Princess Boncompagni  

    Some newspaper articles refer to Margaret as Princess Boncompagni, while in others, she's Madame
    Boncompagni. There was a prenuptial agreement that stated that she wouldn't keep the title if the
    marriage didn't last at least ten years. It didn't, and as the headline below states, she fought to keep
    the title. Evidently she kept it until she renounced her Italian citizenship, as mentioned in clippings
    from 1938 and 1940, which can be found near the bottom of this page. Both articles use the title,
    "Princess," but in later years she was referred to as Madame Boncompagni.


                                                 Beautiful Boston Princess Fights to Keep Her Title
                                                                          Boston Sunday Post
                                                                           November 23, 1924

                             Did Boncampagni "Curse" Bring Sad End to Margaret Draper's Love Story?

    The "evil eye" and family skeletons-
    Has Princess Boncompagni, formerly Miss Margaret Draper of Hopedale, suffered from the curse
    that is said to have followed the noble Italian family since the 17th century?

    She has left her princely husband.  Why, no one knows.  But the great romance of Margaret Draper,
    favored daughter of fortune, is crushed.

    Princess Boncompagni, who is fighting to retain her title, is now in Boston.

                                                                                  By C. E. Scott

    Eight years ago, when little Miss Margaret Draper of Hopedale married the illustrious Prince Andrea
    Boncompagne, untold and unfamed Cinderellas sighed in envy.

    For "the girl who always got what she wanted" had at last got what she wanted most.

    Think of having everything you wanted!  Of wanting glorious gowns and hats, and having them!  Of
    saying, "I'll wear a nice new rope of pearls at my next party"-and having it come true!  Of wanting a
    prince for a husband-and getting him!  And a hero, to boot!

     Margaret Draper's story would be perfect in its pretty romance if it ended where all good romances
    do, when written in books.  But, as is often the case in life, the story begins romantically and finds its
    sequel in the fields of grim realism.

     For the Boncompagnis have family skeletons.  Margaret Draper, in her high role of princess, has, of
    course, heard them rattling in their various closets.

    And yet, in the grand glitter of Roman society, what is a skeleton, more or less?  No doubt she
    shrugged at the thought these stark occupants of hidden nooks in her princely husband's palace.  
    The past is past...And what happiness the present held!  What happiness in the future!  

    Unfortunately, Princess Boncompagni (nee Draper) was overly optimistic in her girlish enthusiasm.

                                                              Gorgeous Debut Dazzled Washington

    What a gorgeous girlhood and debut she had!  A few years before Margaret's marriage, her father, the
    late General William F. Draper, multi-millionaire Hopedale cotton mill owner and diplomat, died,
    leaving half his huge wealth to her.  Her uncle was the late Governor Eben S. Draper.  Her family
    summered in Manchester-by-the Sea.

    She was the most notable debutante of her year in Washington.  She succeeded Helen Taft,
    daughter of the president, who had been the outstanding bud of the previous season.

    At Margaret's debut the entire Washington social world was present - ambassadors, rear admirals
    and foreign ministers, and all sorts of titles and what-not.  Many a foreign nobleman was there who
    could not honestly have denied that he hoped to bestow his title upon General Draper's beautiful

    Around her neck was a string of pearls valued at $30,000.  She was modestly attired, you see, for her
    first bow to the world.

    More luxuriously, some months later at the marvelous Louis XV ball given by her mother at the capital,
    Margaret was the bell of the ball beyond all dispute.

                                                                     Wore World's Richest Pearls

    That night she wore the most valuable pearl necklace in the world. [An accompanying article
    mentions that her mother had a pearl necklace worth $500,000, which must have been the one she
    wore at the Louis XV ball.]

    She was dressed as a young woman of the Court of Louie Quinze, and she wore that famous
    necklace whose separate jewels have come from the four corners of the globe.  The first jewel in the
    necklace was given to her by the Dowager Queen Margarita of Italy, when her father had been the
    American ambassador.  Queen Margarita had been Margaret Draper's godmother.

    And among these people at the ball - and whom Margaret was said to have outshone - were the
    stunning Mrs. Joseph Leiter, Mrs. Peter Goelet Gerry (who has been having so much trouble lately -
    trouble blamed by some on the black Youssoupoff, Helen and Robert Taft, and so forth.)

