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Colonel William Cornwallis-West MP

Spy (Sir Leslie Ward) (1851-1922)



Watercolour with bodycolour

15 ½ x 7 ½ inches

Vanity Fair, 16 July 1892, Statesmen no 595, 'Denbighshire'

'The Long Nineteenth Century: Treasures and Pleasures', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, March-April 2014, no 140;
'The Illustrators. The British Art of Illustration 1871-2022', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, November-December 2022, no 36

William Cornwallis-West (1835-1917) was born in Florence, the youngest child of Frederick West of Ruthin Castle, Denbighshire. Following his education – at Eton and Lincoln’s Inn – he returned to Florence and developed his talent as a painter, gaining a reputation as a copyist, and also collecting. On the early death of his elder brother, Frederick, in 1868, he succeeded to the estate of Ruthin, and four years later married 17-year-old Mary Fitzpatrick, who would become a leading socialite (and have an affair with the Prince of Wales). they shared their time between Ruthin and 49 Eaton Place.

West became High Sheriff of Denbighshire (1872), Lord-Lieutenant of Denbighshire (1872-1917), a Justice of the Peace and Honorary Colonel in the 4th battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, and was awarded the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Officers’ decoration. In 1885 he was returned to parliament for Denbighshire West, a seat he held until 1892, first as a Liberal and then as a Liberal Unionist.

On the death of his mother in 1886, West came into possession of Newlands Manor, Lymington, Hampshire, and attempted to develop the resort of Milford on Sea in emulation of the Duke of Devonshire’s project at Eastbourne.

His children included George, who was the second husband of Jennie Jerome, mother of Winston Churchill, and then the second husband of the actress, Mrs Patrick Campbell; Daisy, Princess of Pless; and Constance Edwina, Duchess of Westminster.

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