On this day January 31: Marquess of Queensberry dead


queensberry january 31
Quote from The Butte Miner, 1900.

Ding-Dong! The witch is dead! Newspapers made no attempt to play nice following the January 31 1900 death of the Victorian era’s most notorious homophobe. Not due to the Marquess of Queensberry’s homophobia. No. They just didn’t like him. No one did.

It is noteworthy that people who build their fame by demonising others are generally unlikeable. Even their supporters quietly dislike them. Perhaps because of their contempt for anyone in anyway different to themselves.

But no one disguised their dislike for John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry (Also spelled Queensbury).

“The Marquess of Queensberry is dead,” reported many papers. Just that. Nothing else.

Ding-Dong! The witch is dead! A few mentioned the Queensberry Rules of Boxing — somewhat contemptuously in the case of the Butte Miner.

“A set of rules by which men might batter each other into a state of unconsciousness for a purse or gate receipts.”

Surprisingly, few mentioned Queensberry’s notorious feud with Oscar Wilde over the playwright’s affair with his son Lord Alfred Douglas, ‘Bosie’.

But the querulous marquess’ stoush with Wilde was not the first time the punch-drunk old boxer entered the ring intending to KO a ‘Somdomite’. (Spelling was not his strength.)

Back in 1893, Queensberry threw a hissy fit over his eldest son’s elevation to baron by Prime Minister Lord Rosebery, otherwise, Archibald Primrose. Rumour had it Francis Douglas and Primrose were lovers. The following year Francis died in a ‘hunting accident’. Though after Queensbury’s death, the Evening Times felt safe to allude to the truth.

“The eldest son, Lord Drumlanrig, was killed, or killed himself, six years ago at the age of 27.”

Snob Queers

Queensberry held the Prime Minister responsible, writing that ‘snob queers like Rosebery’ corrupted his sons.

But the shit really hit the fan in 1895, after the marquess left a calling card at Wilde’s club addressed ‘For Oscar Wilde, posing Somdomite’.

Wilde, of course, famously sued his lover’s father and lost. He then faced prosecution for gross indecency, lost again, went to jail and died in France in 1900.

However, not before the Marquess of Queensbury. Wilde outlasted him by 10 months.

Wilde’s death was attributed to ill-health following his time in jail, and a broken spirit.

And the Marquess of Queensberry? The angry homophobe so concerned by his son’s and everyone else’s morality?

His death followed an earlier stroke, his physical and mental health destroyed by a then incurable disease — syphilis.

Read more: January 30 <— On this day —> February 1

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