The Countess of Bective, Lady Alice Maria Hill

I have found it rather a strange thing, researching someone with a title, unusual for me..
But I found this lovely old photo at a Car Boot among others unconnected.

When I got home and looked on the back it says ‘Countess of Bective on Sunfield? Terrace’
 I had never even heard of her !

I think its a lovely picture, with the dog just sitting close by……
The Countess of Bective was born Lady Alice Maria Hill in the last quarter of 1842 in London (St George Hanover Square, Vol 1, Page 3). Her father was Sir Arthur Wills Blundell Sandys Trumbull Windsor Hill (4th Marquess of Downshire) and her mother was Hon. Caroline Frances nee Stapleton-Cotton, she was their only daughter, having three sons, one dying at just 2 weeks old.
Easthampstead Park in Berkshire was the family’s English residence.

Its now a gorgeous Wedding venue and Conference centre..
Link here..    Easthampstead Park
In 1860 father Arthur demolished the old mansion house there and built the present house, which was finished in 1864, a couple of years later he also provided for the St Micheal’s Parish church, Easthampstead to be rebuilt.
There are references and memorials to the families Trumbull and Downshire still at the church and the house (picture above) still today.
Easthampstead house was just one of the many properties of the Marquess of Downshire, who owned large estates in Northern Ireland.
Its amazing to see the 1851 and 1861 Census entries for Easthampstead Park and the amount of servants ! wow !

1851 Part 1


1851 Part 2

1861 Census

In 1867 on the 9th October Lady Alice Maria Hill married Thomas Taylour, Lord Kenlis, son of the earl of Bective.
These two newspaper reports below that I have chosen out of the many available on Find My Past newpapers collection are astonishing, such detail, even of the speeches !

Above 3 clips from local in Cumbria
From Berkshire Chronicle

The couple went on to have two daughters, the first was Lady Olivia Caroline Amelia Taylour born on 22 January 1869.
Their second daughter Lady Evelyn Alice Estelle Taylour born on 10th February 1873, sadly died at age 2 on the 16th September 1875. I don’t know why she died, but found a report in the newspaper at the time, of her sister Lady Olivia, just four weeks before, being taken to a hotel near Ramsgate to stay, probably with a nanny. I wondered if Lady Evelyn may have had something infectious or maybe just to keep her away from home if her sister was so poorly. Lady Evelyn was buried in Kirkby Lonsdale on the 18th September.
Here’s an interesting report from 1891, I found in the newspapers collection on Find My Past….

 The influenza still keeps fixing on fresh victims in Westmorland. I am glad to announce that both LADY BECTIVE and LADY OLIVIA TAYLOUR, who have been in London through their illness, are well on the road to convalescence. For three days this illness prevented LADY BECTIVE from seeing. There are very many cases of influenza in the county on all sides of Kendal, and to the north-east of the town on several farmsteads there are two or three cases. Every household in Satterthwaite is suffering from the ailment.”
 I have found it astonishing how the newspapers reported seemingly everything that happened to the rich of society way back then…There are so many snippets to choose from and I have been sooo distracted reading them all ! 
On 27 January 1892 Lady Olivia married Lord Henry Cavendish Bentinck (b.28 May 1863-d.6th Oct 1931) They had no children..

The couple in fancy dress
Lady Henry, she loved her dogs

On 16 November 1893, this small article appeared in the Manchester and Lancashire General Advertiser.

 Here’s another below from a few years previous
A local Committee was formed to build a ‘Navvies Reading Room’, funded by local, contractor and philanthropic donations. Mr Timson was appointed as Missionary through the Navvy Mission Society. Elizabeth Garnett, the doyenne of the Society, visited the huts and gave ‘an excellent and impressive lecture to the men’. Reading matter was provided by the Religious Tract Society, leavened by newspapers ranging from the Yorkshire Post and the Irish Times to the Navvies Quarterly Newsletter. Weekly musical entertainments, lantern slideshows and singing competitions for navvies were held. Lady Bective, Irish by birth, took an active interest in the men’s welfare, visiting the camp with her daughters. In October 1889 she organised a huge tea for 300 men, followed by recitations from locals and songs from the navvies. The Lancaster Guardian was fulsome in its praise for this ‘good as well as beautiful woman’, and ‘the excellent and even gentlemanly conduct of her guests from the Pipetrack’.
FULL ARTICLE here………North Craven Heritage Trust
I have read numerous articles in the newspapers about The Countess of Bective and all have been singing her praises, she was I am sure a very lovely lady, very caring and did seem to try to help people as much as she possibly could, and was very respected.
On the 15 December 1893 her husband Thomas died from a ‘Serious attack of Influenza’

