A late 18th Century English verge in gilt pair cases bearing an inscription of Irish interest. Full plate fusee movement with round pillars. Finely pierced and engraved cock bearing a bust, diamond endstone in a blue steel setting, silver regulator disc. Plain three arm steel balance. Convex white enamel dial with Arabic numerals, gold beetle and poker hands. Gilt metal pair cases, plain inner, maker's mark “EL”. Gilt outer with an unusual engraving relating to the watch, “In commemoration of Lord Castlereagh, the Cold Blooded Enemy of the liberty of Mankind, having cut his throat, August 12th 1822, this watch was given to J.B.Phelps by his father”.
As chief secretary of Ireland, he played a part in two of the most significant events of Irish history in the late 18th century. Although he took severe and successful measures to quell the revolt in 1798, Castlereagh believed that a policy of clemency was essential to end the disturbances. He was also instrumental in the passage of the Act of Union through the Dublin Parliament which was passed in June 1800 despite bitter Protestant opposition.
He took his own life by cutting his throat with a penknife at his country residence at North Cray in Kent on August 12th 1822. He is buried in Westminster Abbey where a fine marble statue was erected almost 30 years later, the inscription reads:
“This statue is erected to the memory of Robert Second Marquis of Londonderry, and Viscount Castlereagh K.G. Born A.D. 1769, Died August 12th 1822. History will record the success and splendour of his public career during a period of unexampled difficulty in the annals of Europe, in which he successfully filled the highest offices under the Crown, and Ireland will never forget the statesman of the legislative union. This tribute to the best of brothers and friends is placed in Westminster Abbey by Charles William Vane, Third Marquis of Londonderry”.