Sunday, May 9, 2010

Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, 1814 - 1906

I stumbled on an interesting bio this morning of a really really rich woman who lived a graceful, idiosyncratic, world-changing life. Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts was 23 when she came into her fortune, and for the next 70 or so years, she funded organizations that assisted people and animals and in general made the world a better place and life a better opportunity for many individuals. She opened schools for those whose station in life did not entitle them to schooling - night schools, sewing schools, and "ragged" schools. Her donations built and supported churches and church schools, lifeboats and fishing boats, covered market spaces, and provided dogs with public drinking fountains.  It was her idea and funding that built the famous fountain and statue of Greyfriars Bobby, the Skye Terrier who would not leave the site of his master's grave in Edinburg for the 14 years between his master's death and his own.  She supported the SPCA and established the SPCC (Children), provided help for refugees, funded soup kitchens, and donated the bells for St. Paul's Cathedral. She designed a "linen drier" and sent it to Florence Nightingale to help her in her nursing work.

Angela was devastated when her long-time companion Hannah died. After three years she married her secretary, who was 37 years younger than she was. He carried on her work after her death.

There is much more that would go on Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts' list of accomplishments during her long philanthropic lifetime, but one position she must have treasured because she held it so long, and it must be mentioned in conclusion - she was president of the British Beekeepers Association for 28 years, right up to the year of her death.

A young Dover takes a dip in his public drinking fountain,

No comments:

Post a Comment