By Gerald H. Stratford.
Chapter 11. The Extinct Earldom.
I am greatly indebted to my late Kinsman, the Chevalier Maresecaux De Saubruit for most of the following information, mostly taken, or obtained from Dublin Castle Archives for me.
He was descended from the daughter of the First Earl of Aldborough, namely Lady Martha Saunders, and researched his Stratford Ancestry with great vigour.
Robert Stratford settled at the now demolished Battinglass Castle, having married Maria Belinda, the daughter of Oliver Walsh, by Elizabeth Borrows, his wife in 1663. it is recorded that Edward Stratford of Merevale settled £500 on to make his fortune in Ireland. Robert died on the 26th of October 1699 and was buried in Battinglass Abbey, part of which became an Anglican Church. In 1896, his tomb was uncovered with the following inscription:
'Here lieth the body of Robert Stratford Esquire who departed this life on the 26th of October 1699'
In the Marsh Library Manuscripts there is a vivid account of the turbulent and calamitous experiences of Robert and his eldest son Edward. Francis his second son, was Consul at Bordeaux and Madrid, and a school mate of Dean Swift of Kilkenny. Francis was allied to the Duke of Chandos, who was an Partner with his Uncle Francis Stratford of Merevale and a Merchant in Hamburg, and it is quoted that notes would pass for a million of money a currant as bank bills.'
In the Document it relates:
It is remarkable that King James quartered himself and horses on Robert Stratford in Munster and also upon his son Edward at Belan in his flight, being routed at Limerick by King William. Edward contrived to secrete most of his oxen and sheep and buried his eatables and liquors the more effectively to conceal from a man who, so far from being worthy of a crown, deserved a halter for being guilty of every vile and treacherous action, looking on all the English as disaffected.'
'He decoyed them, by feigned protections, from the security, and then hanged or banished them, Jury and Accuser.'
'On our deliverer's pursuit of him he fled to Drogeda. King William and his Forces were billeted at Belan and it's environs'
Colonel Stratford supplied them with sheep and oxen which he hid from King James, and King William is recorded to have slept in th same bed which was velvet, and in which James had slept the week before. the bed was eventually worm eaten and was thrown out.
Colonel Edward Stratford was twice offered a Peerage by King William but for some reason Unknown today refused them. His land possession was enormous. he owned 28, 200 acres in Ireland and 6,000 in England. his two eldest sons, as the Pedigree shows, were Robert and Euseby. Robert upset his father by marrying the Widow Sissons, alias Baker, and Euseby married a Papist, Miss Warren, doing the same. Whether there were other acts worthy of disinheritance I know not, except Robert certainly had upset some of the Stratford Family.
John Stratford of Merevale Hall, invited Robert to England to be made heir to his estates, going to London for a time, leaving Robert in charge of the house, cellar and stables, etc, in fact the Master of the House. John put two restrictions on him. Firstly he was not to ride his favourite horse, and second nor to interfere with his favourite girl friend. Robert in fact lamed the horse and poxed the girl friend. he was thrown out on John's return and sent back to Ireland with all haste. Robert continued his bad behaviour until he became blind, but, in his earlier life he was counted one of the best ' universal scholars of his time ' Over and above this his father refused his consent to his marriage and he died in 1730. Kilkenny College Records show he was born in 1685 and his Will was proved in 1734. He left issue of five daughters.
Euseby the second son of Edward Stratford, quit the Bar against his father's wishes and joined the Armed Forces, he was described at Oxford as ' the best Grecian and Poet ' there and Lord Cartaret would have advanced him whilst Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he had not offended him as well. My Kinsman quoted:
'He opposed the Duke of Ormond at Kilkenny and by his oratory would have carried the City and been Citizen Member of Parliament in despite of him, had not his father interposed.
Euseby took to drink, and leaving Church one day appeared to be bemused, which so annoyed his father that he threatened to strike him at Castle Dermot, where Euseby was being quartered. Euseby informed his father that as a son he was ready to suffer due correction, yet as having His Majesty's Commission and Uniform, no one should dishonour either with impunity or without stroke for stroke. As a result his father forbade him Belan, and Euseby then married without his father's consent on the 23rd of April 1715 and died in 1753. Euseby, despite falling out with his father, named his son Edward, who again, I know not why was disinherited.
