Hamilton Cuffe, 5th Earl of Desart

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"Public Prosecutions"
The Earl of Desart as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, January 1902

Hamilton John Agmondesham Cuffe, 5th Earl of Desart, KP, KCB, PC (30 August 1848 – 4 November 1934) was an Irish peer and barrister.

Early life[edit]

Cuffe was the second son of John Cuffe, 3rd Earl of Desart and his wife, Elizabeth, the third daughter of John Campbell, 1st Earl Cawdor.


In his early life he was a midshipman in the Royal Navy before becoming a barrister in 1872. In 1877 he was appointed as a secretary to the Judicature Committee and as a solicitor to The Treasury a year later. In 1894 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath and as Treasury Solicitor that year, as well as Queen's Proctor and Director of Public Prosecutions.[1] On inheriting the earldom of Desart from his elder brother, William (who died without heirs male) in 1898, he was promoted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.

In 1909, Dysart was created Baron Desart in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, which enabled him to sit in the House of Lords (his other titles being in the Peerage of Ireland, which did not entitle him to a seat). In 1913, he was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed a Knight of St Patrick in 1919.

Participated as an Unionist delegate to the 1917-18 Irish Convention.

He was also appointed Lord Lieutenant of Kilkenny in 1920, a post he held until the Irish Free State was formed in 1922, when all lord lieutenancies of Ireland (bar those of Northern Ireland) were abolished.

Personal life[edit]

On 19 July 1876, Lord Desart had married his second cousin, Lady Margaret Joan Lascelles (1853–1927), the second daughter of Henry Lascelles, 4th Earl of Harewood. They had two daughters:

  • Lady Joan Elizabeth Mary Cuffe (1877–1951), married Sir Harry Lloyd-Verney. They had issue three sons and one daughter Joan Verena Verney[2] (who died aged 30), mother of the 10th Viscount Boyne (1931–1995).
  • Lady Sybil Marjorie Cuffe (1879–1943), married (1) 30 April 1901 William Bayard Cutting (Jnr.) (1878- 1910 of tuberculosis), son of William Bayard Cutting and then secretary to the US embassy to the Court of St. James's, by whom she had one daughter Iris Origo (1902–1988). She married 2ndly 23 April 1918[3] (div 1927) Geoffrey Scott (1884–1929), Bernard Berenson's secretary and an architectural historian, by whom she had no issue. She married thirdly 8 December 1926 [4] Percy Lubbock (1879–1965). Lady Sybil Lubbock died 31 December 1943, and was survived by her third husband, her daughter Iris Origo and two surviving granddaughters.

As Desart was the last male descendant of the 1st Earl and died without male heirs in 1934, his titles became extinct.


  1. ^ The history of the Crown Prosecution Service at www.cps.gov.uk
  2. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Joan Verena Verney". The Peerage. [unreliable source]
  3. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Geoffrey Scott". The Peerage. [unreliable source]. Scott's entry gives the date of marriage as 1916, but Iris Origo's entry states that her mother married Scott in 1918.
  4. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Lady Sybil Marjorie Cuffe". The Peerage. [unreliable source] gives her marriage dates. Lundy, Darryl. "Geoffrey Scott". The Peerage. [unreliable source] says that they were divorced 1926. Lubbock's entry gives the date of marriage as 1926, but Iris Origo's entry states that her mother divorced Scott in 1927 after his affair with Vita Sackville-West.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Augustus Stephenson
Queen's Proctor
Preceded by
Sir Augustus Stephenson
Director of Public Prosecutions
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Mathews
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Marquess of Ormonde
Lord Lieutenant of Kilkenny
Post abolished
(Irish Free State)
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
William Cuffe
Earl of Desart
Title extinct
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Desart
Title extinct