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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Fane Countess of Westmorland’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John William Ponsonby 4th Earl of Bessborough
531 August 1781 – 16 May 1847

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John William Ponsonby

John Ponsonby 4th Earl of Bessborough was the eldest son of Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl of Bessborough, and Lady Henrietta Frances, daughter of John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer. Sir Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby and William Ponsonby, 1st Baron de Mauley, were his younger brothers, while Lady Caroline Lamb was his younger sister. Ponsonby’s mother was Lord Granville’s lover prior to his marriage to Lady Harriet Cavendish, the Countess of Bessborough’s niece. Lord Granville fathered two illegitimate children through her: Harriette Stewart and George Stewart. Lord Bessborough was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford.

He was First Commissioner of Woods and Forests under Lord Grey (1831–1834) and served under Lord Melbourne in that office (1835-1841), briefly as Home Secretary (1834), and as Lord Privy Seal (1835–1839). Later, he served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland under Lord John Russell from 1846 until his death on 16 May 1847. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1831 and in 1834, ten years before he succeeded his father, he was created Baron Duncannon, of Bessborough in the County of Kilkenny. He was Lord Lieutenant of Kilkenny from November 1838 until his death.

His political career was hampered by a noted stammer, which made him a very reluctant public speaker: as Lord Duncannon he was unkindly nicknamed “Dumbcannon”. In private on the other hand he was a valued colleague, due largely to his ability to keep his head in a crisis. He was one of the so-called Committee of Four who drafted the Reform Act 1832.

John Ponsonby married Lady Maria Fane, daughter of John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland, and Sarah Anne Child, on 16 November 1805 at Berkeley Square, London. They had eight sons and three daughters. The youngest daughter, Emily Charlotte Mary, remained unmarried but she wrote a number of novels which were published without attribution. The Countess of Bessborough died in March 1834, aged 46. Lord Bessborough survived her by thirteen years and died in May 1847, aged 65. He was succeeded in the earldom by his eldest son, John, and subsequently by his younger sons Frederick and Walter. Bessborough Gardens in London is named after Lord Bessborough.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sarah Fane Countess of Westmorland
28 August 1764 – 9 November 1793

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Sarah Anne Child

Sarah Fane Countess of Westmorland was the only child of Robert Child, the owner of Osterley Park and principal shareholder in the banking firm Child & Co. She married John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland on 20 May 1782 at Gretna Green after they eloped together. Her parents were dissatisfied with the match, her father wanted her to marry a commoner who would take the Child name (Sarah Anne being an only child), but Sarah Anne told her mother, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Her father cut her out of his will, leaving his house and fortune to Sarah Anne’s second son or eldest daughter, instead of the Westmorland heir.

Sarah Anne and the earl’s surviving children were:

As only one son survived, most of Child’s fortune eventually went to his eldest granddaughter, Lady Sarah Sophia (The famous Patroness of Almacks).

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