Is your surname Elwes?

Research the Elwes family

Dominic Elwes's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Bede Evelyn Dominic Elwes

Birthplace: England
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Simon Elwes and Gloria Ellinor Rodd
Husband of Tessa Georgina Elwes
Father of <private> Elwes; Cary Elwes; <private> Elwes and ivan simon cary (actor) elwes

Managed by: Geoffrey David Trowbridge
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Dominic Elwes

Bede Evelyn Dominick Elwes (credited as Dominick Elwes or Dominic Elwes) (17 August 1931 – 5 September 1975) was an English portrait painter whose much publicized elopement with an heiress in 1957 was a scandale célèbre.

Early life

Elwes (pronounced "El-wez") was born on 17 August 1931 at Billing Hall, Northamptonshire, to English portrait painter, Simon Elwes R.A., K.M., and the Hon. Gloria Rodd, daughter of Rennell Rodd, 1st Baron Rennell, P.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., sometime British Ambassador to Rome and Conservative M.P. for St. Marylebone (1928–1932). He is descended from the recusant Cary-Elwes family which includes noted British monks and bishops, such as Abbott Columba Cary-Elwes, Archbishop Dudley Cary-Elwes and Father Luke Cary-Elwes. He was the grandson of Gervase Cary Elwes (1866–1921), diplomat and Lady Winifride Mary Elizabeth Feilding, daughter of the 8th Earl of Denbigh. One of his cousins was Tremayne Rodd, 3rd Baron Rennell. For his early education Elwes spent much of his childhood during World War II in the United States after which he returned to England to attend Downside, a Catholic independent school located in Somerset.

Elopement[edit source]

At age 26, Elwes met and wished to marry 19-year-old shipping heiress Tessa Kennedy, daughter of Geoffrey Ferrar Kennedy and Daška Ivanović. Kennedy's parents, however, disapproved of the relationship and instituted wardship proceedings. On 27 November 1957, Mr. Kennedy obtained a restraining order against Elwes from a judge, Justice Sir Ronald F. Roxburgh, thus barring the couple from getting married. The High Court Tipstaff was not authorized, however, to apprehend Elwes in any place outside England or Wales. After initially attempting to be betrothed in Scotland whilst being pursued by the press, Elwes and Kennedy subsequently eloped to Havana where they were wed in a civil ceremony on 27 January 1958 as guests of famed mobster Meyer Lansky who provided accommodation for them at his hotel, The Habana Riviera. When Castro's revolution threatened the stability of the country the newlyweds were forced to flee aboard a raft with two National Geographic explorers who were sailing to Miami. From there they flew to New York where they took out a marriage license on 31 March. On 1 April, the couple repeated the ceremony to make sure they were legally wed in Manhattan's Supreme Court officiated by Justice Henry Clay Greenberg. On 15 July, the two set sail for England aboard the liner SS Liberté docking at Southampton. The following day, accompanied by his wife and an attorney, Elwes turned himself over to authorities and was transferred to Brixton Prison where he remained for two weeks while awaiting trial for contempt of court for defying Mr Justice Roxburgh's order to return Ms. Kennedy to her parents. In the resulting trial the judge accepted that Elwes did love his bride but commented that every parent knows that love was not "readily convertible into bread and butter" for the support of a wife. In his ruling he allowed Elwes to be released from custody but ordered that Kennedy remain a ward of court.

Elwes's and Kennedy's marriage lasted 8 years.


From 1958 Elwes was the assistant editor of Lilliput Magazine until its closure in 1960. From 1960 until 1962 he was the Company Director of Dome Press where he began the newsweekly Topic Magazine as editorial director along with William Rees-Davies and Maurice Macmillan. In 1963, together with Nicholas Luard, he published and subsequently became the director of Design Yearbook, which developed into the book-packaging firm November Books. The company's clients included Thames & Hudson, a publisher of books on art, architecture, design and visual culture. In 1964, he cowrote a book with Luard titled Refer to Drawer: Being a Penetrating Survey of a Shameful National Practice – Hustling[ which included illustrations by cartoonist John Glashan. Elwes subsequently became a member of the National Union of Journalists.

Following in his father's footsteps Elwes then became a portrait painter, painting many of London's Clermont Set. Around 1967 he moved to Andalucia, Spain where, with the aid of architect Philip Jebb, he designed a Mediterranean-style apartment complex which was completed in 1970. Clients included Luard and the actor Hugh Millais. Elwes also became part owner of a hair salon, Figurehead, on Pont St. in Knightsbridge. The salon featured many portraits by Elwes and his father.

Elwes committed suicide with an overdose of barbiturates in 1975, about a month after the death of his father, and about a month before the death of his mother. He and Kennedy had three children together, film producer Cassian Elwes, artist Damian Elwes, and actor Cary Elwes.


1969 – Portrait of John Aspinall

1970 – Portrait of Min Aspinall & Mushie

1971 – Portrait of Sir Vivyan (or Vyvian) Edward Naylor-Leyland, 3rd Baronet

1972 – Portrait of Lord Lucan


Refer to Drawer: Being a Penetrating Survey of a Shameful National Practice – Hustling with Nicholas Luard. Arthur Barker Ltd. (London) 1964.

view all

Dominic Elwes's Timeline

August 17, 1931
October 26, 1962
Age 31
September 1975
Age 44