PEERAGE
Last updated 02/02/2014
Date Rank Order Name Born Died Age
COLVILL OF OCHILTREE
4 Jan 1651 B[S] 1 Sir Robert Colvill 25 Aug 1662
Created Lord Colvill of Ochiltree
4 Jan 1651
25 Aug 1662 2 Robert Colvill 12 Feb 1671
12 Feb 1671 3 Robert Colvill 25 Mar 1728
to Peerage extinct on his death
25 Mar 1728
COLVILLE OF CULROSS
25 Apr 1604 B[S] 1 Sir James Colvill c 1551 Sep 1629
20 Jan 1609 B[S] 1 Created Lord Colville of Culross
25 Apr 1604 and 20 Jan 1609
Sep 1629 2 James Colvill 1604 1654 50
1654 3 William Colvill 12 Apr 1656
12 Apr 1656 4 John Colvill c 1680
c 1680 5 Alexander Colvill 1666 9 Aug 1717 51
9 Aug 1717 6 John Colvill 1690 20 Apr 1741 50
20 Apr 1741 7 Alexander Colvill 28 Feb 1717 21 May 1770 52
21 May 1770 8 John Colvill 24 Jan 1725 8 Mar 1811 86
8 Mar 1811 9 John Colville 15 Mar 1768 22 Oct 1849 81
22 Oct 1849 10 Charles John Colville 23 Nov 1818 1 Jul 1903 84
12 Jul 1902 V 1 Created Baron Colville of Culross
31 Dec 1885 and Viscount Colville
of Culross 12 Jul 1902
PC 1866 KT 1874
1 Jul 1903 2 Charles Robert William Colville 26 Apr 1854 25 Mar 1928 73
25 Mar 1928 3 Charles Alexander Colville 26 May 1888 Mar 1945 56
Mar 1945 4 John Mark Alexander Colville 19 Jul 1933 8 Apr 2010 76
8 Apr 2010 5 Charles Mark Townshend Colville 5 Sep 1959
COLWYN
22 Jun 1917 B 1 Sir Frederick Henry Smith,1st baronet 24 Jan 1859 26 Jan 1946 87
Created Baron Colwyn 22 Jun 1917
PC 1924
26 Jan 1946 2 Frederick John Vivian Smith 26 Nov 1914 1 Jun 1966 51
1 Jun 1966 3 Ian Anthony Hamilton-Smith 1 Jan 1942
COLYEAR
13 Apr 1703 B[S] 1 David Colyear,1st Lord Portmore c 1656 2 Jan 1730
Created Lord Colyear and Earl of
Portmore 13 Apr 1703
See "Portmore"
COLYTON
19 Jan 1956 B 1 Henry Lennox D'Aubigne Hopkinson 3 Jan 1902 6 Jan 1996 94
Created Baron Colyton 19 Jan 1956
MP for Taunton 1950-1956. Minister of
State for Colonial Affairs 1952-1955
PC 1952
6 Jan 1996 2 Alisdair John Munro Hopkinson 7 May 1958
COMBERMERE
8 Feb 1827 V 1 Sir Stapleton Cotton,6th baronet 14 Nov 1773 21 Feb 1865 91
Created Baron Combermere 17 May
1814 and Viscount Combermere
8 Feb 1827
MP for Newark 1806-1814. PC [I] 1822
PC 1834. Lord Lieutenant Tower Hamlets
1852-1865. Field Marshal 1855
21 Feb 1865 2 Wellington Henry Stapleton-Cotton 24 Nov 1818 1 Dec 1891 73
MP for Carrickfergus 1847-1857
1 Dec 1891 3 Robert Wellington Stapleton-Cotton 18 Jun 1845 20 Feb 1898 52
20 Feb 1898 4 Francis Lynch Wellington Stapleton-Cotton 29 Jun 1887 8 Feb 1969 81
8 Feb 1969 5 Michael Wellington Stapleton-Cotton 8 Aug 1929 3 Nov 2000 71
3 Nov 2000 6 Thomas Robert Wellington Stapleton-Cotton 30 Aug 1969
COMPTON
8 May 1572 B 1 Henry Compton 16 Feb 1538 10 Dec 1589 51
Summoned to Parliament as Lord
Compton 8 May 1572
10 Dec 1589 2 William Compton,later [1618] 1st Earl of
Northampton by 1572 24 Jun 1630
1626 3 Spencer Compton,2nd Earl of Northampton May 1601 19 Mar 1643 41
24 Jun 1630 He was summoned to Parliament by a Writ of
Acceleration as Baron Compton 1 Apr 1626
19 Mar 1643 4 James Compton,3rd Earl of Northampton 19 Aug 1622 15 Dec 1681 59
15 Dec 1681 5 George Compton,4th Earl of Northampton 18 Oct 1664 15 Apr 1727 62
15 Apr 1727 6 James Compton,5th Earl of Northampton 2 May 1687 3 Oct 1754 67
He was summoned to Parliament by a Writ of
Acceleration as Baron Compton 28 Dec 1711
3 Oct 1754 7 Charlotte Townshend 14 Sep 1770
14 Sep 1770 8 George Townshend,later [1807] 2nd Marquess
Townshend 18 Apr 1755 27 Jul 1811 56
27 Jul 1811 9 George Ferrers Townshend,3rd Marquess
to Townshend 13 Dec 1778 31 Dec 1855 77
31 Dec 1855 On his death the peerage fell into abeyance
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
7 Sep 1812 E 1 Charles Compton,9th Earl of Northampton 24 Mar 1760 24 May 1828 68
Created Earl Compton and Marquess
of Northampton 7 Sep 1812
See "Northampton"
CONDON
27 Jun 2001 B[L] 1 Paul Leslie Condon 10 Mar 1947
Created Baron Condon for life 27 Jun 2001
CONESFORD
12 May 1955 B 1 Henry George Strauss 24 Jun 1892 28 Aug 1974 82
to Created Baron Conesford 12 May 1955
28 Aug 1974 MP for Norwich 1935-1945, English
Universities 1946-1950 and Norwich South
1950-1955
Peerage extinct on his death
CONGLETON
20 Aug 1841 B 1 Sir Henry Brooke Parnell,4th baronet 3 Jul 1776 8 Jun 1842 65
Created Baron Congleton 20 Aug 1841
MP for Portarlington 1802, Queens County 1802
and 1806-1832 and Dundee 1833-1841. Secretary
at War 1831-1832. Paymaster General
1835-1841. PC 1831
For further information on the death of this peer,
see the note at the foot of this page
8 Jun 1842 2 James Vesey Parnell 16 Jun 1805 23 Oct 1883 78
23 Oct 1883 3 Henry William Parnell 23 Mar 1809 10 Oct 1896 87
10 Oct 1896 4 Henry Parnell 10 Jul 1839 12 Nov 1906 67
12 Nov 1906 5 Henry Bligh Fortescue Parnell 6 Sep 1890 10 Nov 1914 24
10 Nov 1914 6 John Brooke Molesworth Parnell 16 May 1892 21 Dec 1932 40
21 Dec 1932 7 William Jared Parnell 18 Aug 1925 12 Oct 1967 42
12 Oct 1967 8 Christopher Patrick Parnell 11 Mar 1930
CONINGSBY
17 Apr 1692 B[I] 1 Thomas Coningsby 1657 1 May 1729 71
18 Jun 1716 B 1 Created Baron Coningsby [I] 17 Apr 1692,
to Baron Coningsby 18 Jun 1716 and
1 May 1729 Earl Coningsby 30 Apr 1719
30 Apr 1719 E 1 The creation of 1716 contained a special remainder
to the heirs male of his body by any wife he might
thereafter marry. The creation of 1719 also
contained a special remainder to his elder daughter
Margaret,Viscountess Coningsby
MP for Leominster 1679-1710 and 1715-1716
Lord Lieutenant Hereford 1714-1721 and Radnor
1715-1721. PC [I] 1692 PC 1693
On his death the Barony of 1716 became
extinct,the Barony of 1692 passed to
Richard Coningsby (see below) and the
Earldom to Margaret Newton (see below)
1 May 1729 B 2 Richard Coningsby 18 Dec 1729
On his death the Barony of 1692 became
extinct
26 Jan 1717 V 1 Margaret Newton c 1709 13 Jun 1761
1 May 1729 E 2 Created Baroness of Hampton Court
to and Viscountess Coningsby 26 Jan 1717
13 Jun 1761 Peerages extinct on her death
CONNAUGHT
19 Nov 1764 E 1 H R H William Henry 14 Nov 1743 25 Aug 1805 61
Created Earl of Connaught and Duke
of Gloucester and Edinburgh
19 Nov 1764
See "Gloucester"
CONNAUGHT AND STRATHEARN
24 May 1874 D 1 H R H Arthur William Patrick Albert 1 May 1850 16 Jan 1942 91
Created Earl of Sussex and Duke of
Connaught & Strathearn 24 May 1874
Third son of Queen Victoria. KG 1867 KP 1869
KT 1869 PC 1871 PC [I] 1900 . Governor General
of Canada 1911-1916
16 Jan 1942 2 Alastair Arthur Windsor 9 Aug 1914 26 Apr 1943 28
to Peerage extinct on his death
26 Apr 1943
CONNEMARA
12 May 1887 B 1 Robert Bourke 11 Jun 1827 3 Sep 1902 75
to Created Baron Connemara 12 May 1887
3 Sep 1902 MP for Kings Lynn 1868-1886. Governor of
Madras 1886-1890. PC 1880
Peerage extinct on his death
CONSTABLE
14 Nov 1620 B[S] 1 Sir Henry Constable c 1588 1645
Created Lord Constable and Viscount
of Dunbar 14 Nov 1620
See "Dunbar"
CONSTANTINE
24 Mar 1969 B[L] 1 Learie Nicholas Constantine 21 Sep 1901 1 Jul 1971 69
to Created Baron Constantine for life
1 Jul 1971 24 Mar 1969
The first negro peer
Peerage extinct on his death
CONSTANTINE OF STANMORE
21 Jul 1981 B[L] 1 Theodore Constantine 15 Mar 1910 13 Feb 2004 93
to Created Baron Constantine of Stanmore
13 Feb 2004 for life 21 Jul 1981
Peerage extinct on his death
CONWAY
26 Jun 1627 V 1 Edward Conway 3 Feb 1631
Created Baron Conway 24 Mar 1624,
Viscount Killultagh 15 Mar 1627 and
Viscount Conway 26 Jun 1627
MP for Penryn 1610 and Evesham 1624.
