Alliance and Misalliance in the Balfour Family: The Choices of Lady Frances and Lady Betty

When & Where

Thursday, 2 May 2024 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
HM General Register House , 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH13YY

Event Details

Professor Susan Pedersen, Morris Professor of British History, Columbia University

When Lady Frances Campbell and Lady Betty Lytton married into the Balfour family in 1879 and 1887, they expected to be “political wives,” working to further the careers and interests of their husbands and kin. They knew too that their new female in-laws would be unchosen partners in that project. But then the electorate expanded, politics moved from country houses to offices and clubs, and male party agents took over from political wives. Where did that leave Frances and Betty?

This talk uses the rich Balfour family papers, held by the National Records of Scotland, to uncover the lives and choices of two “outsider” sisters-in-law in this powerful political clan. We think of the “independent women” of the 1890s as the harbingers of feminism, but – as Frances’ and Betty’s correspondence reveals – some aristocratic wives also allied to renegotiate the terms of their marriages and to claim new roles and rights.

Please book online:


Jocelyn Grant



Event Location

HM General Register House
2 Princes Street


Please note that you should check with the event organiser to confirm details of times and location - Scottish Local History Forum is not responsible for the events hosted by Member Societies.