Edward joined the Marines in Plymouth as a Private and nothing further is known about him.
John , the third son of Colonel Edward Stratford, became the First Earl of Aldborough, and is described in the 1768 Peerage thus:
John Stratford appointed Colonel of his Regiment of Horse Militia and served, as a Customary in Ireland, the Office of Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, in the several Counties in which he had Estates. He was one of the first introducers and encouragers of the Dublin Society for propagating Arts and Sciences, and giving Premiums to excite Industries and Inventions, and is Trustee of the Linen Manufacturers. He served forty years in the Lower House, signalised himself by a firm attachment to the present happy establishment and Protestant Religion, stilling the Roman Catholics of Ireland within his jurisdiction, by purchasing fire and other arms at his private cost for his followers, and training his Corps during the Rebellion of 1745.
John Stratford, married Martha, the daughter of the remarkable Archdeacon Benjamin Neale, who was Chaplain to King William at the battle of the Boyne.
The Manuscript reads:
Fought by his side at the Battle of the Boyne and obtained for his bravery on that occasion a Grant of Land in the Counties of Carlow and Wexford to the amount of £1,000 per Annum, and preferments to the Church thereto.
The Archdeacon's father, Constantine, gave a Chalice and Paten to Rathvilly Church on the 13th of April 1718, and they built the house, Mount Neale near that Village. he was appointed or rather selected as Bishop of Raphie, but died before his Consecration. John and Martha Stratford produced nineteen children, most of who are shown in the Pedigree. John Stratford died a few months after his Earldom was confirmed, being born in about 1699. The Peerage states 1691, and his son states, ' On St. Lawrence Day 1697 (10th of August )' Martha his widow went to live at 8 Kildare Street Dublin, where she died on the 10th of March 1796. The house was demolished in 1887. the Letters of Patent to the Peerage are believed to have been destroyed. Never the less copies did, and have survived in the Manuscripts written by Edward, Earl of Aldborough along with the Preamble.
These are shown later.
Edward Augustus Stratford, the Second Earl of Aldborough, was sometimes referred to as ' The Irish Stanhope ' he was a lover of the arts, urns, obelisks, temples and follies. He also loved building, Aldborough House in Dublin, and Stratford House in London are but to name two. he was described as a pompous, proud and aristocratic man and very prickly with a sense of humour. He once stated:
' My father had a servant called Province and I a servant called Maurice County, my mother a cook called Cash, and a footman called Ready, all at the same time, so we might be said to command not only Ready Cash but a County and a Province.'
His first wife, Barbara nee Herbert, was the grand daughter of the Duke of Hamilton, and died of apoplexy at the Crown Inn, Brentwood in 1785. An entry in the Gentleman's Magazine, reads.
'Obituary, Lady Aldborough. As she was preparing to set out for London, her Ladyship was seized with a fit which brought on an apoplexy, and not with standing every assistance given, and having let blood of nearly twenty ounces, she expired in his Lordship's arms. Her Ladyship was the granddaughter of the Duke of Hamilton and Thomas, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, Lord High Admiral of Great Britain, and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whose Secretary was the celebrated Mr. Addison. She was the sole heiress to the Late Honourable Nicholas Herbert of Great Glenham, and Member for Wilton, by his Lady, Anne the co-heiress to the Late Dudley Norons Esquire of Glenham Hall in the County of Suffolk.'
He married on the 24th of may 1787, Anne Henniker, and although there were no children from either wife, they brought him large fortunes.
A Mr. Beresford was a neighbour of his in Dublin, and a dispute arose between them about the boundary line. Edward took the case to Court and he lost the case, in his opinion, because Lord Clare, the Judge, was Beresford's Uncle. Edward wrote a pamphlet ridiculing this nepotism which was treated as a breach of Privilege in the Irish House of Lords, and Lord Clare sentenced Edward to six months in Newgate Prison. (the Newgate in Dublin not London ). he was Pardoned after five weeks in prison where his wife accompanied him. On his death his estates, not entailed, went to his widow for life and then to his nephew, John Wingfield, who had to take the additional name of Stratford. Edward was buried in St. Thomas's Church in Dublin but in 1916 his coffin and bones were desecrated and the Church so badly damaged that it was pulled down.
