Birth: 16 June 1875

Place or Registered Place of Birth: Paris, France

Baptism: Not Known

Place of Baptism: St. George's, Hanover Square, Middlesex

Death: 14 March 1905 - Aged 29

Place or Registered Place of Death: Monte Carlo, Monaco

Date of Burial: 23 March 1905

Place of Burial: Llanedwen, Anglesey, Wales

Father: Henry Paget

Mother: Blanche Mary Curwen Boyd

Spouse(s): Lilian Florence Maud Chetwynd

Date of Marriage: 20 January 1898

Place or Registered Place of Marriage: St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Sloane Street, Chelsea, London

Notes:

Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey was born on 16 June 1875. He was the son of Sir Henry Paget, 4th Marquess of Anglesey and Blanche Mary Boyd. He married Lilian Florence Maud Chetwynd, daughter of Sir George Chetwynd, 4th Bt. and Lady Florence Cecilia Paget, on 20 January 1898 at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Sloane Street, Chelsea, London, England. He and Lilian Florence Maud Chetwynd were divorced on 7 November 1900 after she obtained a degree of nullity of marriage.

The New York Times
October 23, 1900
The Anglesey Divorce Suit
Sensational Testimony Anticipated at the Coming Trial
LOndon, Oct. 22. - Sensantional testimony is anticipated at the trial of the divorce suit brought by the Marchioness of Anglesey against her husband, who is her cousin. The present Marquesses's father married as his third wife an American, Mrs. Mary Livingstone Wodehouse, widow of Henry Wodehouse and daughter of J.P. King of Sandhills, Ga.

Henry Cyril Paget, fifth Marquis of Anglesey, was born June 16, 1875, and succeeded to the title on the death of his father in 1898. He married in 1898 Lillian Florence Maud, daughter of Sir George Chetwynd, Bart. They have no children.

However:

The New York Times
June 9, 1901
Anglesey Divorce Rescinded
Marchioness Who Wedded the Head of Paget Family Later Obtaines a Decree of Nullity.
London, June 8. - Sir Francis Jeune, President of the Probate, Divorce, and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice, has rescinded the decree of divorce granted to the Marchioness of Anglesey, on Nov. 7 last. The arguments on the application for the rescinding of the decree were heard in camera.

In January, 1898, Henry Cyril Paget, head of the Paget family and fifth Marquis of Anglesey, then in his twenty-fourth year, married Lilian Chetwynd, daughter of Sir George Chetwynd and the Marchioness of Hastings. It was a marriage of convenience between cousins, arranged for the sake of inheriting property which otherwise would not have been touched by either of them. It was asserted at the time that the Marquess agreed to give his wife £5,000 the first year, £6,000 the second year, and so on until the allowance reached £10,000 a year. In the meantime they both agreed to live their own lives.

The arrangement, however, did mot work well in more ways than one. The alleged allowance wasa stopped and the Marchioness having, it is said, fallen in love with Count Herman von Hatzfeldt, instituted poceedings to have the marriage declared null in October, 1900. The case was heard in camera in the following November, and Lady Anglesey succeeded in obtaining a divorce.

The Pagets are connected by marriage with several American families. In the winter preceding the divorce trial Lord Anglesey visited New York and was entertained at the houses of certain of his kinsmen here.

He died on 14 March 1905 at age 29. He was buried on 23 March 1905 at Llanedwen, Anglesey, Wales.

The Times - March 15, 1905
Obituary
Lord Anglesey
A Reuter telegram from Monte Carlo that Lord Anglesey who has been ill for some time, grew rapidly worse at midnight on Monday and died yesterday morning. Lady Anglesey and his aunt were with him in his last moments. The news of Lord Anglesey's death was received at Bangor with much regret, as Lord Anglesey, despite his peculiarities, was much liked there.