    If, in those days, a titled foreigner had come to you and said,
     "Look here, I want to marry an American girl who's rich, and beautiful and nice," you'd have replied,
    "Well, you might try Miss Draper.  She's all of that.  But you'll find her pretty particular when it comes to
    the husband business; and anyway, they say she's not considering anything less than a prince."

                                                                             Social Arbiter at 18

    At 18, Miss Draper was the social arbiter of Washington, which was quite a distinction!  And naturally
    she was the most talked about maid in the entire capital.

    Well, men came and men went.  She was reported engaged to Count de la Tour d'Auvergne, and
    there was high old excitement when the news came out; but it must have been something of a
    canard, for nothing more was heard of it,  The Prince Ludovico of Rome was made famous as
    "Margaret's fiancé."  He'd known her as a little girl, and all in all it looked like a possible alliance.  But it
    came to nothing, for the prince married someone else.

    It must have been great fun to Margaret Draper to read of her numerous engagements.

    But at last, in war time - He came.  He was a prince and hero; and Margaret Draper was feverishly
    interested in war-time activities.  Also, she knew him well.  He came wounded and unfit for further
    service at the front.

    Rumor spread that Prince Boncompagni was the luckiest man of earth.

    Washington was interested.  It was something to talk about, anyway. Then Margaret admitted it was
    so.  Washington felt the shock then.  Somehow the city had become accustomed to having Miss
    Draper engaged and disengaged by the tongue of gossip.  More than one young man's heart was
    badly bent.

                                                                   Married by Cardinal Gibbons
    Because of the prominence of the two families and the affiliations of the Boncompagnis in Rome,
    they were married by Cardinal Gibbons.

    For about six years, then, all seemed to go smoothly, Then stories of rupture got about.  They were
    well founded.  Another international romance had gone to pot.

    And now, back in Boston, Margaret Draper is fighting to retain her title of Princess Boncompagni.  The
    pretty-looking title is all that is left of her dream-romance with a prince.

    She wanted the prince.  She got him.  Now she no longer wants him - and no longer has him.

    But she wants the title!  Will she be able to keep it in spite of Boncompagne's efforts to wrest it from

                                                                               "Family Curse"

    It seems that there has been a "family curse" hanging over the Boncompagnis.  The "curse" came
    into being when Gregory Boncompagni married Ippolita Ludovisi, sister of the last Prince of Piombino,
    in 1680.

    She was a very beautiful lady, and was engaged to be married to a distant cousin of hers when
    Gregory, whose family was as old and illustrious as that of Ludovisi, but dreadfully poor, decided that
    he wanted her himself.

    She refused him. Gregory, therefore, concocted a plot.  He persuaded the girl that her lover was
    unfaithful to her.  In despair, she announced her intention of entering a convent and giving her wealth
    to the Church; but this did not suit Gregory at all.

    So one night he carried her off from her ancestral castle with the connivance of a servant.  Her honor
    compromised, the girl was forced to marry Gregory.

                                                                               Hanged Himself

    In the meantime, her cousin, hearing of the abduction, hanged himself in his mother's room.

    The mother cursed the Boncompagnis and prophesied that they would never be able to hold any
    wealth in their hands - a prophecy which has been strangely fulfilled, because ever since that time the
    family has been struggling against financial difficulties, culminating in that terrible crash of some 40
    years ago which caused the ruin of so many noble Roman families, the Borgheses among others,
    and led to the sale of the famous Borghese villa to the Italian government, with all its artistic treasures.

    Prince Andrea was the grandson of Princess Agnese Gorghese, the only surviving child of that lovely
    and holy Lady Gwendolen Talbot, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, who was called "The Angel of

                                                                              Rome Whispers

    She died in a mysterious manner, together with four of her five children in Rome in 1840.  Since she
    succumbed after a few hours' illness, many Romans whispered that she had been poisoned, with
    her children, by her mother-in-law, the old and imperious Princess Borghese.

     Of course, this was atrocious calumny, but diphtheria was not so well known as it is today, so that
    when the disease swept into the Borghese Palace it is no wonder that it took so many victims.

    One child survived, the Princess Agnese, and it is from her that all the present Boncompagnis are

    The old palace of the family (which no longer exists as such, having been converted into a business
    building) is a beautiful pile, but its artistic treasures have mostly been sold and are dispersed all over
    the world today.