Edward Stratford's Will was a remarkable document.
Born 27th August 1736 and died at Belan House on the 2nd of January 1801, Edward Earl of Aldborough.
In the name of God Amen. I Edward, Earl of Aldborough, though past my grand climacteric being better in health thanks to my Creator and the unvaried blessings and benefit and comfort I have received from an unwearied and tender care, and affection and attention of my dearly beloved wife whose exalted and comprehensive mind, amiable an accomplished manners, mild and humble disposition, religious, virtuous and charitable conduct, have deservedly endeared her to all who have the happiness of knowing her, rich and poor, and whose ample portion and management has brought me from debt to affluence, to whom solace and society under unmerited oppressions, injustice, partialities, ingratitude, malignity, envy and implacability of Notorious miscreants and upstarts, whose intriguing and factious manoeuvres pulled the weak and credulous, using their illgotten power with the cruelty of cowards and the rancour of demands. She has supported me under every pressure and indisposition of mind and body, to whom under God I am indebted for every happiness I enjoy under life with the satisfaction of finding I never lost the friendship of the honourable and just and those whose amity worth prizing, and of being of sound mind and memory, do make, publish, constitute and ordain this my last Will and Testament.
There follows now unimportant entries.
Respecting my beloved and justly honoured and respected wife, Anne Eliza, render further reasons superfluous for leaving her sole heiress of all my Real and Personable Estates, good, chattels, stock, plate, furniture, books, paintings, both in Great Britain and Ireland, lease and freehold interests purchased, and stock carriages and horses etc. During the term of her natural life confident that she will make a proper use of them, be kind to those who were kind, just and true to us, and attend to the recommendations of a letter here in enclosed, as much as if made specified legacies or bequests in this my Will, so confident am I of her Honour, regard, deference to me and my wishes, and of her own justice and discrimination and which made I choose to adopt towards my friends and those I wish well to least any should be induced to pester my said wife with Law Suits or applications well assured they need no mementos with a lady of her delicate feelings and judgement.
Again it goes on regarding if she should marry again, which she did.
It may be objected why I have passed my brothers and nephews to each of whom I bequeath one shilling. it is because they and Morley and John Saunders have repaid earliest attention, care and affection with the utmost ingratitude, undermining my character and fortune, doing me all the possible acts of unkindness and uniformity opposite my interest, attacking my Borough which they have, for many years and at enormous expense to each, endeavoured to wrest from me by violence, fraud, threat, mob assault and every species of baseness and injustice, and instead of being friends, respectable and affectionate brothers and nephews, and supports, they have been my greatest enemies for as to their impotent malice could go. My brother's conduct I owe to two causes. First my improvident entailment of most of my Irish Estates on them through love which they repaid with hatred, without any consideration else what so ever. Secondly, a Will, two of them in concert with others, since dead, influenced if needed, he was competent procured a partial and absurd Will. I cannot think his justice was ever dictated, by what he possessed themselves of personable to near £100,000 amount and large parcels of Hereditary Estates, of which puffed up and aiming to be my superiors they stripped the Mansion of every valuable, plate, furniture, stock, jewels, wines, carriages, horses, carrying off even the Patents and Robes of Honour, refusing to give them unless paid for the expenses of Creation etc.. So, I succeeded to a large House gutted, without horses or carriages, but an old one, which soon as I had repaired they came with the distringas ( sic ) and carried off, and have squandered all the personal's in ostention, play at law. - 2nd. Choosing rather to spend their poor sister's fortunes in litigation with them than to pay them for they have owed their eldest sister ( Lady Hannah Stratford ) ten years interest no part of which she could get for her maintenance but by law. My second brother ( Rev Francis Paul Stratford, had a fine seat left him which let to his next brother, and he deserted it and despoiled it of all its trees and tis now going to ruin, a proof that neither want nor merit a handsome Seat, much less mine on which I have expended £15,000 in lasting improvements and therefore think my wife and her heirs most fit to enjoy. My youngest brother ( Benjamin O'Neale Stratford living at Stratford, London ) first set one against the two eldest ones, was the