Margaret Preston Draper (b. 3/18/1891, d. 8/28/1974) was the daughter of General William Franklin Draper and Susan
Preston Draper. The general was the son of George and Hannah Thwing Draper. George joined the Hopedale Community
in 1853. His brother Ebenezer had been with the Community since its founding in 1841-2. Those who became "The
Drapers" in Hopedale were all descendants of George and Hannah. In addition to the general, their children who survived to
adulthood were Frances Eudora, Hannah Thwing, George Albert and Eben Sumner. The marriage of William and Susan
was probably the only case of a Yankee general marrying the daughter of a Confederate general.
Susan came from a very prominent Kentucky family. Her father had been a member of Congress and ambassador to
Spain. When the war began, he returned to Kentucky and served as a general in the army for a while before becoming the
Confederacy's ambassador to Mexico. Susan's mother's family, the Wickliffes, had a plantation in the Lexington area and
were the largest slaveholders in Kentucky. Susan's sister, Jessie, married George Albert Draper.
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,
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 daughter.
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
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
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 her?
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.
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
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."
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 descended.
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. To read a little about the prince's second wife, click here.
Pictures on Digital Treasures Margaret as a baby adult Draper Menu HOME