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Earl Cardigan, the man who led—though was not responsible for—the charge of the Light Brigade, had a reputation as a hotheaded duellist that was eclipsed only by his reputation as a womaniser. The instant his first wife died, he rushed to the house of his mistress Adeline de Horsey, more than 40 years his junior, and cried, “My dearest, she’s dead ... let’s get married at once.” As the biography I’ve just been reading says,
His action was perhaps less callous than the words suggest. He had spent [his wife]’s last hours with her, and she had actually advised him to marry Adeline, in preference to the widowed Marchioness of Ailesbury, whom Adeline regarded as her principal rival.
Still, a second marriage to a former mistress, especially one so young, was frowned on in Victorian society. They travelled to Gibraltar two months later on Cardigan’s yacht, the Airedale, and were married there, but found themselves ostracised:
It was said that the Governor of Gibraltar invited Cardigan alone to dinner. Cardigan replied that he was accompanied by Lady Cardigan. The single invitation was repeated. Cardigan sent his second to the Governor with a duelling challenge. The Governor responded by having the Airedale, with Cardigan on board, towed out of Gibraltar harbour and left in the Mediterranean.

Donald Thomas, Charge! Hurrah! Hurrah! A Life of Cardigan of Balaclava


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 3rd, 2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
He sounds rather impetuous and fun.

I myself am wearing a lady cardigan today.
Jan. 3rd, 2008 12:28 pm (UTC)
Whereas the Governor of Gibraltar was clearly both ill-mannered and a coward! :-)
Jan. 3rd, 2008 12:40 pm (UTC)
Which is why nobody ever wears a governer of gibraltar these days.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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