Frances Ellen Work

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Frances Ellen Work
File:Frances Work 2163454306 8fa8ee30e6 o.jpg
Born (1857-10-27)October 27, 1857
New York City
Died January 26, 1947(1947-01-26) (aged 89)
New York City
Spouse(s) James Burke Roche, 3rd Baron Fermoy (m. 1880–91)
Aurel de Batonyi (m. 1905–07)
Children Hon. Eileen Roche
Hon. Cynthia Burke Roche
Edmund Maurice Burke Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy
Hon. Francis George Burke
Parent(s) Franklin H. Work
Ellen Wood

Frances Ellen Work (October 27, 1857 – January 26, 1947) was an American heiress and socialite. She was a great-grandmother of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her great-great-grandchildren include the Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, and the American actor Oliver Platt.


Born in New York City, she was a daughter of Franklin H. Work (1819–1911), a well-known stockbroker and protégé of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and his wife, Ellen Wood (1831–1877).[1]

On September 22, 1880, at Christ Church, New York City, Frances Work married the Hon. James Boothby Burke Roche, who would later become the 3rd Baron Fermoy. They had four children: two daughters Cynthia Roche and Eileen, and twin sons Francis and Edmund. Edmund later became the 4th Baron Fermoy, and was the maternal grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales. Frances divorced Roche for desertion in 1891, before he had succeeded to the barony. Her lawyer was Thomas F. Bayard, former United States Secretary of State.[2]

On August 4, 1905, the Hon. Mrs. Burke Roche married Aurel de Batonyi, a Hungarian-born riding instructor and society horseman. When he immigrated to the United States on the White Star liner Majestic in 1891, Batonyi had claimed he was a count.[3] It was also suggested that his real name was Arthur Cohn.[4] Frances sued de Batonyi for divorce two years after their marriage, allegedly because her father threatened to disinherit her if she continued to live with her husband.[4]

She was a prominent figure in the New York City and Newport, Rhode Island, social sets, and was friends with Mrs Reginald Vanderbilt.[4]

She died in the city of her birth at the age of 89.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Williamson, D. (1981) The Ancestry of Lady Diana Spencer In: Genealogist’s Magazine vol. 20 (no. 6) p. 192-199 and vol. 20 (no. 8) pp. 281–282.
  2. The Times (London) Friday, 27 March 1896, p. 7 col. F.
  3. United States Government. 1891 New York Ship's Arrivals Records Index. Washington, D.C.: National Archives. Series M237, Roll #571, July 8, 1891.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Oakland Tribune, September 8, 1907, pp. 17–18.