cause by his oath of their delinquency of having them disfranchised and turned out of the Borough till I restored them, and I have letters of his of the greatest abuses and accusations of them he has since, for reasons best known to himself, joined them and bullied them to an acquiescence of plans on my property, Borough and life, for he has more than once assailed it having left unanswerable Documents to prove this through already known in the Courts of Law. Messrs. John and Paul unjust requisitions of demands long since liquidated by my father, and John twice since by my withdrawing the caeat ( sic ) to the Late Earl's Will and subsequent payments and receipts yet still sought after in violation of compacts, promises and justice, and having purchased a house from me and never paid for, and my care and gifts to the Saunders in their youth, and raising the younger ( Lt Gen John Stratford Saunders ) in the Army, by a gift of 3 and £400 and I in debt myself at the time. these I trust before my Creator, and in the eyes of the world will justify my thinking them totally undeserving the least donation from me. I should mention my nephew Powerscourt ( 4th Viscount Richard ) as a man of Honour and truth did not overweening ( sic ) pride and an affected ascendancy of obedience to an uncle drown his other good qualities. His bothers, particularly my Godson John Wingfield as well as his amiable affectionate and meek wife, ( born 1772, Edward his twin brother ) have always behaved themselves towards me with respectful affection as have my nephews Henniker Bowen whom therefore I have not forgotten, and my brothers Henniker, Henniker Major and General Henniker, ( these were his three brother in law ) I have amply compensated as my brother in law Powell ( George Powell 1753 - 1840 ) for the defalcation of my natural brothers for it would be misprisson (sic) of terms to call them natural, and my dear Father in Law ( Sir John Henniker ) and Aunt, the Duchess Dowager of Chandos, and other English relatives of my last marriage crown my cup of happiness, so my said nephew John Wingfield ( assumed the name of Stratford in 1802 ) Charles Bowen, Albry Henniker, son the the General, and their heirs each in due succession as named with usual limitations, each taken bearings the name and Arms of Stratford and in default thereof to go to the next successor. Do I bequeath in failure of issue, in and on the decease of my said dear wife the whole of the Real and Personal and Acquired Property, Houses, furniture, goods, plate, jewels, and every other chattel and value reverts of my Entailed estate in failure of issue male in my brother or self charging them from my death with following legacies to sisters who have continued in love and affection to my Agent, Mr. Powell.
There then comes a long list of bequests to numerous people and relations with a 50% reduction for those not having the name of Stratford or Aldborough as a Christian name. the Will is dated the 14th of September 1800 and signed Aldborough.
On the 5th of October 1800, he added a codicil which is worth reading.
To my dear wife numerous perfections may be added, innocency, complacency, suavity, ingenuity, and every feminine accomplishment and compassion, integrity, cheerfulness, politeness, ableness, modest upright gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance, and tender affection exemplified by her comforting and living and sleeping with me in prison and room about sixteen by fourteen feet without furniture, bed or bedding till we had them supplied, and where a second Jeffreys, a lick spittle of an upstart, petulant, oppressive Chancellor, unjustly sentenced me for a supposed libel on my brother Peers. However the declaimed on their own journals by reprimanding printers from calling the pamphlet complaining of as such, yet deemed so by another time server the then Attorney General. Heaven reward the trio as they merit, and as it hath the Lords by their annihilation in being led by the nose, and the dupes of such reptiles which Chancellor was thrown a stigma on the Lord Lieutenant Meusue ( sic ) of Union by the list of Peers returned consisting mostly of the very dregs of the Lords and his servile creators and followers scarcely qualified by its few respectable Peers. If such conduct in a wife and her unwearied attention to my health, ease and happiness, are reasons paramount to every other consideration, I should ill merit her love or deserve the name of Husband or Christian.
I bequeath to my ingrate brothers and nephews, John, Francis Paul, and Benjamin O'Neale Stratford, and Morley and John Stratford Saunders, the numerous bills of cost their graceless griping avaricious and litigatious dispositions have occasioned with one to each other being so much more than they merit at my hands, but as their dastard spirits, made them lick spittle's to the vapouring Captain Stratford ( Benjamin O'Neale Stratford the future 4th Earl ) I hope they'll find in him the friend he lost them in me.
