Wouldn't it be nice to be born with an inherited title, a gift from your ancestors? You could live a life of luxury, be recognized as someone special everywhere you went and have a seat in the House of Lords. Right? Well, maybe not.
John de Courcy died on September 15 at age 64. He was the 35th Lord Kingsale (by his own reckoning; by others the 28th or 30th) and was Premier Baron of Ireland. He was descended from a line of Irish noblemen stretching back to at least the 13th century. Yet his ancestors apparently spent whatever fortunes they had. John de Courcy inherited two things: a lighthouse in Kinsale which brought in £180 a year in rent, and the remains of a castle which was around a foot tall at its highest point. A French genealogist assured him that he held some 18 titles and yet he had no money.
Throughout his life, Lord Kingsale's varied career included spells as a kitchen fitter, film extra (played an Egyptian peasant in Cleopatra, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's film), a silage-pit builder, white hunter, carpenter, plumber, proprietor of a dating agency in Brisbane, Australia and also as a bingo caller in Birmingham. Eventually, he retired on invalidity benefit to sheltered housing in Somerset.
"My main line of work is odd jobs," he admitted in 1985. "I am prepared to lend my hand to absolutely anything, however dirty or unpleasant." But he genially accepted the disparity between his background and his fortunes. For many years he listed "self-deception" as a recreation in Who's Who, "because I consider myself important and nobody else does".
Lord Kingsale is succeeded by his cousin, Nevinson Mark de Courcy, born in 1958, whose father was a municipal drains inspector in New Zealand.
You can read more about the spectacularly unsuccessful life of Lord Kingsale here.