The connections to the Netherlands

Two Dutch Baronesses

Baroness Irene

There were very limited connections of the Parker expedition to the Netherlands. The main one was a link to Cyril Augustus Ward

Cyril Augustus Ward in Jerusalem

Cyril Augustus Ward was the fifth son of the 1st Earl of Morley. He served as an officer in the Royal Navy and in April 1904 he married Baroness Irene de Brienen. She was the daughter of a wealthy Dutch aristocrat, Baron Arnoud Nicolaas Justinus van Brienen. Irene was born in the magnificent manor house of Huys Clingendael in Wassenaar a suburb of the Hague on 5 November 1883. Irene had one sister Marguerite who was generally known as  Daisy.

Marriage Certificate

Irene’s marriage to Cyril Ward was a difficult one. He was a gambler and a poor one; by 1914 he was between £15,000 and £16,000 in debt. This amount is the equivalent of £1.7 million in 2021. It was an extraordinary achievement to have built up such a level of debt given his family situation. His father was extremely wealthy and Cyril Ward reputedly received £100,000 in the will. However, Ward found many occasions to lose money. In 1914, he lost £825 playing the card game chemin-de-fer. Fortunately his wife, formerly Baroness Irene, came from a wealthy background and reputedly had an income of £5,000 a year herself. She paid off his debts and took control of his income. Ward assigned all his future earnings to his wife and she gave him an allowance of £500 a year.

After the First World War he returned to his losing ways. Ward had to file for bankruptcy and appeared at the London Bankruptcy Court in November 1923. He had assets of £57 and debts of £3,367. Ward informed the court his debts were due to ‘losses by gambling and speculations on the Stock Exchange and to having lived beyond his means.’ Ward added that he was without funds as his wife had stopped his allowance and he was living on the charity of his brother-in-law. It was a humiliating downfall for the brother of a wealthy earl. Soon after he left for Africa and settled in Kenya where he died in 1930.

In 1934 Baroness Irene remarried another naval officer, but a slightly more senior one; Vice-Admiral Hon. Arthur Charles Strutt. They did not have any children. Baroness Irene lived an extremely long life. She was born on 5 November 1883 and died on 21 April 1974.

Baroness Daisy

Baroness Irene’s father did not have any sons and bequeathed the manor house and estate to whichever of his daughters did not marry.  This was Irene’s sister Daisy and she laid out beautiful Japanese gardens on the estate.

Daisy spent a great deal of time in England and, perhaps, helped by her sister’s connections mixed in high society. She was friends with Lady Sackville-West and her daughter Vita and Alice Keppel, the former mistress of King Edward VII. During the First World War she did a great deal to help British soldiers who were interned in the Netherlands, which was neutral. She opened her estate and housed many wounded British soldiers there.

Unfortunately through these friendships and actions she became caught up in a bizarre libel case in 1918 in the United Kingdom. A right-wing English MP named Noel Pemberton-Billing was sued for criminal libel in a complicated case involving the dancer Maud Allan, homosexuality and the Germans blackmailing what Pemberton-Billing described as ‘47,000 highly placed British perverts’. In her evidence in the case Maud Allan was asked whether she mixed in the highest social circles and she said that she had danced for the King and Queen at Lord and Lady Dudley’s. This would actually be the Earl of Dudley, Cyril Ward’s elder brother and Baroness van Brienen’s brother-in-law.

The evidence later went on to hear claims that Alice Keppel was in the Netherlands during the war acting as a go-between with the Germans and that in the Netherlands she met ‘a certain Baroness’. This is assumed to be Daisy van Brienen. The entire case is a truly bizarre one.

Maud Allan performing Salome