John Meade, 1st Earl of Clanwilliam

John Meade, 1st Earl of Clanwilliam (21 April 1744 – 19 October 1800) was an Irish nobleman, known as Sir John Meade, 4th Baronet until 1766. Elevated to the Irish peerage, his debauchery and reckless spending led him to sell the family estate.


The son of Sir Richard Meade, 3rd Baronet, he was born a few days before his father's death. He inherited a baronetcy and estates worth about £10,000 per year, in Cork, Kilkenny, and Tipperary.[1] He was returned as Member of Parliament for Banagher in 1764.

In 1765, he married Theodosia Magill,[1] a wealthy heiress with estates in Gilford and Rathfriland, County Down worth £4,000 per year.[2] The marriage settlement provided her with a jointure of £3,500 per year should she survive Meade, of which £2,500 was to be charged to his Tipperary estates.[3] On 17 November 1766, he was created Viscount Clanwilliam and Baron Gilford, and entered the Irish House of Lords.[4]

The couple had five sons and five daughters:

The Clanwilliams were extravagant spenders, the Viscount dissipating large sums on horseracing, gambling, and keeping mistresses. (In 1779, Horace Walpole repeated a rumor, almost certainly exaggerated, that Clanwilliam had arranged the murder of one of his romantic rivals.) His elevation in the peerage as Earl Clanwilliam on 20 July 1776 probably exacerbated matters, encouraging acts of ostentation like keeping open house at his townhouse (now part of Newman House) on St Stephen's Green, Dublin.[5] Around 1783, the Clanwilliams' personal property was seized and auctioned; by 1787, his debts had grown to over £72,135. Clanwilliam was forced to sell and mortgage his Cork and Kilkenny estates to pay off the debts; they were also charged with providing marriage portions for his daughters Anne and Catherine in 1788 and 1789. As these estates had provided maintenance for his eldest son Lord Gilford, Gilford was given £1,700 per year from the Tipperary and Down estates instead.[6]

The debt still stood at £31,327 in 1791, and grew to £46,251 in 1795. Clanwilliam found himself obliged to begin liquidating the Tipperary estate in 1793, a process that continued until 1805, at the cost of providing portions for his remaining younger children.[6] Gilford's consent was needed to break the entail, but as he had contracted debts of his own and married the Bohemian, Roman Catholic, noblewoman Countess Caroline Thun without the approval of his parents in October 1793, he was in no position to obstruct them. He was granted a small provision from his mother's Down estates and left to live in Vienna.[7] In fact, the resettlement of the family estates that ensued was largely to the benefit of the Countess, at the expense of the Earl and Lord Gilford.[8]

By September 1800, Clanwilliam suffered badly from dropsy and left his wife at Gill Hall, on the Gilford estate, for his mistress and his Dublin townhouse.[9] He died there on 19 October, having, in the words of his grandson, the 3rd Earl of Clanwilliam, "dissipated, to the last guinea, the Meade estates in Cork and Tipperary".



Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Peter Holmes
John Pigott
Member of Parliament for Banagher
With: Peter Holmes
Succeeded by
Peter Holmes
Henry Prittie
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Clanwilliam
Succeeded by
Richard Meade
Viscount Clanwilliam
Baronetage of Ireland
Preceded by
Richard Meade
(of Ballintubber)
Succeeded by
Richard Meade
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/11/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.