The Will then goes on with some other bequests:
Preamble. As Virtue and continuance of well being are the greatest ornaments of individuals, and of the highest advantage and importance on the community, it necessarily follows that where qualities of so an excellent nature, so striding in themselves and so beneficial to society are found inherent in particular Families of distinguished abilities, property and descent, they in consequence become conspicuous, praiseworthy and deserving of the highest notice, and it ever having been the Custom of our Royal Predecessors to respect and compliment persons thus powerfully recommended, as well on their own account as for their encouragement of others to emulate their laudable example, and it being the most pleasing exercise of our prerogative, to Honour those to whom Honour is due, whose character, demeanour, and actions, and grace reflect dignity to the Peerage, which is never so well bestowed as on men from whose acceptance, nobility receives an addition to lustre, he being truly Noble who acts Nobly.
Know ye therefore to whom these Patents do come, that whereas the Stratford's of Ireland, since their first settling there in the Reign of King Charles the Second, have behaved themselves in all aspects of becoming good Christians, worthy subjects, and honest men, and in the proper manner maintained as far as in them lies a just equipoise between prerogative and privilege, enforcing on all occasions the spirit of constitution as by law established, and signalising themselves in preserving peace and good order of the Provinces and Counties where their influences extended, raising and arming Militia, at their own expense, in time of Rebellion, and observing a uniform upright conduct in every Parliament held since the Revolution, proving themselves sincere friends to the Protestant Cause, and sustaining great and unrecompensed losses by their attachment to the Royal House.
And, whereas the Stratford's have connected themselves with the most considerable Families in Ireland, and are moreover descended from the most Ancient and Celebrated Families in Great Britain, who have so early as Henry the Second, and Edward the Second and Third, possessed the First Honours of the Realm with stability and unblemished reputations, and have continued in prosperity and good esteem, of when Henry and William Stratford were possessed of considerable Estates in the Counties of Warwick, Northampton, and Gloucestershire which continues in the Family today.
John De Stratford was first Bishop of Winchester and then Lord Chancellor and Lord Treasurer, Anno 1328, Edward the Second, sole Justiciary of the Kingdom when the King went to war on the Continent, also thrice Lord High Chancellor, was ever faithful to Edward the Second, which gained him the favour of Edward the Third. He was bountiful in his alms, generously receiving thirteen poor people with his own hands, three times a day, besides a multitude fed from his table. He was Archbishop of Canterbury and Prime Minister. Robert De Stratford, Bishop of Chichester Anno 1338, and Lord Chancellor, Ralph De Stratford, Bishop of London, Anno 1339. All as appeareth in Dugdale's Monastican, Camden, Hollingshed, Rapin, Erhard, Kennet, and their other old and authentic records.
Nicholas Stratford, being Knight of the Shire of Warwick, William Stratford for Gloucestershire, and Henry Stratford, one of the Commissioners of Trade. Honours for so many of one Family to possess at one time as cannot be paralleled, and have not been enjoyed by any other before or since, all of which High Offices they discharged with propriety, firmness and uprightness, which Family at sundry times and in many Parliaments, represented the said Counties of Warwick and Gloucester, and the City of Coventry in England, the County of Wicklow and Boroughs of Baitinglass and Harristown in Ireland, faithfully and manfully fulfilling their several stations of trusts and keeping their vassals and neighbour's in quietness and due subordination in the most perilous times.
And, whereas John Stratford, Baron of Battinglass and his immediate Ancestors armed themselves and their followers at their own expense and endured unparalleled hardships in the steady and vigorous support of the late Glorious Revolution, and established our house on the Throne of these realms, the father of the First Lord, as well as himself, having raised Militia in the Counties of Kildare and Wicklow, provided them with muskets and broadswords, it is hereby declared that these Letters of Patent be presented for Confirmation to elevation to the Nobility of these Realms.
Letters of Patent.