Henry Cyril Paget, fifth Marquis of Anglesey, Earl of Uxbridge, Baron Paget of Beaudesert, and a baronet, was the only son of the fourth marquis by his second wife, Blanche Mary, daughter of Mr. J. C. Curwen Boyd, of Merton Hall, Wigtonshire. He was born in June, 1875, was educated at Eton and under a private tutor, and succeeded his father in the title and estates, in 1898. After his succession to the great family estates, the income of which was estimated last June to be £110,000 per annum, Lord Anglesey's eccentricities of character and conduct, his extravagant habits of living, his liking for jewelry, and his passion for the stage and its associations attracted public attention,; and newspaper readers were not astonished therefore when it was announced last June that he had executed a deed of assignment for the benefit of his creditors. The statement of his affairs which was then issued showed that when be succeeded to the estates there were charges on them amounting to £7,237 per annum, leaving a free income of something like £100,000. Two months after his succession he mortgaged his life interest in the estates and certain policies of life insurance to secure £100,000; a further £100,000 was raised In the same way in February, 1903, and a third £100,000 in December of the same year. Other and smaller sums were raised, and in the end his liabilities, as ascertained in June, 1904, amounted to £255,969; and the estimated surplus from the estates which it was expected would accrue for the benefit of his creditors last year was only £15,280, and this year £17,869. The sales last autumn of his jewelry and personal effects which followed the execution of the deed of assignment are still fresh in the public memory. in January 1898, nine months before his succession, Lord Anglesey married his cousin Lilian Florence Maud, eldest daughter of Sir George Chetwynd and of the Marchioness of Hastings, who is the youngest daughter of the second Marquis of Anglesey. There have been no children, and, failing male issue of the marriage, the successor to the title is Lord Anglesey's cousin, Mr. Charles Henry Alexander Paget, elder son of the late Lord Alexander Paget, third son of the second marquis, by his marriage with the Hon. Hester Alice Stapleton Cotton, second daughter of the late Lord Combermere. It Is expected that Lord Anglesey's body will be removed from Monte Carlo for burial in Llanedwen Churchyard, on the Anglesey Castle estates.

Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey was educated at Eton College, Eton, Berkshire, England. He gained the rank of Lieutenant in the service of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He succeeded to the title of 8th Baronet Bayly, of Placenewyd, co. Anglesey and Mount Bagenall, co. Louth [I., 1730] on 13 October 1898. He succeeded to the title of 5th Marquess of Anglesey [U.K., 1815] on 13 October 1898. He succeeded to the title of 6th Earl of Uxbridge, co. Middlesex [G.B., 1784] on 13 October 1898. He succeeded to the title of 14th Lord Paget, of Beaudesert [E., 1549] on 13 October 1898. In 1904 he became bankrupt for the vast sum of £544,000, even though his estates were worth £110,000 per year.

Henry Cyril Paget, Fifth Marquis of Anglesey, died bankrupt aged just 29 in 1905. An extremely flamboyant extrovert, his principle interests were dressing up, collecting and wearing very expensive jewellery, dancing and staging lavish theatrical extravaganzas. Henry Cyril's nickname was 'The Dancing Marquis', and was probably used less than affectionately by the rest of his family. He was born in 1875 and brought up in France, largely in the company of theatrical people. These formative years clearly instilled a deep love of showing off.

Henry Cyril Paget was born in Paris on June 16 1875 to Henry Paget, Earl of Uxbridge, later 4th Marquis of Anglesey, and his wife, Blanche Mary Curwen Boyd. They had married in 1874, and Paget's mother died when he was scarcely two years old. On her death, he went to live with the French actor Benoît-Constant Coquelin - who was rumoured to be his real father. Paget referred to Coquelin's sister as his aunt throughout his life, and she was with him when he died.

At the age of eight, Paget left Paris and was taken to live at Plas Newydd, his father having married for a third time, to an American heiress. His childhood in north Wales seems to have been particularly isolated. One Welsh friend wrote after Paget's death that he remembered the young earl's arrival at the house: "He was then about eight years of age and of delicate appearance. Having at the age of two lost his mother, Toppy, as he was called by his intimate friends, never enjoyed that influence so prized by and so valuable to all, that of one's unselfish loving mother. An aged Scotch nurse of pious life was the first person I remember to have been his companion, and often they would be seen walking or driving in a pony carriage."

