Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Fall of the Fitzmaurices

 From The Irish Examiner:

Francis Fitzmaurice, third earl of Kerry, and his wife, Anastasia Daly, a Catholic divorcee 20 years his senior (a scandal in itself) went on living as they had always done, printing as many as 500 invitations to their lavish soirées and ordering the very best of food.

Whet your appetite on this sample from the caterers’ menu: smoked salmon from the Atlantic, olives, oysters, pâtés and terrines, smoked beef, pork, sausages, ham, lobster, several types of cheeses, gateaux, the best of wines, champagne and Cognac.

The earl used the “suppliers to the King” — Louis XVI, the man who would soon lose his head — to buy his tailored clothes, wigs, opera glasses and spectacles. Lady Kerry, meanwhile, frequented Marie Antoinette’s preferred designer and hatmaker, and was fond of perfume, lingerie and expensive jewels.

If you were to make it up, you might draw the line at the couple’s daily jaunts around revolutionary Paris in their luxurious four-wheeled carriage, which was emblazoned with the Kerry coat of arms and attended by liveried coachmen with powdered wigs.

The common people in Paris could not afford to buy bread while, back in north Kerry, the tenants on the earl’s once-large estate of 90,000 acres were living in cabins, eking out a miserable living to pay rents that did not even come close to funding Lord and Lady Kerry’s extravagant lifestyle.

Despite mounting debts, the spending continued and, by 1818, Francis Fitzmaurice had squandered his family’s titles, estates, wealth and lands, putting an end to a dynasty that had been Kerry’s most powerful family since their arrival in the county in the 13th century.

The story is told in fascinating and vivid detail by historian and genealogist Kay Caball in her new book, The Fall of the Fitzmaurices: The Demise of Kerry’s First Family. (Read more.)


No comments: