The first heiress I profiled, Consuelo, Duchess of Manchester, had a son who unfortunately followed in his father’s feckless footsteps.
William Angus Drogo Montagu, the Ninth Duke of Manchester needed to marry an heiress too. By the age of twenty, he was a notorious fortune hunter and deeply in debt. Possibly to put off his creditors, he’d claim to be engaged to one heiress or another including Pauline Astor, Miss Joan Wilson, daughter of an MP, and May Goelet, one of America’s richest heiresses. He was also rumored to be engaged to an American actress.
His sudden and very quiet marriage to Helena Zimmerman put an end to the rumors but not the notoriety. After the wedding, a newspaper published a photo of him surrounded by portraits of the 22 women he was supposed to have been engaged to. Not a great start for a marriage.
Miss Zimmerman was the only child of Eugene Zimmerman and Marietta Evans. Her mother died when Helena was only four. Her father, a wealthy investor, sent her to school in France. In 1900, when she was 21 and the duke 23, the couple met at a fancy-dress ball and struck up a friendship. He made his intentions known, but Mr. Zimmerman did not approve of the match. Manchester was nearly bankrupt must have seemed aimless to the American as he drifted from acting, to reporting, to chasing heiresses. Helena’s father insisted the couple wait and Helena returned home to Cincinnati.
Helena returned to England in November of 1900 with a chaperone but without her father. The chaperone was easily won over and the couple were married privately on November 14th, with the hope that Mr. Zimmerman could be won over as well.
Though the match had something of a romantic beginning, Manchester was too much like his father and enjoyed gambling and women. Helena’s father bought them a home in Ireland, Kylemore Castle, and settled an income on Helena. He knew better than to allow Manchester access to the whole of her fortune and held it in trust. Regardless, the duke went through a large portion of the Zimmerman fortune before the couple divorced in 1931. Manchester remarried that same year and Helena remarried in 1937 to the 10th Earl of Kintore.
I haven’t found anything recorded from Helena’s perspective, but it’s hard not to believe she was swept off her feet by a scoundrel. She plays a small role in A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder when Frances tries to determine if Helena is aware of the duke’s many peccadillos.