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Houston, Dame (Fanny) Lucy (1857–1936)

Philanthropist. The fourth daughter of a ware-houseman, she was born in Kennington, South London, and after a sketchy education succeeded by the age of eighteen in establishing herself on the stage, playing small parts. She became a well-known cafe society beauty, attracting many wealthy admirers, and in 1883 married her first husband, Theodore Brinckman, who inherited a baronetcy. The marriage was dissolved in 1895, but she rose further in society with her second marriage, in 1901, to the ninth Lord Byron. Energetic, wilful, and with a cockney irreverence, she was a keen supporter of women’s rights, an interest that found practical expression in the foundation and financing of the first rest home for nurses. For this she was created one of the first five Dames of the British Empire in 1917, the year her second husband died.