.

England[change | change source]

A contemporary view of Cliveden, Nancy Astor's country house that served as a hospital in the World Wars

She was once asked by an English woman, "Have you come to get our husbands?" Her reply, "If you knew the trouble I had getting rid of mine....." charmed her listeners and displayed the wit which later became famous.[2]

Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor

Her second husband, Waldorf Astor, was born in the United States but the family to England when Waldorf was twelve. The couple were well matched from the start. Not only were they both American expatriates with similar temperaments, but they were of the same age, being born on the same day, 19 May 1879.

After marrying Waldorf, Nancy moved into Cliveden, a lavish estate in Buckinghamshire on the River Thames. It was a wedding gift from Astor's father,[3] She became a prominent hostess for the social elite. The Astors also owned a grand London house, No. 4 St. James's Square, which is now the premises of the Naval & Military Club.

A blue plaque unveiled in 1987 commemorates Astor at St. James's Square.[4] Through her many social connections, Lady Astor became involved in a political circle which advocated unity and equality among English-speaking people and support for British imperialism.

References[change | change source]

  1. Constance Markievicz was the first woman elected to the House of Commons in December 1918 but in line with Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy did not take her seat. Markievicz was detained in Holloway Prison at the time.
  2. Sykes (1984), p. 75
  3. Wilson, Bee (20 December 2012). "Musical Chairs with Ribbentrop". London Review of Books. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  4. "Astor, Lady Nancy (1879–1964)". English Heritage. Retrieved 18 August 2012.