When I was a teenager the IRA often tried to murder politicians. Sometimes they succeeded. The last one I remember being killed was Anthony Berry who an Conservative MP in Margaret Thatcher’s government. He died when the IRA planted a bomb in The Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1984. Here I am at the grave of a politician and member of the aristocracy who was stabbed to death in 1882 by Irish nationalists.
Lord Frederick Cavendish was a Liberal politician who supported the Prime Minister William Gladstone. Sadly when he took the the job of Chief Secretary for Ireland he condemned him to death. His dad was the 7th Duke of Devonshire but he was a hard worker and not one for reclining on the family’s riches (think Chatsworth, the stately pile in Derbyshire.) After Cambridge university he went into politics and was just 29 years old when he was elected to parliament. He worked as the private secretary to the prime minister and became a junior Lord of the Treasury.
Sadly he was dead by 45. He travelled to Dublin and took the oath as chief secretary in Dublin. That same afternoon he took a stroll in Phoenix Park with an Irish politician Thomas Burke. Suddenly both were attacked by a pack of men from an extreme Irish nationalist group called the Irish National Invincibles. Both men were hacked to death and the event was known infamously as the Phoenix Park Murders. Frederick's gashed body was taken back to England and buried with various Dukes in the Cavendish family plot near Chatsworth. His coffin was followed by 300 members of the House of Commons and a crowd of 30,000 people. The murderers were caught and admitted their intention was to murder Thomas Burke who Frederick was simply walking with. The murderers were hanged from their necks.
I've been to this churchyard a few times. If you visit Chatsworth you look across onto a hill and just over that hill is Edensor village. Behind the church at the top of the cemetery lies a copse of Cavendish graves. Most are past Dukes of Devonshire and their offspring. The sister of John F Kennedy is buried there as she'd married into the Cavendish family (died young in a plane crash.) Frederick had been married for 18 years to Lucy Lyttleton (the daughter of a baron) who was a pioneer of women's education. She forgave the ringleader responsible for her husband's murder. On the day before he was hanged she sent him the small gold crucifix she had long worn as a token of her forgiveness. After her death aged 83 she joined her husband in the grave.
While there I strolled across the road and climbed the hill to stroll around Chatsworth House. I returned to the church though as I had two photos in my file showing John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy who'd visited their sister's grave. As I'm a geek I found the gates they'd walked through (see photos.) Both wouldn't live long after the visit. I did a salute and left.
Also in the churchyard lies Kathleen Kennedy who married into the Cavendish family. She died in a plane crash and her brothers John and Robert once came to visit her...