Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy
|The Right Honourable
The Lady Fermoy
|Born||Ruth Sylvia Gill
2 October 1908
Bieldside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
|Died||6 July 1993
36 Eaton Square, London, England
|Occupation||Extra Woman of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother|
|Known for||Maternal grandmother of Diana, Princess of Wales|
|Spouse(s)||Maurice Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy|
|Children||Mary Cynthia Roche (b. 1934)
Frances Shand Kydd (1936–2004)
Edmund Roche, 5th Baron Fermoy (1939–1984)
|Parent(s)||William Smith Gill
Lady Fermoy was born Ruth Sylvia Gill on 2 October 1908 at her father's house, Dalhebity, Bieldside, Aberdeenshire, the daughter of Colonel William Smith Gill and his wife Ruth (née Littlejohn). She showed early promise as a pianist and studied under Alfred Cortot at the Paris Conservatoire in the 1920s.
Her musical career was cut short when she met, and later married in 1931, the wealthy and much older Maurice Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy. Lord and Lady Fermoy had three children, including her younger daughter, Frances, who would become the mother of Diana. Lady Fermoy did play the piano in public occasionally after her marriage, most notably with Josef Krips at the Royal Albert Hall in 1950, and with Sir John Barbirolli and the Hallé Orchestra at King's Lynn in 1966. She founded the King's Lynn Festival in 1951 and remained closely involved with the Festival for 25 years, persuading Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother to become its patron.
In 1956, the Queen Mother appointed Lady Fermoy an Extra Woman of the Bedchamber. The Queen Mother, being a widow herself, showed a preference for appointing widows to her household, and four years later Lady Fermoy was promoted to Woman of the Bedchamber, a post she held for the next 33 years. Lady Fermoy was a firm believer in the sanctity of marriage. In 1969, her daughter Frances and John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, divorced after Frances left her husband for Peter Shand Kydd. Lady Fermoy testified against her daughter, which allowed Lord Spencer to retain custody of Diana.
The Queen Mother and Lady Fermoy became confidantes, and it was assumed by many that the two women engineered the match between their grandchildren, the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. However, when asked about it, Lady Fermoy remarked: "You can say that if you like – but it simply wouldn't be true". She was also said to have counselled her granddaughter against the marriage, saying: "Darling, you must understand that their sense of humour and their lifestyle are different, and I don't think it will suit you."
Lady Fermoy's great-grandmother, Kitty Forbes, was the daughter of Scotsman Theodore Forbes and Indian-Armenian Eliza Kewark. Eliza's father, Hakob Kevork or Kevorkian, was Armenian; her Indian mother was likely to have been Muslim.
|Ancestors of Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy|
- Williamson, D The Ancestry of Lady Diana Spencer In: Genealogist’s Magazine, 1981; vol. 20 (no. 6) pp. 192–199 and vol. 20 (no. 8) pp. 281–282
- The Times (London), Thursday, 8 July 1993; p. 4 col. D and p. 19 col. A
- Vickers, Hugo (2006). Elizabeth: The Queen Mother. Arrow Books/Random House. p. 337. ISBN 978-0-09-947662-7.
- History of the King's Lynn Festival
- Mosley, C (ed.) Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition (Burke's Peerage and Gentry LLC, 2004) vol. I p. 1414
- The Associated Press, 7 July 1993
- Morton, Andrew, Diana: Her True Story (BCA, 1992) p. 55
- Who's Who, 1980 (Adam and Charles Black, London) p. 837
- "The Dowager Lady Fermoy; Diana's Grandmother, 84". The New York Times. 8 July 1993. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
- "On the elusive trail of Eliza Kewark". The Telegraph (Calcutta). 21 June 2013. Retrieved 20 Jan 2014.
- Mario Ledwith (14 June 2013). "William's Indian ancestry: DNA tests show future monarch has clear genetic line to the country from his mother's side". Daily Mail. Retrieved 21 July 2013.