Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl of Bessborough
|The Earl of Bessborough|
Lord Bessborough by Samuel William Reynolds.
|Born||24 January 1758|
|Died||3 February 1844(aged 86)|
|Spouse(s)||Lady Henrietta Frances Spencer|
|Father||The 2nd Earl of Bessborough|
|Mother||Lady Caroline Cavendish|
Ponsonby was the eldest son of Viscount Duncannon (who succeeded as the 2nd Earl of Bessborough in July 1758) and Lady Caroline Cavendish, daughter of The 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.
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 arguably faults on both sides- she was addicted to gambling and had numerous love affairs- society in general judged him to be the greater offender.
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) he married Lady Maria Fane (daughter of John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland) on 16 November 1805. They had fourteen children.
- Major General Sir Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby (1783–1837) he married Lady Emily Bathurst (daughter Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst), on 16 March 1825. They had six children.
- Lady Caroline Lamb (1785–1828) she married 2nd Viscount Melbourne, the Prime Minister in 1805. They had two children.
- William Francis Spencer, 1st Baron de Mauley (1787–1855) he married Lady Barbara Ashley-Cooper (the only daughter and heir of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 5th Earl of Shaftesbury) on 8 August 1814. They had three children.
Lady Bessborough died in 1821 of a chill caught while travelling abroad. Her husband outlived her by more than 20 years, dying at Canford House, Dorset in 1844.
Styles of address
- 1758: The Honourable Frederick Ponsonby
- 1758-1777: Viscount Duncannon
- 1777-1779: Viscount Duncannon MA
- 1779-1780: Viscount Duncannon MA DCL
- 1780-1793: Viscount Duncannon MA DCL MP
- 1793-1844: The Right Honourable The Earl of Bessborough MA DCL
|Parliament of Great Britain|
Lord George Cavendish
Hon. Robert Walsingham
| Member of Parliament for Knaresborough
With: Hon. Robert Walsingham
Lord John Townshend
|Peerage of Ireland|
| Earl of Bessborough
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Earl of Bessborough