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

     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

                                    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

    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 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

    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?

                                                     "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

    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."

                                                      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 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

    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.

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

    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 later.

    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