Secretary of State 1623. Lord President
of the Council 1628. Lord Lieutenant
Hampshire 1625
3 Feb 1631 2 Edward Conway 10 Aug 1594 16 Jun 1655 60
MP for Warwick 1624-1625 and Yarmouth
1626-1628
16 Jun 1655 3 Edward Conway c 1623 11 Aug 1683
23 Apr 1679 E 1 Created Earl of Conway 23 Apr 1679
to Secretary of State 1681-1683. Lord
11 Aug 1683 Lieutenant Warwick 1682-1683. PC [I] 1660
PC 1681
Peerages extinct on his death
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
17 Mar 1703 B 1 Francis Seymour-Conway 28 May 1679 3 Feb 1732 52
Created Baron Conway 17 Mar 1703
and Baron Conway and Killultagh
16 Oct 1712
MP for Bramber 1701-1703. PC [I] 1728
3 Feb 1732 2 Francis Seymour-Conway 5 Jul 1718 14 Jun 1794 75
He was created Marquess of Hertford (qv)
in 1793 when the peerages merged
CONWAY OF ALLINGTON
7 Dec 1931 B 1 William Martin Conway 12 Apr 1856 19 Apr 1937 81
to Created Baron Conway of Allington
19 Apr 1937 7 Dec 1931
MP for Combined English Universities 1918-1931
Peerage extinct on his death
CONYERS
17 Oct 1509 B 1 Sir William Conyers 1525
Summoned to Parliament as Lord
Conyers 17 Oct 1509
1525 2 Christopher Conyers 14 Jun 1538
14 Jun 1538 3 John Conyers Jun 1557
to On his death the peerage fell into abeyance
Jun 1557
11 Aug 1641 1 Conyers Darcy c 1570 3 Mar 1654
13 Jul 1644 4 Created Baron Conyers 11 Aug 1641
Abeyance of 1509 creation terminated in
his favour 13 Jul 1644
3 Mar 1654 5 Conyers Darcy,1st Earl of Holdernesse 24 Jan 1599 14 Jun 1689 90
1 Nov 1680 6 Conyers Darcy,2nd Earl of Holdernesse 3 Mar 1622 13 Dec 1692 70
14 Jun 1689 He was summoned to Parliament by a Writ of
Acceleration as Baron Conyers 1 Nov 1680
1692 7 Robert Darcy,3rd Earl of Holdernesse 24 Nov 1681 20 Jan 1722 40
20 Jan 1722 8 Robert Darcy,4th Earl of Holdernesse 17 May 1718 16 May 1778 59
On his death the Earldom of Holdernesse
became extinct whilst the Barony
passed to -
19 May 1778 9 Amelia Godolphin Osborne 12 Oct 1754 26 Jan 1784 29
26 Jan 1784 10 George William Frederick Osborne,later [1799] 6th
Duke of Leeds 21 Jul 1775 10 Jul 1838 63
10 Jul 1838 11 Francis Godolphin D'Arcy D'Arcy-Osborne,7th
Duke of Leeds 21 May 1798 4 May 1859 60
4 May 1859 12 Sackville George Lane-Fox 14 Sep 1827 24 Aug 1888 60
to On his death the peerage again fell into
24 Aug 1888 abeyance
8 Jun 1892 13 Marcia Amelia Mary Anderson-Pelham 18 Oct 1863 17 Nov 1926 63
Abeyance terminated in her favour
8 Jun 1892
17 Nov 1926 14 Sackville George Pelham,later [1936] 5th Earl of
to Yarborough 17 Dec 1888 7 Feb 1948 59
7 Feb 1948 On his death the peerage again fell into
abeyance
17 May 2012 15 Diana Mary Miller 5 Jul 1920 2 Mar 2013 82
to On the death of her younger sister and co-heir
2 Mar 2013 on 17 May 2012,the abeyance automatically
terminated in her favour. On her death in March
2013 the peerage again fell into abeyance
CONYNGHAM
3 Oct 1753 B[I] 1 Henry Conyngham 1705 3 Apr 1781 75
4 Jan 1781 E[I] 1 Created Baron Conyngham 3 Oct 1753,
to Viscount Conyngham 20 Jul 1756, Baron
3 Apr 1781 and Earl Conyngham 4 Jan 1781
MP for Sandwich 1756-1774 PC [I] 1748
On his death the Earldom,Viscountcy and
Barony of 1753 became extinct,whilst the
Barony of 1781 passed to -
3 Apr 1781 2 Francis Pierpoint Conyngham c 1725 22 May 1787
22 May 1787 3 Henry Conyngham 26 Dec 1766 28 Dec 1832 66
22 Jan 1816 M[I] 1 Created Viscount Conyngham
6 Dec 1789, Viscount Mount Charles
and Earl Conyngham 5 Nov 1797, and
Viscount Slane,Earl of Mount Charles
and Marquess Conyngham 22 Jan 1816
and Baron Minster 17 Jul 1821
KP 1801 PC 1821
28 Dec 1832 2 Francis Nathaniel Conyngham 11 Jun 1797 17 Jul 1876 79
MP for Westbury 1818-1820 and Donegal
1825-1831. Postmaster General 1834 and
1835. Lord Lieutenant Meath 1869-1876
KP 1833 PC 1835
17 Jul 1876 3 George Henry Conyngham 3 Feb 1825 2 Jun 1882 57
2 Jun 1882 4 Henry Francis Conyngham 1 Oct 1857 28 Aug 1897 39
28 Aug 1897 5 Victor George Henry Francis Conyngham 30 Jan 1883 9 Nov 1918 35
9 Nov 1918 6 Frederick William Burton Conyngham 24 Jun 1890 1 Apr 1974 83
1 Apr 1974 7 Frederick William Henry Francis
Conyngham 13 Mar 1924 3 Mar 2009 84
3 Mar 2009 8 Henry Vivian Pierpoint Conyngham 23 May 1951
COOKE OF ISLANDREAGH
11 Aug 1992 B[L] 1 Victor Alexander Cooke 18 Oct 1920 13 Nov 2007 87
to Created Baron Cooke of Islandreagh
13 Nov 2007 for life 11 Aug 1992
Peerage extinct on his death
COOKE OF THORNDON
3 Apr 1996 B[L] 1 Robin Brunskill Cooke 9 May 1926 30 Aug 2006 80
to Created Baron Cooke of Thorndon for life
30 Aug 2006 3 Apr 1996
PC 1977
Peerage extinct on his death
COOPER OF CULROSS
31 Jul 1954 B 1 Thomas Mackay Cooper 24 Sep 1892 15 Jul 1955 62
to Created Baron Cooper of Culross
15 Jul 1955 31 Jul 1954
Solicitor General for Scotland 1935.
Lord Advocate 1935-1941. Lord Justice
Clerk 1941-1946. Lord Justice General and
President of the Court of Session 1947-
1954. PC 1935 MP for Edinburgh West 1935-1941
Peerage extinct on his death
COOPER OF PAWLETT
23 Apr 1672 E 1 Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper 22 Jul 1621 21 Jan 1683 61
Created Baron Cooper of Pawlett and
Earl of Shaftesbury 23 Apr 1672
See "Shaftesbury"
COOPER OF STOCKTON HEATH
11 Jul 1966 B[L] 1 John Cooper 7 Jun 1908 2 Sep 1988 80
to Created Baron Cooper of Stockton
2 Sep 1988 Heath for life 11 Jul 1966
MP for Deptford 1950-1951
Peerage extinct on his death
COOTE OF CASTLE COOTE
6 Sep 1660 V[I] 1 Sir Charles Coote,2nd baronet c 1610 18 Dec 1661
Created Baron Coote of Castle Cuffe,Viscount
Coote of Castle Coote and Earl of Mountrath
6 Sep 1660
See "Mountrath"
COOTE OF CASTLE CUFFE
6 Sep 1660 B[I] 1 Sir Charles Coote,2nd baronet c 1610 18 Dec 1661
Created Baron Coote of Castle Cuffe,Viscount
Coote of Castle Coote and Earl of Mountrath
6 Sep 1660
See "Mountrath"
