Richard Valentine Williams
Robert Ponsonby Staples (1853 - 1943):
Robert Ponsonby Staples, the third son of Sir Nathaniel Staples, 10th Bt., was born in 1853. After leaving the army, his father spent a number of years in Holland and elsewhere on the Continent, and his children received most of their education there, chiefly in Belgium.
Staples studied art and architecture from the age of 12 when he went to Louvain, followed by spells at Dresden, Paris and London. The Royal Academy accepted his first picture in 1875 and he was a regular exhibitor thereafter.
In politics, he was a Protestant Home Ruler and a member of the United Irish League. He played an increasing part in the running of the family estate in Lissane, Cookstown from 1905, taking up residence there in 1912, although he did not actually succeed to the property and the baronetcy until his elder brother died in 1933. Prints of some of his famous pictures, to be found in Lissan House, include Cardinal Manning's Last Reception, Gladstone Introducing the Home Rule Bill, The Ideal Cricket Match now in the Pavillion at Lords, The Last Shot at Wimbledon and many more which may be viewed in galleries in England and Northern Ireland. He carried his pad and pencil everywhere and was constantly sketching people and events and these are truly delightful studies of Edwardian life in the early days.
He had many unusual ideas, one of which was that the ills of modern life were a result of man's foolishness in insulating his body against the earth's magnetism by covering his feet in leather. He used to walk barefoot, hence his nickname "The Barefoot Baronet" He died in 1943.
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