History's Women: Misc. Articles: Lady Henry Somerset, Philanthropist and Temperance LeaderLady Henry Somerset
Philanthropist and Temperance Leader
1851 – 1921 A.D.

This remarkable and much loved lady is the daughter of the third Earl of Somers, who was in every way a nobleman. For some years he was Lord-in-waiting to the Queen, spending the time at Windsor, Osborne, and Balmoral. Being a man of artistic and literary tastes, he resigned his position to devote himself to his studies. His intimate acquaintance with the Queen gave his daughter many advantages. He was for thirty years in the House of Lords.

Lady Henry Somerset has a vast estate at Eastnor, fifteen miles in length and containing twenty-five thousand acres. The castle is three miles from the lodge gate at Eastnor Park. In London she owns a tract of land on which one hundred and twenty-five thousand persons live.

To the welfare of the people on her country and city estates she has devoted much of her time and income. She began by studying the causes of poverty and crime, and found the liquor traffic at the bottom of it all. Being a woman of deeds as well as words, she took the total abstinence pledge, induced some of her tenants to do the same, gave Bible readings in the kitchens, and gathered the mothers to the castle to confer with them as to the proper training of their children.

Her philanthropic work soon spread beyond her own estates, and calls for her to speak and work in behalf of temperance far and near. She went among the miners of South Wales and held meetings for days in succession in tents, halls, and in the pits during the dinner hours. Hers seemed to the poor miners as the form and voice of an angel.

In 1890 she became president of the British Woman’s Temperance Association.

She visited America to attend the World’s Christian Temperance Union. At that time was formed and from that time ripened the friendship of Lady Henry Somerset and Frances E. Willard.

This gave the American people a new idea of the possibilities of English nobility. Lady Henry took Miss Willard back to England with her for much needed rest.

She is one of the busiest women. She is obliged to give attention to nearly one hundred letters per day. The calls for her time or means in behalf of humanity are multitudinous and exacting. Hers might be a life of refined ease and selfish indolence, but she chooses to give herself untiringly to the betterment of her fellow beings.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.

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