Having nothing more at heart than the encouragement of probity, loyalty and worth, and more especially when inherent in those descended of an Ancient and Honourable Ancestry, and finding no exercise of the Royal Power and Authority God hath entrusted Kings with, more pleasing and laudable than the rewarding of virtue and true merit, and raising to become Honours, and suitable dignities, and men who have deserved well of us, and distinguishing those whose Ancestors have been remarkably conspicuous in their generations, amongst these, no Family hath been more worthy of note than the Stratford's of Tuscon and Saxon extraction, and who have founded many Towns, which yet bear their name, and have held the highest Honours of the State, and enjoyed, and still possess many ample Estates in divers parts of our Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, as may be collected from the oldest and most authentic records. Of these John Stratford in Edward the Second's time was summoned to Parliament for Gloucestershire, and many others, seated in the Counties of Warwick and Northampton, and have frequently since the Reign of Edward the First, represented those Shires and the City of Coventry, and afforded amongst Prelates of note, one Archbishop of Canterbury, one Bishop of Winchester, one Bishop of London, one Bishop of Chichester, one Bishop of Chester, several Chancellors, Keepers of the Great Seal, a Prime Minister, Lord of the Treasury, and a Lord Regent.
And, whereas Robert Stratford of the Warwickshire Branch, migrated into Ireland in the Reign of King Charles the Second, and having been at many and great losses in supporting the latest Glorious Revolution, and established our House on the Throne of these Realms, as here after more particularly expressed, the said Robert Stratford had his Munster Estates savaged and Lands despoiled by the Popish Armies for the supply of oxen and sheep to the amount of several thousands, and other articles of bread and liquor. He afforded King William's Forces. He and his son Edward Stratford were driven from their Houses and Estates, deprived of their rents, issues and profits of their lands and obliged to conceal them during the unhappy commotion of those turbulent and calamitous times in which Papal Authority exercised its iron sceptre, without having received recompense or satisfaction, for which great suffering.
And, whereas our trusty and right entirely beloved Cousin and Counsellor John Stratford, grandfather to the said Robert, and son to the said Edward Stratford, and the heir to their Estates, having long and constant attendance with his father in the several Parliaments of Queen Anne, our Royal Ancestor George the First, and our Grandfather George the Second of glorious memory, and also in this our fifth Parliament, fulfilled the several stations of Colonels of Militia, training their respective Companies and supplying them with broadswords, carbines and other heracoutraments, at their own expense, and of Justices of the peace, Sheriffs and other Officers of Trust and Confidence with integrity and vigour, and hath trained up his sons to tread the same laudable and praiseworthy steps.
For these reasons, added to the due consideration of the good conduct of his eldest sons in Parliament and bringing up his youngest sons to Honourable professions, without expense to the Government, placing one in the Church, one on our Seas, and a third in our Land Services, we have Granted and have by these letters Patent, do Grant unto the said John Stratford and his heirs, made lawfully begotten, and the heirs in a like manner forever, the Honour, Style, Title, Dignities, of Baron Stratford of Battinglass in the County of Wicklow, Province of Leinster, and the Kingdom of Ireland, and the further Honours of Viscount Stratford of BeIan, in the County Kildare, and Earl of Aldborough in the Palatine of Ormonde, Province of Munster, in our said Kingdom.
Granted by these Letters Patent, 21st May 1763, Baron Stratford of Baltinglass, County Wicklow, 22nd July 1776, Viscount Aldborough of Belan, County Kildare, 9th February 1777, Viscount Amiens, Earl of Aldborough of the Palatine of the Upper Ormonde.
An entry in the Gentleman's Magazine dated the 21st of August 1802, Saturday, reads. 'By the death of the Earl of Aldborough, the Honourable Colonel Wingfield of the Guards, succeeds to considerable property here in Ireland, left to him by his Uncle the late Earl.'
The Third Earl John, succeeded his elder brother Edward to the Honours. He had a notorious wife, whom I will deal with later, who appears to have abandoned him, and he was looked after by first one of his sisters and then a daughter whose Marriage had failed. He is remembered for asking arriving guests When are you leaving ' and getting up early in the morning to sneak into the gardens, picking newly ripened fruit and returning with it to his bedroom to eat it in private. He and his brother Benjamin ()Neale Stratford were remarked on by a contemporary 'As the two most slippery customers I have the displeasure to be acquainted with.'
John was the last Earl to live at Belan House, as the next resided at Stratford Lodge. He died at Belan on the 7th of March 1823 aged 86, and was buried in the pyramid shaped mausoleum at Baitinglass. the ruins of Belan and some of the remaining land was inherited by John Stratford Best, the son of Lady Emily, and who had looked after her father resuming her Maiden name of Stratford after her Divorce. Her former husband is worth a mention as he was Captain Thomas Best, who died in 1829. He was forced into a duel by Lord Camelford, a notorious bully, and had killed him whilst in the West Indies, forcing him to live abroad for a time. Ever after he always wore black gloves for the mourning of his opponent.
