The Field

Hunting, the haunt of the man-eating Delilah

During her first foxhunting trip to the hunting capital of England, Melton Mowbray, the American, Nancy Langhorne (later Lady Astor), recalled being approached by some British women on the hunting field and asked if she had come to capture “one of our husbands”. Recently divorced and bemused, she quickly retorted: “If you knew how much trouble I had in getting rid of my own, you’d know I don’t want any of yours.”

Fears that American women were using the English hunting field to entrap British men were not unfounded. By the late-19th century, a new breed of American foxhunting femme fatale was increasingly competing with British women for marriage to a titled peer upon the hallowed turf of the Leicestershire hunting Shires, the traditional winter stomping ground of the aristocracy. American heiresses, known as ‘Dollar Brides’, would go on to marry more than a third of the aristocratic British titles represented in the House of Lords during the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Yet, while the American ‘invasion’ of London society is well documented, less recognised is that many of them arguably first entered British society on the Leicestershire hunting fields.

By the end of the 19th century, flocks of rich satirised in 1908, much fun was made of these marriages:

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