His death inflicted also, indirectly, another blow which at this particular moment was galling to loyalists out of all proportion to its intrinsic importance. The removal to the House of Lords of the Marquis of Hamilton, the member for Derry city, created a vacancy which was filled at the ensuing by-election by a Liberal Home Ruler. To lose a seat anywhere in the north-eastern counties at such a critical time in the movement was bad enough, but the unfading halo of the historic siege rested on Derry as on a sanctuary of Protestantism and loyalty, so that the capture of the “Maiden City” by the enemy wounded loyalist sentiment far more deeply than the loss of any other constituency. The two parties had been for some time very nearly evenly balanced there, and every electioneering art and device, including that of bringing to the poll voters who had long rested in the cemetery, was practised in Derry with unfailing zeal and zest by party managers. For some time past trade, especially ship-building, had been in a state of depression in Derry, with the result that a good many of the better class of artisans, who were uniformly Unionist, had gone to Belfast and elsewhere to find work, leaving the political fortunes of the city at the mercy of the casual labourer who drifted in from the wilds of Donegal, and who at this election managed to place the Home Rule candidate in a majority of fifty-seven.
It was a matter of course that the late Duke’s place as President of the Ulster Unionist Council should be taken by Lord Londonderry, and it happened that the annual meeting at which he was formally elected was held on the same day that witnessed the rejection of the Home Rule Bill by the House of Lords.
It was also at this annual meeting (31st January, 1913) that the special Commission who had been charged to prepare a scheme for the Provisional Government, presented their draft Report. The work had been done with great thoroughness and was adopted without substantial alteration by the Council, but was not made public for several months. The Council itself was, in the event of the Provisional Government being set up, to constitute a “Central Authority,” and provision was made, with complete elaboration of detail, for carrying on all the necessary departments of administration by different Committees and Boards, whose respective functions were clearly defined. Among those who consented to serve in these departmental Committees, in addition to the recognised local leaders in the Ulster Movement, were Dr. Crozier, Archbishop of Armagh, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Lord Charles Beresford, Major-General Montgomery, Colonel Thomas Hickman, M.P., Lord Claud Hamilton, M.P., Sir Robert Kennedy, K.C.M.G., and Sir Charles Macnaghten, K.C., son of Lord Macnaghten, the distinguished Lord of Appeal. Ulster at this time gave a lead on the question of admitting women to political power, at a time when their claim to enfranchisement was being strenuously resisted in England, by including several women in the Provisional Government.