Lady Isobel Blunt-Mackenzie


William Robinson Clarke

‘A debutante with a taste for travel and adventure’

1911 - 2004

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The artist and traveller Lady Isobel Blunt- Mackenzie was another titled woman on board the Empire Windrush. Accompanying her but not sharing the same cabin was her 43-year- old Polish husband, Oscar Linda. Listed in the ship’s records as an army officer, he travelled in C class with other members of the military. The couple had recently married and were returning to Britain after spending three months in Jamaica.

Born on March 22, 1911, in Kensington, London, Lady Isobel was the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Edward Walter Blunt-Mackenzie and Sibell Lillian Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Countess of Cromartie. Sibell was a famous society beauty of her day and travelled widely in the Middle East.

The family’s main residence was in Tarbat House, a mansion in the Scottish Highlands. When in London, they lived in a 15-room house in Hans Road, Knightsbridge, run by eight staff.

Isobel, who had two brothers, was presented to King George V as a debutante in 1928 and regularly appeared in the columns of The Tatler. An artist who specialised in landscape painting with a studio in Chelsea, London, she also inherited her mother’s passion for travel.

In March 1934, she joined the crew of the SS Destro, which left Liverpool heading for the Middle East. Accompanied by an old school friend, Daphne Day, she crossed the desert from Beirut to Baghdad and visited Damascus on the way.

Previously the two pals had made a tour of the Netherlands by barge and cruised the Mediterranean on a Norwegian cargo boat. In 1936, Isobel went to Tunisia – she could speak and write Arabic fluently – during the following couple of years she also travelled to British Guiana, South Africa, Portugal, Panama and Trinidad, often alone and sometimes with a friend.

During the Second World War, Isobel was a despatch rider with the Poland Armed Forces based in Britain. It was how she met her future husband, a captain in the Polish army. Born in 1905, Oscar was the son of General Maximilian Linda and Madame Sophie Linda from Zakopane, Poland. Isobel and Oscar announced their engagement in October 1947 and were married on November 22 that year at Tarbat House.

In April 1949, the couple again set sail from Southampton to Jamaica via New York. They returned to the UK several months later following Isobel’s father’s death, heading to Scotland where the family had gathered to pay their last respects.

After making their home in Adderbury in Oxfordshire, Isobel and Oscar moved to the 17th century Assynt House in Ross-shire in Scotland. Isobel died there in 2004 at the age of 92. She had been a widow for 13 years. Oscar passed away in 1991.

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