The Third Earl's wife was described as 'rather a coarse wit' and Queen Adelaide refused to have her at Court. She had a house at Brighton and a Salon at Temple Hill, Seapoint, Dublin. It is recorded that she took in her Carriage a certain young Lieutenant Wellesley who was an ADC at Dublin Castle, and when she became bored with him she drove home without the future ' Iron Duke ' who had to find his own way back to his Barracks, with the Fiddlers who had played at the Ball. It appeared not to have caused any continued friction between them, for after the Treaty of Vienna, whilst on Paris, she told the Duke that she did not realise at the time of the incident that, eventually, he would become the first Fiddler. Lady Aldborough was a friend of King Louis Philippe and Lucien Bonaparte. Again, it is on record that at Tuileries, after an assassination attempt on the King had failed, she went up to him saying ' Sire, I congratulate you. I see you have been under ordeals of both fire and water' ( there was a rumour that he had Dropsy ) at the same time giving him a prod in the stomach, the seat of the ordeal by water. Everybody used to try and guess her age, and it was always a matter of conjecture. The Duchess of Sutherland remarked when a new calculating machine had been invented, ' I wish it would calculate two things, first Lady Aldborough's age and secondly, whether the Tories will ever again come back into power.'
Lady Aldborough always tried to conceal her age even on her Passport. When about 70, a French Official said, ' Madam I think you must be over 25 ' to which she replied, ' Monsieur, you are the first Frenchman who ever questioned what a Lady says about her age.'
One of Lady Aldborough's admirers was Nelson, for whom she seemingly used to perform the Shawl dance. It has been calculated that she was born about 1756, so when she died she must have been about 92. Whilst in her 70's the story goes that she went up to Marshal Mormont saying ' Marshal, give me a kiss thus escaping the Canon's mouth in Paris he was obliged to kiss Lady Aldborough.
A diarist, Captain Gronow, writing in 1860, said that her sayings were quoted all over Europe, and that she had a harsh speaking voice, and her clothes were some thirty years out of fashion, but very charitable to the poor and needy. Maybe her most famous quotation was when the Princess De Leon had been burnt to death and hearing that the Prince had been more a brother than a husband, Lady Aldborough said, ' What, a virgin as well as a Martyr, really, that's too much.' Her Obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1811 reads:
'She was the toast of the Irish Metropolis, and was the best horsewoman in Ireland. About three months since her health declining she visited Bath, where she died. On application to the Faculty, bleeding was advised, an operation to which her Ladyship was unwilling to submit. However she consented, and her eyes covered, her arm bound, and her footman employed to hold her. The instance she felt the lance, her screams so terrified the servant that he let go his hold, and falling on the point of her elbow, whilst the blood was flowing, gave a sudden turn to the current which produced as abscess that baffled medical skill and deprived fashionable society of one of its most fascinating ornaments.'
The Fourth Earl, was Benjamin O'Neale Stratford. He left the Bar without his father's consent and joined the Army. He was born in 1746, and appears to have been very close to the Dennisses and Saunders. He was known as Ben in the family, and is described as the vapouring Captain Stratford in his brother's Will. His Regiment was the 7th Dragoons. No portrait as yet has been identified as Ben, but he was described as a very good looking and handsome man, and fought one or two duels. He married Martha Burton of Dublin, and had three daughters and a son, Mason Gerard, who was a great disappointment to him. His obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine dated 11th July 1833 included the following:
' His Lordship from 1776 to 1784 was a Member of Parliament for the Borough of Battinglass, and again from 1790 to the Union. he succeeded to the Peerage on the death of his brother John, without male issue, on March 7th 1823. in his political opinions he was a Conservative and Orangeman. The Earl married early in life Martha, the only child of John Burton Esquire, niece and heiress to Mason Gerard Esquire of Dublin.'
He was succeeded by his only son Mason Gerard Stratford.
Data transcribed by Colin Hinson from:
A document written by
Gerald H. Stratford in 1988.
Reproduced here by permission
© Gerald H. Stratford.