The only son of the 4th Marquis, he married his cousin Lilian Chetwynd shortly before inheriting the title and an income estimated at £110,000 pa. Upon entering the family seat at Plas Newydd, he converted the centuries old chapel into a theatre. From 1901 onwards, he staged a series of productions whose scale and cost were boundless. Casts of 50 or 60 were clad in luxurious, fantastic costumes and large amounts of jewellery. Paget was especially fond of 'Aladdin', and it is believed this light opera was the most performed work by his company. He played the part of Pekoe, and during the interval would perform his celebrated 'Butterfly Dance'. What this actually consisted of is unclear, although large gossamer-effect wings and huge clusters of colourful jewels, and a great deal of running around with arms flapping can be guessed at. Hence 'The Dancing Marquis'

In just four years, Paget blew his entire fortune on luxurious goods, clothes, jewels and the upkeep of very large casts of actors for his productions, which would tour Britain and the Continent. It is not known how much he actually spent, but the jewellery alone for his own Henry V costume cost £40,000. That was just one costume out of hundreds made for his company over the years.

By Jun 1904, he was forced to issue a statement of affairs to his creditors and his debts were estimated at £250,000. Less than a year later he died in Monte Carlo, with his wife and mother at his bedside
Henry Cyril Paget was almost certainly an exuberant, popular and, in his own way, brave man, both ahead of his time and of it too. He died in Monte Carlo - the circumstances are unclear, but it would seem he had completely burnt himself out and spent his huge fortune. The bankruptcy sale of his effects lasted an incredible seventeen days.

Dinan, Brittany, October 15 1904

"I must apologise for not appearing before you in peacock-blue plush wearing a diamond and sapphire tiara, a turquoise dog-collar, ropes of pearls and slippers studded with Burma rubies; but I prefer, and always have preferred, Scotch tweed."

This is how Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquis of Anglesey, presented himself in an interview with the Daily Mail, shortly after his bankruptcy, and six months before his death in Monte Carlo at the age of 29. The reporter was "astonished" to find a man "so extraordinarily as other men are ... whose tastes and lack of intellect have been enormously exaggerated".

Astonishment was a common reaction to the Marquis. The public couldn't get enough of him. This was a man who frittered away a huge family fortune, mainly on costumes and jewels; who paraded through London with a poodle dressed in pink ribbons tucked under his arm; who amazed his audiences with his sinuous "butterfly dance"; who modified his car so that the exhaust pipe sprayed perfume.

Most of the Marquis's effects were sold from his family estates soon after he was declared bankrupt, and all his personal papers were destroyed by the Paget family after his death. Even today, the family are reticent about their forebear, who brought devastation and distress not just to the Pagets and their property, but to their servants, tenants, neighbours and tradesmen.

Not surprisingly, the 5th Marquis fascinated his contemporaries. A Mrs Anne Jones of Bangor kept an album of photographic postcards of him, which she eventually donated to the museum at Bangor. Clough Williams-Ellis, architect and founder of the village of Portmeirion, remembered him as "a sort of apparition - a tall, elegant and bejewelled creature, with wavering elegant gestures, reminding one rather of an Aubrey Beardsley illustration come to life". Music hall performer Vesta Tilley, meanwhile, recalled wearing, in one of her performances as the glass-eye-sporting character Algy, "a vest of delicately flowered silk, one of the dozens which I bought at the sale of the effects of the late Marquis of Anglesey". The sexologist Iwan Bloch included Paget in his study of 20th-century sexuality, noting that, in the early 1900s, the Marquis was to be found walking the streets of Mayfair, perfumed and beringed, carrying the aforementioned poodle under his arm.

My interest in the Marquis began with a family visit to Plas Newydd, the Anglesey home of the Paget family, now partly owned by the National Trust. At the end of the tour of the house, with its stunning views of the Menai Straits and exhibits dedicated to the first Marquis, who lost his leg at the battle of Waterloo, we came across a series of black-and-white photographs of a willowy, moustachioed man covered with jewellery, in a variety of elegant and extravagant poses - a man known as the Dancing Marquis. This was the starting point of a journey that has taken me all the way from Anglesey, via numerous archives (my natural habitat as a performance historian), to a dance studio in Berlin.

