James John Van Alen (1846-1923)

J.J. Van Alen, "The American Prince of Wales"

Associated Houses



Rushton Hall


Educated at Oxford, he was primarily a socialite with a passion for all things English. After his much loved wife died in 1881, in 1895 he took off with the wife of one of his sworn political enemies, Samuel Pomeroy Colt of Linden Place. He entertained at Wakehurst from June 13 to the close of the season in September before spending the rest of the year, "at the proper places at the proper times on the other side of the ocean". After Prohibition, displeased with America's "lack of liberty" from 1920 he spent most of his time in France. He was a Democrat and gave $50,000 to Cleveland's campaign and was then nominated as the U.S. Minister to Rome, but the offer was rescinded after there was a public outcry. This was another reason that he gave for his "increased distaste" of life in America. In 1898, he gave $25,000 to equip an ambulance for the Boer War and was awarded the Order of the Knight of Grace of St. John of Jerusalem. He married a great-granddaughter of John Jacob Astor and by her had three children.


Contributed by Mark Meredith on 30/11/2018 and last updated on 03/01/2020.