1st Marquess

Baron Londonderry and Viscount Castlereagh, Robert STEWART (1739-1821), of Mount Stewart, Co. Down, became Earl of Londonderry in 1796 and Marquess of Londonderry in 1816.

2nd Marquess

Robert STEWART, Viscount Castlereagh, was born in Dublin in 1769, and became 2nd Marquess of Londonderry in 1821, just one year before his death. After a Cambridge education he became an Irish MP, given the title Lord Castlereagh by Pitt, and took on the role of Irish chief secretary in 1797. He became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland when the Act of Union (1801) was going through - a difficult time in Ireland. He was made Secretary of State for War in 1805, and championed Sir Arthur Wellesley's rise to power (ultimately to become Duke of Wellington). In 1809 he got into hot water with the then Foreign Secretary, George Canning, and their disagreement resulted in a duel, which led to both men resigning. Three years later he became Secretary for Foreign Affairs and then Leader of the House of Commons. He was deeply involved in the aftermath of Napoleon's defeat, and in the setting up of the Treaty of Paris. He rose to the position of Foreign Secretary in 1812 in Lord Liverpool's government, and some say that he was one of the most distinguished Foreign Secretaries in British history, albeit "cold in personality and lacking ability as an orator". As leader of the House of Commons he got himself a bad name over a series of bills and measures and was the target of much public dislike, being targetted especially by such public figures as Byron, Moore and Shelley. After someone attempted to assassinate the Cabinet in 1820, he took to carrying pistols in self-defence, and at one stage moved in to live at the Foreign Office for greater safety. By 1822 he was showing growing signs of paranoia, and that same year he committed suicide by cutting his throat with a penknife. He had no children, and so his estate and titles passed to his half-brother.

3rd Marquess

The then Baron Stewart, Charles William STEWART (1778-1854) became the 3rd Marquess and, later, the 1st Earl Vane. His second wife was Lady Frances Anne VANE-TEMPEST, a fabulously wealthy 19 year old coal heiress from Seaham, County Durham, daughter of Sir Harry Vane-Tempest - and Charles rapidly dropped the name Stewart in favour of Vane. He led a distinguished life, serving as adjutant-general to Wellington, ambassador at Vienna and later at St. Petersburg, and was a pall-bearer at Wellington's funeral. He received the Order of the Garter. He was Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, and there's a statue to him in Durham market place. However, he was seen as an absentee landlord by his Northern Ireland tenants, who were unimpressed by his perceived lack of sympathy during the famine of the 1840s. His building of a £15,000 extension to Mount Stewart at this time might seem to some, from this distant perspective, to be rather insensitive, but the world was different then.

4th Marquess

I can find little on the 4th Marquess, other than that his name was Frederick William Robert STEWART (1805-1872), and that he married Lady Elizabeth Frances Charlotte JOCELYN, of Roden, in 1846. He is buried in Newtownards Priory graveyard, Northern Ireland, and his wife died in 1884. They were childless, and his title and estates passed to his half-brother, the 2nd Earl Vane.

5th Marquess

Sir George Henry Robert Charles William VANE-TEMPEST, Viscount Seaham, was born in Austria in 1821, became 2nd Earl Vane in 1854 and 5th Marquess of Londonderry in 1872. He was great-uncle to Winston Churchill. As a young Coldstream Guards officer, he took a great interest in Mary Cornelia Edwards during her coming out season in London in 1846, and they were married the same year, on 3 Aug. She was the daughter of Sir John EDWARDS (Bart, MP) and Lady Edwards of Greenfields (later Plas), Machynlleth. They settled into married life at the Plas, and over the fullness of time produced 6 children:

Frances Cornelia Harriet (1851-1872).
Charles (1852-1915). Later became 6th Marquess.
Henry John (1855-1905).
Averina Mary (1857-1873). Named after Mary Cornelia's half-sister.
Herbert Lionel Henry (1862-1921) The last of his line to live in the Plas, and killed in the Abermule train crash.
Aline (Alexandrina Louisa Maud) (1863-1945). Named Alexandrina after Tsar Alexander, a friend of her father. Married Wentworth Blackett BEAUMONT, MP for Tyneside, in 1889, who later became Lord Allendale.

The 5th Marquess and his wife were to become great local benefactors. It was through them that the railway came to Machynlleth, and alms houses, an infants' school and a hospital were constructed, Londonderry Terrace built, considerable restoration work carried out on St. Peter's church, and the horseshoe frontage fixed to the old smithy in 1896. In 1874, Mach's totem, the 78 ft Castlereagh Memorial Clock, was erected to commemorate the coming of age of their son, Charles.

The 5th Marquess died at Plas Machynlleth in 1884, and Mary Cornelia at Plas Machynlleth on 19 Sep 1906. There's a bust of Mary Cornelia in Y Plas Rose Garden, and her tomb is in St.Peter's churchyard.

mary cornelia mary cornelia mary cornelia mary cornelia mary cornelia
Londonderry Graves The tombs in the graveyard of St. Peter's Church, Machynlleth, of:
Avarina Vane-Tempest, d. 1873
Frances Vane-Tempest, d. 1872
Harriet, widow of John Edwards, d. 1882 (mother of Mary Cornelia)
George Henry Vane-Tempest 5th Marquess, d. 1884
Henry John Vane-Tempest, d. 1905
Mary Cornelia Vane-Tempest, d. 1906
Herbert Lionel Henry Vane-Tempest, d. 1921

6th Marquess

The eldest son of the 5th Marquess, Charles, Viscount Castlereagh, became the 6th Marquess on his death, and assumed the name VANE-TEMPEST-STEWART. He married Lady Theresa TALBOT, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, in 1875, but elected to live in the NE of England.

7th Marquess

Charles VANE-TEMPEST-STEWART (1878-1949) was educated at Eton and Sandhurst, and was later Chancellor of the University of Durham and The Queen's University of Belfast, Lord Lieutenant of Co. Durham and H.M.L. of Co. Down. He became an MP in 1906, where he held various posts including Under-Secretary of State for Air, Minister of Education for Northern Ireland between 1921 and 1926, and Secretary of State for Air until 1935. For a short time he was Lord Privy Seal. He was said to be "one of the richest men in the kingdom at the dazzling centre of London society", but sounds to have been a bit of a pompous character: "he apes his ancestor the great Lord Castlereagh, wears a high black stock over his collar and a very tightly fitting frock coat, and doesn't look as if he belongs to this century at all". It was also said that he addressed his civil servants like domestics and emphasized points by striking his desk with his riding crop!

Mind you, he had principles, and stated in a Northern Ireland Education Bill context: "Religious instruction in a denominational sense during the hours of compulsory attendance there will not be", and he looked forward to the day when children of different faiths might study and play together. He worked hard before the Second World War, trying to bring about Anglo-German reconciliation, befriending Goering and von Ribbentrop - even entertaining von Ribbentrop at Mount Stewart - and leaving himself open to inevitable accusations that he was pro-German. He married Edith Helen CHAPLIN, the daughter of Henry, 1st Viscount Chaplin. She was active in many areas, including various wartime and peacetime charities, and was an enthusiastic political entertainer for the Conservative Party at Londonderry House, in Park Lane. She also found the time and energy in the 1920s to plant the gardens at Mount Stewart, which is now owned by the National Trust, although Lady Mairi BURY, her daughter, still lives there. The 7th Marquess presented the Plas to Machynlleth in 1948.

*** The National Portrait Gallery has any number of paintings and sketches of the Londonderrys. All you need to do to view many of them on-line is to go to http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/ and then type Londonderry or Vane-Tempest in the Search Box.

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