The Hunter: Duque de Tarifa (1864-1931)


Norman Clark Neill sold Stephanotis to the Duque de Tarifa some time in 1919. Tarifa is at the southernmost tip of Spain to the West of Gibraltar.


I have no Spanish so parts this entry rely on translations by online services and there are probably a number of mistakes in this account as a result.

Family Background

The full name of this gentleman was Carlos María de Constantinopla Fernández de Córdoba y Pérez de Barradas, II Duque de Denia y Duque de Tarifa. The title is one of Spanish nobility that is accompanied by the dignity of Grandee of Spain. A Grandee of Spain was, and for all I know still is, the highest dignity of nobility in all of Europe, due to its privileges having been greater than those of other similar European dignities, such as the peers of France or Great Britain. The title was originally granted to our yacht owner's mother Ángela Maria Apolonia Pérez de Barradas y Bernuy on 28 June 1886 by King Alfonso XII.

The owner of Stephanotis was the 2nd Duque. He was born in 15 May 1864 at Aranjuez, which is about 26 miles south of Madrid as the crow flies, to Angela and her first husband Luis Antonio de Villanueva Fernández de Córdoba Figueroa and Ponce de León, 15th Duke of Medinaceli , 14th Duke of Feria , 13th Duke of Alcalá de los Gazules, 15th Duke of Segorbe , 16th Duke of Cardona, 12th Duke Camiña, 5th Duke of Santisteban del Puerto; 14th Marquess of Comares, 9th Marquis of Puebla de Alfajarín, 16th Marquis of Villareal etc.; 16th Conde del Risco, 13th from Santa Gadea, 14th from Zafra, 19th from Ossona, 16th from Medellín, 15th from Alcoutim etc.; Viscount of Cabrera, Bas, and Villamur; Baron of Antella. The sort of chap you would not want to be behind on entering a reception waiting for his titles to be read out.

Without access to the relevant documentation I am unable to produce a genealogy myself but the image below has been obtained from GENi.com [112] and shows our Duke's parents and grandparents. The Duque had five siblings - mostly with names and lists of titles as long as those of their parents and quite honestly I don't have the interest in writing them out.

Tarifa Ancestors
Immediate Ancestors [112]
Tarifa Coat of Arms
The Tarifa Coat of Arms. [7]

Life of the Duque de Tarifa

Conservation and Hunting

The Duque, who is described in some sources as some kind of Engineer, was noted for hunting and there is an article extolling his virtues in that field on the Spanish Todomonteria (Hunting today?) website [31]. He belonged to a select group of hunters who rode with King Alfonso XIII.

It will be obvious from the text on this page that I have a pretty low opinion of those that hunt for pleasure rather than food, but I have to accept that times have changed and it would have been considered perfectly respectable 100 years ago. My feelings about the nobility will also no doubt be apparent so my apologies in advance for anyone with different views.

Duque de Tarifa Duque de Tarifa
Duque de Tarifa at his estate [31]

Tarifa spent many years developing his estate Coto de Doña Ana for hunting purposes; this is now part of the Doñana National Park. To limit the impact of hunting on the environment, usually only two large hunts took place per year - one reserved for hunting with the King. The animals killed are reported as being taken approximately 50 miles away to Sanlucar and Seville on Stephanotis along the River Guadalquivir to distribute to charitable institutions and people in need.

Tarifa liked to hunt all kind of animals but particularly enjoyed hunting wild boar on horseback and killing them with a spear - though he was quite happy to kill with a rifle or shotgun as well. The image below shows him finishing off a boar with a spear during a hunt that I believe was attended by members of the British Royal Family.

Boar Kill
Tarifa finishing off a boar with a spear [103]

The image below shows Tarifa with an Iberian Lynx he had dispatched. The species is now the world's most endangered feline species with a population estimated at a little above 400 in 2020 - they were down to less than 100 in 2002 according to the World Wildlife Fund. I wonder how many of them Tarifa polished off for amusement? I was surprised to find they they were once eaten but he may well have killed them as vermin as they prey on ducks and other wildlife.

Iberian Lynx
Tarifa with an Iberian lynx he had killed [103]

The image below shows a heap of animals killed during one of Tarifa's hunts.

Alfonso
Alphonso XIII with the kill [103]

The Royal Connection

In 1906, King Alfonso XIII had married Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England. There had been concerns that she might be a carrier of haemophilia, and this proved to be the case with the birth of their first son Alfonso in 1907. He appeared to have led a normal life, but was involved in a car crash in 1938 and died from internal bleeding. Alfonso XIII distanced himself from his wife after the birth, blaming her for transmitting the condition to their son.

Alfonso later had five children outside of marriage - the last being born in 1929 - and he was a fan of 'eroticism in general and pornographic films in particular'. Maybe some of his shenanigans took place on Stephanotis - but I am sure that we will never know.

In 1931 Alfonso XIII was in effect deposed and went into exile. On 15 Jan 1941 he abdicated his rights to the throne to his third son Juan - who later became the father of the restored King of Spain Juan Carlos I.

Wendorian
Postcard showing King Alfonso XIII and his future bride at Biarritz. [5]

King Alfonso XIII is reported to have visited El Coto on 14 occasions. An article in Sea Breezes by Captain A.G.W. Miller suggests that the King accompanied The Duque on Stephanotis for duck-shooting expeditions.

Dogs

The Duque was also famous for his dogs and is seen with some of them in the photo below which was published in the Mundo Grafico magazine on 9 Feb 1927. Some of them are likely to have been Galgos but the photo is not very clear. The attached article suggested that the Duque transported hunting parties on Stephanotis.

Duque de Tarifa
Duque de Tarifa hunting at the Coto de Doñana in 1927 [111]

Tarifa and Stephanotis

Why the Duque purchased Stephanotis given his interests is unclear and the references I can find of him using her are related to hunting parties. There is certainly nothing that suggests he ever raced her.

The image below is the only one I can find showing Stephanotis while owned by Tarifa and I believe this is him in the foreground.

Stephanotis
Duque de Tarifa with Stephanotis in the background [103]

Last Years and Death

Tarifa kept Stephanotis until his death in San Sebastian on 25 October 1931 following an operation. He was 67 and his wife inherited his estate; she died two years later.

On 19 October 1931 the Portsmouth Evening News included an article about various yachts being laid up. Amongst them was Stephanotis. On the same page was an article about high levels of unemployment at Cowes and a slump in work done on yachts etc. Presumably this was related to the economic depression of the time.

Stephanotis
Cutting from Portsmouth Evening News 19 October 1931 [29]

Summary

Of all the owners of Stephanotis, Tarifa is the one that I can't really understand and have taken an intense dislike to. He had no need for a status symbol as he already had a higher status than virtually everyone in Europe. He seems to have used the vessel to chug around his estate on the way to or from killing animals for pleasure and delivering the carcasses of his latest slaughtering episode to the poor - with the occasional use for entertaining the King and members of the aristocracy. It seems to me a bit like a butcher buying a Rolls Royce for delivering meat to customers. But then I am just a plebian upstart.

In 1934 the owner of Stephanotis was recorded as Tarifa's Executors. In 1935 she appears to have been sold to William Frothingham Roach.