Moreton Frewen

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Moreton Frewen (1853 – 2 September 1924)[1] was an Anglo-Irish writer on monetary reform who served briefly as a Member of Parliament (MP).


He was the fifth son of Thomas Frewen, MP for South Leicestershire, and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained his BA in 1877.[2] He emigrated to Wyoming during the cattle boom in the 1870s and 1880s.[3] A charming if financially incompetent adventurer from an English landed gentry family known for reckless financial and political schemes,[4] he managed to marry Clarita "Clara" Jerome (1851–1935) in 1881, daughter of the New York City financier Leonard Jerome, and sister to Lord Randolph Churchill's wife Jennie.[5] They settled together on a huge Wyoming ranch, The Prince of Wales Ranch, where Frewen built an enormous log lodge/castle later destroyed by fire and ran up ever increasing debt, earning the sobriquets "Mortal Ruin" and "the splendid pauper".[6] His laterally descended family, the Martins formerly of Charley Hall, Leicestershire, refer to him to this day however not as "Mortal Ruin" but as "Immortal Ruin", as he ran through two family fortunes before being granted a remittance and "encouraged" by family to emigrate to America.[7]

Returning to the United Kingdom, where he owned homes in London and Cork, Frewen served as Vice President of the Imperial Federation League. He wrote on tariff reform and other economic matters, and was an advocate of bimetallism.

He became involved in Irish affairs through inheriting the Innishannon Estate, some 3,000 acres near Cork, and through his friendships with Lord Dunraven and Timothy Healy (MP).[4]

He was elected unopposed at the December 1910 general election as an All-for-Ireland League MP for North East Cork,[8] taking his seat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. He resigned on 5 July 1911[9] because his seat was needed for Healy and because of his reactionary public statements: his opposition to the Parliament Bill to remove the legislative veto of the House of Lords was proving a political liability.[4] Later he signed the British Covenant in support of Ulster, while continuing to engage in political intrigues.[4]

He was a brother-in-law not only of Lord Randolph Churchill but also of Sir John Leslie of Glaslough.[4] His niece Ruby (with whom he was not on good terms), daughter of his brother Stephen, was the second wife of Sir Edward Carson.[4]

He left two sons, Hugh Moreton Frewen, and Captain Oswald Moreton Frewen, Royal Navy (Retired), and a daughter, the sculptress and writer Clare Sheridan. Another daughter, Jasmine, died at birth.


  • The economic crisis, 1888
  • Melton Mowbray, and other memories, 1924

In popular culture[edit]

Frewen figures prominently in the novel Mortal Ruin by John Malcolm.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Who was who 1916–1928 (1929)
  2. ^ "Frewen, Moreton (FRWN872M)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ Woods, L. Milton: Moreton Frewer's Western Adventures (1986)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Maume, Patrick: The long Gestation, Irish Nationalist Life 1891–1918, "Who’s Who" p. 228, Gill & Macmillan (1999) ISBN 0-7171-2744-3
  5. ^ Kehoe, Elizabeth: The Titled Americans: Three American sisters and the British aristocratic world into which they married, Atlantic Monthly Press (2004), ISBN 0-87113-924-3
  6. ^ Andrews, Allen: The Splendid Pauper (1968)
  7. ^ ex inf Mrs. Selina Margaret Clay (nee Martin) of Victoria BC, youngest daughter of Rev. John Martin of Charley Hall, Leicestershire (1891-1980) and 1st cousin to Moreton Frewen
  8. ^ Brian M. Walker, ed. (1978). Parliamentary election results in Ireland 1801–1922. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. p. 178. ISBN 0-901714-12-7. 
  9. ^ Department of Information Services (9 June 2009). "Appointments to the Chiltern Hundreds and Manor of Northstead Stewardships since 1850" (PDF). House of Commons Library. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 6, 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2009. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Maurice Healy
Member of Parliament for North East Cork
December 1910July 1911
Succeeded by
Timothy Healy