This is an unusual biography: that of a young woman who, despite the strictures of the British class system, rose from a childhood in a farm cottage and a career with Astley’s Circus to earn a place in the British aristocracy.
The Gypsy Countess recounts the life of Catherine Cox, daughter of a Romany Gypsy woman and an agricultural labourer, who in 1855 married George Harry Grey, Earl of Stamford and Warrington, one of England’s richest bachelors. Thus she became chatelaine of two great estates: Dunham Massey in Cheshire and Enville Hall in Staffordshire.
What’s more, Catherine’s life was mirrored by her two sisters, Susan and Mary Cox, who, under her mentorship, also achieved fame as circus ring equestriennes and through high society affairs and marriages.
Catherine and her story were chance discoveries by Anne-Marie Ford, the leading expert in British Gypsy genealogy, during research into the West Country Romany Stanley family, Catherine’s maternal ancestors.
It’s true that Catherine has come to the notice of a few historians before but their sparse accounts have largely focused on scandal and supposition. In this first comprehensive biographical work, thanks to Anne-Marie Ford, readers at last have a fully rounded, life-long portrait of the entrepreneurial and vivacious Miss Cox.
Square A4 format, 144 pages, black-and-white illustrations and family trees.