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Madam Caballero - Courtesan

Madam Caballero 1788 - 1877

Madam Caballero was one of our most colourful 19th century residents, who divided her life between fashionable London and Tunbridge Wells. She was born Mary Ann Leshley, the pretty daughter of a cook at the Dolphin Inn in Chichester.

She moved to London and became Poll Raffles (or sometimes Moll Raffles) the well known 'actress' whose liaisons with the Marquess Wellesley and his brother the Duke of Wellington were staple Regency gossip.

She married a wealthy Spaniard called Antonio Caballero, and it was as Madam Caballero that she came to Tunbridge Wells, buying a splendid house called Grecian Villa. When she died in 1877, aged 89, she left the villa and grounds to her doctor, Frederick Manser. He quickly took advantage of the housing explosion of the time, selling the estate and developing Buckingham, Grecian and Norfolk roads.

Madam Caballero had amassed a fortune with shrewd property investments. She left no will that could be found, but her nephew John Leshley lodged a successful appeal to the House of Lords in 1885, and was awarded the rest of her estate, valued at over £20 million in today's money.

Her gravestone in the cemetery is a simple but expensive granite ledger with the words 'In memory of Madam Caballero, died June 10th 1877, aged 89'

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