The Gore-Booth Family


Gore-Booth Coat of Arms


The Family Legend
My in-laws claim that Emily Gore-Booth's father was a guard at Buckingham Palace, and Emily was a Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria when she met and fell in love with William Warwick (who was either a banker or a stable-hand, depending on who you ask). Her father apparently considered William to be 'beneath her station' and refused to approve the match, so Emily and William eloped and were married at Gretna Green in Scotland (the Victorian equivalent of a Las Vegas wedding). They seem to have resoved matters with Henry to a point since he was present at their second wedding in Liverpool, but the story goes that Emily was disowned, and the family emigrated to Canada in 1882, settling in Hamilton, Ontario. Emily and William were my husband Adam's great-great-grandparents.

The Baronets of Lissadell
The Gore-Booth family descends from Sir Paul Gore, who was granted lands in north-western Ireland and was created Baronet in 1622. He built the castle of Ardtermon on the shore of Drumcliff Bay in Co. Sligo, which was destroyed by fire in the late 1700s and replaced by the current family home of Lissadell in the 1830s. In addition to their lands in Sligo, the family acquired considerable estates in Machester and Salford through the marriage of Sir Nathaniel Gore to Letitia Booth in 1711. Their son, Sir Booth Gore, was the first to be named Baronet of Lissadell, Sligo. He was succeeded by his eldest son Booth, who died unmarried, leaving the title and estates to his brother Sir Robert Newcomen Gore, who, in 1804, took the additional surname and arms of Booth.

Sir Robert Newcomen Gore-Booth, 3rd Baronet of Sligo, had two sons - Robert and Henry. Robert (the 4th Bt.) was best known for his kind treament of his tenants during the Great Famine in the 1840s. He is said to have mortgaged his estate to help feed them, and would accept no rents during the crisis. He also sponsored the emmigration of several hundred of them to North America, which some have seen as 'dumping' the problem onto the colonies. However, he seems to have been greatly loved and respected by his tenants, and the ships he hired were reportedly well-provisioned. Some of his relocated tenants even wrote to thank him after their arrival in the new world:

We the Committee of the Passengers of the Ship ∆olus, of Greenock, Capt. Michael Driscoll, commander, do send our thanks, in the name of all the Passengers, to our ever to-be-remembered late landlord, Sir Robert Gore Booth, Bart., Sligo: he was always kind to his tenants; it was not tyranny which forced us to emigrate - it was the loss of our crops for two years past: and we hope to gain a living in America by strict industry and sobriety. We are thankful to Henry Gore Booth, Esquire, the owner of the ∆olus, for the ample stores put on board for the voyage, and the good quality thereof. We are also thankful to Captain Driscoll, for his upright conduct in the distribution of diet-giving all the same fair play; the widows and orphans and the sick were all kindly treated by him, and his advice to all had a good effect, as there was not a single riot or a blow struck during the voyage.

St. John, New Brunswick, May 31, 1845

Sir Robert's brother, Henry Gore-Booth, appears to have been a somewhat less savoury character. He was known to have had numerous mistresses and several illegitimate children, and managed to completely bankrupt himself around 1850. He amassed huge debts totalling nearly 25,000 pounds, and it was this situation which forced him to send a letter to his brother Robert in 1872, begging for 30 pounds to pay for his daughters wedding, which was to take place on November 2nd in Liverpool. This happens to be the exact date and place of the marriage of Emily Frances Arabella Gore-Booth's marriage to William Warwick. The marriage record gives her father's name as Henry Gore-Booth, and his signature on this record matches those on other documents. So although Emily is not included on any list of Henry's children, and her mother's name is recorded as 'Frances' on her baptism (Henry's wife was Isabella Smith), there appears to be no doubt that she was, legitimate or not, his daughter.

Some famous Gore-Booths:

Henry Gore-Booth (5th Bt., son of Robert) continued his father's benevolence towards his tenants. He was well known for his philanthropy and his innovative and successful land management practices, but was perhaps best known for his numerous Arctic expeditions, during one of which he made a remarkable rescue of another Arctic explorer, Leigh Smith. Henry wrote prolifically on many subjects including Arctic exploration, yachting, whaling, polar bear hunting and shark fishing.

Constance ('Con') Gore-Booth Markievicz (daughter of Henry, 5th Bt.) was a talented artist who met and married the Polish Count Markievicz, a fellow art student in Paris, in 1900. She was jailed and sentenced to death for her very active part in the Easter Rising of 1916, but her sentence was commuted because of her gender. In 1918 she became the first woman elected to the British Parliament, but as a member of Sinn Fein, she refused to take her seat. She was made Minister for Labour when the first Dail met in 1919, but when the Dail ratified the London treaty signed by Michael Collins, she opposed it with de Valera and ceceeded along with other republican members. She later joined de Valera's Fianna FŠil party in 1926 and was elected as a candidate in 1927, but died only a month later.
More on Constance Gore-Booth.

Eva Gore-Booth (daughter of Henry, 5th Bt.) was also politically active and artistically talented. She became strongly active in the suffrage and trade-labour movements, mostly in northern England. She was also a talented writer, publishing ten volumes of poems, five plays and two books. Eva and Constance were both friends of William Butler Yeats, a regular visitor to Lissadell, who described the sisters in a poem as "Two girls in silk kimonos, both beautiful, one a gazelle."

The Lissadell Papers at PRONI


Jennifer's Genealogy Page
Created: Tuesday, May 16, 2000
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 16, 2000