He certainly left a tidy sum……..
I found this report from The History of Underley Hall by Luckley Houses School group for the time after the Earl died.
“The newly married couple took up permanent residence at Underley Hall in 1901, with its 25,000 acres and rent roll of £90,000.
 while Lady Henry’s mother, the Countess of Bective, moved into “Lunefield” a local manor in Kirkby Lonsdale.
 “Lunefield” was bought by Lady Henry Cavendish-Bentinck
for her mother from the local Harris family who were reputed industrialists
and old-property dealers.
Here the Countess of Bective lived in style until her death in February 1928
aged 85 years” 

Not quite true as she also lived in London and died there…..
There is lots more info about the families who lived at Underley Hall and its History.
Link Here..Underley Hall
The Countess of Bective  I think loved London, this is the 1901 and 1911 Census pages of  29 Eaton Place, she gave birth to her children here in London, and I do wonder if maybe Underley Hall held sad memories for her, as her daughter and husband had both died there.

1901 Census
1911 Census

The Countess of Bective passed away on the 25th February 1928 aged 85 at 29 Eaton Place, London.

This was in the Yorkshire Post on Wednesday 29 February, 1928 just a few days after Countess Bective died…. Personal message from Queen Mary too…

After all I have read about her in the last few days I would really have loved to meet her..

This is a lovely photo of her, caption reads..
The redoubtable Countess Bective wears a dress with elbow length sleeves with notched openings and a bustle in this 1900 photo” 

Till next time then……………………………..


  1. Hello Lynn, Thanks very much for writing this – it’s the most complete story of the Bectives that I have seen. It looks like Alice wrote a book on the British Woolen Trade ? and was also a member of the Suffragette movement. A fascinating family.


    • Thank you so much Frank, really glad you enjoyed reading my blog. I remember from my research that I found lots more paths I could have gone down for interesting information. Some families are like that aren’t they, once you start it’s difficult to stop! I really enjoy researching my finds. Kind Regards Lynn


  2. Hello I live in the Village of Hillsborough NI. This is were the Downshire Estate is. At the top of the Village is Hillsborough Castle which is in fact a large country House. There are beautiful gardens in the Estate and Lady Alice’s Temple is here. Her brothers built it on the occasion of her marriage. Her Majesty the Queen stays here when in NI. Lovely to read about Lady Alice

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi. I read your very thorough expose on Lady Alice Bective. I have an letter dated 1892 from her to the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. I’m not sure how they came to know each other, but given the letter content, they apparently did. I’ll send you a scan if you are interested, but would need a direct email address to do so. Regards. Chris Wilson

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Lynn,

    Whilst researching our family tree came across a Hymn composed by Edward Sharpe Craston, music professor and organist, dedicated to Alice Countess Bective.

    Our line of the Craston family came from Kirkby Lonsdale and were involved with parish work (4 gens of Parish Clerks) there in the late 1700s and 1800s. Edward’s father William born 1830 in KL moved to Liverpool. A carpenter and organ builder.

    Apparently Earl Bective of Underley was known to sometimes have non compliant parishioners stand outside the Hall in poor weather whilst he watched through a window from inside by a roaring fire…he did however invest much in Kirkby Lonsdale.

    Othe prominent families of the town were Carus-Wilson of Casterton Hall. A family of clergy and polititians. And Bickersteth, notebly Henry, 1st Lord Langdale, Master of the Rolls.

    link to hymn book.

    Genaeology bug has taken me over.

    Best Wishes in these odd times

    Simon Walsh

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Lynn,
    Fascinating to read this information on the life of the Countess of Bective. I’ve recently written a biography of a prominent Victorian detective, Donald Sutherland Swanson, and you’ll be interested to learn that one of his major cases came in July 1880, when the Countess’ jewellery worth the equivalent of a quarter of a million pounds today was stolen by a former butler, Robert Cumming, from the Bectives’ London home at Portland Place.
    Swanson succeeded in recovering virtually all the jewellery, and received a reward of £10,000 from the Earl and an inscribed pistol from the grateful Countess, which is still in the possession of the Swanson family.
    Best wishes
    Adam Wood


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