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Moreton Frewen

Also Known As: "Mortal Ruin"
Birthdate: (71)
Birthplace: Northiam, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Death: September 2, 1924 (71)
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Frewen and Helen Louisa Frewen (Homan)
Husband of Clarita "Clara" Frewen (Jerome)
Father of Capt. Hugh Moreton Frewen; Clare Consuelo Sheridan and Capt. Oswald Moreton Frewen, RN
Brother of Anne Louisa Frewen; Edward Frewen; Richard Frewen and Lt. Col. Stephen Laton Frewen
Half brother of Mary Aylward; Selina Powell; John Frewen; Eleanor Carter and Laton Frewen

Managed by: Ric Dickinson
Last Updated:

About Moreton Frewen

Moreton Frewen was an Anglo-Irish writer on monetary reform who served briefly as a Member of Parliament (MP).

Left England for the American West in 1878. Ended up in Wyoming where he invested in a large cattle operation, which eventually went bankrupt. Married Clara Jerome of New York, sister of Jenny Churchill - Winston Churchill's mother, in June 1881, against her parents' wishes. Clara had a miscarriage during one of the opulent hunting parties organized at the ranch and returned to New York, never to enter Wyoming again. "Called “hopelessly visionary” by his father-in-law, the nickname given to him by his brother Stephen’s regiment was “Mortal Ruin.” Moreton Frewen died, aged 71, in England in 1924 with an estate estimated under £50.

He was the fifth son of Thomas Frewen, MP for South Leicestershire, and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained his BA in 1877. He emigrated to Wyoming during the cattle boom in the 1870s and 1880s. A charming if financially incompetent adventurer from an English landed gentry family known for reckless financial and political schemes, he managed to marry Clarita "Clara" Jerome (1851–1935) in 1881, daughter of the New York City financier Leonard Jerome, and sister to Lord Randolph Churchill's wife Jennie. They settled together on a huge Wyoming ranch, The Prince of Wales Ranch, where Frewen built an enormous log lodge/castle later destroyed by fire and ran up ever increasing debt, earning the sobriquets "Mortal Ruin" and "the splendid pauper". His laterally descended family, the Martins formerly of Charley Hall, Leicestershire, refer to him to this day however not as "Mortal Ruin" but as "Immortal Ruin", as he ran through two family fortunes before being granted a remittance and "encouraged" by family to emigrate to America.

Returning to the United Kingdom, where he owned homes in London and Cork, Frewen served as Vice President of the Imperial Federation League. He wrote on tariff reform and other economic matters, and was an advocate of bimetallism.

He became involved in Irish affairs through inheriting the Innishannon Estate, some 3,000 acres near Cork, and through his friendships with Lord Dunraven and Timothy Healy (MP).

He was elected unopposed at the December 1910 general election as an All-for-Ireland League MP for North East Cork, taking his seat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. He resigned on 5 July 1911 because his seat was needed for Healy and because of his reactionary public statements: his opposition to the Parliament Bill to remove the legislative veto of the House of Lords was proving a political liability. Later he signed the British Covenant in support of Ulster, while continuing to engage in political intrigues.

He was a brother-in-law not only of Lord Randolph Churchill but also of Sir John Leslie of Glaslough. His niece Ruby (with whom he was not on good terms), daughter of his brother Stephen, was the second wife of Sir Edward Carson.

He left two sons, Hugh Moreton Frewen, and Captain Oswald Moreton Frewen, Royal Navy (Retired), and a daughter, the sculptress and writer Clare Sheridan. Another daughter, Jasmine, died at birth.

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Moreton Frewen's Timeline

Northiam, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom
October 9, 1883
Age 30
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
September 9, 1885
Age 32
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
January 11, 1887
Age 34
Marylebone, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
September 2, 1924
Age 71
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom