Partner Louisa Martindale

Queer Places:
10 Marlborough Pl, Brighton BN1 1UB, UK
11 Adelaide Cres, Hove BN3 2JE, UK
25 Manchester Square, W1
Little Rystwood, Rystwood House, Forest Rd, Forest Row RH18 5NA, UK
14 Avenue Lodge, Avenue Road, St. John’s Wood
Glasnevin Cemetery Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland

Screenshot (3392)Ismay FitzGerald[7] (November 15, 1870 - July 26, 1946) was the daughter of Baron FitzGerald of Kilmarnock. Dr Louisa Martindale enjoyed a lifelong relationship with the Hon. Ismay FitzGerald, whom she met in 1910. The two women found each other on the doorstep of a dinner party with a barrister friend of Millicent Fawcett’s, ‘and we laughed’, recalled Martindale, ‘because we were both attired in cream lace dresses’. Martindale said of FitzGerald: “A broadminded and tolerant Irish Roman Catholic, keen on horse racing, with a legal mind, lovable, real Irish character, full of contradiction and charm.” For someone like Louisa, in a tough profession, breaking the boundaries and making her mark in a male dominated world, Ismay was a great breath of fresh air. When FitzGerald’s mother died, Martindale invited FitzGerald to visit for a fortnight and she stayed for 35 years. With Fitzgerald, Martindale wrote, she had found her "full share of love and friendship." One of Louisa "Lulu" Martindale and Ismay FitzGerald’s closest friends on the south coast was Dublin-born Dr Helen Boyle, who ran a general practice in Hove with her partner Dr Mabel Jones.

Some scholars are wary of identifying Martindale as a lesbian. Geoffrey Walford, for instance, does not state whether Martindale's "woman-centered lifestyle" specifically entailed a lesbian relationship.[8] Others are more explicit and unhesitatingly propose Martindale's lesbianism,[9] referring for instance to her 1951 autobiography A Woman Surgeon, in which she writes quite openly and tenderly (though without giving explicit detail) about her love for FitzGerald.[10]

The Hon. Ismay Gertrude Mary FitzGerald was born in Ballybrack, Dublin, on 15th November 1870, the 4th of the 10 children of Irish Baron John David FitzGerald of Kilmarnock (1816 – 1889) and the Hon. Jane Mary Matilda Southwell (1835 – 1910), daughter of the fourth Viscount Southwell. Her father also had three children by his first wife.

Ismay was the partner and lover of Dr Louisa Martindale who wrote in her autobiography: “She was, I thought, very unusual looking and beautiful …. I invited her to come to me for a fortnight, with the result that she stayed thirty five years.” Louisa devoted a chapter in her memoirs to Ismay, the main source of information on Ismay’s life. They met at a dinner party in 1910 and Louisa broke her rule by becoming friends with a patient. After Ismay’s mother had died she became ill and Louisa invited her to come and stay in Brighton: “I quickly furnished one of my empty rooms…. Bought an iron bedstead for 19s, a mattress for the same ….a very primitive red carpet… white paper with pink apple blossom….she found it lovely”. Ismay was listed as a resident patient at the house in the 1911 census. Gaining her M.D in London in 1906, Louisa Martindale returned to Brighton to practice at 10 Marlborough Place, Brighton, near the Pavilion – Brighton’s first female G.P.

Dr Louisa Martindale moved her practice to 11, Adelaide Crescent in Hove in 1919 but in 1921 sold up and moved to London, although remaining Senior Surgeon at the New Sussex Hospital. She was Brighton’s first female Justice of the Peace, (as which she continued to serve), a prison commissioner at Lewes Prison, and governor of Portslade Industrial School.

In 1934 Ismay FitzGerald was listed at Flat 3, 25 Manchester Square, W1. In 1939 Louisa and Ismay were living at Little Rystwood, Uckfield, with Louisa's younger sister Hilda Martindale. Ismay and Louisa were together until Ismay’s death on 26th July 1946, shortly after they had moved from Brighton to 14 Avenue Lodge, Avenue Road, St. John’s Wood. A Requiem Mass was held for Ismay at the Church of St Thomas More, Maresfield Gardens, Swiss Cottage.

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