Read Black Diamonds Online

Authors: Catherine Bailey

Tags: #History, #England/Great Britain, #Nonfiction, #Royalty, #Politics & Government, #18th Century, #19th Century, #20th Century

Black Diamonds

Black Diamonds

The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty

 

C
ATHERINE
B
AILEY

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Illustrations
Fitzwilliam Family Tree
Preface
Introduction
PART I
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
PART II
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
PART III
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
PART IV
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
PART V
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
PART VI
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Epilogue
Illustrations
Notes
Acknowledgements
Copyright

In memory of my grandmother Eve, with love

List of Illustrations

1
Billy, 7th Earl Fitzwilliam, 1911
2
Troops guarding Wentworth House during the coal riots of 1893
3
The Marble Salon at Wentworth House, 1924
4
The Whistlejacket Room at Wentworth House, 1924
5
and 6. William, 6th Earl Fitzwilliam, and his wife, Harriet, Countess Fitzwilliam,
c
. 1865
7
William, Lord Milton,
c
. 1860
8
Billy, later 7th Earl Fitzwilliam, 1878
9
William, Lord Milton, in Canada, 1863
10
Laura, Lady Milton,
c.
1870
11
Pointe de Meuron, 1869
12
The house where Billy, 7th Earl Fitzwilliam, was born
13
A group of male indoor servants at Wentworth, 1912
14
The outdoor servants at Wentworth,
c.
1906
15
The housekeeper and some of the housemaids at Wentworth,
c
. 1890
16
A ploughing team on the Wentworth Estate,
c.
1900
17
Maud, Lady Milton, later Countess Fitzwilliam, at the Devonshire House Ball, July 1897
18
Miners from the Fitzwilliams’ collieries,
c
. 1910
19
Main Street, Wentworth village, 1905
20
Loversall Street, Denaby, 1903
21
The Denaby Bag Muck Strike, January 1903: police evict miners and their families from their homes
22
Faceworkers hewing coal
23
A deputy below ground, 1912
24
Digging for coal during the 1912 strike
25
A young miner
26
Pit lads and pony
27
Queen Mary at Silverwood colliery, July 1912
28
King George V and Billy, 7th Earl Fitzwilliam, at Elsecar colliery, July 1912
29
Crowds wait for news of fatalities on the morning of the Cadeby colliery disaster, July 1912
30
A miners’ rescue team, 1908
31
A miner’s wife outside a pawnbroker’s shop
32
The house party staying at Wentworth for the royal visit in July 1912
33
The Wentworth Battery in training, August 1914
34
Fireworks at Wentworth, February 1911
35
A polo match at Wentworth House between the pony drivers at the 7th Earl’s pits, 1926
36
Peter, Lord Milton, and a member of the household staff at Wentworth, 1913
37
Peter, Lord Milton, and Maud, Countess Fitzwilliam, at a garden party, 1914
38
Peter, Lord Milton, on his first hunter, 1913
39
Maud, Countess Fitzwilliam, Elfrida, Countess of Wharncliffe, and Lady Barbara Ricardo, 1938
40
Maud, Countess Fitzwilliam, and Peter, Lord Milton, 1932
41
Peter, Lord Milton, and ‘Obby’, Lady Milton, at their wedding in Dublin Cathedral, April 1933
42
Billy, 7th Earl Fitzwilliam, on the Riviera, 1938
43
Peter, 8th Earl Fitzwilliam, 1944
44
The Kennedy family at Buckingham Palace,
c
. 1938
45
Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy and Jack Kennedy
46
Kathleen and Billy, Marquess of Hartington, at Chelsea Register Office, May 1944
47
Vesting Day, 1 January 1947
48
The wreckage of the plane in which Peter Fitzwilliam and Kathleen, Marchioness of Hartington, were killed, May 1948
49
Students of the Lady Mabel College of Physical Education in the Marble Salon at Wentworth,
c.
1950
50
Eric, 9th Earl Fitzwilliam
51
Tom, later 10th Earl Fitzwilliam
52
Mourners at the funeral of the 9th Earl Fitzwilliam, April 1952
53
Open-cast mining at Wentworth, 1948

