Earls and dukes of Richmond - Encyclopedia

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EARLS AND DUKES OF. RICHMOND The title earl of Richmond appears to have been in existence in England a considerable time before it was held in accordance with any strict legal principle. Alan, surnamed "Le Roux," and his brother Alan (c. 1040-1089), surnamed "Le Noir," relatives of Geoffrey, count of Brittany, and kinsman of William the Conqueror, took part in the latter's invasion of England; and Le Roux obtained grants of land in various parts of England, including manors formerly held by Earl Edwin in Yorkshire, on one of which he built the castle of Richmond, his possessions there being formed into the honour of Richmond, to which his brother Alan Le Noir, or Alan Niger (c. 1045-10 9 3), succeeded in 1089. The latter was in turn succeeded as lord of the honour of Richmond by Stephen (d. 1137), count of Penthievre, who was either his son or another brother. These Breton counts, being territorial barons of great importance in England, and lords of the honour of Richmond where their castle was situated, are often reckoned as earls of Richmond, though they were not so in the strict and later sense. The same should perhaps be said of Stephen's son Alan Niger II. (c. 1116-1146), though he was styled earl of Richmond by John of Hexham. This Alan married Bertha, daughter and heiress of Conan, reigning count of Brittany; and his son Conan (c. 1138-1171), who married Margaret, sister of Malcolm IV. of Scotland, asserted his right to Brittany, and transferred it in his lifetime to his daughter Constance (c. 1162-1201). As he left no sons the honour of Richmond and his other English possessions passed to the king in 1171, though Constance is also loosely spoken of as countess of Richmond in her own right. Constance was three times married, and each of her husbands in turn assumed the title of earl of Richmond, in conjunction with that of count, or duke of Brittany. They were: Geoffrey Plantagenet (1158-1186), son of Henry II., king of England; Randol p h de Blundevill, earl of Chester (c. 1172-1232), the marriage with whom Constance treated as null on the ground of consanguinity; and Guy de Thouars (d. 1213), who survived his wife for twelve years. The only son of the first marriage, Arthur of Brittany (1187-1203), was styled earl of Richmond in his mother's lifetime, and on his murder at the hands of his uncle, King John, the earldom was resumed by the crown.

By her third husband Constance had two daughters, the elder of whom, Alice, was given in marriage by Philip Augustus, king of France, to Peter de Braine in 1213, after which date Peter was styled duke of Brittany and earl of Richmond till about 1235, when he renounced his allegiance to the king of England and thereupon suffered forfeiture of his English earldom.

In 1241 Henry III. granted the honour of Richmond to Peter of Savoy (1203-1268), uncle of Queen Eleanor, who was thereafter described as earl of Richmond by contemporary chroniclers, though how far he was strictly entitled to the designation has been disputed. By his will he left the honour of Richmond to his niece, the queen consort, who transferred it to the crown. In the same year (1268) Henry III. granted the earldom specifically to John, duke of Brittany (1217-86), son of Peter de Braine, in whose family the title continued - though it frequently was forfeited or reverted to the crown and was re-granted to the next heir - till 1342, when it was apparently resumed by Edward III. and granted by that sovereign to his son John of Gaunt, who surrendered it in 1372. It was then given to John de Montfort, duke of Brittany, but on his death without heirs in 1399, or possibly at an earlier date through forfeiture, it reverted to the crown. The earldom now became finally separated from the duchy of Brittany, with which it had been loosely conjoined since the Conquest, although the dukes of Brittany continued to assume the title till a much later date. From 1414 to 1435 the earldom of Richmond was held by John Plantagenet, duke of Bedford, and in 1453 it was conferred on Edmund Tudor, uterine brother to King Henry VI., whose. wife, Margaret Beaufort, was the foundress of St John's College, Cambridge, and of the "Lady Margaret" professorships of divinity at Oxford and Cambridge (see Richmond And Derby, Margaret, Countess Of). When Edmund Tudor's son Henry ascended the throne as Henry VII. in 1485, the earldom of Richmond merged in the crown, and for the next forty years there was no further grant of the title; but in 1525 Henry Fitzroy, natural son of Henry VIII. by Elizabeth Blound, was created duke of Richmond and Somerset and earl of Nottingham, all these titles becoming extinct at his death without children in 1536.

Ludovic Stuart, 2nd duke of Lennox (1574-1624), who also held other titles in the peerage of Scotland, was created earl of Richmond in 1613 and duke of Richmond in 1623. These became extinct at his death in 1624, but his Scottish honours devolved on his brother Esme, who was already earl of March in the peerage of England (see March, Earls Of; and Lennox). Esme's son, James, 4th duke of Lennox (1612-1655), was created duke of Richmond in 1641, the two dukedoms as well as the lesser English and Scottish titles thus becoming again united. In 1672, on the death of his nephew Charles, 3rd duke of Richmond and 6th duke of Lennox, whose wife was the celebrated beauty called "La Belle Stuart" at the court of Charles II. (see RICHMOND AND Lennox, FRANCES TERESA, DUCHESS OF), his titles became extinct.

