Mary Rita Goelet

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Mary Rita Goelet (Wilson)

Also Known As: "May"
Birthplace: Loudon, Loudon County, Tennessee, United States
Death: February 23, 1929 (73)
New York, New York, United States
Place of Burial: North Hempstead, Bronx County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Richard Thornton Wilson and Melissa Clementine Wilson
Wife of Ogden Goelet
Mother of Mary Wilson Goelet and Robert Goelet
Sister of Marshall Orme Wilson, Sr.; Leila Belle Herbert; Grace Graham Vanderbilt; Richard Thornton Wilson, Jr.; William Johnston Wilson and 2 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Mary Rita Goelet

Rick Hutto: May, married a quiet young man, Ogden Goelet, whose bachelor uncle soon died leaving him twenty-five million dollars (the Duchess was their daughter). The Goelet family contacts were especially important to the bride’s father who established his own investment house and began buying up southern industries and railroads.

Mary Rita Wilson, known as May by her family was the first child of Richard Thornton Wilson and Melissa Clementine Johnston Wilson.

May married Ogden Goelet in 1877 and they had been married 20 years when Ogden died aboard his Yacht the Mayflower which was berthed at Cowes, Isle of Wight in England with his wife May and his children at his side.

May lived to be 73 years old, nearly 22 years after Ogden death but she never remarried.

She did however remained a pinnacle part of Newport and New York society and when "The Mrs Astor" was no longer able to manage, May would become the leader of "The 400" where she remained leader until a few years before her death.

After the death of Ogden in 1897, their daughter Mary Goelet would marry Duke Henry James Innes-Ker Duke of Roxburghe and her daughter became Duchess of Roxburghe in 1903.

Their son was Robert Goelet who was also a well known in New York society.


Mrs. Ogden Goelet is dead New York, Feb 23, 1929

Mrs. Ogden Goelet, former New York and Newport society leader, died today at in her apartment at the Savory-Plaza hotel. She was the sister of Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, mother of the Duchess of Roxburghe and one of the wealthiest women of her time. She succumbed following five days illness of pneumonia. At her bedside were her sister, Mrs. Grace Graham Vanderbilt; her sister in law Mrs. Richard T Wilson Jr.; her son and daughter in law Mr. and Mrs. Robert Goelet and grandsons, Ogden and Peter Goelet.

High in Social Scale.

Many of Mrs. Goelet's kin, in keeping with her own social prestige, ranked high in the social scale of past generations here and in Newport. Ogden Goelet, her husband a "Croesus" of his day, with a fortune of 30 million when she became his bride, Ogden died at Cowes, Isle of Wight in England while aboard his yacht, the Mayflower.

After his death Mrs. Goelet carried on the family prestige brilliantly for many years, but relinquished her leadership of the 400 several years ago, when she went to Europe and remained there several seasons. She had spent much of her time in recent years with the Duchess of Roxburghe, formerly Mary Goelet, at Floors Castle, in Scotland.

Renowned Beauty

Mrs. Goelet was Mary Rita Wilson, eldest daughter of Richard Thornton Wilson Sr. who came to New York after the Civil War. Mrs. Goelet was a renowned southern beauty, when she met Ogden Goelet at New London, Conn., during a yachting event. Their marriage eventuated in a series of brilliant alliances for the Wilson family. Her sister Lelia Belle Wilson, married Lord Michael Herbert, her eldest brother Marshall Orme Wilson married Caroline "Carrie" Schermerhorn Astor, and another sister Grace Graham Wilson became Mrs Cornelius Vanderbilt. Mrs. Goelet's youngest Richard Thornton Wilson Jr. married Marion Mason of Boston, scion of a family including names of Lowell, Lawrence and Ames. Robert Wilson Goelet, her son married Elise Whelen of Philadelphia. The funeral will be held at the old Goelet mansion on Fifth Avenue, one time scene of many brilliant social events, which has remained closed for many seasons.

Burial will be with her husband Ogden at Woodlawn Cemetery.

New York Times. Feb 23, 1929

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Mary Rita Goelet's Timeline

December 5, 1855
Loudon, Loudon County, Tennessee, United States
October 6, 1878
New York, New York, New York, USA
January 9, 1880
New York City, New York County, New York, United States
February 23, 1929
Age 73
New York, New York, United States
Woodlawn, North Hempstead, Bronx County, New York, United States