COOTE OF COLOONY
6 Sep 1660 B[I] 1 Richard Coote 1620 10 Jul 1683 63
Created Baron Coote of Coloony 6 Sep 1660
10 Jul 1683 2 Richard Coote,1st Earl of Bellomont c 1655 5 Mar 1701
5 Mar 1701 3 Nanfan Coote,2nd Earl of Bellomont 1681 14 Jun 1708 26
14 Jun 1708 4 Richard Coote,3rd Earl of Bellomont 1682 10 Feb 1766
10 Feb 1766 5 Charles Coote,1st Earl of Bellamont 6 Apr 1738 20 Oct 1800 62
to Peerage extinct on his death
20 Oct 1800
COPE
11 Jul 1945 B 1 Sir William Cope,1st baronet 18 Aug 1870 15 Jul 1946 75
to Created Baron Cope 11 Jul 1945
15 Jul 1946 MP for Llandaff and Barry 1918-1929.
Peerage extinct on his death
COPE OF BERKELEY
4 Oct 1997 B[L] 1 John Ambrose Cope 13 May 1937
Created Baron Cope of Berkeley
for life 4 Oct 1997
MP for Gloucestershire South 1974-1983
and Northavon 1983-1997. Minister of State,
Employment 1987-1989. Minister of State,
Northern Ireland 1989-1990. Paymaster
General 1992-1994. PC 1988
CORBET
23 Jun 1295 B 1 Peter Corbet 1300
Summoned to Parliament as Lord
Corbet 23 Jun 1295
1300 2 Peter Corbet 1322
1322 3 John Corbet 25 Mar 1298 1347 49
to Peerage extinct on his death
1347
CORBET OF LINCHLADE
23 Oct 1679 V[L] 1 Dame Sarah Corbet c 1624 5 Jun 1682
to Created Viscountess Corbet for life
5 Jun 1682 23 Oct 1679
Peerage extinct on her death
CORBETT OF CASTLE VALE
5 Jul 2001 B[L] 1 Robin Corbett 22 Dec 1933 19 Feb 2012 78
to Created Baron Corbett of Castle Vale
19 Feb 2012 for life 5 Jul 2001
MP for Hemel Hempstead 1974-1979 and
Erdington 1983-2001
Peerage extinct on his death
CORK
c 1396 E[I] 1 Edward Plantagenet 1373 25 Oct 1415 42
to Created Earl of Cork c 1396
25 Oct 1415 Succeeded as Duke of York (qv) 1402
Peerage extinct on his death
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
26 Oct 1620 E[I] 1 Richard Boyle,1st Baron Boyle of Youghal 3 Oct 1566 15 Sep 1643 76
Created Viscount Dungarvan and Earl
of the County of Cork 26 Oct 1620
15 Sep 1643 2 Richard Boyle,2nd Viscount Boyle of Kinalmeaky 20 Oct 1612 15 Jan 1698 85
He was created Earl of Burlington (qv)
in 1664
PC [I] 1660
15 Jan 1698 3 Charles Boyle,2nd Earl of Burlington 30 Oct 1660 9 Feb 1704 43
PC [I] 1695
9 Feb 1704 4 Richard Boyle,3rd Earl of Burlington 25 Apr 1694 3 Dec 1753 59
3 Dec 1753 5 John Boyle 13 Jan 1707 23 Nov 1762 55
He had previously [1731] succeeded as 5th Earl
of Orrery with which title this peerage continues
to be united
23 Nov 1762 6 Hamilton Boyle (also 6th Earl of Orrery) 3 Feb 1730 17 Jan 1764 33
MP for Warwick 1761-1762
17 Jan 1764 7 Edmund Boyle (also 7th Earl of Orrery) 21 Nov 1742 6 Oct 1798 55
For information on his second wife,Mary Monckton,
see the note at the foot of this page
6 Oct 1798 8 Edmund Boyle (also 8th Earl of Orrery) 21 Oct 1767 29 Jun 1856 88
KP 1835
29 Jun 1856 9 Richard Edmund St.Lawrence Boyle (also 9th
Earl of Orrery) 19 Apr 1829 22 Jun 1904 75
MP for Frome 1850-1856. Lord Lieutenant
Somerset 1864-1904. KP 1860 PC 1866
22 Jun 1904 10 Charles Spencer Canning Boyle (also 10th Earl
of Orrery) 24 Nov 1861 25 Mar 1925 63
25 Mar 1925 11 Robert John Lascelles Boyle (also 11th Earl
of Orrery) 8 Nov 1864 13 Oct 1934 69
13 Oct 1934 12 William Henry Dudley Boyle (also 12th Earl
of Orrery) 30 Nov 1873 19 Apr 1967 93
Admiral of the Fleet
19 Apr 1967 13 Patrick Reginald Boyle (also 13th Earl of Orrery) 7 Feb 1910 8 Aug 1995 85
8 Aug 1995 14 John William Boyle (also 14th Earl of Orrery) 12 May 1916 14 Nov 2003 87
14 Nov 2003 15 John Richard Boyle (also 15th Earl of Orrery) 3 Nov 1945
CORMACK
18 Dec 2010 B[L] 1 Sir Patrick Thomas Cormack 18 May 1939
Created Baron Cormack for life 18 Dec 2010
MP for Cannock 1970-1974,Staffordshire South
West 1974-1983 and Staffordshire South
1983-2010
CORNBURY
20 Apr 1661 V 1 Edward Hyde 18 Feb 1609 19 Dec 1674 65
Created Baron Hyde of Hindon 3 Nov
1660,and Viscount Cornbury and Earl
of Clarendon 20 Apr 1661
See "Clarendon"
CORNWALL
c 1068 E 1 Robert,Count of Mortein c 1031 c 1095
Considered to have become Earl of
Cornwall c 1068
c 1095 2 William Fitz-Robert by 1084 c 1140
to He was attainted and the peerage forfeited
1106
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1140 E 1 Alain de Bretagne 30 Mar 1146
to Created Earl of Cornwall 1140
1141 He was deprived of the peerage 1141
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Apr 1141 E 1 Reginald de Dunstanville Dec 1175
to Created Earl of Cornwall Apr 1141
Dec 1175 Illegitimate son of Henry I
On his death the peerage presumably
reverted to the Crown
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
c 1180 E 1 Baldwin 1188
to Created Earl of Cornwall c 1180
1188 Peerage extinct on his death
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1189 E 1 John Plantagenet 17 Oct 1216
to Created Earl of Cornwall 1189
1199 Sixth son of Henry II
He succeeded to the throne as King John
in 1199 when the peerage merged with
the Crown
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
7 Feb 1217 E 1 Henry Fitz-Count (or Fitz-Earl) by 1175 1222
to Created Earl of Cornwall 7 Feb 1217
1220 He resigned the peerage to the crown 1220
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
13 Feb 1225 E 1 Richard Plantagenet 5 Jan 1209 2 Apr 1272 63
Created Earl of Cornwall 13 Feb 1225
2 Apr 1272 2 Edmund Plantagenet Dec 1250 1 Oct 1300 49
to Peerage extinct on his death
1 Oct 1300
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
6 Aug 1307 E 1 Sir Piers de Gaveston c 1284 19 Jun 1312
to Created Earl of Cornwall 6 Aug 1307
19 Jun 1312 Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1308-1309
On his death the peerage presumably
reverted to the Crown
For information on this peer,see the note
at the foot of this page
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 Dec 1330 E 1 John Plantagenet 25 Aug 1316 Oct 1336 20
to Created Earl of Cornwall 1 Dec 1330
Oct 1336 Second son of Edward II
Peerage extinct on his death
Since that time the Dukedom of Cornwall
has been a title of the Prince of Wales
CORNWALLIS
20 Apr 1661 B 1 Sir Frederick Cornwallis,1st baronet 14 Mar 1611 7 Jan 1662 50
Created Baron Cornwallis 20 Apr 1661
MP for Eye 1640-1642 and Ipswich 1660-1661
7 Jan 1662 2 Charles Cornwallis 19 Apr 1632 13 Apr 1673 40
MP for Eye 1660-1662
13 Apr 1673 3 Charles Cornwallis 28 Dec 1655 29 Apr 1698 42
Lord Lieutenant Suffolk 1689-1698. First Lord
of the Admiralty 1692-1693 PC 1692
For further information on this peer,see the
note at the foot of this page
29 Apr 1698 4 Charles Cornwallis c 1675 20 Jan 1722
MP for Eye 1695-1698. Lord Lieutenant
Suffolk 1698-1703. Postmaster General
1715-1721. PC 1721
20 Jan 1722 5 Charles Cornwallis 29 Mar 1700 23 Jun 1762 62
30 Jun 1753 E 1 Created Viscount Brome and Earl
Cornwallis 30 Jun 1753
Lord Lieutenant Tower Hamlets 1740
PC 1740
23 Jun 1762 2 Charles Cornwallis 31 Dec 1738 5 Oct 1805 66
8 Oct 1792 M 1 Created Marquess Cornwallis 8 Oct 1792
MP for Eye 1760-1762. Governor General of
Bengal 1786-1793 and 1805. Lord Lieutenant
of Ireland 1798-1801. PC 1770 KG 1786
5 Oct 1805 3 Charles Cornwallis 29 Oct 1774 9 Aug 1823 48
to 2 MP for Eye 1795 and Suffolk 1796-1805
9 Aug 1823 On his death the Marquessate became
extinct whilst the Earldom passed to -
9 Aug 1823 4 James Cornwallis 25 Feb 1743 20 Jan 1824 80
20 Jan 1824 5 James Mann 20 Sep 1778 21 May 1852 73
to MP for Eye 1799-1806 and 1807
21 May 1852 Peerage extinct on his death
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
31 Jan 1927 B 1 Fiennes Stanley Wykeham Cornwallis 27 May 1864 26 Sep 1935 71
Created Baron Cornwallis 31 Jan 1927
MP for Maidstone 1888-1895 and 1898-1900
26 Sep 1935 2 Wykeham Stanley Cornwallis 14 Mar 1892 4 Jan 1982 89
Lord Lieutenant Kent 1944-1972
4 Jan 1982 3 Fiennes Neil Wykeham Cornwallis 29 Jun 1921 6 Mar 2010 88
6 Mar 2010 4 Fiennes Wykeham Jeremy Cornwallis 25 May 1946
CORSTON
29 Jun 2005 B[L] 1 Jean Ann Corston 5 May 1942
Created Baroness Corston for life
29 Jun 2005
MP for Bristol East 1992-2005. PC 2003
CORVEDALE
8 Jun 1937 V 1 Stanley Baldwin 3 Aug 1867 14 Dec 1947 80
Created Viscount Corvedale and Earl
Baldwin of Bewdley 8 Jun 1937
See "Baldwin of Bewdley"
COTTENHAM
11 Jun 1850 E 1 Sir Charles Christopher Pepys,2nd baronet 29 Apr 1781 29 Apr 1851 70
Created Baron Cottenham 20 Jan
1836,and Viscount Crowhurst and Earl
of Cottenham 11 Jun 1850
MP for Higham Ferrers 1831 and Malton
1831-1836. Solicitor General 1834. Master
of the Rolls 1834. Lord Chancellor
1836-1841 and 1846-1850. PC 1834
29 Apr 1851 2 Charles Edward Pepys 30 Apr 1824 18 Feb 1863 38
18 Feb 1863 3 William John Pepys 15 Aug 1825 20 Jan 1881 55
20 Jan 1881 4 Kenelm Charles Edward Pepys 18 May 1874 22 Apr 1919 44
For information on the death of this peer's
first wife,see the note at the foot of this page
22 Apr 1919 5 Kenelm Charles Francis Pepys 13 May 1901 29 Dec 1922 21
29 Dec 1922 6 Mark Everard Pepys 29 May 1903 19 Jul 1943 40
19 Jul 1943 7 John Digby Thomas Pepys 14 Jun 1907 12 May 1968 60
12 May 1968 8 Kenelm Charles Everard Digby Pepys 27 Nov 1948 20 Oct 2000 51
20 Oct 2000 9 Mark John Henry Pepys 11 Oct 1983
COTTER
30 May 2006 B[L] 1 Brian Joseph Michael Cotter 24 Aug 1938
Created Baron Cotter for life 30 May 2006
MP for Weston-super-Mare 1997-2005
COTTESLOE
2 Mar 1874 B 1 Sir Thomas Francis Fremantle,1st baronet 11 Mar 1798 3 Dec 1890 92
Created Baron Cottesloe 2 Mar 1874
MP for Buckingham 1827-1846. Secretary
at War 1844-1845. Chief Secretary for
Ireland 1845-1846 PC 1844. PC [I] 1845
3 Dec 1890 2 Thomas Francis Fremantle 30 Jan 1830 13 Apr 1918 88
MP for Buckinghamshire 1876-1885
13 Apr 1918 3 Thomas Francis Fremantle 5 Feb 1862 19 Jul 1956 94
Lord Lieutenant Buckinghamshire 1923-1954
19 Jul 1956 4 John Waldegrave Halford Fremantle 2 Mar 1900 22 Apr 1994 94
22 Apr 1994 5 John Tapling Fremantle 22 Jan 1927
Lord Lieutenant Buckinghamshire 1984-1997
COTTINGTON
10 Jul 1631 B 1 Sir Francis Cottington,1st baronet c 1579 19 Jun 1652
to Created Baron Cottington 10 Jul 1631
19 Jun 1652 MP for Camelford 1624-1625, Bossiney
1625 and Saltash 1628-1629
Peerage extinct on his death
COUPAR
20 Dec 1607 B[S] 1 James Elphinstone c 1590 Jan 1669
Created Lord Coupar 20 Dec 1607
Jan 1669 2 John Elphinstone 18 Feb 1623 10 Jun 1704 81
He had previously succeeded as 3rd Lord
Balmerinoch in 1649. The peerages were merged
until their forfeiture in 1746
COURTAULD-THOMSON
1 Feb 1944 B 1 Courtauld Greenwood Courtauld-Thomson 16 Aug 1865 1 Nov 1954 89
to Created Baron Courtauld-Thomson
1 Nov 1954 1 Feb 1944
Peerage extinct on his death
COURTENAY
6 Feb 1299 B 1 Hugh Courtenay,Earl of Devon 1274 1340 66
Summoned to Parliament as Lord
Courtenay 6 Feb 1299
See "Devon"
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
6 May 1762 V 1 Sir William Courtenay,3rd baronet 11 Feb 1710 16 May 1762 52
Created Viscount Courtenay 6 May 1762
MP for Honiton 1734-1741
16 May 1762 2 William Courtenay,2nd Viscount Courtenay 30 Oct 1742 14 Dec 1788 46
14 Dec 1788 3 William Courtenay,3rd Viscount Courtenay and 30 Jul 1768 26 May 1835 67
later [1831] 9th Earl of Devon
to Peerage extinct on his death
26 May 1835
COURTHOPE
3 Jul 1945 B 1 Sir George Lloyd Courthope,1st baronet 12 Jun 1877 2 Sep 1955 78
to Created Baron Courthope 3 Jul 1945
2 Sep 1955 MP for Rye 1906-1945. PC 1937
Peerage extinct on his death
COURTNEY OF PENWITH
14 Jul 1906 B 1 Leonard Henry Courtney 6 Jul 1832 11 May 1918 85
to Created Baron Courtney of Penwith
11 May 1918 14 Jul 1906
MP for Liskeard 1875-1885 and Bodmin
1885-1900. Financial Secretary to the
Treasury 1882-1884. PC 1889
Peerage extinct on his death
COURTOWN
12 Apr 1762 E[I] 1 James Stopford c 1700 12 Jan 1770
Created Baron Courtown 19 Sep 1758,
and Viscount Stopford and Earl of
Courtown 12 Apr 1762
12 Jan 1770 2 James Stopford 28 May 1731 30 Mar 1810 78
Created Baron Saltersford 7 Jun 1796
MP for Great Bedwyn 1774 and Marlborough
1780-1793. KP 1783 PC [I] 1775 PC 1784
30 Mar 1810 3 James George Stopford 15 Aug 1765 15 Jun 1835 69
MP for Great Bedwyn 1790-1796,
Linlithgow Burghs 1796-1802, Dumfries
Burghs 1803-1806, Great Bedwyn 1806-1807
and Marlborough 1807-1810. PC 1793
KP 1821
15 Jun 1835 4 James Thomas Stopford 27 Mar 1794 20 Nov 1858 64
MP for Wexford 1820-1830
20 Nov 1858 5 James George Henry Stopford 24 Apr 1823 28 Nov 1914 91
28 Nov 1914 6 James Walter Milles Stopford 3 Mar 1853 18 Jul 1933 80
Lord Lieutenant Wexford
18 Jul 1933 7 James Richard Neville Stopford 16 Sep 1877 25 Jan 1957 79
For information on the death of this peer,see
the note at the foot of this page
25 Jan 1957 8 James Montagu Burgoyne Stopford 24 Nov 1908 23 Jul 1975 66
23 Jul 1975 9 James Patrick Montagu Burgoyne Stopford 19 Mar 1954
COUSSINS
23 Mar 2007 B[L] 1 Jean Elizabeth Coussins 1950
Created Baroness Coussins for life
23 Mar 2007
COUTANCHE
11 Jul 1961 B[L] 1 Alexander Moncrieff Coutanche 9 May 1892 18 Dec 1973 81
to Created Baron Coutanche for life 11 Jul 1961
18 Dec 1973 Peerage extinct on his death
COVENTRY
18 May 1623 E 1 George Villiers,1st Marquess of Buckingham 28 Aug 1592 23 Aug 1628 35
Created Earl of Coventry and Duke of
Buckingham 18 May 1623
See "Buckingham"
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
10 Apr 1629 B 1 Thomas Coventry 1578 14 Jan 1640 61
Created Baron Coventry 10 Apr 1629
MP for Droitwich 1621-1622. Attorney
General 1620-1625. Lord Keeper 1625-1640
14 Jan 1640 2 Thomas Coventry 1606 27 Oct 1661 55
MP for Droitwich 1625 and 1626
27 Oct 1661 3 George Coventry 1628 15 Dec 1680 52
15 Dec 1680 4 John Coventry 2 Sep 1654 25 Jul 1687 32
25 Jul 1687 5 Thomas Coventry 1637 15 Jul 1699 62
26 Apr 1697 E 1 Created Viscount Deerhurst and Earl
of Coventry 26 Apr 1697
MP for Droitwich 1660-1661,Camelford 1661-1679
and Warwick 1681-1687
15 Jul 1699 6 Thomas Coventry c 1662 Aug 1710
2
Aug 1710 7 Thomas Coventry 7 Apr 1702 28 Jan 1712 9
3
28 Jan 1712 8 Gilbert Coventry c 1665 27 Oct 1719
to 4 On his death the Barony became extinct
27 Oct 1719 whilst the Earldom passed to -
27 Oct 1719 5 William Coventry c 1676 18 Mar 1751
MP for Bridport 1708-1719. Lord Lieutenant
Worcestershire 1719-1751 PC 1720
18 Mar 1751 6 George William Coventry 26 Apr 1722 3 Sep 1809 87
MP for Bridport 1744-1747 and
Worcestershire 1747-1751. Lord Lieutenant
Worcestershire 1751-1808
For information on this peer's wife,see the
note at the foot of this page
3 Sep 1809 7 George William Coventry 25 Apr 1758 26 Mar 1831 72
Lord Lieutenant Worcestershire 1808-1831
26 Mar 1831 8 George William Coventry 16 Oct 1784 15 May 1843 58
MP for Worcester 1816-1826.
15 May 1843 9 George William Coventry 9 May 1838 13 Mar 1930 91
Lord Lieutenant Worcestershire 1891-
1923. PC 1877
For information on this peer's son and heir, who
predeceased him,see the note at the foot of
this page
13 Mar 1930 10 George William Reginald Victor Coventry 10 Sep 1900 May 1940 39
May 1940 11 George William Coventry 25 Jan 1934 14 Jun 2002 68
14 Jun 2002 12 Francis Henry Coventry 27 Sep 1912 13 Mar 2004 91
13 Mar 2004 13 George William Coventry 5 Oct 1939
COWDRAY
2 Jan 1917 V 1 Sir Weetman Dickinson Pearson,1st baronet 15 Jul 1856 1 May 1927 70
Created Baron Cowdray 16 Jul 1910
and Viscount Cowdray 2 Jan 1917
MP for Colchester 1895-1910 PC 1917
1 May 1927 2 Weetman Harold Miller Pearson 18 Apr 1882 5 Oct 1933 51
MP for Eye 1906-1918
5 Oct 1933 3 Weetman John Churchill Pearson 27 Feb 1910 19 Jan 1995 84
19 Jan 1995 4 Michael Orlando Weetman Pearson 17 Jun 1944
COWDREY OF TONBRIDGE
18 Jul 1997 B[L] 1 Michael Colin Cowdrey 24 Dec 1932 4 Dec 2000 67
to Created Baron Cowdrey of Tonbridge
4 Dec 2000 for life 18 Jul 1997
Peerage extinct on his death
COWLEY
21 Jan 1828 B 1 Sir Henry Wellesley 20 Jan 1773 27 Apr 1847 74
Created Baron Cowley 21 Jan 1828
MP for Eye 1807-1809 and Athlone 1807
PC 1809
27 Apr 1847 2 Henry Richard Charles Wellesley 17 Jun 1804 15 Jul 1884 80
11 Apr 1857 E 1 Created Viscount Dangan and Earl
Cowley 11 Apr 1857
PC 1852 KG 1866
15 Jul 1884 2 William Henry Wellesley 25 Aug 1834 28 Feb 1895 60
28 Feb 1895 3 Henry Arthur Mornington Wellesley 14 Jan 1866 15 Jan 1919 53
15 Jan 1919 4 Christian Arthur Wellesley 25 Dec 1890 29 Aug 1962 71
29 Aug 1962 5 Denis Arthur Wellesley 25 Dec 1921 23 Mar 1968 46
23 Mar 1968 6 Richard Francis Wellesley 12 Jun 1946 13 Dec 1975 29
13 Dec 1975 7 Garrett Graham Wellesley 30 Jul 1934
Henry Brooke Parnell,1st Baron Congleton
After a distinguished career in the House of Commons, Parnell was created Baron Congleton on
18 August 1841. Less than a year later, he committed suicide by hanging himself in his
bedroom. The attached report of the inquest into his death is from "The Morning Chronicle"
of 10 June 1842:-
'An inquest, which did not terminate until four o'clock yesterday afternoon, was held before
Mr. Wakley, the Coroner, and a jury consisting chiefly of county magistrates, upon the remains
of Henry Brooke Parnell, Baron Congleton, at his lordship's residence, No. 43, Cadogan-place,
Chelsea.
