Mary Anne Disraeli

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Lady Beaconsfield

Mary Anne Disraeli, 1st Viscountess Beaconsfield (née Evans; 11 November 1792 – 15 December 1872) was a British peeress and society figure and the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

Biography[edit]

Hughenden, home to the Disraelis

Born in Tongwynlais, Cardiff, the only daughter of Commander John Viney-Evans and his cousin Eleanor Scrope-Viney, she first married Wyndham Lewis, MP (1780–1838). The year following Lewis's death she married Benjamin Disraeli. In recognition of his services to the nation, Queen Victoria desired to ennoble Disraeli; as he wished to remain in the House of Commons, his wife accepted the title in his place and was created Viscountess Beaconsfield, of Beaconsfield in the County of Buckingham on 30 November 1868[1] (After Mary's death he accepted the title Earl of Beaconsfield).

Staid Victorians were often scandalised by Mary's uninhibited remarks but soon learned not to insult her within Disraeli's hearing.[2] Even Queen Victoria herself was said to be amused when Mary Anne commented, in response to a remark about some lady's pale complexion, "I wish you could see my Dizzy in his bath!" Once, at a house party where Lord Hardinge, a great soldier of the day, was in the room next to the Disraelis, Mary Anne announced at breakfast that she had slept the night before between the greatest soldier (Hardinge) and the greatest orator (Disraeli) of their times: Lady Hardinge was definitely not amused.[citation needed]

The Disraeli family tomb, Hughenden

Disraeli had been unimpressed by Mary when he first met her, but he came to understand that she was shrewder than her outwardly silly manner and non-sequiturs had led him to believe. She was a great help to him in editing the books he wrote, and spent 30 years taking care of him. [3] He joked that he had married her for her money but would do it again for love, but the truth is that she was not really wealthy. She was some twelve years older than her husband, and he may not have known her true age, but their romance continued until the day she died.[4] In later life she became increasingly eccentric, both in conversation and appearance, but her husband's devotion and loyalty to her never faltered.[5]

In the spring of 1872 Mary became seriously ill, and by May it was clear that she was dying of stomach cancer. She rallied sufficiently to take a summer tour through the Home Counties with her husband. In November she felt well enough to hold a small dinner party for their close friends; but her condition deteriorated and she died on 15 December, at the age of eighty.[6]

"There was no care which she could not mitigate, and no difficulty which she could not face. She was the most cheerful and courageous woman I ever knew" her husband wrote after her death.[7] His great adversary William Ewart Gladstone, who had liked Mary, wrote him a letter of condolence. Disraeli, touched by this sympathy from a man who disliked him, replied that "Marriage is the greatest earthly happiness when founded on mutual sympathy."[8]

She is buried with Disraeli in a vault in the Church of St Michael and All Angels Church, Hughenden, in Hughenden, Buckinghamshire, close to the Disraeli family home, Hughenden Manor. The house is now in the care of the National Trust and has been preserved in the state when it was occupied by the Disraelis, and is open to the public as a visitor attraction.[9]

Styles of address and arms[edit]

Styles of address[edit]

  • 1792–1816: Miss Mary Anne Evans
  • 1816–1839: Mrs Mary Anne Lewis
  • 1839–1868: Mrs Mary Anne Disraeli
  • 1868–1872: The Viscountess Beaconsfield[a]
  1. ^ Lady Beaconsfield holds her title suo jure, as Queen Victoria had wanted to ennoble her husband, but he had wanted to remain in the House of Commons. Instead, she was raised to the peerage as Viscountess Beaconsfield.

Arms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "No. 23446". The London Gazette. 1 December 1868. p. 6401. 
  2. ^ Hesketh Pearson Dizzy- the life and personality of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield Harper Collins New York 1951 p.214
  3. ^ Pearson p.75
  4. ^ Pearson p.214
  5. ^ Pearson . p214
  6. ^ Pearson pp.214=216
  7. ^ Pearson p.75
  8. ^ Pearson p.216
  9. ^ "Hughenden Manor". National Trust. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Countess of Derby
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1868
Succeeded by
Catherine Gladstone
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscountess Beaconsfield
1868–1872
Extinct