After I posted this photograph in my blog Abbeys and Churches, Mike Steeden, a fellow blogger, brilliant poet and a beautiful soul who is always advocating for the gals, looked up Lady Florence in Google and found a sad story of her short life. I also link this post to my favorite author Shehanne Moore’s blog because her heroines are not afraid to travel between the worlds in the name of love. Please visit and follow these amazing blogs.
Sometimes we find information where we least expect it. I found mine in the Henry Poole & CO website in their very impressive customer list. This website is as classy as their exquisite bespoke tailoring. I checked out some genealogy websites, took a few pictures and here is another blog post about Lady Florence, Lord Waterford and Clonegam church. Clonegam church is a part of Curraghmore demesne. It has always been a family burial place for the De La Poer Beresford family, and Curraghmore has been their ancestral home since 1167.
Florence Grosvenor Rowley was born in Truro, Cornwall, in 1856 to Major George Rowley of the Bombay Cavalry and Emily Isabella Honner. She married Captain John Cranch Vivian in 1861 and had three daughters with him.
(The images are linked to the source)
John Henry Beresford was born in 1844 to John de la Poer Beresford and Christiana Leslie. In his youth, he was said to be ‘one of the handsomest officers that ever wore the uniform of the Household Brigade’. Lord John was also a fearless horseman. Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, a famous author of fourteen comic operas he wrote in collaboration with Sir Arthur Sullivan, refers to Lord John as ‘reckless and rollicky’ in Colonel Calverley’s song from Patience.
I don’t know how they met, but I am sure it was all over the papers at that time. In 1869 John Henry Beresford, 5th Marquess of Waterford, absconded to Paris with Florence Vivian, the wife of Captain John Vivian. Outraged husband pursued the couple to the Hotel Westminster, but his wife refused to return with him and attempted suicide by swallowing chloroform. Captain sued for divorce.
The Marquess and Florence married in 1872. They lived at 7 Upper Brook Street in London and at the Curraghmore house. In April 1873 Florence gave birth to a stillborn child, and died three days later at 27 Chesham Place, that was home of Marquess of Waterford at that time.
The 5th Marquess remarried in 1874 and had four children. His wife Lady Blanche Somerset, daughter of the 8th Duke of Beaufort later suffered from severe illness that left her paralyzed. She had a special carriage to carry her around the Curraghmore estate.
In 1883 the 5th Marquess of Waterford had suffered a spinal injury after being thrown from his horse on the way home from a dining party. He spent the rest of his life in the wheelchair, ‘silent and depressed’. On October 23, 1895 he was found dead in the library of Curraghmore house with a bullet in his head. He died by his own hand at the age of 51, 121 year ago tomorrow. His wife died two years later. Lord Waterford was succeeded in Marquessate by his only son Henry.
On Henry Poole & CO website, National Library of Australia website and also here you can read about an impostor who wrote to Lord Waterford shortly before his death and claimed to be his legitimate son with Lady Florence, named George Tooth. He tormented the family for years and took the case to court in 1917 but didn’t succeed. There were witnesses who testified that the baby was dead and buried before his mother died, and the impostor is not ‘the missing Tooth’.
This is a look at the Clonegam church if you are coming from Portlaw.
The back gate of the church yard. In the distance, you see the lake and arboretum, but Curraghmore house itself is hidden in the trees.
This cross was erected in memory of Henry De La Poer 6th Marquis of Waterford and his family members.
Peaceful view from the church yard. I took this picture two years ago.
To take this picture I am standing on the other side of the wall. It is quite dark, and I have a feeling that I am pushing my luck again 🙂
Sunset comes early around here because of the mountains on the west.
The back gate is opened and I sneak to the graveyard. Looks like I am not the only one ‘trespassing’.
I walk around the church taking pictures of the gravestones and sheep. Suddenly I hear a soft knocking sound, and it is quite unnerving. The sound continues. I start slowly backing out, my heart is pounding and I forget to breathe. I am already close to the back gate when the sheep start leaving the graveyard too, swiftly and soundlessly.
I run through the gate and make a big circle to keep a distance from the church wall. Yet, I have to get to my car that is parked right next to this lovely house adorned with pale ghostly looking fuchsias…
Mentally exhausted, I drive up the hill, and down the narrow road to Portlaw, praying that no tractor comes in the other direction.
Thank you for reading about Marquesses of Waterford and running from ghosts with me 🙂 In my next post I will write about the most haunted place I know, because it is Halloween!
Have a wonderful weekend!