Saturday, 11 August 2018

peer of the realm

Marquess of the baronet of Anglesey (Ardalydd Môn), privy counsellor to the courts of Victoria and Edward VII and nicknamed “Toppy,” Henry Cyril Paget (*1875 - †1905) lived a short and by the reckoning of his of his fellow royals a destitute and squandered one. At age twenty-three Paget married his cousin Lilian Chetwynd and the same year came into his title with the death of his father and inherited extensive estates throughout England and Wales. Paget had the chapel of the family’s country seat converted into a one hundred-fifty seat theatre (modelled off the Dresden Opera) and staged everything from elaborate costume dramas to cabaret for invited audiences.
Paget’s plans to tour with his theatre company, already mortgaging some of property to fund the excursion, was a step too far and she had their marriage annulled—though later cared for him at his death in Monaco, bankrupt and suffering from a prolonged illness (he’d always been somewhat restrained by a weak constitution) and possibly eager to win the right to hold onto some of his prized-possessions at Monte Carlo. All of it, the jewels, private custom rail cars for his actors, the clothes, the costumes—even his dogs, were auctioned off. Neither gambling nor lovers seemed to be the cause of Paget’s downfall, however—only a rather innocent though irresponsible propensity for profligacy and performance—also nicknamed the Dancing Marquess, Paget had a signature slinky snake dance that he would do no matter what the occasion, the later which none faulted him for. Even if the obituaries in the newspapers as well as the heir (another cousin) who inherited what was left of the Anglesey lands plus the debt were harsh, that heir ordered destroyed all of Paget’s diaries and correspondence, so we’ll never know if there was more to the story. Whatever the case, the people in his troupe as well as those associated with the family manors genuinely cared for their eccentric lord and patron.