Angela Burdett-Coutts

Near the west door in the nave of the Abbey is a simple gravestone reading


Her life

This great Victorian philanthropist was born in Piccadilly, London on 21st April 1814, the youngest of six children of Sir Francis Burdett (1770-1844), politician, who was educated at Westminster School, and Sophia (1775-1844), daughter of the banker Thomas Coutts. Angela inherited her grandfather Coutts’ fortune and then assumed the additional surname of Coutts by Royal licence and she became known as "the richest heiress in England". She endowed St Stephen's church in Rochester Row, Westminster, in memory of her father. 

Charles Dickens dedicated his novel Martin Chuzzlewit to her, and she had many royal and eminent friends. She applied her fortune to many charities connected with the Church of England, to hospitals, schools and the relief of the poor, children and animals. She donated huge sums to relieve poverty in Ireland and gave two lifeboats to the RNLI, as well as supporting her friend Charles Babbage to develop the first computer. She endowed bishoprics in South Africa and Australia. In recognition of her work Queen Victoria in 1871 conferred a peerage on her under the title Baroness Burdett-Coutts of Highgate and Brookfield.

On 12th February 1881 the Baroness married William Lehman Ashmead-Bartlett, aged 27, who was a Member of Parliament for Westminster and her secretary. He was of American birth, his grandparents having been British subjects, and he assumed by Royal licence the surname Burdett-Coutts, but he was not called Baron. The age difference caused a stir at the time, but it was a very happy union, although without children.


She died on 30th December 1906 of acute bronchitis. Her body lay in state at her house, no. 1 Stratton Street, Piccadilly, where 30,000 people came to pay their respects. The undertakers were W.W. Banting of St James's. Their accounts record the making of a large elm coffin lined with rich white silk and a silk ruffled pillow, with a white silk sheet and face cloth. She lay on a mattress of white wool.  And also a lead coffin to contain this, plus an oak outer coffin.

The Dean of Westminster had offered burial in the Abbey on condition that the remains be cremated and her husband told the Dean and Chapter that he agreed to this. But on the day before the funeral he informed them that cremation would not take place. However, the Sub Dean (in charge while the Dean was in the country) agreed to hold the funeral anyway, although two clergymen of the Abbey stayed away in protest.  The burial took place at Westminster Abbey on 5th January 1907, attended by a vast congregation.

The inscribed stone was laid down in April 1908.

Further reading

Clara Burdett Patterson: Angela Burdett-Coutts and the Victorians, London 1953

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Portraits of the Baroness and her parents are at the National Portrait Gallery in London


21st April 1814


30th December 1906


5th January 1907





Memorial Type


Angela Burdett-Coutts, seated, her elbows resting on an open book on a table
Angela Burdett-Coutts

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Gravestone of Angela Burdett-Coutts, which reads: 'BARONESS BURDETT-COUTTS 1814-1906'
Baroness Burdett-Coutts grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Funeral service paper for Angela Burdett-Coutts
Baroness Burdett Coutts funeral service paper

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster