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But there was to be no happy ending for poor old Edith who turned out to be 61 at the time of her wedding. She had been married for less than 6 months when her misery led her to travel to Brighton where she killed herself by jumping off a cliff. Her husband, Lord Haldon, appeared as a witness at her inquest which took place on the 6 May 1930. When asked if their marriage was happy, Lord Haldon broke into tears and said: "We were like Darby and Joan". He added that they had lived in a flat in Clapham, (provided by Edith), but that it had been  "a bit damp". He wondered if this had affected her health  and caused a mental breakdown? The Coroner returned an open verdict saying there was no evidence that Edith had intended to commit suicide. But why else would she have wanted to jump off the cliffs at Brighton?

 

Interviewed later by reporters who asked about the financial state of the couple, Lord Haldon said "The room we took in Acre Lane, Brixton (in an extremely cheap boarding house) was merely a pied- â -terre. "It was my intention to take my wife to Devon within the next few days while I went to Scotland on business" he said. "My wife and I were both West Country people and I know she was looking forward to the visit."

 

Haldon House as built by Sir George Chudleigh in the early 18th century
Haldon House as built by Sir George Chudleigh in the early 18th century. It was bought by Sir Robert Palk as a family home.Today only the wing on the far left remains to form the Lord Haldon Hotel.

 

Now, did you think this was the end of the story? Far from it - we have only reached the real beginning of our tale. Lizzie Ireland saw an opportunity here and rapidly made her way to the "room in Acre Lane, Brixton" where she set about comforting the grieving widower as only she knew how. She made sure that everyone in the lodging house knew that she was Lord Haldon's intended wife. And so rumours began to circulate that she was engaged to his lordship. But sadly on 12 January 1933 Lawrence William Palk died, aged 63 and Lizzie's dream came to an abrupt end. But do not fear for our heroine - there was a son and heir waiting in the wings

 

 

In the fallow years which followed her failed attempt to become part of the Palk family, Lizzie kept boredom away by acquiring  at least two more husbands. The first was Joseph Rickards, an insurance salesman - he was 31 and she was 55.

 

They married in 1935 and divorced in 1936, when no less a person than Arthur Ireland was cited as co-respondent. After the divorce, Mrs Rickards was unlucky enough to meet another con artist who added to his real name of Frederick Linwood had an interesting set of alternative names and liked at times to be known as Lord Hugh Clive. By this "marriage" she acquired  the name "Lady Clive" which she enhanced by the use of her preferred Christian name - Marcia. It had a lovely ring to it and she used it off and on for the rest of her life. However Frederick wasn't a lady's man and the marriage was soon annulled on the grounds of non-consummation. And then in 1938 Lizzie heard that the 4th Baron Haldon, was ill and alone. She saw her chance, wrote to him and offered to pay for his medical care. Her letter mentioned that  she had known his father and that she would also make him a small allowance when he recovered. She signed her note as Lady Marcia Clive, her offer was accepted with gratitude and the trap was set.

 

She did not have to play her role for long. The 4th Baron Haldon died 16 August 1938 after holding his title for just 5 months. He was found on the steps of the Westminster Hospital with a burst gastric ulcer and could not be saved. Following his death  his close friend Lady Clive gave an interview to the Daily Mail. which appeared on the 18th August 1938, in which she said that there had been a long romantic history with the 4th Lord Haldon. That they had quarrelled and made up and that  they had been secretly married in Scotland. This was followed by a flat statement that she was his grieving widow and was making funeral arrangements which included having him buried near her property in Toft, Cheshire.  The paper later noted that there were two wreaths at the funeral - both from women - one from Lady Marcia Clive and another from a Mrs. Lizzie Holland.)

But  Lizzie was not finished yet - she had another scheme in mind and this time, she needed accomplices for it to work. 

 

Lady Marcia Clive

Self-styled Lady Marcia Clive at her "husband's" funeral in 1938

© The Daily Mail

 

On 15 March 1939, all the London papers carried the following notice

"It was announced yesterday that Lady Haldon of Tunstall, Stoke -on-Trent, widow of the 4th Lord Haldon who died in August last year, gave birth at her country residence at Toft near Knutsford, Chershire on Monday night.

The baby will be christened Lawrence Edward Broomfield after his father."

The Daily Mail continued:

The Barony had been considered extinct on the death in January, of the 5th Lord Haldon, a great uncle of the 4th Baron who succeeded at the age of 84.

A member of Lady Haldon's household told a reporter: The question of claiming the Barony does not arise, for the child is a direct descendant of the 4th Lord Haldon and, as such, will succeed to the title."

When the 4th Baron, who died in London, was buried at Toft last year, Lady Haldon stated that their marriage took place by declaration in Scotland.

A comprehensive announcement indeed, but with one important omission. Lady Haldon failed to mention the miraculous nature of this birth considering that at the time of it, she was aged 61.

 

 

 
 
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