William Sydney Clements, 3rd Earl of Leitrim (Lord Leitrim)
Sydney, the early years, continued
After attending private schools in England - first at Ham, then Beaconsfield - he followed the route of many second sons and joined the army. At seventeen, he entered the military academy at Sandhurst. After graduating three years later, he joined the 43rd Light Infantry and did tours of duty in Gibralter and Portugal. He generally accounted himself well and gained the rank of Captain in 1831. Sydney was the epitome of the dashing, hot-tempered young soldier. He was tall and imposing and known for his physical strength and stamina. His letters home show him to be fascinated with the glories and the detail of the campaigns - and full of his own self-importance. When not on army duty, he spent much of his time in London, socialising and visiting his clubs. Sydney's active service career was, however, not to last long. At 24, while stationed in Lancashire, he badly injured his knee when a horse fell on him. He never fully recovered and suffered constant pain for the rest of his life. He was forced to retire from his regiment and was appointed Aide-de-Camp to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
At 26, as a retired army Captain, Sydney had a salary of £211.7.11 a year, which would have been the minimum needed to maintain his upper-class lifestyle. Luckily for him, he could also rely on allowances from his father plus interest from funds in his name, bringing him a total income of nearly £500 a year. This was further augmented on occasion by generous gifts. An entry in Sydney's personal accounts lists a present of £100 from his father and £50 from his mother `on going abroad'. By 1840 (and after the death of his brother) Sydney's allowance had increased seven-fold. Out of this he paid subscriptions to gentlemen's clubs in London - the Reform Club and Brooks - and numerous other bills, including necessary accessories like a whip (12 shillings and 6 pence), boots (£4), watch (£3/5) and hats (£1/8). Sydney was evidently fond of a good cigar: his spending on cigars (£5/5/6) almost equalled the rent he paid (£5/10/9) on a house in Cork Street in London. His biggest bill of all was for his horses for which he paid nearly £34.