Byron, Allegra

BORN 12 Jan 1817, Bath, Somerset - DIED 19 Apr 1822, Bagno-Cavallo, Emilia-Romagna (near Ravenna)
BIRTH NAME Byron, Clara Allegra
GRAVE LOCATION Harrow, Greater London: St. Mary's Parish Church (churchyard, presumably near the entrance of the church)

Daughter of Lord Byron and Claire Clairmont, the stepsister of Mary Shelley. Allegra was the result of a short liaison and Byron had become fed up with her mother before she was born.

Claire initially called her daughter Alba, but Byon overruled her and chose Allegra. Byron promised to take care of Allegra in Italy on the condition that Claire would not show up anymore. In the interest of her daughter Claire reluctantly agreed. Allegra was raised in a cloister at Bagnocavallo near Ravenna, but there she contracted a fever and died at the age of five. Byron was devastated and according to his mistress Teresa Guiccioli he never said her name again.

Byron sent Allegra's body to England and John Murray tried to arrange a funeral at Harrow Church. He had written an inscription for a plague, that read

"In memory of Allegra, daughter of G.G., Lord Byron, who died at Bagna Cavallo in Italy, April 20, 1822, Aged Five Years and Three Months, -'I shall go to her, but she shall not return to me.' -2 Samuel, xii, 23"

Because of his reputation, Byron's wishes were denied by the rector and Allegra was only buried near the entrance of the church after it was agreed that there would be no plaque. The funeral was conducted by Byron's friend Henry Drury in the churchyard.

When Byron died himself exactly two years later, he was refused at Harrow as well as Westminster Abbey. Only in 1980 the Byron Society was allowed to place a memorial for Allegra.

Although many young children died in Italy in those years Claire blamed Byron for the death of her child and would hate him for the rest of her life. In later years Claire (who had never been a very stable woman) even doubted if her daughter had really died.

• Father: Byron, George Noel Gordon
• Mother: Clairmont, Claire
• Sister: Byron, Ada, Lady Lovelace

9/3/1818Baptism of Clara and William Shelley and Allegra Byron. It took place at St. Giles-in-the-Field, Covent Garden (near Denmark Street). In the church register the following entry was added for Allegra: 'Reputed daughter of Rt Hon. George Gordon, Lord Byron, Peer of no fixed residence, travelling on the continent'. 
17/8/1818Shelley travels to Venice with Claire Clairmont. Claire wanted to visit her daughter Allegra who was with the father, Lord Byron. Mary Shelley stayed behind in Bagni di Lucca. [Clairmont, Claire][Shelley, Mary][Shelley, Percy Bysshe]


Plaque for Allegra Byron near the spot of her grave in front of St. Mary's Church, Harrow.
Picture by Androom (29 May 2014)


Plaque for Allegra Byron near the spot of her grave in front of St. Mary's Church, Harrow.
Picture by Androom (29 May 2014)


• Bernheim, Cathy, Mary Shelley, Qui Ítes-vous?, La Manufacture, Lyon, 1988
• Blunden, Edmund, Shelley, Collins, London, 1946
• Gordon, Armstead C., Allegra, the story of Byron and Miss Clairmont, Methuen, London, 1927
• Marchand, Leslie A., Byron: a Biography, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1957
• Mellor, Anne K., Mary Shelley, her Life, her Fiction, her Monsters, Routledge, New York, 1989
• Roe, Ivan, Shelley: The Last Phase, Hutchinson & Co, London, 1955
• St Clair, William, The Godwins and the Shelleys, Faber and Faber, London, 1990

Byron, Augusta Mary

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 06 May 2024