Henry Villiers-Stuart

Dromana House, Waterford

Henry Villiers-Stuart was born on the 8th of June 1803. He was educated at Eton and was made a Baron in 1839, with the title Lord Stuart de Decies.

Henry Villiers-Stuart of Dromana rocked the Irish nation and the British Parliament by being elected to Parliament in the cause of Catholic Emancipation in 1826. Although Henry Villiers-Stuart lost the seat at the general election of 1830, he was appointed as Lieutenant of the City and County of Waterford in 1831, when lieutenancies on the English model were introduced into Ireland in place of the old Irish county governorships. The governorship of County Waterford had not belonged to Dromana since 1766. Finally, in 1839, he was created a baron of the United Kingdom, as Lord Stuart de Decies.

He married an Austrian Roman Catholic, ne Pauline Theresia Ott in 1826 or 1827. There was some doubt surrounding this marriage ceremony which may have taken place either at St James's Roman Catholic church, Spanish Place, London, or in a private house in London. Subsequent marriage ceremonies took place in Scotland in 1827 and in Ireland c.1835-1836, demonstrating that Henry Villiers-Stuart was doubtful of the validity of the first marriage: firstly because Lady Stuart may have been married previously to Leopold Gersch, and secondly the legal status of a wedding between a Protestant and a Roman Catholic celebrated by Roman Catholic clergyman was in question under English law at that time.

Henry was more than doubtful of the legitimacy of their children, Henry Windsor and Pauline. So much so that in 1840, Lord Stuart had given a written promise to his brother William that he would inherit Dromana, the family estates and title in 1848. It is believed that Lady Stuart, on her deathbed in 1867, said that she had never been married before, explaining Lord Stuart's extraordinary change of heart towards his son: in 1872, he went into an elaborate negotiation to have Henry Windsor made Vice-Lieutentant of County Waterford, on the grounds that his own failing health disabled him from exercising the Lieutenancy. Giving such status to his son would help Lord Stuart secure Henry Windsor's claim as legitimate heir to the Dromana estates, despite the previous agreement with his brother William.

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