Posts Tagged ‘Marquis of Londonderry’

The 3rd Marquis of Londonderry

August 15, 2008 Leave a comment

Most of you will be aware of him. Perhaps you looked up at his monument [a big man on a big horse] as a child during the Durham Miners’ Gala – with a sense of awe and a little fright. I did. Perhaps you still look at the monument as you go by during your shopping in Durham City.

Of course the monument is in the Market Place, Durham City. It was commissioned by his wife, Lady Londonderry and unveiled on 02/12/1861. The monument almost didn’t end up in the Market Place. Seaham Harbour, Sunderland and Palace Green, Durham were alternatives that had received consideration. Certainly some businessmen were unhappy with its position. They felt that it prevented free passage to the markets and they were worried about a potential loss to business.

So what do we know about him? Some of you may well know quite a bit but for those who do not he was born in Dublin in 1788 and educated at Eton [hardly comparable to Ushaw Moor Secondary Modern in terms of prestige}. He showed great courage under fire when serving the Duke of Wellington. That surely demands respect. He married an Irish woman – Francis Ann Vane- Tempest; she was an heiress to large properties in both Durham and Ireland. As we know, people of that social position tended to consolidate their position by means of marriage.

Londonderry subsequently bought property in Durham including a Seaham Estate and several pits. What did the people of Durham think of him? He was regarded by many as being a ruthless colliery owner. I imagine that he might have put Chaytor [Ushaw Moor] and Cochrane [Sleetburn – I love to use that old name for New Brancepeth] in the shade for the reputation of being ruthless. He opposed trade unions and was regarded as someone who adopted a hostile position – if he did not his way in the world of pits. It is safe to assess that his reputation in Durham is mixed, shall we say, during a moment of generosity.

We have to be careful in assessing such people as events of the long gone past can be distorted by the passing of so much time. Some more research is needed!

Wilf Bell

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