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September 18, 2021

The Countess of Clancarty: Beautiful Photos of Belle Bilton in the Late 19th Century

Born 1867 as Isabel Maud Penrice Bilton, the daughter of sergeant in the Royal Engineers, she graced the stage as an actress and vocalist under the professional name Belle Bilton.

On 10 July 1889, Bilton married Lord Dunlo at the Registrar’s Office in Hampstead. They were both aged twenty. The groom faced stiff opposition from his family. His angry father sent his newly-wed son to Australia a mere nine days after the ceremony, and forced him to petition for divorce. In court, he declared his belief in his wife’s innocence, and applause rang around the courtroom.

Two years later, her husband succeeded his father, becoming the 5th Earl of Clancarty. Bilton became the Countess of Clancarty. The couple had five children, including the 6th and 7th Earls of Clancarty. She died of cancer in 1906 at Garbaldy Park, Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland, aged 39.

Take a look at these fantastic portrait photos to see the beauty of Belle Bilton in the 1880s and 1890s.


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