'The Coroner, having taken evidence of the deceased nobleman being found suspended to the
bed-post in his sleeping chamber, at half-past nine o'clock on Wednesday night, by his valet,
Manning, and of prompt medical assistance having been called in, proceeded to examine the
Honourable John Parnell, his lordship's eldest son, as to the state of the deceased nobleman's
mind. The witness stated that in the early part of the month of April last, his father had a
severe attack of fever, which brought on delirium, and from that period his lordship had been
attended by Mr. Bolton, a surgeon, and occasionally by Dr. Chambers. Witness arrived from the
country, and found that is was necessary that a watch should be kept over his father, and
Mr. Bolton desired that every instrument with which he might injure himself should be removed
from the room. This arrangement was entered into between Mr. Bolton and witness's brother
before he reached town, and after a few days he found that his father had got much better
and left his room. This was in accordance with his father's expressed wish; but Mr. Bolton, upon
learning that he had done so, said he could not allow the deceased to be left unattended. Up to
that period, witness did not know the exact circumstances of the case, but imagined that the
reason his father was watched was in consequence of his having had a fit. Mr. Bolton gave
directions that the deceased nobleman's razors should be removed, which was done. After
that he appeared to have got quite over his attack, but not having recovered his sleep, the
medical gentleman continued to attend him. His father had desired that the instruments of
self destruction should be removed from his reach; but about a week or ten days after his
attack, he inquired the reason he was being watched, and told his medical attendants that he
had ceased to have those impulses to self destruction, and he wished to regain his former
habits as soon as he could. The witness added, that his father was very unreserved to him
in the statements of his bodily health and mental feelings; and he knew as a fact, that the
deceased had been, out of the last 36 days, 19 days in a low and desponding state.
'By the Coroner: About a week since one of the bell ropes had fallen down, and his father
seemed very desirous to know what it was lying there for, and of what use it could be, and
begged that it might be taken away, and put into its place. On Tuesday last he appeared to
be in a low state, and witness offered to sit with him in the room, but he declined the offer,
and said that he would rather remain alone. The windows of his room were never fastened
down, nor did he (witness) believe that the scissors even were removed - such articles it was
not thought necessary to remove unless he himself suggested it, and expressed his alarm.
About three weeks ago he gave witness a large packing-needle, and told him to remove it. Mr.
Bolton did not suggest that a person who had had experience in the care of insane persons
should be employed to attend upon Lord Congleton. Latterly, he used to find that his faculties
were in some respects gone. He endeavoured to read the newspapers, the Edinburgh Review,
and Blackwood's Magazine, but could not. He did not request that anybody should read to him,
but preferred being alone. He usually occupied his time by taking walking exercise. He never
recovered his sleep, and was constantly growing more debilitated and weak. He never
complained to witness of any ailment of the head. On one occasion he was at Richmond, and
he swooned away. He thought that was a fit, and described that the feeling came on at the
heart and ran up to his head. He sometimes complained of giddiness in the head, and a rolling
sensation from ear to ear. Latterly he had had the whole management of the house and
servants, witness having some time since made up his accounts, and delivered everything up
to his father.
'The Coroner asked the jury if he should adjourn the inquest for the attendance of Mr. Bolton,
or if they would like to have the second son of the deceased nobleman examined; but as they
made no reply, he briefly summed up, and observed that it was their duty to inquire, in all cases
where a person was found hanging, whether it was the act of himself or not, and after some
further observations, the jury returned a verdict of "Temporary insanity." '
Mary Monckton (21 May 1746-30 May 1840), second wife of Edmund Boyle,
7th Earl of Cork and 7th Earl of Orrery
Mary was the daughter of John Monckton, 1st Viscount Galway. On 17 June 1786 she married,
as his second wife, Edmund Boyle, 7th Earl of Cork and 7th Earl of Orrery. From childhood, Mary
took a keen interest in literature and in later life her house became a regular meeting place for
some of the most important political and literary figures of the day. Among her frequent visitors
were Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Burke, Horace Walpole, George
Canning, Viscount Castlereagh, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Robert Peel, and Sydney Smith.
Her closest female friend was the actress Sarah Siddons.
However, Mary was also a rampant kleptomaniac. Many anecdotes exist of her passion for
acquiring "souvenirs" wherever she went, until it reached the stage that whenever a visit from
her was anticipated, her hosts would hide the best silver and replace it with cheap pewter, which
she scooped up and concealed in her muff. When she went shopping, the shop keepers would
never allow their goods to be taken outside to her carriage for approval, although this was the
normal practice for valued customers. If she wandered around a shop, it was usual to appoint
one of the shop keeper's staff to accompany her. When she returned from a visit to a friend or
a shop, her servants would gather any items that they didn't recognise as belonging to her, and
would return them to their rightful owners with a note of apology. On one occasion, when leaving
breakfast party, she coolly took a friend's carriage without permission, and kept it out the whole
afternoon. On meeting the owner Lady Cork merely complained that the high steps of the carriage
did not suit her short legs. She once made off with a live hedgehog in her handbag.
Piers de Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall (creation of 1307)
Gaveston was the favourite of King Edward II, but his rise to a position of nearly absolute power
excited the jealousy of the nobility, who eventually revenged themselves upon him. It has never
been established whether Gaveston and King Edward were lovers - different authors have
argued for and against the homosexuality of both men. Although it is obviously no guide one
way or the other, Edward was married to Isabella of France and had four legitimate children -
King Edward III, John of Eltham (created Earl of Cornwall in 1330), Eleanor of Woodstock (who
married the Count of Guelders) and Joan (who married King David II of Scotland), and one
illegitimate son, Adam FitzRoy.
The following account of Gaveston is taken from the November 1971 issue of the Australian
monthly magazine "Parade":-
'Dusk was falling on June 19, 1312, as a grim little procession ascended the lonely, windswept
slope of Blacklow Hill, not far from the great castle of the Earl of Warwick. In front rode Warwick
himself followed by a troop of barons and their retainers. Amid them, lashed to his horse's
saddle, was their prisoner - the most hated man in England. Once Piers Gaveston had jeeringly
called the Earl of Warwick The Black Dog. And the Earl had sworn savagely in reply: "Ere long
you shall feel The Black Dog's teeth!"
'Now the hour had come when the English barons would avenge the insults heaped upon them
by the King's insolent swaggering foreign favourite. On the crest of the hill the cavalcade halted.
A tree stump formed the block. One of Warwick's mail-clad soldiers was the executioner. The
last rays of the sun glinted on the falling battle axe. Then the head of Piers Gaveston, with its
scented locks and ruddy handsome face rolled down the slope into a thorn bush.
'The ill-starred story of Piers Gaveston and his infatuated royal master, Edward II, is one of the
strangest in English medieval history. It began about the year 1300 when a penniless Gascon
knight, Arnauld de Gaveston, arrived from France to seek his fortune at the court of King
Edward I. With him came his son Piers, a robust and high-spirited youth whom the King decided
would make an excellent companion for his own heir, the young Prince Edward.
'The king soon had cause to regret his decision, for Brother Perrot, as the prince called his
comrade, quickly achieved a domination over Edward that nothing could shake. Frivolous,
extravagant, devoted to peacock clothing, feasts and tournaments, the prince and his crony
cared nothing for the wars in which the King was endlessly involved.
'The barons regarded the pair with brutal contempt. Gaveston replied by branding the proudest
of them with nicknames that stung them to even greater fury. The surly Earl of Warwick was
The Black Dog, the swarthy Earl of Pembroke was The Jew, the fat Earl of Lincoln was M'Sieu
Burst Belly. Even the Earl of Lancaster, the King's nephew and richest and most powerful of
the barons, did not escape. He was The Actor, The Fiddler or The Hog.
'Twice Prince Edward, terrified by the rages of his grim old father, had to agree to Gaveston
being exiled. Then in 1307 he found himself free at last. In July, Edward I died during his final
campaign against the Scots. Abandoning the war forthwith his son hurried back to London to
be hailed as King Edward II. His first act as monarch was to recall his idolised Brother Perrot
from his Flanders exile and defy the barons by loading him with titles, riches and honours.
Gaveston was created Earl of Cornwall and became virtual chief of the royal council. He was
granted huge estates and wed to Margaret de Claire, daughter of the King's kinsman, the Earl
of Gloucester.
'Gaveston had been despised before. Now, with his spendthrift arrogance shielded by the King,
he was "more hated unto death than any man within the English realms." During Edward's
coronation procession in February 1308, some of the wilder barons had to be restrained from
dragging Gaveston from Westminster Abbey and hacking him to pieces with their swords. Shortly
afterwards, at his manor of Wallingford, the favourite staged one of the costliest and most
magnificent tournaments ever seen in medieval England. But the most warlike barons and
knights were bitterly disappointed in their hopes of humiliating Gaveston before the eyes of King
Edward and the lords and ladies of the court. A superb rider and athlete, Brother Perrot
unhorsed one rival after another with his lance, usually flinging some mocking insult after them
as they bit the dust.
'For the next year the barons raged in vain as they watched Gaveston cement his hold over the
doting king. Men whispered that his mother had been burned as a witch in France and that he
used black magic to make King Edward the helpless prisoner of his spells. He was reputed to be
hand-in-glove with the great Italian moneylenders of Lombard Street, to whom the King owed
such vast amounts that the country was virtually bankrupt. He was accused of filling the court
with his greedy Gascon friends, as well as effeminate "grooms, jugglers, jesters and singers" to
divert Edward from affairs of state. The King's wife, Queen Isabella, lamented that she was "the
most wretched of women" because of Edward's slavish devotion to his swaggering favourite.
'Eventually it was the king's desperate need for money that forced him to yield to the barons'
demand and get rid of Gaveston by appointing him viceroy in Ireland. Tearfully Edward rode to
Bristol to bid farewell to his favourite as he sailed for Dublin, but secretly the King was
determined to end the exile as soon as possible. His first move was to spread dissension among
the barons and separate his cousin, the Earl of Lancaster, from Warwick and the rest of
Gaveston's more ruthless foes. Then, after making concessions to a meeting of Parliament at
Stamford, Edward took the risk of recalling Gaveston from Ireland and openly restoring him to all
his honours.
