Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl of Bessborough
|The Earl of Bessborough|
Lord Bessborough by Samuel William Reynolds.
|Spouse(s)||Lady Henrietta Frances Spencer|
|Father||William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough|
|Mother||Lady Caroline Cavendish|
|Born||24 January 1758|
|Died||3 February 1844(aged 86)|
Ponsonby was the eldest son of William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough, and Lady Caroline Cavendish, daughter of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire. He succeeded to his father's titles in 1793. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, and obtained the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Civil Law.
On 27 November 1780, he had married Lady Henrietta Spencer, second daughter of John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer. The marriage was notoriously unhappy and Bessborough began divorce proceedings in 1790 but under intense pressure from his relatives dropped them. They had four children:
- John Ponsonby, 4th Earl of Bessborough (1781–1847).
- Major General Sir Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby (1783–1837).
- Lady Caroline Lamb (1785–1828). Her husband was the 2nd Viscount Melbourne, the Prime Minister, however, she was never the Viscountess Melbourne because she died before he succeeded to the peerage; hence, she is known to history as Lady Caroline Lamb.
- William Francis Spencer, 1st Baron de Mauley (1787–1855).
Lady Bessborough died in 1821 of a chill caught while traveling abroad. Her husband outlived her by more than 20 years, dying at Canford House, Dorset in 1844.
Bessborough usually made a favourable first impression: quiet, but with "the most mild and amiable manner". On the other hand he was a notoriously bad husband, alternating between neglecting Henrietta and insulting her in public. While there were faults on both sides- she was addicted to gambling and had numerous affairs- society in general judged him to be the greater offender.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Earl of Bessborough
|Parliament of Great Britain|
Lord George Cavendish
Hon. Robert Walsingham
|Member of Parliament for Knaresborough
1780 – 1793
With: Hon. Robert Walsingham
Lord John Townshend
|Peerage of Ireland|
|Earl of Bessborough