Art, History, Humor, Mail Art, Nostalgia

Postal Art and the Hope Diamond

Here’s an example of my Great Uncles’ correspondence during the early 1900s. The envelope below was posted at 2:15 pm on March 9, 1903 from London. It was from Matthew Deegan, aged 21 at the time, and addressed to his brother Ernest Deegan c/o Lord Francis Hope. Does that name sound familiar? Think diamond!



Hope Diamond

According to Wikipedia, Henry Francis Hope Pelham-Clinton-Hope, 8th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne (3 February 1866 – 20 April 1941) was an English nobleman. He was educated at Eton College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He inherited the estate of his grandmother, Anne Adele Hope (widow of Henry Thomas Hope) in 1884, upon condition that he assume the name and arms of Hope upon reaching his majority; he did so in 1887 and became known as Lord Francis Hope.This bequest included the well-known Hope Diamond. He was Sheriff of Monaghan for 1897 and 1917.


Lord Francis Hope

He married American actress May Yohé in November 1894. She had gained fame on the London stage in 1893 and 1894, especially in the burlesque Little Christopher Columbus. He led an extravagant lifestyle, which the two continued together, and was discharged in bankruptcy in 1896. One journal wrote: “Pecuniary troubles, however, embarrassed the two but slightly. A future Duke and Duchess can always beg or borrow, and they did.

In 1900 they made a tour of the world, and on their way home fell in with Captain [Putnam] Bradlee Strong, at that time one of the handsomest and most popular men in the United States Army, and a special favourite with President McKinley. The actress fell head over ears in love with him. She refused to return to England with Lord Francis”. Hope divorced Yohé in 1902; at this time, he obtained court permission to sell off the Hope Diamond to pay some of his debts. After lengthy litigation in the Court of Chancery, he was able to break the entail on most of his grandmother’s trusts, and sold off The Deepdene in Surrey and Castleblayney in County Monaghan, Ireland.

Hope_BankruptLord Francis married Olive Muriel Owen, née Thompson, in 1904. They had 3 children:

  • Henry Edward Hugh Pelham-Clinton-Hope, 9th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne (1907–1988)
  • Lady Doria Lois Pelham-Clinton-Hope (1908–1942)
  • Lady Mary Pelham-Clinton-Hope (1910–1982)

He inherited the dukedom from his brother in 1928 and died in 1941 at Clumber Park.

If only my great Uncle had traded these cool postal art envelopes for that diamond … then again I understand it brings bad luck. Better to have the envelopes!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+