    Old Prince Boncompagni, the grandfather of Prince Andrea, lost almost every cent he possessed in
    the crash.

                                                                  Ghostly Visitor Haunts Castle?
    They said that his palace has a ghost, which was dreaded by all the Boncompagnis - and might be
    dreaded by them now, if they still lived in it.  Its appearance was supposed to be the forewarner of
    some terrible calamity.

    The ghost was said to be the spirit of the wife of the first Duke of Zagarola, a nephew of Alessandro
    Ludovisi, who was elected Pope under the name of Gregory XV, in 1621.

    One of the Duke's sergeants denounced the wife as unfaithful and the Duke, believing, strangled
    her.   She was supposed to haunt the family and to appear before their eyes laughing sarcastically
    whenever anything horrible was to happen to them.

    The last to see her, according to the tale in Rome, was the father of the present Prince of Piombino,
    Don Ugo Boncompagni.  He was married twice, first to the Marchesa Patrizi and then to Donna Laura
    Altieri, one of the most beautiful and charming women of her generation.

    They both died quite young, Donna Laura succumbing to an attack of diphtheria caught at the
    bedside of her stepchildren, whom she had been nursing with devotion and tenderness.

                                                                                "The Evil Eye"

    Hers was a beautiful nature, and she is remembered to this day with affection and emotion in Rome.
    Twice Don Ugo saw the ghost of his murdered ancestress.  He saw it just before the death of his
    Marchesa.  He saw it again within a few hours of Donna Laura's death.

     And Don Ugo was so impressed by the apparition that he entered Holy Orders, giving up his titles
    and what was left of the family fortune in his possession to his eldest son, Prince Francesco.  Today
    Don Ugo is a Monsignore in attendance on the Pope, and a very high official in Roman hierarchy.

    Family curse or not, the Boncompagnis have been neither lucky nor prosperous.  Certainly they justify
    the Italian saying which will have it that they are cursed with the evil eye - the famous Jettatura, which
    wins awe in Rome and Naples.

    Click here to read about the princess's attempt to end the Draper family feud.  And here to see her at a
    costume ball in Washington. Click here to see the legal paper by which Margaret donated her parents'
    estate to be used as the site for General Draper High School. Here are some newspaper clippings
    about the princess, from her wedding in 1916, through 1925. To read a little about the prince's second
    wife, click here.
                              Pictures on Digital Treasures              Margaret as a baby              adult            

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Prince Andrea Bongompagni

    Margaret Boncompagni with her nephew,
    William F. (Bill) Draper, on right.

    Birth:         Mar. 18, 1891
    Suffolk County
    Massachusetts, USA

    Death:         Aug. 28, 1974
    District of Columbia
    District Of Columbia, USA

                                                   Margaret Draper Boncompagni

    Services will be held at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow in St. Matthew's Cathederal, Washington,D.C., for
    Margaret Draper Boncompagni, niece of former Massachusetts Gov. Eben S. Draper.

    Madame Boncompagni, 83, died Wednesday at her home at 4732 Van Ness st., Washington.

    Born in Boston, she was educated at St. Timothy's School in Catonsville, Md, and made her debut in
    Washington and Boston in 1909.

    She married Prince Andrea Boncompagni of Italy in 1916. The marriage ended in divorce six years

    A generous donor to various charities, Madam Boncompagni also belonged to many social clubs in
    the United States and Europe.

    She was a member of the Chevy Chase Club and the Sulgrave Club of Maryland, the Colony Club of
    New York, the Chilton Club of Boston and the Colonial Dames of America. She was also a well-
    known member of the American colony in Paris.

    The French government awarded her the Declaration of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and she
    was later promoted to Legion officer.

    Before taking up permanent residence in Washngton she sold her property in Hopedale, Mass.,
    previoulsy owned by her father, Gen. William Franklin Draper, president for many years of the Draper
    Corporation in Hopedale.

    Madame Boncompagni leaves six nephews and five nieces. Burial will be in the Hopedale Cemetery.
    (See Draper mausoleums at Hopedale Village Cemetery.)

    Boston Globe; Aug 29, 1974

    Hopedale Village Cemetery
    Worcester County