1233121 Herbert 1875-1937
Herbert Henry Spender Clay, was born on 4 June 1875, the only son of Joseph Spender Clay and Sydney née Garrett. He was a Godson of Rev John Harden Clay, the son of his great uncle Rev John Clay, and was educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was a Captain in the 2nd Life Guards during the First War, and was awarded the Military Cross in 1917. He eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
At the age of 29, he married on 29 October 1904, the Hon. Pauline Astor, who was then 24. They had three daughters :-
Phyllis Mary was born on 4 October 1905, and married at the age of 27 on 6 February 1932 in Dormansland Sir Philp Bouverie Bowyer Nichols, KCMG MC, then aged 38, who was born on 7 September 1894; he was the younger son of John Bowyer Buchanan Nichols of Lawford Hall, Essex, and was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. He was appointed Ambassador to the Netherlands. They lived at Lawford Hall, Manningtree Essex. He died on 6 December 1962 in London aged 68, and was buried at St Mary's, Lawford. She died in 1972. They had two sons and two daughters.
Rachel Pauline was born on 19 January 1907, married at the age of 22 on 6 February 1929 in St James' Piccadilly to 27 year old Hon. David Bowes‑Lyon, the youngest son of 14th Earl of Strathmore, and brother of the Queen Mother; he was born on 2 May 1902, died on 13 September 1961 in Hitchin, Herts at the age of 59 and was buried at St Paul's, Waldenbury. He was K.C.V.O., Deputy Lieutenant JP. She was JP Herts 1956. They had a daughter Davina Katherine (1930-2017) and a son Simon Alexander (1932-?).
Sybil Gwendoline was born on 25 March 1910, died on 3 March 1912 at the age of 1
Herbert was Deputy Lieutenant and J.P. for Surrey, Member of Parliament for Tonbridge 1910‑37, and a Charity Commissioner. He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1929, and made C.M.G. They lived at Ford Manor, Lingfield, Sussex and also had a London house at 21 Hill Street. He died on 15 February 1937 at Dormansland at the age of 61.
Pauline née Astor
Pauline was born in New York on 24 September 1880, the only surviving daughter of 1st Viscount, William Waldorf Astor, J.P. in Surrey and a "well‑known millionaire", of Cliveden, Bucks and Hever Castle, Kent. Pauline died on 5 May 1972 in Guernsey at the age of 91.
Pauline's father, William Astor was born in New York City, the only child of John Jacob Astor III (1822-1890) and Charlotte Augusta Gibbes (c. 1825-1887). He was educated in Germany and in Italy before studying at Columbia Law School. He worked shortly in law practice and in the management of his father's estate. On 6 June 1878 he married Mary Dahlgren Paul and went into politics, serving as a New York state assemblyman and senator. Astor was likely elected with help from the boss of the New York State Republican machine, notorious Roscoe Conkling, with whom his family was involved. He was twice defeated in his bids for a seat in the United States Congress. In 1882, President Chester A. Arthur appointed Astor Minister to Italy, a post he held until 1885. ("Go and enjoy yourself, my dear boy," the president told Astor.) While living in Rome, Astor developed a life-long passion for art and sculpture.
Upon the death of his father in early 1890, William Waldorf Astor inherited a personal fortune that made him the richest man in America. On November 7, 1890, plans were filed with the New York City Building Department to construct a new hotel on the site of William Astor's residence. In 1891, after a family feud with his aunt Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor over matters of social seniority, Astor and his family moved to England, a decision that was published throughout all the major newspapers. Although the owner of the Waldorf Hotel built where his home had stood, William Astor visited it only once in his lifetime. In 1897, his cousin, John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912) built the Astoria Hotel adjoining the Waldorf, and the complex then became known as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
Arriving in England, at first Astor rented Lansdowne House in London until 1893 when he purchased a country estate at Cliveden-on-Thames in Taplow, Buckinghamshire from Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster. In 1899 Astor became a British subject and in 1903 acquired Hever Castle near Edenbridge, Kent about 30 miles south of London. The huge estate, built in 1270 was where Anne Boleyn lived as a child. William Waldorf Astor invested a great deal of time and money to restore the castle, building what is known as the "Tudor Village" and creating a lake and lavish gardens. In 1905 he gave his son William Waldorf Astor II and his new daughter-in-law, the former Nancy Langhorne, the Cliveden estate as a wedding present.
With ambitions to be part of the literary world, Astor wrote two novels, became the owner of the Pall Mall Gazette and Pall Mall Magazine, and in 1911 purchased the The Observer. In 1915 Astor relinquished his holdings, giving them to his son Waldorf Astor who sold the Pall Mall Gazette and Pall Mall Magazine but retained The Observer. An avid lover of thoroughbred horse racing, he acquired a large stable of horses that won a number of important British races.
Astor's move to England was influenced by his distrust of the American press. Newspapers famously quoted him as stating "America is not a fit place for a gentleman to live." Astor resented their branding him as a traitor and continued to be concerned about his reputation in the American press. In 1892 he even circulated false reports of his own death in order to see how the press would memorialize him. Unfortunately, his ploy was soon uncovered, and only damaged his reputation further.
Growing paranoia, fueled by anonymous threats to kidnap his children, was another component of Astor's decision to leave the United States. To maintain security at Cliveden, Astor blocked the grounds from public access. One of his townhouses had a system of trap doors and secret locks, and he slept with two revolvers at his side. At Hever Castle, guests could not spend the night and were kept out by a moat and drawbridge. The occult also pre-occupied Astor’s imagination. He wrote several fanciful short stories for the Pall Mall Magazine and even investigated the possible presence of Anne Boleyn’s ghost at Hever Castle.
As a British citizen, William Waldorf Astor used his great wealth for numerous public causes, especially during World War I for which King George V rewarded him with a barony, as Baron Astor in 1916 and a year later was raised to Viscount Astor, of Hever Castle in the County of Kent.
Many of Astor's endeavors were attempts to distract himself from the boredom and dissatisfaction he felt with life. In his younger years, his family forbade him to marry the woman he loved because she had a family history of tuberculosis. Many relatives attribute this early defeat to his lifelong struggle with discontentedness and searching. Secondly, Astor did not attend college but was tutored privately which affected his ability to socialize with others. Lastly, his defeat at the hands of his Aunt regarding who the true "Mrs. Astor" was left him bitter and utterly discontented. These events marred the remainder of his life with disappointment and searching for contentment.
He died of congestive heart failure in the lavatory of his Brighton, Sussex, England home. His ashes were buried under the marble floor of the chapel at Cliveden.
He and his wife had three sons and two daughters:-
- Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor (1879–1952), married Nancy Langhorne (1879–1964)
- Pauline (1880–1972)
- John Rudolph (1881–1881)
- John Jacob Astor, 1st Baron Astor of Hever (1886–1971)
- Gwendolyn Enid (1889–1902)
Pauline's mother, Mary Dahlgren Paul, known as Mamie, was born in 1858, the daughter of James William Paul of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. She died on 22 December 1894.