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The Descent of Hughes
Page 2 - Milne, Senior, Hammersley, Eden

James Nassau Gordon Milne (b. 1985), Hugh Nicholas Milne (b. 1991), Georgina Thea Gordon Milne (b. 1992)
Graham Nassau Gordon Senior-Milne (b. 1955 m. 1983 sep. 2003)

'A layabout by profession, with a sideline in dilettantism.'

Brother of Claire Jaqueline Milne and Alan Gordon Milne.

What my ancestors have been doing for the last 1000 years (either that or breaking rocks).

GRAHAM NASSAU GORDON SENIOR-MILNE, 41ST BARON AND 34TH PRINCE PALATINE* OF MORDINGTON AND A LORD ADMIRAL IN THE ADMIRALTY OF SCOTLAND of 39 Castle St., Norham, nr. Berwick-upon-Tweed (from 2004), Edrington House, Mordington, Berwickshire (1998-2004), The Dovecote, Lowick, nr. Berwick-upon-Tweed (1996-1998), The Mansion House, Sanson Seal, nr. Berwick-upon-Tweed (1985-1996), 113 Gowan Avenue, Fulham, London SW6 (1982-1985), 1st Floor Flat, 26 Barons Court Rd, West Kensington, London W14 (1981-1982); b 29 Sept 1955 at the Nuffield Maternity Home, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford; educ Fonthill Lodge Pre-Prep. and Prep. Schools, nr. East Grinstead, W. Sussex 1960-1969, Tonbridge 1969-71, Epsom College 1971-74; 2nd Lt. Royal Marines 1976-77; Asst. Film Dir. Cygnet Guild, London 1978; City of London Polytechnic (Foundation in Accountancy - passed with Credit) 1979-80; Served articles (ACA 1985) with Ernst & Whinney, Chartered Accountants, Southampton and London 1980-86; IT Auditor, Arthur Young, Chartered Accountants, Edinburgh 1987-88; IT Auditor, Scottish Homes, Edinburgh 1989-92; Fin. Cntrllr. & IT Mngr, Scottish Borders Enterprise, Galashiels 1992-96; Prtnr, Cogent Communications, Berwick-upon-Tweed 1996-98; IT Audit Mngr, Lloyds TSB, London and Edinburgh 1998-2004; Prtnr, ABC Publications, Berwick-upon-Tweed 2004; Chrmn, Berwick Parish Church Trust 1993; Freeman Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers from 1994; Mmbr Council of the Scottish Genealogy Society 2002-09.

Palatinates and regalities

Palatinates (or regalities as they are called in Scotland) were usually lawless border regions or areas remote from central authority. They were normally granted to a high-ranking noble who was given royal jurisdiction to enable him to maintain law and order in the palatinate ('palatine' is derived from the Latin palatium, that is 'palace'), and he reigned within his lands legally as a 'reguli' or 'little king' (according to Lord Bankton*, 'An Institute of the Laws of Scotland', II, III, para. 83, where he refers to a regality as a 'royal dignity'). *Lord Bankton is an ‘institutional writer’ which means that his works are regarded as authoritative in Scottish courts of law. In his 'History of Scotland' John Hill Burton (1809-1881), Historiographer Royal (1867-1881), stated (vol. viii, p. 516) that a regality was 'a separate little kindgom carved out of the realm, where a great man was indulged with a gift of supreme authority'. Sir George Mackenzie, an institutional writer regarded as authoritative in Scottish courts of law, states that Lords of Regality in Scotland had the same powers as Earls Palatine in England (Nisbet, ‘System of Heraldry’, vol. II, p. 46) and he also says ('Observations', 47) that 'A lord of regality is Regulus, a little king, and takes off the people from an immediate dependence on the king'. Thus a regality was a kingdom and the title 'lord of regality' was a royal title. Note that the caput or head of a regality was technically a palatium, that is a palace or 'seat of royal authority' (Nisbet, 'System of Heraldry', Vol. II, Part IV, p. 46). In England the Palatine Counties of Chester and Durham, for example, were created to administer the border areas between England and Wales and England and Scotland respectively. The Palatinate of Durham was ruled by the Bishop of Durham, who was known as the Prince-Bishop of Durham until the passing of The Durham (County Palatine) Act 1836, reflecting the fact that palatine lords were legally sovereign princes of their domains, from which the royal authority was excluded, although the lord of the palatinate still owed allegiance to his sovereign ('There are two kings in England, namely, the lord king of England wearing a crown in sign of his regality, and the lord bishop of Durham wearing a mitre in place of a crown in sign of his regality in the diocese of Durham' - William de St. Botolph, 1302, Public Record Office, London, Assize Roll 226, m. 1d). According to Burke's 'Dormant and Extinct Peerages', the Palatine Earldom of Chester was granted in 1070 to Hugh de Abrincis (d'Avranches), otherwise 'Hugh Lupus' or 'Hugh the Fat', by William the Conqueror 'to hold as freely by the sword as the King himself held England by the crown', that is with complete royal jurisdiction. In Scotland, the legal term 'in libera regalitate' conferred all the powers exercised by the king, excluding only the right to try treason, but including complete criminal jurisdiction, including the power to try the Four Pleas of the Crown (murder, rape, arson and robbery). The Palatine Earldom of Chester had its own parliament until 1543 and the County Palatine of Durham had its own court system until 1971. See also the Paladins or Peers of Charlemagne, the most famous of whom was Roland.

