On account of the summer heat, I’m feeling blog malaise and so I thought, what better way to revive myself and all of you than a bit of aristocratic eye candy? Wigs notwithstanding, there were some striking faces in the bunch, especially if you like serious looking fellows.
Without further ado then, I invite you to unearth your inner gold digger (in the 18th century, this was no crime!). Kindly allow me to present what might have been your future prospects if you were a) a lady of the ton living in Georgian England or b) a romance novel heroine.
First off, Richard, 5th Viscount of Chetwynd.
By Thomas Gainsborough, 1780s
The Chetwynd Digs (I’m misleading you here. I’ll explain below):
The magnificent Ingestre Hall actually passed down to the 2nd Viscount Chetwynd’s daughter, Hon. Catherine Chetwynd, by testementary will which allowed the estate to pass to Catherine and her eldest male son, who later became the 1st Earl of Talbot and Viscount Ingestre . During this time, women could inherit if no male heirs remained. As this was not the case, I’m not exactly certain what happened regarding the estate falling out of succession with the next Viscount Chetwynd. In all likelihood, the estate was not entailed.
The 2nd Viscount’s sons having predeceased him, the title of Viscount Chetwynd passed to his brother, William, who was the heir-at-law. Richard, our handsome devil of the day, was the great- grandson of William and was born at Heywood Park, Staffordshire. Given that I couldn’t find any pictures of Heywood, Ingestre Hall is what you get to associate Chetwynd with for now. I’ll aim for full-on accurancy next post. Promise.
What else might you like to know about the Chetwynds?
- They hail from Bearhaven, County Kerry, Ireland
- The viscountcy was created by King George I in 1717
- The family motto is Probitas Verus Honos: Probity is true honor
- 6th Viscount Chetwynd, Richard’s son, was known as “Oroonoko Chetwynd” due to his dark complexion. Oroonoko was the enslaved African prince in Aprha Behn’s 1688 novel of the same name.
Entailing property ensured the ancestral seat of any given aristocratic title remained in the family, thereby retaining the rank, both in wealth and history, due to the peerage. A number of problems existed when daughters inherited. Firstly, in the case of several daughters, the estate would be broken up into equal portions. When only one daughter was present to inherit, the estate would pass to her husband’s male descendants and out of the original patriarchal line. Where primogeniture ruled, however, the estate was guaranteed to remain whole because entailed property could not be sold or deeded outside the succeeding male line. This is exactly the dilemma of the Bennet family in Pride & Prejudice with Mr. Collins. See Land, Law, and Love from the Jane Austen Society of North America for a more comprehensive explanation of entailment.