Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Astor Saga, the Lady Nancy Astor

Nancy Vicountess Astor.

The photo of the painting above, by the artist John Singer Sargent was painted in or around 1909. She was born in Danville, Virginia, USA on the 19th May 1879. She was one of eight surviving children, sharing a home with four sisters and three brothers. A great deal has already been written about the Langhorn sisters, so I don't intend to go into the subject in great depth.

The photo above is the Langhorne house in Danville where Nancy was born. Her father, Chiswell Dabney Langhorn was a Confederate Officer during the American civil war of 1861 to 1865. The result being, it left him in a very poor financial position, he found work as a Tobacco Auctioneer, at which he became very proficient, also developing his own auctioneers patter, which caught on and was used by other auctioneers. He later went on, with Yankee partners into the railroad business, in which he made a fortune.

Mirador, the house in the photo above was bought from the wealth that "Chillie" as he was known made from his venture in the the railroad business. Nancy wanted to go on to college and her father refused to send her. To me, he was that sort of person in his manner, that girls were to learn how to run a house, get married and raise large families. Nancy never forgave her father this, and I truly believe this was to influence her later in life.

Her first marriage was to a wealthy Bostonian Robert Gould Shaw in October 1897, they had one child a boy, in 1902 they separated and were divorced the following year.

Shortly after her divorce she sailed to England, and it was on that voyage she met Waldorf William Astor, and in 1906 they were married.

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