Arthur Cairns, 2nd Earl Cairns

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Earl Cairns as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, January 1886

Arthur William Cairns, 2nd Earl Cairns (21 December 1861 – 14 January 1890) was a British aristocrat, succeeding to the title on the death of his father the first Earl Cairns on 2 April 1885.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born in London in 1861, he was the second but eldest surviving son of Hugh MacCalmont Cairns, 1st Earl Cairns, a British statesman who served as Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom during the first two ministries of Benjamin Disraeli, and Mary Harriet MacNeile. Arthur Cairns was educated at Wellington College in Berkshire. Between 1875 and 1876 he attended Eton College,[3] going on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge.[4]

On 20 November 1884 Cairns was successfully sued for £10,000 for breach of promise of marriage by Emily Mary Finney (an actress with the stage name of May Fortescue).[5] He had seen her on stage in Gilbert and Sullivan's opera Iolanthe and the two struck up a relationship. He proposed marriage, and she accepted, leaving the Savoy Theatre at the end of August 1883. Although his family accepted Fortescue, according to The New York Times, Cairn's friends could not accept his engagement to an actress, and he broke off the engagement in January 1884, leaving the country to travel in Asia. Fortescue, assisted by W. S. Gilbert's solicitors, sued him for breach of promise, receiving £10,000 in damages.[6]

He was also engaged to the New York heiress Adele Grant, but she broke off the engagement shortly before their wedding. Cairns became Private Secretary to the President of the Board of Trade.[3] He succeeded to the titles of 2nd Baron Cairns of Garmoyle, County Antrim, and 2nd Viscount Garmoyle, County Antrim upon the death of his father on 2 April 1885.[2]

Marriage and early death[edit]

He married Olivia Elizabeth Berens OBE, daughter of Alexander Augustus Berens and Louisa Winifred Stewart, on 19 December 1887 at St. Mary's Church, Bryanston Square, Marylebone, London.[3]

Cairns died of pneumonia on 14 January 1890, aged 28, at 18 Queen Street, Mayfair, London. He was buried at Bournemouth in Hampshire. He died intestate, and his estate was administered in April 1890 at £5,135.[3] Having a daughter, Lady Louise Rosemary Kathleen Virginia Cairns MBE (10 March 1889 – 17 May 1962) (married Wyndham Portal, 1st Viscount Portal in 1909), his titles passed to his younger brother, Herbert John Cairns, 3rd Earl Cairns.


  1. ^ [1] Cairns on The Peerage website
  2. ^ a b Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 640
  3. ^ a b c d G .E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume II, p. 471
  4. ^ "Cairns, Arthur William, Viscount Garmoyle (CNS880AW)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  5. ^ Peter W. Hammond, editor, The Complete Peerage or a History of the House of Lords and All its Members From the Earliest Times, Volume XIV: Addenda & Corrigenda (Stroud, Gloucestershire, U.K.: Sutton Publishing, 1998), p. 132
  6. ^ "Miss Fortescue's Broken Heart; Trial of the Actress's Suit Against Lord Garmoyle Begun", The New York Times, 21 November 1884, p. 1, accessed 30 October 2009

External links[edit]

Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hugh MacCalmont Cairns
Earl Cairns
1885 – 1890
Succeeded by
Herbert Cairns