Adele Capell, Countess of Essex (née Adele Grant) was a US-born socialite who married into the British nobility.
She was born in New York City, the daughter of David Beach Grant of the Grant Locomotive Works. Adele was the heiress to her uncle R.Suydam Grant, who gave her away at her wedding.
A society beauty, she was one of the so-called 'Lovely Five' along with the Duchess of Sutherland, the Countess of Westmorland, the Countess of Lytton, and the Countess of Warwick.
She was the model for Hubert von Herkomer's portrait, 'Lady in White' and an 1892 portrait by Edward Hughes.
Adele was engaged to Lord Cairns, but broke off the engagement on the eve of their wedding.
She then became the second wife of the 7th Earl of Essex.
Marriage and family
She married George Devereux de Vere Capell, 7th Earl of Essex, at St Margaret's, Westminster on 14 December 1893. The service was carried out by Archdeacon Farrar, and Sir Arthur Sullivan played the organ.
The Earl and Countess lived at Cassiobury Park, Watford.
The couple had two daughters:
- Lady Iris Mary Athenais de Vere Capell (1895-1977)
- Lady Joan Rachel de Vere Capell (1899-1979), who married Osbert Peake, 1st Viscount Ingleby.
In 1902, the Earl purchased a Cartier diamond tiara, known as the 'Essex Tiara' for the Countess. The same tiara was later worn by Clementine Churchill at the 1953 Coronation.
After the Earl's death, in 1916, Adele was rumoured to be engaged to the Duke of Connaught. However, she never remarried.
In World War I, the Countess supported the war effort, working with Queen Mary's Needlework Guild, the Urban Council for War Relief and as President of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association.
In 1920, Adele and her stepson, the 8th Earl of Essex sold off Cassiobury Park and its contents.
Adele lived on as the Dowager Countess of Essex at her London home, 72 Brook Street, Mayfair, where she died, aged 63, on 28 July 1922.
A portrait of Adele Capell by the English painter Edward Robert Hughes hangs in the Watford Museum.
Another portrait, painted in 1906 by the American painter John Singer Sargent and entitled The Countess of Essex, currently hangs in The Museum of Fine Arts-Houston. It is privately owned, and on long term loan to the museum.