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Comtesse Colonna Walewska, née Lady Caroline Montagu (1808-1834)

The marriage of Count Alexandre Walewski with Lady Caroline Montagu took place on December 1st, 1831. She was the younger of the two daughters of the widow of the 6th Earl of Sandwich; Harriet, the elder, married the 2nd Lord Ashburton, of Baring’s Bank. Both sisters who, like their mother, made their mark on Parisian society became very friendly with the Duke of Orléans.

However, the Comtesse de Flahault, a great admirer of Alexandre Walewski, wrote to Lady Holland that she thought the marriage “an improvident affair on both sides, for his fortune is much reduced […]. What can have induced Lady Sandwich to have run after this marriage in the way she has done?” In spite of these misgivings, the marriage was a success; when Caroline died in April 1834, her husband was deeply distressed as the Comtesse described to Lady Holland “Poor Walewski is in despair – all he wants to do is fly away from every place where he has been with her and hide his sorrow from everyone. It is a great blow to our society for she was gay and popular among her many friends and admirers. Walewski now intends to resume his military career and leaves with his regiment for Algeria”.

Her father, the 6th Earl of Sandwich, was descended from a family of distinguished statesmen, soldiers, admirals, diplomats devoted to the House of Stuart in the 17th century and equally loyal to the Hanoverian monarchy in the following period. They are also noted for their patronage of the arts.

It was the 4th Earl who supported the Pacific explorations of Captain Cook who in 1778 named the Sandwich Islands in recognition of this; these are now Hawaii. The first convenience food, the sandwich, is also associated with the 4th Earl.

Diana Scarisbrick