Cornelia Mary Goodsir
Cornelia, as a toddler, with her mother Edith, c. 1902
Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt
August 22, 1900
|Died||February 7, 1976 75) (aged|
Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
|Education||University of North Carolina|
(m. 1924;div. 1934)
(m. 1949;died 1968)
William Robert Goodsir
|Children|| George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil |
William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil
|Parent(s)|| George Washington Vanderbilt II |
Edith Stuyvesant Dresser
|Family||See Vanderbilt family|
Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt Cecil Bulkely-Johnson Goodsir (August 22, 1900 – February 7, 1976)was an American born heiress and member of the Vanderbilt family who inherited the Biltmore Estate. She was known for her eccentric behavior.
Cornelia was born at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina on August 22, 1900.She was the daughter, and only child, of George Washington Vanderbilt II (1862–1914) and Edith Stuyvesant Dresser (1873–1958). Her father, the youngest child of William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa (née Kissam) Vanderbilt, built a 250-room mansion, the largest privately owned home in the United States, which he named Biltmore Estate. The estate, designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, was modeled on the Chateau de Blois among other chateaux of the Loire Valley. She was the great-granddaughter of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, and, on her mother’s side, she was a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant.
After her father's death in 1914, 86,000 acres (350 km2) of the Biltmore property to the United States Forest Service to create the core of Pisgah National Forest. Her mother later married Peter Goelet Gerry (1879–1957), a United States Senator from Rhode Island.Cornelia inherited the Biltmore estate. Her mother sold approximately
Cornelia attended the Madeira School for high school. She was privately tutored and attended the University of North Carolina for approximately a year. When she reached 21 years old, she received an annuity of $2,000,000 and at the age of 25, she received her full inheritance of $50,000,000 from her father.
On April 29, 1924,Cornelia was married to a British aristocrat who was then the first secretary of the British Embassy in Washington, Hon. John Francis Amherst Cecil (1890–1954), the son of Lord William Cecil and Mary Cecil, Baroness Amherst of Hackney. The Cecils were descendants of William Cecil. The nationally-renowned organist from St. Louis Charles Henry Galloway played organ at the wedding. They divorced in 1934,
Cornelia Vanderbilt and Cecil were the parents of two sons:
Around 1932, reportedly finding life at Biltmore too dull, she moved to New York City to briefly study art, leaving her husband to manage Biltmore.A few months later, she moved to Paris where she divorced her husband in 1934, dyed her hair bright pink, and changed her name to Nilcha. After her 1934 move abroad, she never returned to Biltmore or the United States again. After Paris, she moved to London, where she met and married Captain Vivian Francis Bulkeley-Johnson (1891–1968) in October 1949. Bulkeley-Johnson, the aide-de-camp to the 9th Duke of Devonshire when he was the Governor General of Canada from 1916 to 1918, served in the offices of the Imperial War Cabinet in World War I and in the Air Ministry. They remained married until his death in 1968.
One evening as she was having dinner with Edward Adamson in London, Cornelia met William Robert "Bill" Goodsir, their waiter with whom she fell in love.In 1972, Cornelia married for the third and final time to Goodsir (1926–1984), who was 26 years younger than she was.
Cornelia died on February 7, 1976, aged 75, in Oxford, England.Her ashes were buried at a church near her home, The Mount, a farm in the village of Churchill in Oxfordshire, near Kingham.
Her sons eventually inherited the Biltmore estate, with George Cecil, the older of the two sons, choosing to inherit the majority of the estate's land and the Biltmore Farms Company, which was more profitable than the house at the time. The younger son, William Cecil was thus left with Biltmore House, and is credited with preserving the chateau which (though still privately owned) is open to the public. Through her elder son, she was the grandmother of six, and through her second son, she was the grandmother of two more.
The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch origin who gained prominence during the Gilded Age. Their success began with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the family expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy. Cornelius Vanderbilt's descendants went on to build grand mansions on Fifth Avenue in New York City; luxurious "summer cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island; the palatial Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina; and various other opulent homes.
Biltmore Estate is a historic house museum and tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina. Biltmore House, the main residence, is a Châteauesque-style mansion built for George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895 and is the largest privately owned house in the United States, at 178,926 square feet (16,622.8 m2) of floor space. Still owned by George Vanderbilt's descendants, it remains one of the most prominent examples of Gilded Age mansions.
George Washington Vanderbilt II was an art collector and member of the prominent Vanderbilt family, which amassed a huge fortune through steamboats, railroads, and various business enterprises. He built a 250-room mansion, the largest privately owned home in the United States, which he named Biltmore Estate.
George Washington Vanderbilt III was an American yachtsman and scientific explorer who was a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family.
Edith Mary Kingdon Gould was an American actress. She married George Jay Gould.
Peter Goelet Gerry was an American lawyer and politician who served in the United States House of Representatives and later, as a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island. He is the only U.S. Senator in American history to lose re-election and later reclaim his Senate seat from the person who had defeated him.
Edith Stuyvesant Dresser Gerry was an American philanthropist and wife of George Washington Vanderbilt II and Peter Goelet Gerry, a United States Senator from Rhode Island.
Colonel Lord William Cecil was a British army officer and royal courtier.
George Lockhart Rives, was an American lawyer, politician, and author who served as United States Assistant Secretary of State from 1887 to 1889.
William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil was the operator of the Biltmore Estate through his company, The Biltmore Company.
George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil was an American businessman who was the owner and chairman of Biltmore Farms.
Whitney Warren was an American Beaux-Arts architect who founded, with Charles Delevan Wetmore, Warren and Wetmore in New York City, one of the most prolific and successful architectural practices in America.
Martha B. Farish Gerry was an American Thoroughbred racehorse owner named an Exemplar of Racing by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
John Nicholas Brown II was the United States Assistant Secretary of the Navy (AIR) from 1946 to 1949. He was a member of the Brown family that had been active in American life since before the American Revolution and who were the major early benefactors of Brown University.
Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt was a member of the Vanderbilt family. He was the father of Gloria Vanderbilt and maternal grandfather of Anderson Cooper. An avid equestrian, Vanderbilt was the founder and president of many equestrian organizations. He gambled away most of his inheritance.
Vivian Francis Bulkeley-Johnson was the aide-de-camp to Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire, the Governor General of Canada from 1916 to 1918. He served in the offices of the Imperial War Cabinet in World War I from 1918 to 1919, and in the Air Ministry from 1919 to 1922.
John Francis Amherst Cecil was the first secretary of the British Embassy, Washington, known for his marriage to Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt.
Lewis Morris Rutherfurd Jr. was an American socialite and sportsman from New York known for breeding fox terrier dogs.
Major George Warren Dresser was an American soldier and civil engineer who was prominent in New York and Newport society.
Margaret Stuyvesant Rutherfurd Murat was an eccentric American heiress, dancer and sometime actress.
George Washington Vanderbilt of New York died suddenly this afternoon at his Washington residence, 1,612 K Street. With him at the time were Mrs. Vanderbilt and their thirteen-year-old daughter, Miss Cornelia S. Vanderbilt.