This early mezzotint portrait of Mrs Elizabeth Aldworth (1695-1775) in masonic robes comes up at Fonsie Mealy’s auction in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny on July 23.
Born Elizabeth St Leger and famous as The Lady Freemason she was the first recorded woman to be initiated into Freemasonry.
Daughter of the 1st Viscount Doneraile, she witnessed a meeting of the Freemasons in her father’s house at Doneraile Court.
Now newly opened to the public after refurbishment by the OPW, Doneraile Court was also refurbished in the late 18th century and loose bricks in a wall of the room where the masons met enabled the young Elizabeth to see what was going on.
The portrait was published in 1811 by S Kennedy of Patrick’s Street, Cork, and sold by Brother R Spencer, Masonic Booksellers, London. It is in a Hogarth-type frame with a printed Biographical Memoir of The Hon Mrs Aldworth of Newmarket, Co Cork framed on the back.
Mrs Aldworth was buried in the old St Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork and there is a plaque near her remains in the present cathedral.