'The enforced sojourn in Dublin had taught Brother Perrot nothing. In July 1309 he returned to
London more impudent, extravagant and bitter-tongued than ever. Ruled by Gaveston and his
infatuated master the court became a sink of ceaseless junketings and scandals, while the
exchequer, bled white by the royal debts, drifted rapidly towards disaster. Early in 1310, driven
to desperation, the great nobles - led by Lancaster, Warwick, Lincoln, Pembroke and Arundel -
met in council in the Painted Chamber of the Palace of Westminster.
'On Piers Gaveston they poured their pent-up rage. He had "estranged the king's heart from his
people," wasted the royal revenues and filled the court with his own creatures. The barons
concluded by appointing 21 Lords Ordainers, headed by Lancaster and the Archbishop of
Canterbury, to supervise the King's finances and purge his frivolous and vicious retinue. Furiously
swearing that he would accept no "bondage," Edward, taking Gaveston and his cronies with him,
fled northward to York to set up his court remote from rebellious London.
'Both sides began gathering their forces. Then, with England on the brink of civil war, the
despised and bankrupt monarch suddenly yielded. Leaving Gaveston for safety in Barnborough
Castle, Edward gloomily retraced his steps to London to make the best bargain he could with
the Lords Ordainers. It was a bitter pill he had to swallow. Parliament was to be summoned
every year. The Ordainers were to fill every great State office and the King was reduced to a
mere puppet of his kinsmen and nobility. Far more terrible to the weeping Edward was the edict
condemning Piers Gaveston to perpetual banishment, with death as an outlaw if he ever trod
English soil again.
'It was October 1311 before the King's resistance finally appeared to crumble. On All Saints'
Day Gaveston took ship at Dover and sailed ostensibly for Flanders. Then, only two months
later, the barons were staggered to learn that Edward had appeared during the Christmas revels
at Windsor Castle with the jewel bedecked favourite once more on his arm. How he had returned
to England no one knew, although it was rumoured that he had slipped ashore in Cornwall or
Devon and ridden secretly straight back to Windsor.
'In any case war was now inevitable between the King and his barons, and the prize at stake
was the perfumed head of Piers Gaveston. On January 7, 1312, Edward, Queen Isabella,
Gaveston and a handful of loyal followers left Windsor and made for the north of England where
the King hoped to muster his strength. A few weeks later Lancaster swooped over the Pennine
Hills and almost trapped the King's little force before it could take to boats on the River Tyne.
Abandoning Queen Isabella and the treasure chests, Edward and Gaveston sailed down the
coast to Scarborough, where the towering cliff was crowned by one of England's mightiest
fortresses.
'Scarborough was impregnable to attack and, since Gaveston was ill with fever, Edward decided
to leave him there while he made a final effort to raise a royalist army. Everywhere he met only
hostility and contempt. At last, exhausted and hopeless, Edward went to York to make a pitiful
appeal to his cousin, the Earl of Lancaster. If the barons would solemnly swear to leave
Gaveston unharmed the King would order him into exile forever. Glad to avoid a bloody civil war,
Lancaster promptly agreed.
'On May 19, haunted by dread of his inveterate enemies, Gaveston yielded up Scarborough
Castle and surrendered to the Earl of Pembroke, who was to escort him to London. By mid-June
they had only advanced as far as Deddington in Oxfordshire, where Pembroke left his captive
under guard in the village while he visited a nearby castle. And there nemesis, in the shape of
the harsh and vengeful Black Dog, the Earl of Warwick, caught up with the ruined Piers
Gaveston.
'One day Warwick and his retainers swept into Deddington, snatched Gaveston from his guards
and carried him off to the earl's castle 30 miles away. After a grim mockery of a trial the man
who had once ruled England was beheaded by a common soldier in the sunset on Blacklow Hill.
The news plunged King Edward into such a frenzy of grief, for a time it seemed that his reason
was threatened. However, he survived to continue a miserable reign dogged by scandals and
disasters until his own macabre murder between the walls of Berkeley Castle 15 years later.'
Charles Cornwallis, 3rd Baron Cornwallis
Lord Cornwallis was tried before some of his fellow peers in 1678 [although the "Complete
Peerage" says 1676] for the murder of a young man. The following account of his subsequent
acquittal appears in "A critical review of the state trials" [London 1735]:-
'The Trial of Charles Lord Cornwallis, for Murder, before the Lord High Steward, and a certain
Number of Peers commissioned to try him, in Westminster-Hall, 1678. 30 Car II.
'An Indictment was found by the Grand Jury of Middlesex, setting forth, That Charles Lord
Cornwallis (together with Charles Gerrard and Edward Bourne) on the 18th of May [1678], then
last past, did feloniously, and of his Malice afore-thought, make an Assault on the Person of
Robert Clerk, in his Majesty's Palace of Whitehall, within the said County; and that the said
Gerrard took up the said Clerk in his Arms, flung him down and broke his Neck, of which the said
Clerk instantly died: And that the said Lord Cornwallis was present, aiding and abetting the said
Charles Gerrard to commit the said Murder, and so was a Principal in it.
'A Soldier, who stood Centinel at the Bottom of the Stairs that led from the Gallery in Whitehall
into the Park, that Night the Fact was committed, deposed, That on the 18th of May, between
one and two in the Morning, the Lord Cornwallis and Mr. Gerrard, with three Footmen behind
them, came from the said Gallery down the stairs into the Park, and demanding of him the Hour,
he told them: but they being disordered in Drink, with many Oaths replied, he lyed, went by him
into the Park, and swore they would kill somebody before they went away: That about an Hour
after they returned to the Stairs, and he (the Centinel) demanding, Who comes there? They
answered him in a very obscene rude Language, threatning to kill him, but he kept them off:
Then one of them gave away his Sword, and swore he would kiss him, which he (the Centinel)
refusing, they threatned him again, and seemed to contend which of them should run him
through: At length, going up the Stairs, there came two young Lads to the Centinel, and one
of them desired him (the Deponent) to call him early the next Morning, which my Lord Cornwallis
and Gerrard hearing as they stood on the Top of the Stairs, they bid the Deponent shoot the
Boy, and they would bear him out; and, on his refusing, one of them swore he would kick the
Boy's Arse to Hell: To which the Boy made some Reply, wherein the word Arse was repeated:
Whereupon one of the Gentlemen in a Rage run down the Stairs; and the Boy who spoke the
Words getting away, the Gentleman took the other Boy up in his Arms, he crying out all the
while, O my Lord it was not I! Indeed my Lord it was not I! and either by throwing him down
on the Ground, or by a Blow, killed the Boy out-right.
'The Boy who spoke the Words, confirmed the Centinel's Evidence; but deposed, That he only
said, Why kick my Arse to Hell? However the Gentlemen mistook his words.
'Two of Lord Cornwallis's Footmen, who had been indicted for the same Murder and acquitted
by the Court of King's-Bench, were admitted to give Evidence in this Case, and deposed, That
it was Mr. Gerrard that committed the Fact; and that my Lord Cornwallis remained at the Top
of the Stairs, and ran away as soon as the Fact was done, for Fear of being knocked on the
Head by the Soldiers.
'Mr. Solicitor General observed upon the Evidence, That it appeared, both my Lord and Mr.
Gerrard had a murderous Intention, both of them swearing they would kill the Centinel: And as
to the Murder that was actually committed, his Lordship was present at it, and had not given
any Evidence that he disapproved of it, or endeavoured to prevent it; all which amounted to
as much in Law, as if he had struck the Blow.
'Mr. Serjeant Maynard also observed, That his Lordship's being at some Distance would not
excuse him, if he was engaged with Gerrard in an unlawful Design; and cited the Lord Dacre's
Case [qv], who went into a Park with other Company to steal Deer; and though my Lord and
some of them fled on the Keeper's Coming, yet the Keeper being killed afterwards, when his
Lordship was without the Pales, and a Mile distant from the Place, yet he was adjudged guilty
of Murder.
'The Lord Cornwallis said in his Defence, that he was indeed in Company with Mr. Gerrard that
Night the Fact was committed, but that he had no ill Intention; and observed, that there was
but one Witness who deposed, that both of them said they would kill the Centinel: That he was
not conscious that he had any Hand in this Murder, and therefore he had not withdrawn himself;
but trusting to his Innocence, surrendered to the Coroner the next Day, and now submitted to
the Judgment of his Peers.
'The Prisoner being taken from the Bar, and the Lords withdrawn to consider of their Evidence,
the Lords, about two Hours after, returned to their Seats, and desired to propose a Point of Law
to the Judges: To which the Lord Steward answered, That the later and better opinion was,
That such Questions ought to be put in the Presence of the Prisoner, that he might know
whether the Case was justly stated: Whereupon the Prisoner was brought to the Bar again, and
the following Question proposed to the Judges, (viz.) Whether those who were present, and
contributed to any Disorders, whereupon a Manslaughter ensues, are as guilty of Manslaughter
as he who is actually the Manslayer; as it is in Murder; where all, who are guilty of the Trespass
which occasions it, are deemed equally guilty with him who commits the Fact?
'The Judges answered, The Case was the same in Manslaughter, as in Murder.
'The Lords withdrawing again, and returning into the Court after a short Recess, and the Lord
High Steward demanding of them, in their Order, beginning with the youngest Baron, Whether
the Lord Cornwallis was Guilty? Six of them declared him guilty of manslaughter; but a great
Majority acquitted him; whereupon his Lordship was discharged: And the Lord High Steward
breaking his Staff, the Court was dissolved.
[The author then comments..] 'The Lords, no doubt, gave their Verdict according to their
Judgment: They believed, I presume, that the Deceased was killed by Accident; but had this
Noble Peer been tried by a Jury of Commoners, possibly he had not come off so well: For here
were two Gentlemen declaring they would kill the Centinel, or some Body, and actually attacked
the Soldier, who deposed, that it was with Difficulty he kept them off: Then, without any
Provocation, one of them takes up an innocent Boy in his Arms, and throws him down with that
Force that he killed him upon the Spot. What Denomination must we give this Fact? And
whether it was my Lord or Gerrard that did it, only appears by the Evidence of his Lordship's
Footmen, who were indicted as Accessories to the same Murder: and their Evidence was so
well received, that it seems to have turned the Scale.
