Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts (1814-1906) was the granddaughter of Thomas Coutts (1735-1822), founder and, in 1778, sole partner of the London banking firm Coutts & Co., and his first wife Susan Starkie (d. 1815). They had three daughters, all of whom were married to members of the aristocracy: Frances to John, 1st Marquis of Bute, Susan to George Augustus, 3rd Earl of Guildford and Sophia to Sir Francis Burdett, Bt. Upon his marriage to the youngest daughter Sophia in 1793, Sir Francis added the Coutts name to his own.
Thomas Coutts' second wife was the celebrated Harriot Mellon (1777-1837), daughter of an Irish strolling player and an impecunious lieutenant in the Madras Cavalry. Harriot's short career as an actress was halted by her marriage to the 80 year old banker three months after the death of his first wife. Upon Coutts' death Harriot was left immeasurably wealthy, her holdings including a service of plate said to be the most valuable in the country, together with several houses at which she continued to entertain lavishly. Three years later she married William, 9th Duke of St. Albans, who was more than twenty years her junior.
Harriot, now Duchess of St Albans, died in 1837, leaving the bulk of her estate to her step-granddaughter Angela, daughter of Sophia and Sir Francis Burdett-Coutts. Contemporary newspaper accounts gleefully pointed out that this fortune was the equivalent to thirteen tons of gold, or if in sovereigns it would stretch over twenty-four miles and take ten weeks to count. Angela Burdett-Coutts used her wealth to amass a large art collection and to fund numerous philanthropic schemes for which she was created a Baroness by Queen Victoria in 1871. She resisted numerous suitors until her marriage in 1881 to an American, William Bartlett, of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Bartlett took the name of Burdett-Coutts and sat as M.P. for Westminster from 1885 onwards, giving his wife considerable assistance in her charitable activities.
Baroness Burdett-Coutts died on December 30, 1906 and her body lay in state for two days, during which time 30,000 people paid their last respects. She was buried in Westminster Abbey on January 5, 1906. After her death, the bulk of the Duchess's silver remained in storage until 1914 when it was sold by Christie's in a number of sales held through the 1920s.