Kreuzberg, Berlin, May 2007

A black glass floor, criss-crossed like paving stones. A posed figure. A hand held out, finger pointed as if to earth. Water, mirror, Narcissus's pool. A void.

Here in Berlin, I have been working on a solo performance piece based on the figure of the Dancing Marquis, with the performance artist Marc Rees and German choreographers Jutta Hell and Dieter Baumann.

The process of transformation from fact to artwork - from past to present tense - is challenging. The recorded facts about Paget are fragmentary and elusive; the suppositions are numberless. What we do know is that Henry Cyril Paget was born in Paris on June 16 1875 to Henry Paget, Earl of Uxbridge, later 4th Marquis of Anglesey, and his wife, Blanche Mary Curwen Boyd. They had married in 1874, and Paget's mother died when he was scarcely two years old. On her death, he went to live with the French actor Benoît-Constant Coquelin - who was rumoured to be his real father. Paget referred to Coquelin's sister as his aunt throughout his life, and she was with him when he died.

At the age of eight, Paget left Paris and was taken to live at Plas Newydd, his father having married for a third time, to an American heiress. His childhood in north Wales seems to have been particularly isolated. One Welsh friend wrote after Paget's death that he remembered the young earl's arrival at the house: "He was then about eight years of age and of delicate appearance. Having at the age of two lost his mother, Toppy, as he was called by his intimate friends, never enjoyed that influence so prized by and so valuable to all, that of one's unselfish loving mother. An aged Scotch nurse of pious life was the first person I remember to have been his companion, and often they would be seen walking or driving in a pony carriage."

This "friend" then goes on to a theme common to all the Marquis's obituaries, laying the blame for his notorious "difference" from other men on his foreign upbringing. "Little time was spent with British boys of his own age," he writes. "Unfortunate surroundings in youth tended to make him perhaps a little un-English."

Paget missed his own lavish, week-long 21st birthday celebrations due to ill health, and a cold could put him to bed for weeks. He learned painting and singing in Germany and spoke fluent French, good Russian and grammatical Welsh. At some time, rather incredibly, he also served as a lieutenant in the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

In 1898, Paget married his cousin, Lilian Chetwynd. The marriage was annulled two years later - stories abound as to why - but the annulment was changed to a legal separation in 1901. He succeeded to the title of 5th Marquis in 1898, and inherited substantial property on Anglesey and in Staffordshire, with an annual income of over £110,000 a year (roughly £8m in today's money).

By 1904, however, the Marquis had bankrupted the estate, spending thousands of pounds on jewels, furs, cars, boats, perfumes and potions, toys, medicines, dogs, horses and theatricals on a scale unimagined even among the profligate Edwardian aristocracy. Everything was sold to meet his debts, down to the contents of the potting shed and a parrot in a brass cage.

Paget "retired" to France on an income of £3,000 a year, accompanied only by a manservant, his adopted child (a dark-skinned baby who was later returned to her birth parents) and her nurse. They went first to Dinan in Brittany, and finally to Monte Carlo, where Paget died in 1905, his former wife and Mme Coquelin at his bedside.

Kreuzberg, Berlin, May 2007

We have been reading the catalogues from the bankruptcy sales and wondering at the endless list of items the Marquis had accumulated: hundreds of walking sticks, baubles and gewgaws. Marc is reading the list out loud as he paces the glass floor, when suddenly the strike of his heel emerges as the auctioneer's gavel. The catalogues become the musical text to which he moves.

The Marquis had, among other extravagant acts, converted the family chapel into a theatre where he held free performances for tenants, servants, neighbours and visitors - shows by amateurs or touring professional companies, in which he himself often took part. However, in 1901 he went further, "stealing" a professional company that had been visiting neighbouring Llandudno, appropriating their star players and paying them salaries beyond their wildest dreams.

