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Mary Anne Disraeli, 1st Viscountess Beaconsfield (1792 – 1872) was a British peeress, society figure and the wife of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. A Welshwoman by birth, she was known for her honesty and uninhibited remarks, which often scandalized the staid Victorians.

Biography

Early life

Shortly after her first husband passed away, Mary Anne married Benjamin Disraeli in 1839 and also became his friend and adviser, constantly aiding him at his side. Though Benjamin hid his debts from her for years, the couple managed to work out their problems, strengthening their marriage in the process.[1]

By 1868, Queen Victoria offered Benjamin to be raised to nobility but the latter refused. Mary Anne, seeing this as an opportunity, took the offer and was dubbed Viscountess Beaconsfield. The feisty woman refused to abide accepted standard of Victorian society and wore fashion that outdid the Queen, using them to mock the ladies of court who once scorned her. She also participated in charitable campaigns and causes, earning the hearts and minds of the public through her joy, success, and love.[1]

Corrupt Practices Act

Sometime later, as her husband introduced the Corrupt Practices Act which was meant to end electoral bribery, the British Templars plotted to kill Disraeli to stall the implementation of the act. The Templars hired men to kill Disraeli while he was in his carriage with his wife, but the plot was foiled by the Assassin Jacob Frye, who posed as their new bodyguard; while Benjamin was doubtful of Jacob's authenticity, Mary Anne seemed quite taken with the young Assassin. After the attack, Jacob asked her if she knew of a politician wearing a cavalry uniform. Impressed by his skills, Mary Anne told the Assassin that she would help him in his inquiry if he escorted her while touring the Devil's Acre, one of the poorest and most dangerous districts of the city.[1]

The next evening, as agreed, Jacob met the curious woman and her dog Desmond—who was initially hostile towards him—in the gardens of Downing Street and took her to the Devil's Acre after chasing off scandal-seeking journalists. While touring the place, Mary Anne witnessed and commented on various aspects of the lower class life, despite Jacob's attempts to shield her from some of the more bawdy or macabre sights. After the tour, they stopped for a rest at a rather shady pub, where Lady Disraeli tried a pint for the first time but did not find the concoction very pleasant.[1]

At that moment, an observing gang member stole Mary Anne's handbag with Desmond still inside and ran off with it, prompting Jacob to give chase. After retrieving the bag and Desmond, Jacob realised that he had left the Prime Minister's wife completely unattended in a very dangerous slum, but was amazed to find her having a meaningful conversation with a burly gang member over his estranged father. After consoling the man with a sweetie, Lady Disraeli allowed Jacob to take her back to Downing Street. Having satisfied her curiosity, Lady Disraeli told Jacob that the mysterious "B" he was looking for was in fact James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, whom she disliked due to his endless military anecdotes. Additionally, she promised to put in a good word with her husband.[1]

Victoria's ball

Mary Anne and her husband were later invited by Jacob and his twin sister Evie to their train hideout to request an invitation to the ball at Buckingham Palace, which delighted them both as they had grown fond of the two. Sadly, Mary Anne stated that even if there were remaining invitation cards, the Fryes lacked the proper social status to obtain them. Benjamin then chimed in that if his rival William Gladstone were attending, he'd gladly hand Jacob his card, which gave Evie the idea to send Jacob to steal the Gladstones' cards. Mary Anne, quite enjoying the idea of helping to pinch the invitations of her husband's rival, then provided the Gladstones' address so he could accomplish the task.[1]

At the ball, she waylaid Evie as she was departing the palace's upper floors and insisted on introducing her to Queen Victoria, despite the young woman's half-hearted attempts to shake her off, although the twins had to leave the festivities in order to confront and kill the Templar Grand Master Crawford Starrick. In doing so they saved the lives of all those present at the ball (Mary Anne included) whom Starrick was intending to murder. [1]

Later life and death

Mary Anne and Benjamin became prominent and well-loved figures of British society, but sadly Mary Anne died some years later from stomach cancer and her husband would follow not long afterwards, still devastated at her loss. She was buried along with her husband at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Hughenden, Buckinghamshire.[1]

Appearance

Reference

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