The Lavish Life of Edward Hughes Ball Hughes

Edward Hughes Ball Hughes, known as “The Golden Ball,” lived a life filled with extravagance and fortune. Born in 1798, he enjoyed a privileged upbringing, attending Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. After a brief stint in the army, his life took a dramatic turn when he inherited his uncle’s substantial wealth, which included London mansions, an Essex estate, and £600,000, equivalent to £50 million ($66 million) today. Edward’s story unfolds with his extravagant spending and charming presence in high society.

Upon inheriting his uncle’s wealth, Edward Hughes Ball Hughes wasted no time in embracing a life of opulence. His immense fortune and dashing looks allowed him to effortlessly blend into the upper echelons of society. Always accompanied by stunning women and traveling in a custom-made coach, Hughes became a prominent figure at London’s notable functions, dressed in extravagant attire. His peers began calling him “Golden Ball Hughes” in admiration of his immense wealth and lifestyle.

Despite his popularity, Edward Hughes Ball Hughes fell prey to those who exploited his lack of financial acumen and his love for gambling. Hughes was known to wager large sums on seemingly trivial events, such as coin tosses. In 1824, a pamphlet was sent to him, warning of individuals within his club who intended to swindle him. Despite the warning, Hughes returned to the gambling club and tragically lost over £45,000, earning him a reputation as one of the greatest gamblers of his time.

In 1823, at the age of 25, Hughes fell deeply in love with Maria Mercandotti, a 16-year-old Spanish dancer. Mercandotti’s performance as the king’s page captured the hearts of many, including Hughes. Their love story garnered attention in The London Gazette. However, when Mercandotti missed a performance due to her “illness,” it was later revealed that she had accepted Mr. Ball’s proposal. Notable writer William Harrison Ainsworth humorously remarked, “The damsel is gone, and no wonder at all that, bred to the dance, she has gone to the Ball.”

Facts You Didnt Know

  • Before his extravagant lifestyle and financial inheritance, Edward Hughes Ball Hughes had an interest in the theatre. He had ambitions of becoming an actor and even performed in amateur productions.
  • Hughes was not just about parties and gambling. He was an avid sportsman and enjoyed various athletic pursuits, including boxing and horse racing. His love for sports added to his charismatic and active personality.
  • Hughes’ penchant for gambling led to numerous debts. He accumulated substantial financial obligations due to his risky wagers, which he often lost. His debts were a constant source of concern and gossip among his peers.
  • While his romance with Maria Mercandotti gained attention, Hughes had a history of tumultuous relationships. He was known for his passionate affairs and tumultuous breakups, which added to his reputation as a captivating and dramatic figure.
  • Hughes’ infatuation with Maria Mercandotti was not his only connection to Spain. He also had a strong fascination with Spanish culture and often hosted extravagant Spanish-themed parties, complete with flamenco dancers and music.
  • Hughes was not just a dandy; he had a genuine interest in art and fashion. He was known to patronize artists and designers, and his sense of style made him a trendsetter among the fashionable elite of his time.
  • Hughes had a soft spot for animals, particularly his dogs. He was often seen with his beloved dogs, and he treated them as cherished companions in his lavish lifestyle.
  • Beyond his other interests, Hughes was musically inclined. He played the flute and was known to entertain his guests with musical performances during his extravagant gatherings.
  • Hughes had an affinity for eccentric and unique experiences. He was drawn to unusual entertainment and was known to host parties featuring exotic animals and extravagant spectacles.
  • While Hughes lived an extravagant life, his legacy lives on in more ways than one. Some places and institutions, like a street in London and a school, bear his name, serving as a reminder of the enigmatic character known as “The Golden Ball.”


What Were Edward Hughes Ball Hughes’ Early Years Like?

Edward Hughes Ball Hughes was born in 1798 into a privileged family. He received a quality education, attending Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. After his college years, he briefly served in the army with the 7th Queen’s Own Hussars. His life took a dramatic turn when he inherited a substantial fortune from his uncle, Admiral Sir Edward Hughes.

What Was the Source of Edward Hughes Ball Hughes’ Wealth?

Edward Hughes Ball Hughes’ wealth came primarily from the inheritance left to him by his uncle, Admiral Sir Edward Hughes. This inheritance included two London mansions, an estate in Essex, and a substantial sum of money. The total value of his inheritance, when adjusted for today’s currency, would be around £50 million ($66 million).

Why Was He Called “The Golden Ball”?

Edward Hughes Ball Hughes earned the nickname “The Golden Ball” due to his extravagant spending habits and flamboyant lifestyle. His immense fortune allowed him to live lavishly, and his extravagant fashion choices and charismatic personality made him a prominent figure in high society.

What Role Did Gambling Play in His Life?

Gambling was a significant aspect of Edward Hughes Ball Hughes’ life. He was known for his love of gambling and would often wager large sums of money on seemingly trivial events, such as coin tosses. His gambling habits led to substantial debts and financial troubles.

Tell Me More About His Romantic Relationships.

Edward Hughes Ball Hughes had a history of passionate and tumultuous romantic relationships. He famously fell in love with Maria Mercandotti, a Spanish dancer, but his romantic life was marked by affairs and dramatic breakups with other partners.

What Were His Interests Beyond Wealth and Fashion?

Despite his reputation as a dandy, Hughes had diverse interests. He was passionate about sports, including boxing and horse racing. He also had a love for the arts, music, and Spanish culture. Hughes was known to patronize artists and musicians and was a trendsetter in fashion.

What Happened to His Wealth Over Time?

Despite his substantial inheritance, Edward Hughes Ball Hughes faced financial challenges due to his extravagant spending and gambling losses. He accumulated significant debts, and his wealth gradually dwindled over time. His lavish lifestyle took a toll on his finances.

What Is His Legacy Today?

Edward Hughes Ball Hughes’ legacy lives on in various ways. Some locations and institutions bear his name, serving as reminders of his extravagant life. His story continues to intrigue and captivate those interested in the history of the 19th century and the lives of eccentric personalities.

Where Can I Learn More About Edward Hughes Ball Hughes?

To delve deeper into the life of Edward Hughes Ball Hughes, you can explore biographies, historical accounts, and articles about him. His story offers a unique glimpse into the opulent and extravagant world of 19th-century England.

Edward Hughes Ball Hughes’ life was marked by opulence, gambling, and a whirlwind romance. His extravagance, while captivating, ultimately led to financial ruin. His story serves as a reminder of the allure and consequences of a life lived in excess.