Partner Ernest Boulton

Queer Places:
Eton College, Windsor SL4 6DW, Regno Unito
Clumber Park, Worksop S80 3AZ, Regno Unito

Lord Arthur Pelham-Clinton (23 June 1840 – 18 June 1870), known as Lord Arthur Clinton, was an English aristocrat and Liberal Party politician. A member of parliament (MP) for three years, he was notorious for involvement in the homosexual scandal and trial of Boulton and Park.

Clinton was the son of Henry Pelham-Clinton, 5th Duke of Newcastle and Lady Susan Harriet Catherine Hamilton. He had three brothers and a sister, Lady Susan Vane-Tempest; she became a mistress of future King Edward VII of England in 1864, when he was the 23 year-old Prince of Wales.

His parents divorced in 1850, following the scandal when his mother eloped with her lover, Lord Horatio Walpole, by whom she had an illegitimate son, Horatio. In 1860, his mother would marry for a second time a Belgian, Jean Alexis Opdebeck.

Clinton was educated at Woodcote School, Reading and then Eton College; he entered the Royal Navy in 1854 at the age of 14 and served during the Crimean War in the Baltic Campaign of 1854. He then served in the Naval Brigade during the Indian Mutiny and was present at the Capture of Lucknow. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1861.[2] In 1863, he was appointed to serve on HMS Revenge.[3] On 10 November 1864, his brother Lord Albert was court-martialled on board HMS Victory at Portsmouth. Charges of "desertion and breaking his parole" were upheld by the court and Lord Albert Pelham-Clinton was sentenced to be dismissed from the navy, although The Times reported that the case referred to Lord Arthur in error.[4][5]

Lord Arthur Pelhan-Clinton, Stella and Fanny, by Frederick Spalding, c. 1870

Clinton was elected as an MP for Newark at the general election in July 1865,[6] a seat previously held by his brother Henry Pelham-Clinton, 6th Duke of Newcastle. He was declared bankrupt on 12 November 1868, with debts and liabilities reported to total £70,000.[7] (£5.78 million when adjusted for inflation) and stood down as a member of parliament at the subsequent, 1868 general election,[8] which took place between 17 November and 7 December. His successor was the philanthropist, Edward Denison.

In 1870, Clinton was living with Ernest Boulton, who had been dressed as a girl by his mother from an early age and was known to his friends as "Stella".[9][10] At this time, Clinton was still, nominally, a naval officer, but he was placed on the retired Navy List on 1 April 1870.[1]

Boulton and Frederick William Park often appeared in public in female dress and, on 28 April 1870, they were arrested and later charged "with conspiring and inciting persons to commit an unnatural offence" with Clinton and others.[11][12]

Clinton officially died on 18 June, the day after receiving his subpoena for the trial, ostensibly of scarlet fever but more probably a suicide.[13] But at the time there was considerable speculation that he had used his powerful connections – he was the godson of Prime Minister William Gladstone – to flee abroad. In his book Fanny and Stella biographer Neil McKenna cites circumstantial evidence suggesting that Lord Arthur did indeed live on in exile.[14] Boulton and Park were acquitted.[9][15][16][17]

Twelve years later, on 8 February 1882, Mary Jane Fearneaux and James Gething were arrested in Birmingham and charged with obtaining £2,000 from one man and £3,000 from another under false pretences.[18]

Mary Jane Fearneaux was found to have been living for some years as a man in Birmingham while claiming to be Lord Arthur Clinton, and saying that the reported death was a fiction contrived by family and friends to avoid disgrace. She sometimes dressed as a woman while impersonating Clinton, while saying that this was a disguise to avoid attention after the notoriety of the Boulton and Park case.[19]

At the subsequent trial of the pair, Gething was acquitted and Fearneaux changed her plea to guilty; she was sentenced to seven years in prison.[20]

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