Mary Anne Disraeli
The Viscountess Beaconsfield
|Spouse of the Prime Minister|
of the United Kingdom
27 February – 1 December 1868
|Preceded by||The Countess of Derby|
|Succeeded by||Catherine Gladstone|
Mary Anne Evans
11 November 1792
|Died||15 December 1872 80)(aged|
Born in Brampford Speke, near Exeter in Devon, the only daughter of Commander John Viney-Evans and his cousin Eleanor Scrope-Viney (later Mrs Eleanor Yate). In 1815 at Clifton, Bristol Mary married Wyndham Lewis, MP (1780–1838), a colleague of Benjamin Disraeli. In August 1839, the year following Lewis's death, she married Disraeli at St George's, Hanover Square in London. Her fortune allowed him to purchase the estate of Hughenden in Buckinghamshire and to live in the style of an English gentleman.
In recognition of Disraeli's services to the nation, Queen Victoria desired to ennoble him at the end of his first ministry. However, as he wished to remain in the House of Commons, his wife accepted the title in his place and was created Viscountess Beaconsfield, of Beaconsfield in the County of Buckingham on 30 November 1868 (After Mary's death he accepted the title Earl of Beaconsfield).
Staid Victorians were often scandalised by Mary's uninhibited conversation but soon learned not to insult her within Disraeli's hearing. Even Queen Victoria herself was said to be amused when Mary Anne commented, in response to a remark about some lady's pale complexion, "I wish you could see my Dizzy in his bath!" Once, at a house party where Lord Hardinge, a great soldier of the day, was in the room next to the Disraelis, Mary Anne announced at breakfast that she had slept the night before between the greatest soldier (Hardinge) and the greatest orator (Disraeli) of their times: Lady Hardinge was definitely not amused.
Disraeli had been unimpressed by Mary Lewis when he first met her, but he came to understand that she was shrewder than her outward manner had led him to believe. She was a great help to him in editing the books he wrote, and spent 30 years taking care of him. She once joked in public that although he had married her for her money he would do it again for love.. In later life she became increasingly eccentric, both in conversation and appearance, but her husband's devotion and loyalty to her never faltered. She was some twelve years older than her husband but their romance continued until the day she died.
In the spring of 1872 Mary became seriously ill, and by May it was clear that she was dying of stomach cancer. She rallied sufficiently to take a summer tour through the Home Counties with her husband. In November she felt well enough to hold a small dinner party for their close friends; but her condition deteriorated and she died on 15 December, at the age of eighty.
"There was no care which she could not mitigate, and no difficulty which she could not face. She was the most cheerful and courageous woman I ever knew" her husband wrote after her death. His great adversary William Ewart Gladstone, who had liked Mary, wrote him a letter of condolence. Disraeli, touched by this sympathy from a man who disliked him, replied that "Marriage is the greatest earthly happiness when founded on mutual sympathy."
She is buried with Disraeli in a vault in the Church of St Michael and All Angels Church, Hughenden, in Hughenden, Buckinghamshire, close to the Disraeli family home, Hughenden Manor. The house is now in the care of the National Trust, and has been preserved in the state when it was occupied by the Disraelis. It is open to the public as a visitor attraction.
- Dictionary of National Biography, Vol 5, p 1008
- "No. 23446". The London Gazette. 1 December 1868. p. 6401.
- Hesketh Pearson Dizzy- the life and personality of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield Harper Collins New York 1951 p.214
- Hay, Daisy (9 January 2015). "A political romance: Benjamin and Mary Anne Disraeli". the Guardian. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
- Pearson p.75
- Kirsch, Adam, Benjamin Disraeli (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2008), p.106
- Pearson . p214
- Pearson p.214
- Pearson pp.214=216
- Pearson p.75
- Pearson p.216
- "Hughenden Manor". National Trust. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
The Countess of Derby
| Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Birthplace; Daisy Hay, Mr & Mrs Disraeli 2015 Page 3