History's Women: Women Who Ruled: Baroness Burdett-Coutts, English Princess of PhilanthropyBaroness Burdett-Coutts
English Princess of Philanthropy
1814 – 1906 A.D.

Her father was Sir Francis Burdett, Baronet, but her great wealth came from her grandfather, Thomas Coutts, the noted banker. She thus joins the name of her grandfather, so that of her father and is known as Burdette-Coutts.

In 1881 she was married to William Lehman Ashmead Bartlett, who by royal license took the name of Burdette-Coutts.

In 1871 the prime minister surprised her with the offer of a peerage from her majesty, Queen Victoria, and the honor was accepted.

The baroness has always been remarkable for her executive ability. She possessed discernment and upon finding out needs of individuals or classes took the initiative in ameliorating conditions. One of her first great works was to establish a home for young women who had turned aside from the path of virtue. Nearly one half of those who came to the home were permanently reclaimed.

Spitalfields in London was a mass of destitution; the baroness established a sewing school for women where they could be taught, fed, and provided with work. From this place nurses were sent out to the sick of that section.

In 1859 several hundred destitute boys were fitted out for the Royal Navy or placed in industrial homes.

Nova Scotia Gardens was one of the moral plague spots of London. Miss Coutts purchased this section and upon what was figuratively and literally the dumping ground of the city she erected model dwellings for about two hundred families, to be a let at a moderate price. The place was named Columbia Square.

When the cry came from the suffering humanity in Ireland, Scotland, Turkey and different parts of England, Baroness Coutts was among the first to respond. For destitute fisherman she afforded both temporary and permanent relief by means of food, clothing, tackle, and boats.

We are justified in calling her a princess of philanthropy and charity.


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.