Barons and earls of Dudley - Encyclopedia

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BARONS AND EARLS OF. DUDLEY The holders of these English titles are descended from John de Sutton (c. 1310-1359) of Dudley castle, Staffordshire, who was summoned to parliament as a baron in 1342. Sutton was the son of another John de Sutton, who had inherited Dudley Castle through his marriage with Margaret, sister and heiress of John de Somery (d. 1321); he was called Lord Dudley, or Lord Sutton of Dudley, the latter being doubtless the correct form. However, his descendants, the Suttons, were often called by the name of Dudley; and from John Dudley of Atherington, Sussex, a younger son of John Sutton, the 5th baron, the earls of Warwick and the earl of Leicester of the Dudley family are descended.

John Sutton or Dudley (c. 1400-1487), the 5th baron, was first summoned to parliament in 1440, having been viceroy of Ireland from 1428 to 1430. He served Henry VI. as a diplomatist and also as a soldier, being taken prisoner at the first battle of St Albans in 1455, but this did not prevent him from enjoying the favour of Edward IV. He died on the 30th of September 1487. He was succeeded as 6th baron by his grandson Edward (c. 1 4591 53 2), and one of his sons, William Dudley, was bishop of Durham from 1476 until his death in 1483. His descendant Edward Sutton or Dudley, the 9th baron (1567-1643),had several illegitimate sons. Among them was Dud Dudley (1599-1684), who in 1665 published Metallum Martis, describing a process of making iron with "pit-coale, sea-coale, &c." which was put in operation at his father's ironworks at Pensnet, Worcestershire, of which he was manager. His success aroused much opposition on the part of other ironmasters, and his commercial ventures at Himley, at Askew Bridge and at Bristol ended in loss and disaster. During the Civil War he was a colonel in the army of Charles I.

Dying without lawful male issue in June 1643, the 9th baron was succeeded in the barony by his grand-daughter, Frances (1611-1697); she married Humble Ward (c. 1614-1670), the son of a London goldsmith, who was created Baron Ward of Birmingham in 1644. Their son Edward (1631-1701) succeeded both to the barony of Dudley and to that of Ward, but these were separated when his grandson William died unmarried in May 1740. The barony of Dudley passed to a nephew, Ferdinando Dudley Lea, falling into abeyance on his death in October 1757; that of Ward passed to the heir male, John Ward (d. 1774), a descendant of Humble Ward. In 1763 Ward was created Viscount Dudley, and in April 1823 his grandson, John William Ward (1781-1833), became the 4th viscount.

Educated at Oxford, John William Ward entered parliament in 1802, and except for a few months he remained in the House of Commons until he succeeded his father in the peerage. In 1827 he was minister for foreign affairs under Canning and then under Goderich and under Wellington, resigning office in May 1828. As foreign minister he was only a cipher, but he was a man of considerable learning and had some reputation as a writer and a talker. Dudley took an interest in the foundation of the university of London, and his Letters to the bishop of Llandaff were published by the bishop (Edward Copleston) in 1840 (new ed. 1841). He was created Viscount Ednam and earl of Dudley in 1827, and when he died unmarried on the 6th of March 1833 these titles became extinct. His barony of Ward, however, passed to a kinsman, William Humble Ward (1781-1835), whose son, William (1817-1885), inheriting much of the dead earl's great wealth, was created Viscount Ednam and earl of Dudley in 1860. The 2nd earl of Dudley in this creation was the latter's son William Humble (b. 866) ,who was lord-lieutenant of Ireland from 1902 to 1906, and in 1908 was appointed governorgeneral of Australia.

See H. S. Grazebrook in the Herald and Genealogist, vols. ii., v. and vi.; in Notes and Queries, 2nd series, vol. xi.; and in vol. ix. of the publications of the William Salt Society (1888).

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