'Upon the whole, as the Case stands, a Commoner must be mad who does not avoid all
Occasions of contending with a Noble Peer, since the least ill Language is held a sufficient
Provocation to take away his Life.'
The Countess of Cottenham, wife of the 4th Earl of Cottenham (7 Dec 1866-2 May 1913)
The Countess was killed in a gun accident on 2 May 1913. She had been born Lady Rose
Nevill, daughter of the 1st Marquess of Abergavenny and had married, as her second husband,
the 4th Earl of Cottenham in 1899. The Earl, who was more than 7 years younger than his
wife, was her first cousin, once removed. The following account of her death and the
subsequent inquest appeared in 'The Scotsman' on 5 May 1913:-
'Lady Rose, daughter of the first Marquis of Abergavenny, and wife of Lord Cottenham, died
under particularly tragic circumstances at Elvendon, South Oxfordshire, on Friday. The sad story
of her death was not known outside the family until Saturday morning, and was narrated at the
inquest held in the afternoon by Mr. Cooper, the Coroner for the district.
'On Friday afternoon the dead body of the Countess was found by her husband, the Earl of
Cottenham, in a wood above Elvendon Priory, the family seat, near Goring-on-Thames. The
chest had been pierced by a bullet, and a double-barrelled sporting gun lay a few feet away
from the body.
'The scene of the tragedy is a pretty corner of South Oxfordshire, sprinkled with low-lying and
well-wooded hills. Elvendon Priory, the charming country mansion, lies in a peaceful, sheltered
spot, on either side of which rise the woods. Here, in this secluded countryside, and a few
hundred yards from her charmingly picturesque home, the Countess met her death.
'On Friday morning the Countess's three boys were with their mother, but the school vacation
had drawn to an end, and they left the Priory for Reigate School. After lunch on Friday Lord
Cottenham saw his boys off, and accompanied them as far as Reading. It was at this time, and
about two o'clock in the afternoon, that the Countess, so far as can be ascertained, took her
sporting gun, and proceeded to the woods above the house, apparently with the intention of
spending the time before her husband's return in shooting. She was a good shot with the gun
and the rifle, and frequently found such recreation in the preserves of the Priory.
'What happened subsequently remains unknown. In the course of the afternoon, when Lord
Cottenham returned, he was surprised to find his wife absent. In the meantime, accompanied
by his gardener, his Lordship proceeded towards the woods for the purpose of inspecting a new
path. It was while making his way there that Lord Cottenham made the terrible discovery,
finding the dead body of his wife lying in a clearing of the woods against the stump of a tree.
Her gun lay a few feet off. There was no indication of a struggle, and not the faintest clue to
suggest how the Countess came by her fatal injuries. The ground at this part is rough and hilly,
and a spot where care in walking is necessary.
'Lady Cottenham, who was 46 years of age, was married when 21 to Mr. John Blundell Leigh.
She was divorced in 1899, but in the same year married the fourth Earl of Cottenham. Of this
marriage there were three sons. The Countess and her husband took up residence at Elverdon
Priory some five years ago, but they lived in retirement more or less during that time, seldom
taking part in any of the social functions in the county. [This is probably a polite way of
saying that, after the scandal of Lady Cottenham's divorce from her first husband, she was
ostracized by Society]
'The Coroner for the district was only apprised of the sad occurrence on Saturday morning, but
at one o'clock in the afternoon the jury had been called and the inquest opened in the old-
fashioned but artistic dining-room of the Priory.
'The Earl of Cottenham was the first witness called into the dining-room, already closely
crowded with the jurymen, a number of pressmen, and county police.
'His Lordship said he had identified the body as that of his wife, whom he had last seen at 1.25
p.m. on Friday. "At that time," he said, "I went as far as Reading to see my boys off to school
at Reigate. I returned here at 3.15. I did not see Lady Cottenham about, and went to look for
her. Afterwards I went to the wood to look at a path which the workmen had been improving,
and before I got fifty yards I found the body lying on the left side. There was a gun pointing
away, and lying five or six yards away from her."
'The Coroner - Before you went out, was Lady Cottenham in her usual spirits, and quite
cheerful? - Yes.
'What was she doing in the morning before lunch? - Oh, running about with the boys, as it was
their last day at home. She was doing some gardening. We laughed a great deal at luncheon,
wishing to make it as cheerful as possible for the boys on their last day.
'The Coroner then read a number of letters which had been written by deceased on Friday. He
read them over, and said they only contained what would be written in the ordinary personal
and friendly manner. They dealt for the most part with future engagements. "I give you these
details," he said, "to show that yesterday at this time Lady Cottenham was in her normal state
of health."
'Lord Cottenham,proceeding, said - "The first thing I did on finding the body was to send for the
police and a doctor." Lady Cottenham, he added, had been accustomed to shooting for thirteen
years.
'William Tappin, the gardener in the employ of Lord Cottenham, who was the next witness, said
he was with Lady Cottenham in the garden in the morning prior to the tragedy. He last saw her
ladyship at 12.15 p.m. She gave him instructions in the ordinary way, and there was nothing
unusual in either her appearance or her manner. Witness went out with Lord Cottenham in the
afternoon after his master had returned from Reading. They went into the woods together to
see what the workmen had done. On entering the wood his Lordship was the first to see the
Countess. They at once proceeded to where she was lying. Her body was out straight and was
on its left side. The gun was about six feet from her, and the muzzle was turned towards the
top of the hill.
'To a juror witness replied, "I could see the Countess was dead when I went to her."
'Sergeant H.T. Couling, stationed at Goring, said he received information of the tragedy at five
o'clock on Friday. Witness proceeded to the wood, where he found the last witness standing
beside the body. He examined the gun, and found that the right barrel was empty, while the left
barrel contained a live cartridge. Their were two other cartridges in her Ladyship's pocket. The
gun was a 20-bore ejector. After Dr. Evans had examined the body it was brought down to the
house.
'Dr. Herbert Evans, of Goring, said he examined the body and observed that the charge had
entered under the left breast and emerged in the left back. It was apparent that the gun was
discharged at close quarters. The wound alone caused death, although the bullet did not quite
touch the heart. So far as witness could make out, the body must have lain for over an hour
before the discovery was made. The left fifth rib had been pierced.
'The Coroner pointed out to the witness that the jury had viewed the spot, and he suggested
from their observations that the deceased was able to move a little away from the spot at
which she was shot and propped herself against a tree. To this suggestion witness agreed.
'In reply to a juror, Dr. Evans said the wound was so small that the gun must have been quite
close to the body.
'Lord Henry Nevill, a brother of the deceased, who was then called, said he had come down to
Elvendon on being told of the tragedy. He was at Elvendon a week ago, and on that occasion
he found Lady Cottenham in a cheerful state. She was looking forward to visiting witness at
his home at Eridge Castle, Suffolk, and was also anticipating a visit to her father's place at
Abergavenny. Lady Cottenham was very fond of shooting, added witness, and was a good shot
with both the gun and the rifle. She was in the habit of going into the wood to shoot. Lord
Henry observed that ladies did not generally carry or handle a gun in the same way a man
would.
'Sergeant Couling, recalled, said Lady Cottenham wore a gold watch set with stones when her
body was found. She carried a purse, but it did not contain any money. There was not the
slightest appearance of anything having been stolen from her Ladyship.
'The Coroner then proceeded to sum up, and addressing the jury said the evidence was very
simple indeed. It was quite obvious that in the morning Lady Cottenham wrote ordinary friendly
and business letters. "There is not the faintest evidence in the world," he said, "that she was in
anything but a perfectly happy state at the time." It was clear from the evidence that what
must have happened was that her Ladyship slipped, and was carrying her gun in an insecure
position. The gun must have fired accidentally and shot her in the left breast. "She had just
enough strength to move a little and go to the tree", added the Coroner, "and I do not suppose
that she lived more than a few minutes afterwards. I think you will all agree with me that there
is no evidence to suggest anything in the world except death by the unfortunate accident of
the gun going off."
'The jury, without retiring, returned a verdict of "Death by misadventure, caused through the
firing of the gun which Lady Cottenham carried."
James Richard Neville Stopford, 7th Earl of Courtown
The 7th Earl died following a fall from a train, as reported in "The Irish Times" of 26 January
1957:-
The 79-year-old seventh Earl of Courtown died in hospital yesterday after falling from a train on
Thursday night near Great Missenden Station, Buckinghamshire. The Earl, who lived at Redberry
House, Bierton, Aylesbury, was travelling home, and just after the train left Great Missenden the
fireman noticed a compartment door open. The train was stopped and the door closed. At
Aylesbury the compartment searched and Lord Courtown's umbrella and briefcase were found. A
search of the track was made and Lord Courtown was found by the stationmaster and two
platelayers.
'James Richard Neville Stopford succeeded his father, who once owned over 23,000 acres in
Ireland, in 1933. He had held a number of company directorships. He was decorated as a
soldier in the South African War, and later reached the rank of major. Before retiring from the
army in 1948, at 70, he was said to be the oldest serving army officer.'
Maria Gunning, Countess of Coventry, wife of the 6th Earl of Coventry
The following biography of Maria Gunning appeared in the August 1969 issue of the Australian
monthly magazine "Parade":-
'King George II once gallantly asked the celebrated Irish beauty Maria Gunning, Countess of
Coventry, whether she was satisfied with all the sights she had seen since coming to London.
"I like them very well, sir," said Maria with a simper. "But they have so far lacked what I should
enjoy most exceedingly - a coronation." The attendant courtiers held their breaths. His
Majesty's pale blue eyes bulged apoplectically. Then he stamped one gouty foot and burst into
a roar of laughter that nearly choked him. Like the rest of her admirers King George found it
quite impossible to be angry with the bewitching Maria, even in her most outrageously tactless
moments. Hailed by contemporaries as "beyond compare the loveliest woman in England," the
Countess of Coventry certainly had strong claims to be also the vainest and most scatter-
brained beauty of her day.
'Both the Gunning sisters, daughters of a disreputable and impoverished Irish squire, blazed
like meteors across the fashionable London world of the 1750s. Elizabeth wed two dukes in
succession. Maria had to be content with snaring a solitary earl, though in her brief, glittering
heyday she counted her lovers by the score. Then at 27 Maria, Countess of Coventry was
dead - leaving a legend in which romance, pathos and the darkening shadows of scandal were
strangely mixed. Officially it was consumption that killed her. But incorrigible vanity hastened
her end, the vanity that plastered her face with poisons in fruitless efforts to preserve her
withering beauty.