The Marquis spent the next three years touring with his company around Britain and Europe. Photographs show him in a number of roles - mostly pantomime and musical comedy, though he did once play a convict. He also played Lord Goring in An Ideal Husband, at a time when, five years after Oscar Wilde's trial and imprisonment, many refused to perform Wilde's plays. According to Alex Keith, Paget's actor-manager, "the part might have been written for him, he went through it so naturally".

Paget was, according to one obituary, an actor "of some real merit". The obituary goes on to relate how "upon tour he travelled in great state and at considerable expense". Historian Christopher Simon Sykes describes how the company "travelled with specially painted scenery and their own orchestra, and many of their props were exact copies of furniture from Anglesey Castle [the renamed Plas Newydd]." The company - which was, at its largest, some 50 strong - required five trucks for the baggage and scenery. The Marquis travelled in a powerful Pullman motor car with a personal staff of four. When at Anglesey Castle, he kept actors in lodgings in the neighbouring village of Llanfair.

Each of Paget's costumes was specially designed and made to order, either by couturiers or by the London costumiers Morris Angel. One jewel-encrusted costume for a part in Aladdin was reportedly worth at least £100,000; another, for Henry V, at least £40,000. Alex Keith recalled that his changes of costume were so frequent that he required "a small army of dressers".

In many of his shows, the Marquis would entertain the audience in the interval with his performance of a "Butterfly Dance after the manner of Miss Loie Fuller" - a dancer known for her serpentine movements. This vignette earned the Dancing Marquis his nickname.

Kreuzberg, Berlin, May 2007

None of us are quite sure what Fuller's serpentine dance was. We watch snatches of original footage from the early 1900s on YouTube. The eye and mind widen as we watch what might be Fuller herself in an extraordinary fluid and muscular manipulation of yards of silk, using flexible wands to extend her reach. Marc imitates the movements, which are all in the arms, shoulders and upper body.

The Marquis was obsessed with photographing himself. He owned a number of cameras and an early domestic film viewer, a Kinora "mutoscope", which was later sold along with 17 boxes of films, including some depicting the Marquis doing his butterfly dance. He would hand out postcards of himself to his audiences; Mrs Jones's collection of these include many of him posing in costume or in his dressing room, and others of him on a chaise-longue with his pet Pekingese, or at the wheel of one of his five cars (complete with perfume-spraying exhaust).

Each picture is a carefully composed image, a miniature performance. Yet they show the Marquis apparently at his most relaxed. The photographs of him in performance are, by contrast, rather awkward. It seems that in these posed pictures, Paget transformed himself into an image, mediated either through the photograph or through an audience's eyes, that was more pleasurable to him than his real self.

The almost uniformly negative obituaries describe a physically inadequate, emotionally and socially isolated figure. Although Paget was hugely generous, and inspired genuine affection in many of his tenants and servants, he transgressed almost all the norms of the aristocratic world. Even the most perceptive and sympathetic of the obituaries, from the Daily Dispatch, points to "the appalling fact that from his earliest recollection he had been one of those extraordinarily isolated creatures who have never known affection. From boyhood to death no one had ever loved him ... [from which he developed] a strange and repellent spirit opaquely incomprehensible and pathetically alone ... Over all was the self-conscious, half-haughty timidity of the man who knows he is not as other men."

Kreuzberg, Berlin, May 2007

Our discussion turns inevitably to the Marquis's sexuality. Marc wants him to be gay - as lots of people do.

In 1970, Montgomery Hyde, the vocal campaigner for homosexual law reform, described Paget as the "most notorious aristocratic homosexual". We have no evidence either way. Perhaps Paget was a virgin when he died. I feel, from looking at the pictures and reading the obituaries, that he was a classic narcissist: the only person he could love and make love to was himself, because, for whatever reason, he was "unlovable".

Kreuzberg, Berlin, May 2007

Marc takes the coat - a copy of the Marquis's 1,000-guinea sable overcoat - and dances a dance of self-love. Absorbed by the fur, he spirals slowly, finally sinking to the floor. In that moment we see a kind of beauty born out of its own despair, and fleetingly, to borrow WB Yeats's words, we know "the dancer from the dance."

The Guardian - Wednesday 10 October 2007

Henry Cyril Paget
5th Marquis of Anglesey