In 1675 Charles II. created his illegitimate son Charles duke of Richmond, earl of March and baron Settrington, and a few weeks later duke of Lennox, earl of Darnley and baron Torboltoun. This Charles (1672-1723), on whom his father the king bestowed the surname of Lennox, was the son of the celebrated Louise de Keroualle, duchess of Portsmouth. His son Charles, 2nd duke (1701-1750), added to the titles he inherited from his father that of duke of Aubigny in France, to which he succeeded in 1 734 on the death of his grandmother the duchess of Portsmouth; and all these honours are still held by his descendant the present duke of Richmond.

The seven dukes of Richmond of the Lennox line have all borne the Christian name of Charles. The 2nd duke, by his marriage with Sarah, daughter of the 1st Earl Cadogan, was father of Lady Caroline Lennox, who eloped with Henry Fox, and was the mother of Charles James Fox, and of the beautiful Lady Sarah Lennox (1745-1826) with whom George III. fell in love and contemplated marriage, and who afterwards married, first, Sir Thomas Bunbury, from whom she was divorced, and secondly, George Napier, by whom she was the mother of Generals Sir Charles and Sir William Napier.

Charles, 3rd duke of Richmond (1735-1806), was one of the most remarkable men of the 18th century, being chiefly famous for his advanced views on the question of parliamentary reform. Having succeeded to the peerage in 1750, he was appointed British ambassador extraordinary in Paris in 1765, and in the following year he became a secretary of state in the Rockingham administration, resigning office on the accession to power of the earl of Chatham. In the debates on the policy that led to the War of American Independence Richmond was a firm supporter of the colonists; and he initiated the debate in 1778 calling for the removal of the troops from America, during which Chatham was seized by his fatal illness. He also advocated a policy of concession in Ireland, with reference to which he originated the phrase "a union of hearts" which long afterwards became famous when his use cf it had been forgotten. In 1779 the duke brought forward a motion for retrenchment of the civil list; and in 1780 he embodied in a bill his proposals for parliamentary reform, which included manhood suffrage, annual parliaments and equal electoral areas. Richmond sat in Rockingham's second cabinet as master-general of ordnance; and in 1784 he joined the ministry of William Pitt. He now developed strongly tory opinions, and his alleged desertion of the cause of reform led to a violent attack on him by Lauderdale in 1792, which nearly led to a duel between the two noblemen. Richmond died' in December 1806, and, leaving no legitimate children, he was succeeded in the peerage by his nephew Charles, son of his brother, General Lord George Henry Lennox.

The 4th duke (1764-1819) and his wife Charlotte, daughter of the 4th duke of Gordon, were the givers of the famous ball at Brussels on the night before the battle of Quatre Bras, immortalized in Byron's Childe Harold. Their son, the 5th duke (1791-1860), while still known by the courtesy title of earl of March, served on Wellington's staff in the Peninsula, being at the same time member of parliament for Chichester. He was afterwards a vehement opponent in the House of Lords of Roman Catholic emancipation, and at a later date a leader of the opposition to Peel's free trade policy. In 1836, on inheriting the estates of his maternal uncle, the 5th and last duke of Gordon, he assumed the name of Gordon before that of Lennox. On his death in 1860 he was succeeded in his titles by his son Charles Henry, 6th duke of Richmond (1818-1903), a statesman who held various cabinet offices in the Conservative administrations of Lord Derby, Disraeli and the marquess of Salisbury; and who in 1876 was created earl of Kinrara and duke of Gordon. These honours in addition to the numerous family titles of more ancient creation passed on his death in 1903 to his son Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox (b. 1 845), 7th duke of Richmond and Lennox and 2nd duke of Gordon.

See Sir Robert Douglas, The Peerage of Scotland, edited by Sir J. B. Paul; G. E. C., Complete Peerage, vol. vi. (London, 18 95); Lady Elizabeth Cust, Some Account of the Stuarts of Aubigny in France (London, 1891). For the dukes of the creation of 1675 see also, Anthony Hamilton, Memoirs of Grammont, edited by Sir W. Scott, new edition (2 vols., London, 1885); Horace Walpole, Letters, edited by P. Cunningham (9 vols., London, 1891), and Memoirs of the Reign of George III., edited by G. F. R. Barker (4 vols., London, 1894); the earl of Albemarle, Memoirs of Rockingham and his Contemporaries (2 vols., London, 1852); The Grenville Papers, edited by W. J. Smith (4 vols., London, 1852); Earl Stanhope, Life of William Pitt (4 vols., London, 1861); Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, Life of William Earl of Shelburne (3 vols., London, 1875) the duke of Richmond, The Right of the People to Universal Suffrage and Annual Parliaments (London, 1817), being an edition of the 3rd duke's famous "Letter to Lieut.-Colonel Sharman," originally published in 1783; Lord William Pitt Lennox, Memoir of Charles Gordon-Lennox, 5th Duke of Richmond (London, 1862). (R. J. M.)

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