Fox, Mary (b. 1817)

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Fox, Mary (b. 1817)

Lady Holland. Born Lady Mary Augusta Coventry in 1817; daughter of the 8th earl of Coventry and Lady Mary Beauclerk (daughter of the 6th duke of St. Albans); married Henry Edward Fox, in 1833 (died 1859); daughter-in-law of Elizabeth Vassall Fox (1770–1845).

Mary Fox was born Mary Augusta Coventry in 1817 and spent her early years on the Continent before marrying Henry Edward Fox, son of Elizabeth Vassall Fox and minister plenipotentiary at the court of Tuscany. The couple lived primarily in Naples, Italy, after their marriage. When her husband died in 1859, Lady Holland inherited Holland House in Kensington and St. Ann's Hill near Chertsey (once the home of Charles James Fox) where she divided her summer months, returning to Naples for the winter. She was known as a gracious hostess to diplomats, distinguished foreigners, and the accomplished. Her annual garden parties, writes George W.E. Russell, "combined all the solemn dignity which clings to one of the most historical of English houses, with the fantastic grace and sprightly merriment of an Italian Festa." In her later years, she remained in England. "Her most conspicuous trait was the extraordinary brightness of her piercing eyes," writes Russell. "Her mental gaze was of penetrating power. She saw through unreality, vanity, and pretence at a glance; but she was full of the most genial charity towards mere error, ignorance, or indiscretion. For some years she suffered grievously, but her patience and courage in bearing pain … were models to all like sufferers."


Russell, George W.E. Portraits of the Seventies. 1916.