Introduction. The dynastic connection Brabazon, Earl of Bessborough forged with the third Duke of Devonshire while the latter was lord lieutenant of Ireland was crucial in the emergence of the Ponsonbys as a major force in Irish politics. In addition to the lord lieutenant’s patronage, by which the Ponsonbys were eased into a host of important offices, they were also enabled to secure a foothold in some Devonshire boroughs. The following extract of a letter from Devonshire, written in the wake of a more formal communication in which he stated that his son Lord Hartington would be guided in his actions as lord lieutenant of Ireland, to which position he had been appointed in succession to the Duke of Dorset, by his commitment ‘to quiet matters in Ireland’ and bring the Money Bill dispute to a close, illustrates the close friendship that bound the two men.
Source. Chatsworth papers, Public Record Office, Northern Ireland (Reference number T3158/635).
It will not to be wondered at if a letter I wrote to the Primate [George Stone] and your lordship jointly appear something dry. Therefore I heartily wish I had more time to explain it to your lordship alone, as I would not fail on any account to acknowledge the friendship you have always honoured me with, and the solid satisfaction that I have received from the alliances between our family, as it is impossible for any regards to be more sincere than what my daughters and their husbands so deservedly claim from me. … I shall for this time content myself with observing that there could be no design to show the least disregard for you or your family or friends when my son was picked upon, of whom I have the strongest reason to hope that he has the same thoughts as I have. …
Dr James Kelly