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Lord Francis Conyngham was the second son of the first Marquess Conyngham and his wife Elizabeth. She was the daughter of Joseph Denison of Denbies, Surrey. Lord Francis was born in Dublin and was the elder brother of Henry Conyngham, Earl of Mount Charles and Albert Denison, 1st Baron Londesborough. He was educated at Eton. Between 1816 and 1824 he was known as Lord Francis Conyngham after his father was created Marquess Conyngham; he was given the courtesy title of Earl of Mount Charles in 1824 on the early death of his unmarried elder brother. On the death of his father in 1832, he became the second Marquis Conyngham.
Mount Charles became MP for Westbury in 1818, a seat he held until 1820. In 1820 he was commissioned into the British Army, becoming a Major-General in 1858, a Lieutenant-General in 1866 and a full General in 1874.
Mount Charles was a Page of Honour to the Prince Regent and following the Regent's accession to the throne, Mount Charles became a Groom of the Bedchamber and Master of the Robes to George IV between 1820 and 1830. During the same period, his mother was the King's mistress. Upon the death of William IV in 1837, it was Mount Charles, now Marquis Conyngham, who told Princess Victoria that she was the new monarch, and was the first person to address her as "Your Majesty".
From 1825 to 1831 Mount Charles represented Donegal, a seat which had been held by his deceased elder brother. He served under Lord Liverpool as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs between 1823 and 1826 and under Liverpool, George Canning, Lord Goderich and the Duke of Wellington as a Lord of the Treasury between 1826 and 1830. In 1832 he succeeded his father as Marquis Conyngham and entered the House of Lords. He became a Privy Counsellor in 1835.
Mount Charles married Lady Jane Paget, daughter of Henry Paget, first Marquess of Anglesey, on 23 April 1824. They had five children.
Mount Charles was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Hanoverian Order in 1830 and became a Knight of St Patrick in 1833. In July 1834 he joined the Whig government of Lord Melbourne as Postmaster General, retaining the post until the government fell in December; he held the same post under Melbourne again between April and May 1835; he was also appointed Lord Chamberlain of the Household. He remained in this position until 1839, when he was succeeded by his brother-in-law the Earl of Uxbridge. Mount Charles was Vice-Admiral of Ulster between 1849 and 1876 and Lord-Lieutenant of County Meath between 1869 and 1876, when he died.
New York Times, July 19, 1876
THE LATE LORD CONYNGHAM, K. P.
The Marquis of Conyngham, whose death has just been announced, was the eldest son of George 1V.'s chère amie, the first Marchioness of that ilk. The Conynghams descend from a Scotch ancestor who obtained a grant of the forfeited estates of Viscount Slane. Lord Conyngham's grandfather got his peerage revived in his person, and the late Marquis was, through the influence of his wife with George the Magnificent, raised to a Marquisate. That lady was daughter of a Mr. Denison, merchant, of St. Mary Axe, City of London, who, coming up to London from Leeds without a penny, died worth millions. To his daughter, by the daughter of a hatter in Tooley street, he left an enormous sum, but the bulk of his property passed to his only son. That gentleman, who never married, largely increased what had been bequeathed to him, and left it to the second son of his sister, Lord Albert Conyngham, who was created Lord Londesborough, and his son is the nobleman at whose house, near Scarborough — built on ground bought from the Duke of Leeds by old Denison—the Prince of Wales caught the fever so nearly fatal to him in 1871-2.
The nobleman just deceased married a Paget, daughter of the Waterloo hero, Lord Anglesey, and this being so, it is hardly. necessary to add, to those acquainted with the peculiarities of that family, lived apart from his wife nearly all his married
His only son married the only child of a late Earl of Harrington, by the daughter of Miss Foote, an actress. The nobleman just deceased was in many respects precisely of that stamp which precipitated the French revolution of 1789—a selfish voluptuary, dead to all sense of the duty which devolved on him as a steward of the great gifts intrusted to him. It may be doubted whether Lord Conyngham had visited more than twice in his life his immense outlying properties in Clare and Donegal. "From one end of this estate to the other," wrote the Commissioner of the London Times, "nothing is found but poverty, misery, wretched cultivation, and infinite subdivision of land. All are poor, wretchedly poor." " The people," a farmer told me, "do what they can to improve, but the landlord does nothing." "I never knew the Marquis to visit his property but once," said a witness before, a Parliamentary committee, and he further stated that he never answered any documents or complaints that were sent him.
"Some may say," concludes the Times' Commissioner, "that the Marquis has a right to do as he likes with his own property, but the Empire has a right to complain if he so manages his estate that he produces general destitution, misery, and discontent— if, in fact, he helps to make Ireland that scene of poverty and wretchedness and disturbance which make it a shame and weakness instead of a pride and source of strength to the Empire." There is not much reason to suppose that his successor will be more useful to his country. Feudalism is certainly seen at its worst in Ireland where it has chiefly served to foster Fenianism.
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