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lexander W. Weddell was born in 1876, the son of a reverend who died when young Alexander was only seven years old. He and his three siblings were raised by their widowed mother, and he spent his school years working alongside his studies to help provide for his family. A diligent student, he attended law classes at George Washington University and, meanwhile, obtained a position in the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress.  His presence in Washington helped him secure appointment, in 1907, as secretary to the minister to Denmark.  Thus began a successful career in the Foreign Service, with appointments to Zanzibar, Sicily, Beirut, Athens, Cairo, and Calcutta, where he was serving as Consul-General when he was introduced to his future wife, Virginia. Virginia Atkinson Chase Weddell was born in 1874 to a comfortable family in Missouri. Though she had a strained childhood, she was well educated in New York and Europe before her marriage to James Harrison Steedman of St. Louis in 1900.  She enjoyed an affluent society life before her husband was called to service during World War I.  He returned from the war in ill health, and died only two years later, in 1921, leaving her a widow with a sizable fortune.  The following year, Virginia embarked on a round-theworld tour with her friends, Mr. and Mrs. William Cocke, first traveling to Paris, Cairo, and Istanbul, and then, finally, to Calcutta.  It was there that she was introduced by the Cockes to their friend, Alexander Weddell—tall, handsome, and by now an accomplished statesman, though still a bachelor. What followed was a whirlwind romance for the ages.  Bonding over their mutual love of travel, history, art, and collecting, Alexander and Virginia spent four months together traveling back to the United States, where they were promptly married in the St. Ambrose Chapel of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York on May 31, 1923.  They returned to Calcutta later that year, and Virginia settled happily into her role as the consummate diplomat’s wife, known for her graceful entertaining and generous support of charitable causes. 24

Profile for Lyon & Turnbull

International View | Spring 2019  

International View | Spring 2019