Viscount Gort

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Viscount Gort is the title of two peerages in British and Irish history. Gort is a small town in County Galway in the West of Ireland. The original title was in the Peerage of Ireland and is extant. A viscountcy with the same title as the Irish peerage was then conferred in the Peerage of the United Kingdom to a later Lord Gort. This gave the distinguished descendant a subtle personal change of status, whilst preserving the heritage of the older title. The United Kingdom title, however, became extinct on death of the original recipient, who remains perhaps the most illustrious bearer of older title to date. An unqualified reference to "Lord Gort" will almost always be to the sixth viscount.

Viscount Gort, Peerage of Ireland[edit]

The title was created in 1816 as an advancement or 'step' for an existing peer. John Prendergast Smyth had already been created Baron Kiltarton of Gort, in the County of Galway, also in the Peerage of Ireland, in 1810. John Prendergast-Smyth, Viscount Gort and Lord Kiltarton, was the nephew of Sir Thomas Prendergast, 2nd Baronet, and had succeeded to the Prendergast estates on the death of this uncle in 1760 (see Prendergast Baronets, of Gort). He was ineligible to inherit the title of his uncle, but the bequest enabled him to develop the status to merit a title of his own, of a higher degree, and subsequently to advance himself higher in the peerage system. Lord Gort had no sons to inherit his two titles but, unusually, he had been able to secure a special remainder both in 1816 and in 1810, the remainder being in favour of his nephew Charles Vereker, the son of his sister Juliana by her marriage with Thomas Vereker.

On the death of John Prendergast-Smyth in the following year, the Gort viscountcy, plus the barony, passed to the Vereker family according to the special remainder. Charles Vereker, the second Viscount, represented Limerick in the House of Commons and sat in the House of Lords as an Irish Representative Peer from 1824 until his death, in 1842.

John Vereker succeeded his father, both as the third Viscount and as Member of Parliament for Limerick. He was also an Irish Representative Peer in 1865, the year in which he died.

Viscount Gort, Peerage of the United Kingdom[edit]

John Vereker, the sixth Viscount, was the great-grandson of his namesake. Following the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 the family chose to emigrate and settle in County Durham. This Lord Gort was a distinguished soldier whose personal courage in the First World War was recognised with the highest decoration of the British Empire, the Victoria Cross, plus three further gallantry decorations, before achieving the most senior post in the British Army, Chief of the Imperial General Staff. It was Lord Gort who commanded the BEF in 1939 and his leadership during the disastrous withdrawal from France preserved his reputation at an unhappy time for the nation. He then had another tough appointment, as Governor of Malta in its darkest days, before becoming High Commissioner of British Mandate for Palestine and the Transjordan, itself hardly a rest-cure at this time. Promotion to Field Marshal and the creation of the new Viscountcy at the end of the war was an indicator of his standing as soldier and imperial administrator. The 1946 title was Viscount Gort, of Hamsterley Hall in the County of Durham, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. He kept his style modest, avoiding, for example, the self-conscious possibility of Lord Gort and Gort. Field Marshal Lord Gort had no living sons and, unlike his own ancestor, did not have a special remainder, so on his death just one month after the creation of the new title, the new viscountcy became extinct, whilst the Irish titles passed to his brother.

The Gort Viscountcy in the modern era[edit]

The Hon. Standish Vereker was the brother of Field Marshal The Lord Gort, who had been the sixth Viscount of the Irish peerage and the first and last Viscount of the United Kingdom peerage; Standish inherited the Irish viscountcy and barony in 1946. The seventh Viscount had achieved some distinction of his own, serving as High Sheriff of Durham in 1934, before he gained the peerage.

On his death in 1975, the titles passed to his first cousin once removed, the eighth Viscount. Colin Vereker was the grandson of The Hon. Foley Charles Prendergast Vereker, second son of the fourth Viscount. The eighth Lord Gort lived on the Isle of Man, where he preserved the family tradition of public service as a member of the House of Keys, the lower house of the Parliament of the Isle of Man. In 1995, the titles passed to his son Foley Vereker, the ninth Viscount, who also lives on the Isle of Man.

Viscounts Gort (1816)[edit]

The heir apparent is the present holder's son Hon. Robert Foley Prendergast Vereker (b. 1993)

Viscount Gort (1946)[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]