Arthur Corbett, 3rd Baron Rowallan

Captain Arthur Cameron Corbett, 3rd Baron Rowallan (17 December 1919 – 1993), was a British aristocrat most notable for successfully having his second marriage annulled in 1970 by a court on the grounds that his wife, April Ashley, a transgender woman, was a man under then-current UK law.[1][2]

Early lifeEdit

Arthur Cameron Corbett was born on 17 December 1919 to Thomas Godfrey Polson Corbett, 2nd Baron Rowallan (1895–1977), who was Chief Scout of the British Commonwealth and Empire and served as Governor of Tasmania from 1959 to 1963,[3] and Gwyn Melvyn Grimond. His maternal uncle was Jo Grimond, Baron Grimond, the leader of the Liberal Party 1956–67 and daughter of Joseph Bowman Grimond of St Andrews, Fife.[4]

He was one of six children born to his parents. One of his four brothers was killed in action in 1944.[5] He was educated at Eton.[5]


He succeeded his father, Thomas Corbett, as the 3rd Baron Rowallan on 30 November 1977. Upon his death in 1993, his eldest son, John Corbett, 4th Baron Rowallan succeeded to his title, Baron Rowallan.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1945, he married Eleanor Mary Boyle. Before their divorce in 1961, Lord Rowallan had four children:

  • John Polson Cameron Corbett (born 8 March 1947), who became the 4th Baron on his father's death
  • Sarah Elizabeth Cameron Corbett (born 5 April 1949)
  • Anne Mary Cameron Corbett (born 3 September 1953)
  • Rosalind Eleanor Cameron Corbett (born 2 January 1958)

Marriage to April AshleyEdit

In November 1960, Corbett met April Ashley, a successful fashion model, who appeared in Vogue (photographed by David Bailey[6]) and winning a small role in the film The Road to Hong Kong, which starred Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.[7][8] They married in 1963, but the marriage quickly broke down. Ashley's lawyers wrote to Corbett in 1966 demanding maintenance payments and in 1967 Corbett responded by filing suit to have the marriage annulled. The annulment was granted in 1970 on the grounds that Ashley was male, even though Corbett knew about her history when they married.[9][7] The argument was accepted, and the case served as a precedent for all such cases until the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was passed, which provided the legal framework for changing a person's legal gender.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ New show on identity asks why we are as we are | Reuters
  2. ^ British transsexuals get wedding rights back - World News | IOL News |
  3. ^ "Meet the Chiefs" (PDF). The Scout Information Centre. October 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 October 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2007.
  4. ^ Rowallan K.T., Lord (1976). Rowallan: The Autobiography of Lord Rowallan K.T. Edinburgh: Paul Harris Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 9781554882823. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b "Sex and the single grande dame". The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 June 2005. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b Gilmore, Stephen; Herring, Jonathan; Probert, Rebecca (2011). Landmark Cases in Family Law. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1849461016.
  8. ^ "April Ashley". IMDB.
  9. ^ Corbett v Corbett (EWHC 1970). Text
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Godfrey Polson Corbett
Baron Rowallan
Succeeded by
John Polson Cameron Corbett