Portrait of a Golden Age: Intimate Papers of the Second Viscount Palmerston Courtier under George III

Portrait of a Golden Age: Intimate Papers of the Second Viscount Palmerston Courtier under George III

Portrait of a Golden Age: Intimate Papers of the Second Viscount Palmerston Courtier under George III

Portrait of a Golden Age: Intimate Papers of the Second Viscount Palmerston Courtier under George III

Excerpt

Many of these papers came to light during the course of reconstruction work at Broadlands, the country mansion on the outskirts of Romsey which was the property of the Palmerston family and has now descended to Countess Mountbatten of Burrna. During the nineteenth century the Victorian Prime Minister had built on to the exquisite Georgian house left to him by his father a singularly unfitting north wing. Earl and Countess Mountbatten decided to demolish this excrescence and restore the house to its original eighteenth century form. But first it was necessary to catalogue the contents for retention or disposal. This enabled Mrs Georgiana Blois, who for many years assisted Countess Mountbatten in this work, to complete the collection she had slowly been accumulating of the correspondence and journals which form the basis of this volume.

Countess Mountbatten's inheritance of the Palmerston estates should, perhaps, be briefly detailed. The third, and most famous Viscount, whom we leave on the threshold of manhood in this book, married at the age of fifty-five, Emily Lamb, sister of his Cabinet colleague, Viscount Melbourne, and widow of Earl Cowper. Lady Cowper had been the third Viscount's intimate friend for many years. When she finally became Lady Palmerston she was already fifty years of age and there was no issue of the marriage. Her elder son by her first marriage inherited the Cowper estates, and those of Lord Palmerston passed, after his wife's death in 1869, to her second son, William Cowper, who took the name of Cowper-Temple, but left no issue of his two marriages. He was created Lord Mount Temple in 1880 and died in 1888.

Lady Cowper's eldest daughter married the great reforming seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, and Lord Palmerston had expressed a wish that his estates should pass to her second son, the Hon. Evelyn Ashley, who, in collaboration with Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer, became his benefactor's first biographer and died in 1907. The estate then passed to his son, Wilfrid Ashley, who . . .

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