The author and publishers are grateful to the following for permission to reproduce photographs: Roy Young for 1–2, 5–6, 13–16, 18–19, 27–8, 32–3, 52–3; Michael Bond,
Way Out West: The Story of an Errant Ancestor
for 7–10; Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society for 11–12; V & A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum for 17; Brian Elliott for 20–22, 24, 29, 31, 47; British Coal/Eastwood Collection for 23, 26; Yorkshire Mining Museum for 25; Hulton Archive/Getty Images for 30; Martyn Johnson for 34, 38; Griffith Philipps for 35–7, 39, 41–3, 51; Peter Diggle for 40; Dorothy Wilding/J.F. Kennedy Library for 44; J.F. Kennedy Library for 45; Portman Press Bureau/J.F. Kennedy Library for 46; BEA/France for 48; Elma Casson for 49; Geoffrey Howse for 50

Preface

A crowd of thousands shifted nervously on the great lawn in front of Wentworth House, waiting for the coffin to be brought out. It was the winter of 1902: ‘February,’ as one observer remarked, ‘in her worst mood.’ Two hundred servants, dressed in black, stood stiffly along the length of the façade facing the crush of mourners. Shrouds of fog enveloped the statues and pediments crowning the house; an acrid smell clung to the mist, catching in the nostrils, effluent from the pits, foundries and blast furnaces in the valley below. The fog drained everything of colour. Now and then it lifted to reveal a portion of the house: on a clear day the crowd could have counted a thousand windows, but that morning most of it was obscured.

The hearse, a glass coach, swathed in sable and crêpe, was ready outside the Pillared Hall. It was drawn by four black horses: plumes of black ostrich feathers adorned their bridles and black-tasselled cloths were draped across their backs. Mutes, the customary Victorian funeral attendants, stood by them; macabre figures, veils of black crêpe trailed from their tall silk hats. Bells tolled in the distance. In the nearby villages the shops were closed and the curtains in the houses drawn fast.

At the stroke of midday, three hours after the crowd had first begun to gather, the coffin, mounted on a silver bier, was carried out of the house. It was followed by a procession of housemaids and footmen bearing hundreds of wreaths of flowers. A brilliant splash of colour in the bleak scene, they drew a murmur from the crowd.

The oak coffin contained the body of William, the 6th Earl Fitzwilliam, one of the richest men in Britain.
He had left
a legacy of £2.8 million pounds – more than £3 billion at today’s values. In the century to come, only one Englishman, Sir John Ellerman, the shipping magnate, would leave a larger fortune. The dead Earl was among the very wealthiest of Britain’s twentieth-century aristocrats.

His money had come from land and a spectacular stroke of luck. In the late eighteenth century, the Fitzwilliams’ Yorkshire estates – over 20,000 acres in total – were found to straddle the Barnsley seam, the main artery of the South Yorkshire coalfield. Wentworth House, situated nine miles north-east of Sheffield, lay at its heart.

The Earl was born in 1815, the year of Waterloo. Over the course of his lifetime his wealth had increased a thousandfold. Rapid technological advances, spurred by the huge demand for coal, had made it possible to sink mines deeper and deeper along the lucrative Barnsley seam. The Earl’s collieries, as one contemporary noted, were ‘within rifle shot of his ancestral seat’: by the close of the century, mines and pit villages crowded the hills and valleys around the house.

In the early 1900s, Arthur Eaglestone, a miner from Rotherham, writing under the pseudonym of Roger Dataller, described a dawn journey through the Earl’s country:

The train bored
its way through the grim litter of steel manufactories, the serried heaping of coal and ironstone stocks, the multiplicity of railway metals, the drifting steam of locomotives … As we gobble up one hamlet after another, cottages and farmhouses loom up mere outlines, islands in the mist; but as the light becomes clearer certain chimneys and headstocks appear upon the horizon, a reminder of the vast subterranean activity with which we are connected. As one headstock falls in the distance, another rises to meet us – the inescapable, the endless chain of winding. We shall not escape the headstocks. We may vary the route as we please, but the gaunt pulley-wheels, and the by-product plant, a column of smoke by day, a pillar of fire by night, will still be in attendance.

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