'Maria Gunning was born in 1733 and her sister, Elizabeth, one year later in the small manor
house of Hemingford Grey, near Huntingdon. Their father, John Gunning of Castle Coote in
County Roscommon, was an amiable, drunken spendthrift who had been forced to pledge his
Irish estates to his creditors and seek refuge in England. However, the sisters were taken back
to Dublin as children and reared by their mother in genteel poverty, assisted by some of their
wealthier relatives. Mrs. Gunning had one aim - to marry the dowerless girls off as quickly and
advantageously as possible. And as they grew up, nature proved a powerful ally. In their early
teens Maria and Elizabeth were already the talk of Dublin society as a pair of precocious
beauties around whom admirers swarmed "like bees around the earliest flowers of spring."
Unfortunately, few of the amorous bees buzzed with honourable intentions, and on one occasion
and on one occasion the assault on the sisters' virtue ended in a sensational riot outside the
Dublin theatre. Maria and Elizabeth had indiscreetly accepted a supper invitation from some
stage-door rakes who drugged their wine, then bundled them into a coach to drive to a retreat
in the suburbs. The girls were rescued in the street by a party of actors from the play-house,
but the incident gravely increased Mrs. Gunning's doubts about ever seeing them suitably wed.
'Meanwhile, the 16-year-old Maria decided to exploit her budding charms on the stage,
especially when the famous Irish actress Peg Woffington arrived from London for a season at
the Dublin theatre. The plan came to nothing, though the star's friendship proved of practical
value when, in October 1749, Mrs. Gunning determined that her daughters must appear at the
viceroy's annual ball to celebrate the birthday of King George. Too poor to buy new dresses fit
for the grand ballroom in Dublin Castle, the girls appealed to the sympathetic Peg Woffington
to help them from her enormous wardrobe. The result was stunning. Guests clambered on chairs
and gamblers deserted the card tables to see the beautiful Misses Gunning make their entrance
decked in costumes of "unexampled richness." Only a few cynical theatregoers remarked that
Maria bore a strong resemblance to Lady Macbeth and Elizabeth an equally striking likeness to
Juliet in the current playhouse repertoire.
'Her confidence restored, Mrs. Gunning now decided to quit provincial Dublin and launch her
daughters on the English matrimonial market, where the prizes in riches and titles were
incomparably greater. By the middle of 1750, Squire Gunning's tattered fortunes having taken a
slight turn for the better, the family was installed in London and the campaign had begun. Its
success exceeded even Mrs. Gunning's wildest hopes. Never before had London society lost its
head so completely as over the two "Irish beauties." Everywhere the sisters went - to the
opera, St. James Park, the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall and Ranelagh - they were followed by
swarms of gallants vying for a single glance. Newspapers printed rapturous poems about them.
Shops sold thousands of ballads and engravings. Cheering mobs trooped behind their coach in
the streets.
'In December 1750 the sisters were presented to King George II at St. James's Palace, and a
few months an invitation to the Duchess of Bedford's ball in Bloomsbury Square set the seal on
their social triumph. Connoisseurs generally regarded Maria as the lovelier of the pair and she
was certainly more celebrated for her vanity and shameless coquettishness than her slightly
more sedate sister.
'Around Maria gathered some of the most notorious libertines of the day, led by the "universal
rake" Tom Medlicott, who was reputed to have a mistress in every London parish "and a few
for his friends besides." Medlicott wagered his coffee house cronies that he would take only a
month to add Maria Gunning to his list of conquests. But he was disappointed. Maria had her
eye on more important game. Among her most ardent pursuers were Viscount Bolingbroke and
the youthful Earl of Coventry, either of whom had much more to offer. However, though both
Bolingbroke and Coventry were eager to acquire the luscious Miss Gunning as a mistress,
neither was anxious to acquire the penniless young woman as a wife. For months the comedy
went on, Maria brazenly encouraging one aristocratic lover after another and stubbornly
repulsing every proposal short of matrimony.
'Ironically, her more demure sister, Elizabeth, was the first to reach the goal, with a brilliant
and romantic capture exceeding even the girls' dreams. At a masked ball at the Opera House
in January 1752 Elizabeth found herself haunted by a haggard, dissipated-looking young man
to whom everyone seemed to pay great deference. He was, it transpired, the Duke of Hamilton,
the proudest and wealthiest peer in Scotland, who had recently been jilted by the notorious
wanton Elizabeth Chudleigh. The duke, who for months had been trying to forget his humiliation
in a frantic round of drink and debauchery, saw Elizabeth Gunning and was instantly infatuated.
One month later London society was staggered to learn that the pair had secretly slipped away
from a ball at Chesterfield House and been married at midnight by an obliging Mayfair parson.
'With her sister a duchess, Maria could afford to take an even haughtier tone with her suitors
and it took Lord Coventry only three weeks to surrender to her terms. On March 3, 1752, Maria
Gunning became Countess of Coventry, little knowing how short-lived her triumph was to prove.
For the moment, however, she was mistress of the magnificent estate of Croome Park in
Worcestershire, a great London mansion, and a husband who, after a few jealous outbursts,
resignedly let her seek her amorous pleasures where she would. Safely married, she could now
be kinder to the gallants who escorted her around the London scene. How many lovers she had
nobody could discover, though gossip linked her with some of the most famous noblemen of the
court of King George.
'At the same time stories of her incredible vanity, frivolity and tactlessness were a source of
endless entertainment in salons and coffee houses. The countess was reputed to spend 2500
a year on cosmetics, including powders, paints, perfumes and strange plasters compounded of
white lead, arsenic and other unsavoury ingredients. Her vanity reached its grotesque peak after
an incident when she was walking with her escort one summer's evening in St. James's Park. As
usual. a gaping mob was trailing along behind her when someone suddenly shouted, "Kitty
Fisher!" the name of a notorious and expensive prostitute of the day [and whose name is
immortalised in the nursery rhyme Lucy Locket - "Lucy Locket lost her pocket, Kitty Fisher found
it..."]. A scuffle broke out in the crowd. Maria's escorts drew their swords and plunged into the
fray and for a moment bloodshed threatened until the mob dispersed and fled. When King George
heard of the event he growled, half angry and half amused: "I cannot have my prettiest subject
insulted thus. Next time she walks in the park let her have a guard of soldiers." Taking the order
with intense seriousness Maria insisted on being provided with her retinue of redcoats before
she took another evening airing in the park a week later. To the cheers and derision of the
crowd she and her party appeared with two sergeants marching in front of them and a dozen
sheepish soldiers armed with muskets bringing up the rear.
'Meanwhile, aided by her own indiscreet tongue, darker scandals gathered round the head of
the Countess of Coventry until her reputation was described as "somewhat tainted." Her sister,
Elizabeth, widowed by the premature death of the Duke of Hamilton, had hoped to wed the
Duke of Bridgewater, but the match was broken off because Bridgewater objected to the ill
name of his future sister-in-law. However, Elizabeth was not cheated of a second duke, for she
shortly afterwards married the less fussy Lord Lorne, who was eventually to succeed to the
dukedom of Argyll.
'Before that happened, Maria was in her grave, struck down by consumption whose first dread
signs appeared in 1759 when she had barely reached her 26th birthday. In the next year she
grew steadily worse, pathetically trying to conceal her ravaged face behind layers of plaster
laced with arsenic and other poisons. In June 1760 she retired to Croome Park, lying in a
permanently darkened room so that the gaunt mockery of her once dazzling beauty was
concealed. Sometimes she peered sadly for hours at her dimly visible reflection in a hand mirror.
She was holding the mirror in one bony hand when she died on 30 September 1760.'
George William Coventry, Viscount Deerhurst, son of the 9th Earl of Coventry (15 Nov
1865 - 8 Aug 1927)
Note that Burke's Peerage states that Viscount Deerhurst died on 8 August 1928 - this is
incorrect - he died 8 August 1927.
As a young man, Deerhurst was appointed aide-de-camp to the Governor of Victoria (Sir Henry
Loch, later 1st Baron Loch). During his time in that post he found himself in court as a result
of an altercation with a bookmaker to whom he allegedly owed money. The following report is
taken from 'The South Australian Advertiser' of 11 March 1887:-
'There was a very numerous assemblage in the [Melbourne] District Court to-day, when the
charge of assault, preferred by Robert Sutton, the bookmaker, against Lord Deerhurst, aide-
de-camp to Sir Henry Loch, and a counter-charge by Lord Deerhurst against Mr. Sutton, came
on for hearing. Both were represented by leading counsel. From the statements made it
appeared that the parties met at the Hurlingham pigeon shooting ground, and the result of the
betting was that Lord Deerhurst owed Mr. Sutton 281 at the end of the day. Some time
elapsed, and the money not being forthcoming, negotiations were entered into for an arrange-
ment, but there was a disagreement. Mr. Sutton brought the matter under the notice of the
Victorian Club, informing Viscount Deerhurst of the fact, upon which the latter wrote to the
former that he could "post him and be damned." As to this Mr. Sutton wrote that he would
wait upon Lord Deerhurst personally, and then the money was paid into the club and handed
over to Mr. Sutton. Subsequently the pair met in the National Hotel, Bourke-street, where an
altercation took place about the letter, Sutton telling Lord Deerhurst he would "not be damned
by anybody," and that he must apologise or leave the hotel. The lord replied that he would do
neither, and that as a captain in her Majesty's police force he would arrest Mr. Sutton, at the
same time taking hold of the latter by the shoulder. Mr. Sutton then drew his hand across Lord
Deerhurst's mouth. The matter then came before the Victorian Club, when Mr. Sutton was
expelled. While in the box the bookmaker admitted his real name was Robert Stanley Sevior,
acknowledged that he had been divorced from his wife for adultery and cruelty, but denied
that he seduced and took away a Tasmanian young lady. At the conclusion of the evidence
the court dismissed the case against Deerhurst, but convicted Mr. Sutton of assault, and being
of opinion that a fine would be no punishment ordered him to be imprisoned for 14 days. Upon
Sutton being called upon he failed to appear, and an appeal has been entered against the
decision.'
Copyright @ 2003-2014 Leigh Rayment