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Henry De Ros (1793- 1839)

It has proved almost impossible to find much detail about the life of de Ros. If you have any further information, I would be delighted to hear from you.

My grateful thanks to Eric Graham from Devon, who heard my plea and sent me two articles concerning Lord Henry De Ros. The first of these is

Lord De Ros and the Affair at Graham's — Sporting Magazine Jan 1837 p 59 ff. and the second is

Henry de Ros at Graham's table and Elsewhere — Famous Racing Men by Normanby, p117 ff.

Henry William de Ros, afterwards twenty-second Baron de Ros, was the eldest son of Charlotte, Baroness de Ros and Lord Henry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald married, in 1790, Charlotte, Baroness de Ros, to whose family the property, Boyle Farm, belonged. His grandmother, Emily, Duchess of Leinster, married William Ogilvie after her first husband's death. Lord Henry Fitzgerald was brother to the Lord Edward Fitzgerald so deeply implicated in the Irish rebellion of 1798.

Henry de Ros succeeded his mother in 1831 as twenty-second Baron de Ros. His younger brother, Hon. William Lennox Lascelles de Ros (1797-1874) succeeded his elder brother as twenty-third Baron in 1839.

Henry de Ros lived at Boyle Farm and was the originator of the entertainment called a fête. Lord Lytton thus describes him:

The finest gentleman of my young days, who never said to you an unkind thing, nor of you a kind one; whose slightest smile was a seductive fascination, whose loudest tone was a flute-like melody; had the sweetest possible way of insinuating his scorn of the human race. The urbanity of his manners made him a pleasant acquaintance, the extent of his reading made him an accomplished companion. No one was more versed in those classes of literature in which Mephistopheles might have sought polite authorities in favour of his demoniacal views of philosophy. He was at home in the correspondence between Cardinals and debauchees in the time of Leo X. He might have taken high honours in an examination upon the memoirs illustrating the life of the French salons in the ancien regime. He knew the age of Louis Quinze so well that to hear him you might suppose he was just fresh from a petit souper' at the Parc aux Cerfss."

Lord de Ros, though he kept in the background, took a keen interest in polities, When Lord Melbourne was dismissed in 1834 and the Tories came in the public press was against them. It was chiefly Lord de Ros, who, by his influence with Mr. Barnes, the editor of the Times, gained the valuable support of that paper to the Ministry of Sir Robert Peel.

He was a sayer of good against them. It was chiefly Lord de Ros things, but he always attributed them to others. His favorite way of beginning one of his own stories was, "As Alvanley says." His manners were perfection. Luttrell once said to a friend — who told him he had been teaching a child the proverb, "Evil communications corrupt good manners" — "How can you teach children such arrant nonsense'? Has not Lord de Ros, whose communications are all evil, the best manners of anybody of our acquaintance?"

Horact Walpole, in a letter to the Earl of Strafford, dated from Strawberry Hill, July 28 1787, writes:—

Mrs Walsingham is making her house at Ditton (now baptised Boyle Farm) very orthodox. Her daughter, Miss Bolyew, who has a real genius, has carved three tablets in marble with boys, designed by herself. These sculptures are for a chimney-piece; and she is painting panels in grotesque for the library, with pilasters of glass in black and gold.

The Miss Boyle referred to became in her own right Baroness de Ros, and married, as stated above, Lord Henry Fitzgerald.

In 1827 Boyle Farm becamse celebrated for a very gorgeous fête, somewhat after the style of that which took place at The Oaks, near Epson. it was geven by five young men of fashion, one of whom was the son of Lady de Ros.

In the Life and Correspondencve of Thomas Slingsby Duncombe, edited by his son, in the chapter devoted to "Dinner-givers and Diners-out", the author writes: —

While treating of this subject, we must not forget the entertainments occasionally got up by members of the beau monde. Among the most successful was the one given jointly at Boyle Farm, the Lady de Ros's,on the banks of the Thames. The expenses were defrayed by a subscription of £500 each from Lords Alvanley, Castlereagh, Chesterfield, Robert Grosvenor, and Henry de Ros, and greate taste was displayed in the arrangement. Pavilions on the bank of the river, a large dinner-tent on the lawn, capable of holding four hundred and fidty, and a select table for fifty in the conservatory. Gondolas floated onthe water, containing the best singers of the Italian Opera; and in a boat, Vertis and Fanny Ayton, the one singing Italian and the other English. There were illuminations throughout the ornamental grounds, and character quadrilles were danced by the beautires of the season. This was long remembered as the Dandies' Fête. It was in every way a great success.

This was described in 'The Summer Fete' by Thomas Moore (1779-1852):

Accordingly, with gay Sultanas,
Rebeccas, Sapphos, Roxalanas--
Circassian slaves whom Love would pay
Half his maternal realms to ransom;
Young nuns, whose chief religion lay
In looking most profanely handsome;
Muses in muslin-pastoral maids
With hats from the Arcade-ian shades,
And fortune-tellers, rich, 'twas plain,
As fortune-hunters formed their train.

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