Florence, Lady Delamere

Florence, Lady Delamere

Last month I talked about why the 3rd Lord Delamere decided to settle in Kenya. He brought with him his new wife, Florence, daughter of the Earl of Enniskillen, a member of a prominent Ulster family. How did this very young member of the Irish aristocracy fare? Florence Anne Cole was born on 3 February 1878, the daughter of Lowry Egerton Cole, 4th Earl of Enniskillen, and his wife Charlotte Marion Baird. She had a childhood of privilege and aristocratic ease, in the elegant surroundings of her father’s country house, Florence Court, County Fermanagh. Her father was MP for Enniskillen, and she had two sisters and three brothers. We first hear of her at the Duke of Devonshire’s costume ball in 1897, and it was shortly afterwards, when she was staying at the Delamere home at Vale Royal in Cheshire, that she met Hugh Cholmondeley, 3rd Baron Delamere, who was laid flat on his back for several weeks after a riding accident. Delamere fell in love with her and the couple  married on 11 July 1899. Delamere had been seduced by Africa and its hunting possibilities and he decided to show the continent to his wife soon after his marriage. The pair arrived in Mombasa and travelled upcountry as far as they could, collecting birds for the British Museum. They then returned to England and Florence gave birth to a son, Thomas Pitt Hamilton, on 19 August 1900. When the child was two he was left in England while his father and mother went once again to East Africa, this time permanently. Quite what Florence felt about abandoning her...
What Brought Lord Delamere to Kenya?

What Brought Lord Delamere to Kenya?

What brought Lord Delamere to Kenya? Why would a young lord abandon his extensive estate in England and come to East Africa in 1899? Hugh Cholmondeley, educated at Eton, inherited the barony of Delamere and the Vale Royal estate in Cheshire when he was only seventeen, in 1887. Still an adolescent, with a violent temper, small and red-haired, he ran wild for a time, spending extravagantly. He left school and his crammer’s and took to hunting on his estate. English hunting was somewhat tame, however, compared with the hunting of wild animals in Africa recounted in the tales of derring-do so popular at the time. When Hugh was 21 he went to Somaliland to hunt, and became hooked. He returned there every year, on one occasion being mauled by a lion, an incident that left him with a permanent limp. His African travels began to plant in Delamere’s mind the idea of settling on the continent. But where? He was rapidly running through his inheritance. His friend Dr Atkinson was persuaded by his worried mother to accompany him on another Somaliland trip (1897-8), and this time the caravan trekked southwards to Lake Rudolf, entering the East Africa Protectorate and reaching Marsabit. Further on, Delamere saw the Laikipia plateau and the Aberdares and the luscious land caught his imagination. The area was sparsely populated following successive famines and epidemics of both smallpox and rinderpest over the previous few years. It seemed wide open for development. For the moment, however, Delamere decided to go home to England to get married. Africa beckoned again and Delamere decided to show the East Africa...