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Cecilia Maria Eleanor Betham was born in January 1843 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the second child and only daughter of Molyneux Cecil John Betham and his wife Elizabeth, the only daughter of Sir Richard Ford, chief magistrate at Bow Street, London. In 1846 the Betham family was recorded as residing at 123 Park Street, Grosvenor Square, London; by 1851 they were living at 16 Clarges Street in Westminster. According to the 1851 census, Cecilia’s ten-year-old brother, Cecil William, was a pupil at Westminster School, one of England’s most prestigious public schools, while Cecilia was being educated at home. The Bethams shared their home with three live-in female servants: a nursery maid, a cook and a housemaid. Molyneux Betham had been called to the bar but did not practice. He returned to Ireland with his family following the death on 26 October 1853 of his father, Sir William Betham, the Ulster King of Arms and Principal Herald of All Ireland, a post he had held since April 1820. Molyneux served as Cork Herald until his death in February 1880; his brother, Sheffield Philip Fiennes Betham, served as Dublin Herald.


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