TALC, a mineral which in its compact forms is known as steatite, or soapstone. It was probably the ,uayvijrts XLOos of Theophrastus, described as a stone of silvery lustre, easily Scotland under Henry VIII. and Edward VI., and was one of the two peers who alone opposed the bill for abolishing the pope's jurisdiction under Elizabeth. His son George, who succeeded, was the earl to whom the custody of Mary Stuart was committed, his task being rendered all the more difficult for him by the intrigues of his second wife, Bess of Hardwick, the builder of Chatsworth, who had married three husbands before her union with him. Two sons of this last earl succeeded one another, and the title then devolved, for want of male issue, on the lineal descendants of Sir Gilbert Talbot of Grafton in Worcestershire, third son of John, the 2nd earl. But the old baronies of Talbot, Strange of Blackmere, and Furnival had passed away in 1616 to the daughters of the 7th earl, of whom the youngest married Thomas (Howard) earl of Arundel, whose descendant, the duke of Norfolk, has the valuable Furnival estates. The above Sir Gilbert had fought for Henry VII. at Bosworth, where he was severely wounded, was knighted on the field, and was throughout one of the first Tudor's most trusted councillors. He fought also at Stoke against the insurgents with Lambert Simnel, was made a knight banneret, governor of Calais, and lord chamberlain.
The 9th earl, George, descended from this Gilbert, died unmarried, and his nephew, who followed, was succeeded by his grandson Francis, chiefly memorable for his unhappy fate. His second wife, the "wanton Shrewsbury" of Pope, a daughter of the earl of Cardigan, was seduced by the duke of Buckingham, whom the outraged husband challenged to a duel. The countess, it is said, was present at the scene, and held Buckingham's horse in the disguise of a page, saw her husband killed, and then clasped her lover in her arms, receiving blood-stains upon her dress from the embrace. Charles, the 12th earl, son of this unfortunate nobleman, was raised by William III. to the dignity of a duke, but as he left no son this title died along with him in 1718, and the earldom of Shrewsbury devolved on his cousin Gilbert, a Roman Catholic priest.
From this time the direct line of Sir Gilbert Talbot of Grafton began to fail.. A nephew three times succeeded to an uncle, and then the title devolved upon a cousin, who died unmarried in 1856. On the death of this cousin the descent of the title was for a short time in dispute, and the lands were claimed for Lord Edmund Howard (now Talbot), an infant son of the duke of Norfolk, under the will of the last earl; but the courts decided that, under a private act obtained by the duke of Shrewsbury shortly before his death, the title and bulk of the estates must go together, and the true successor to the earldom was found in Earl Talbot, the head of another line of the descendants of Sir Gilbert Talbot of Grafton, sprung from a second marriage of Sir Gilbert's son, Sir John Talbot of Albrighton. The head of this family in the beginning of the 18th century was a divine of some mark, William Talbot, who died bishop of Durham in 1730. His son Charles, who filled the office of lord chancellor, was created Baron Talbot of Hensol in Glamorganshire in 1733; and his son William was advanced to the dignity of Earl Talbot in 1761, to which was added Ingestre, the barony of Dynevor, with special remainder to his daughter, Lady Cecil Rice, in 1780. Then succeeded a nephew, who was created Viscount and Earl Talbot, and assumed by royal licence the surname of Chetwynd before Talbot, from his mother.
All the titles just mentioned have been united in the line of the Earl Talbot who successfully claimed the Shrewsbury title as the 18th earl, the earldom of Shrewsbury (1442) being now the oldest existing that is not merged in a higher title. The family seats (Alton Towers and Ingestre Hall) and the chief estates are in Staffordshire. The old badge of the family was a "talbot" or running hound. (J. GA.; J. H. R.)
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