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1919: Cynthia Sergison marries Northern Ireland PM to be

Sir Basil Brooke, 1st Visct Brookeborough 1963

On June 3 1919, he [Viscount Brookeborough] married at St George’s, Hanover Square, Miss Cynthia Mary Sergison, second daughter and co-heir of the late Captain Charles Warden Sergison, of Cuckfield Park, Sussex. Their families were linked already through the marriage of Miss Sergison’s sister and Sir Basil's [Brooke’s] cousin.

Their life together at Colebrook soon came under the shadow of Republican terrorism, and while the Prime Minister has been mentioned on occasion as the founder of the Special Constabulary, he makes no such claim himself.

He is content to be known as 'one of the originators', but this under-states his role in persuading the authorities to give official status to what began as an illegal force to counter IRA terrorism, and in building up the organisation in Fermanagh.

Belfast Telegraph 8 February 1962

Wedding photo at Hanover Square, London

Cynthia Mary Brooke, Viscountess Brookeborough, DBE (née Sergison; 10 May 1897 – 2 March 1970) was a British peeress and the wife of the first Viscount Brookeborough, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland from 1943 to 1963. Cynthia was born in Cuckfield, Sussex, to Captain Charles Warden Sergison and the Hon. Florence Emma Louise Hanbury-Tracy, daughter of Charles Hanbury-Tracy, 4th Baron Sudeley. In 1919, she married Viscount Brookeborough (9 June 1888 – 18 August 1973), son of Sir Arthur Douglas Brooke, 4th Bt. and Gertrude Isabella Batson, on 3 June 1919.

Viscount Brookeborough was an Ulster Unionist politician who became the third Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in May 1943, holding office until March 1963. He was noted for his casual style towards his ministerial duties. Terence O'Neill later wrote of him: 'he was good company and a good raconteur, and those who met him imagined that he was relaxing away from his desk. However they did not realise that there was no desk.'

While Graham Walker wrote '... Brookeborough's achievements over twenty years were substantial: the Unionist Party maintained essential unity, the anti-partitionist project was thwarted, and a potentially difficult post-war relationship with Britain under Labour was managed to the long-term benefit of Northern Ireland's full participation in the welfare state and new educational opportunities...' He increased educational opportunities for Catholics increased their self-confidence and expectations, which added momentum to the 1960s civil rights movement.

Lord and Lady Brookeborough had three sons, two of whom were killed in action during World War II. Only one son of the three survived his parents. Cynthia died on 2 March 1970, aged 72. After her death, Lord Brookeborough married Sarah Eileen Bell, daughter of Henry Healey, of Belfast, and widow of Cecil Armstrong Calvert, FRCS, former director of neurosurgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

Photographs: Lord Brookeborough from the 1963 Ulster Unionist Council Yearbook

The low quality wedding photo: Wedding photo taken as St George’s, Hanover Square [no credit available].

Sadly no better image of Cynthia could be found that we could reproduce.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


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