Friday, October 31, 2014

The Evil Marquess of Queensberry

Today, I want to introduce you to a historical man who in my opinion seems evil to the core.

That is of course, my opinion. You must make your own mind up.

I came upon him while investigating The Earl of Rosebery.

Meet John Douglas the Marquees of Queensberry.

Yes, the man who claimed the rules of boxing were his. Actually a different man, John Graham Chambers drew up the rules. But that didn't stop the Marquees of Queensberry from claiming them. One source says he placed his names on the boxing rules in exchange for 3 trophies to be awarded in the boxing matches.

John Douglas was a physical brute of a man who enjoyed physical sports far more than education.
At Cambridge, he showed no interest in anything but sports and left without a degree after two years. (One must wonder what he did to be sent down. I'm guessing he pounded someone of equal importance into the ground.)

From early on, all signs indicate Queensberry was not a nice man.

His wife divorced him for adultery after bearing 5 children in 7 years of marriage. Can you imagine the evidence and compelling reasons she required to get a divorce in 1887? The laws were heavily in the man's favor at the time.

Queensberry remarried in 1893 to a young woman but it was quickly annulled because the young woman could not arouse him. If I wrote her character, she'd carry a gun and threaten to shoot him if he took a step closer.

His inability to consummate their marriage was good, given he had syphilis which had been deteriorating his mental acuity for years. 

In 1894, he hounded the Earl of Rosebery, the Prime Minister, with accusations that he was having homosexual relations with his male secretary, who happened to be Douglas' eldest son, Francis. 

Why would a man publicly, in the Parliament, accuse his own son of a crime, punishable by prison time? In this case, it was probably due to jealousy and hatred for Francis. 

Whatever he did to those poor children in the first seven years of his marriage was sufficient for them all to hate him for the rest of his life. If I wrote a character after the man, he would beat, torture, and mentally subjugate his children at every turn.

Back to the real thug: While Queensberry lost his seat in parliament in many years before (1880-He refused to pledge allegiance to the queen so he was sent out) his eldest son, under the tutelage and support of the Earl of Rosebery, received an English peerage and was now a rising star in Parliament.

While a normal father would be proud of his son, Queensberry set about to destroy the young man.

And thus began Queensberry's accusations, in Parliament and to the public of an affair between his son and the Prime Minister, the Earl of Rosebery.

Then during a 'hunting accident' Alfred dies. The inquest claimed it 'accidental death' but one biographer believes Alfred ended the accusations that he and the Earl were lovers by putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. Others suggest he was murdered. 

No matter who pulled the trigger, I blame the death of his son on Queensberry. However, he blamed it publicly upon the Earl.

With the first son dead, the second in a wheel chair with polio, Queensberry goes after his third son who was unquestionably having an affair with Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wild on left, Alfred Douglas on Right

Some suggest that Queensberry threatened parliament he would reveal to the world the facts about the Earl's relationship with Francis unless they forced the police to bring charges against Wilde.

The day after Oscar dropped his suit against Queensberry libel and the matter should have quietly ended, Oscar was instead arrested for sodomy and gross indecency. The first trial resulted in a hung jury. That the prosecutor chose to retry the case suggests Queensberry may have indeed had undue influence in the trials. 

Soon after the second trial, the Earl resigned as Prime Minister, then in 1886, he resigned as leader of the Liberal Party and faded from politics for awhile.

Oscar went to jail for two years, and Alfred was exiled to Europe. 

Publicly, Queensberry insisted he only wished to save his son, having already lost his eldest to this madness. But here is a bit from a letter Queensberry wrote to his third son, Alfred. 
 It began:

"You Miserable little creature"
He then claimed he had divorced Alfred's mother (even those historians agree she divorced him) in order not to "run the risk of bringing more creatures into the world like yourself.....I cried over you the bitterest tears a man ever shed that I had brought such a creature into the world and unwittingly committed such a crime...You must be demented."

To me that rages like man of hate, not a father trying to save a son.

Finally, at the age of 55 he died of a stroke, (no doubt while in a fit of anger).

He was cremated upon his death and very well may have been a man that no one mourned.

He was hated by the public in general for his anti-Christian letters to the papers and his reputation for thuggery. (He was said to beat people with a horse whip if they annoyed him.)

The Queen certainly wouldn't mourn the man's his death since he publicly refused to swear allegience to her.

He was definitely hated by the  former Prime Minister, the Earl of Rosebery.

He was hated by his wife and children, for very good reasons.

He was hated by his fellow parliament members for his outrageous outbursts and accusations.

In fact, he may very well died as the most hated man who ever lived. Even Hitler had Ava. This guy had no one that I could find.

A biographer, Linda Stratmann has written a book called The Marquess of Queensberry: Wilde's Nemesis that sounds fabulous. (I read the reviews) And it's possible she found someone who liked him.

Sadly, I can't afford even the ereader version, so I must make do with other resources.

However, from the facts I've collected, if I ever made him a character, he would be a 1st class villain for sure. In fact, readers would no doubt declare him over the top. No father could be this abusive to his own blood! But in this case, he seemed to be meanest to his own blood.

While researching Queensberry, I learned a great deal about his third son Alfred Douglas and may write a blog about him. I'm sorry to say, but he was more like his father than one would wish. It was a shame the first son, Francis Douglas, died so young. He appeared to be the best of a damaged lineage.
This is a picture of Alfred on the left, Francis on the right. And while neither of them had what I would call a good life. At least they didn't get their fathers godawful furry eyebrows.

Nope, I can't behave. Not even when I write about villians.
If you haven't begun my fabulous series, 
The Adventures of Xavier & Vic, 
now is a great time to begin.

Coming in December: Jacko, the pirate's love story:
 A Right to Love


  1. Sad thing to say when the best thing you can say about someone is he didn't get his father's bushy eyebrows!

  2. True, but those were ghastly eyebrows.. I'm thinking they probably got him beaten up when in boy's school which resulted in him growing up to be a thug and bully himself.

  3. We have found that how a child is treated is how they treat others. Many children though do grow up to be wonderful people, despite such circumstances. I wish this man had turned his life around. Can you imagine how happy many men of the realm would have been to have sired not just one but three sons??

  4. Actually he had four sons. But other than his name Sholto I could find nothing on the fourth son. Weird.


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