The arms of the Bishop of Durham. These arms include a crozier and sword in saltire, as opposed to the two croziers in saltire borne by other (non-palatine) Bishops, and are surmounted by a bishop's mitre issuing out of a coronet. This is not a crest as such because in heraldic theory clerics do not fight and so cannot use helmets in their arms or, consequently, have a crest (which surmounts the helmet), but equates to the coronet which surmounts the shield in the arms of a peer. These two additaments, the sword and the coronet, symbolized the temporal power of the Bishop as a palatine lord or count palatine. The coronet is often referred to as a crest coronet or a ducal coronet but the design seems to vary; the first or left-hand seems to be a ducal coronet (strawberry leaves), the second and fourth seem to be the same as currently used by grandchildren of the sovereign (strawberry leaves and fleur-de lys) and the third seems to be the coronet of a marquess (strawberry leaves and pearls). One Bishop of Durham, Nathaniel Crew, 3rd Baron Crew, showed an earl's coronet. It would appear that temporal (i.e. non-clerical) earls/counts palatine in England were entitled to use the coronet of an earl, as demonstrated by the seal used by the 2nd Lord Baltimore (1605-1675), which was subsequently adopted as the seal of the state of Maryland.

The seal of the state of Maryland, originally sent from England at the time of settlement, showing the earl's coronet used by the 2nd Lord Baltimore, to whom Maryland was granted by Charles I in 1632. The statute adopting the seal states 'Above the shield is placed an Earl's coronet (indicating that though only a baron in England, Calvert was an earl or count palatine in Maryland)'. The crown charter granting Maryland to Lord Baltimore grants, against the heading 'Jurisdiction of a Count Palatine''all and singular the like, and as ample rights, jurisdictions, privileges, prerogatives, royalties, liberties, immunities, royall [sic] rights and franchises of what kind soever temporal, as well as by sea, as by land, within the county, iles, iletts, and limits aforesaid; to have, exercise , use and enjoy the same, as amply as any Bishop of Durham, within the Bishoprick, or County Palatine of Durham, in our Kingdome of England, hath at any time heretofore had, held, used, or enjoyed, or of right ought, or might have had, held, used or enjoyed.' Note also that the same charter grants, as a count palatine, 'the free and absolute power [...] to conferre favours, rewards and honours, upon such inhabitants within the Province aforesaid, as shall deserve the same, and to invest them, with what titles and dignities soever, as he shall think fit (so as they be not such as are now used in England).' This conferred the right to create a colonial nobility (Browne, William Hand (1890), ’George Calvert and Cecilius Calvert: Barons Baltimore of Baltimore’, New York, Dodd, Mead, and Company, p. 36). On p. 37 it states: 'This charter, as Gardiner has well remarked, provided for a consitutional government according to the ideas of James and of Charles. There was to be ahereditary feudal monarchy, surrounded by a body of nobility deriving its rank, dignities and privileges from the prince as the fountain of honour. The law-making power was vested in the prince, not in the people, who could only advise and assent or dissent. The proprietary lacked no single royal power; his title ran 'Cecilius, Absolute Lord of Maryland and Avalon' and the only difference between him and an independent sovereign was the acknowledgment of fealty typified by the tender of the arrows and the reservation of the fifths of gold and silver.' See also the charter of Charles II in relation to Carolina dated 30/6/1665 which grants similar palatine powers. In a letter to me dated 16/8/2012 Portcullis Pursuivant (College of Arms, London) wrote that, in his view, 'the Bishop of Durham is entitled to a ducal coronet in addition to a mitre by reason of his former secular status as a palatine', so even a former lord palatine is entitled to a ducal coronet. Earls and bishops palatine (in England) and lords of regality (in Scotland) therefore had the right to create their own barons; that is, effectively, to create franchise baronial jurisdictions out of their own franchise palatine/regality jurisdiction. The Barons of the Earldom of Chester were, in order of seniority: The Baron of Halton, the Baron of Mantalto (Hawarden), the Baron of Wich Maldebeng (Nantwich), the Baron of Malpas, the Baron of Shipbrook, the Baron of Dunham Massey, the Baron of Kinderton and the Baron of Stockport). The barons of the County Palatine of Durham included the Hyltons of Hylton Castle, the Bulmers of Brancepeth Castle, the Conyers of Sockburne (Sockburn), the Hansards of Evenwood, the Lumleys of Lumley Castle and the Nevilles of Raby Castle.

With regard to Scotland, Professor Croft Dickinson (1897-1963), the leading academic authority on Scottish feudal baronies, states in his introduction to 'The Court Book of the Barony of Carnwath 1523-1542'* (p. lix): 'Finally, in considering these grants of rights of public justice it is clear that the tenant received them from his lord because his social position entitled him to them, because, in fact, he was already a "baron" as the word was understood in feudal society. He might not hold of the King; he might not hold in liberam baroniam. Nevertheless his jurisdiction was baronial and while bearing Craig's caveat in mind, we are bound to conclude that those tenants who held of an earl or lord and who had a right of furca and fossa were 'barons'. The jurisdiction must be our test, irrespective of whether that jurisdiction was derived from an earl or king.' See also p. l, n. 2, where he gives examples of baronies held of earls (e.g. Newdosk held of the Earl of Crawford and Cowie held of the Earl of Errol) and of grants by earls 'in liberam baroniam', and p. lii, where he states 'It is clear that in certain cases the earls granted lands to be held of them with rights of public justice, and that their "barons" regarded these rights as being derived directly from the earl who, to them, was "regulus" if not "rex". An example of a barony granted by a Lord of Regality is Muckart which was granted by the Archbishop of St. Andrews (Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, 'Robes of the Feudal Baronage of Scotland', P.S.A.S, Vol. LXXIX, p.117, n. 2).

* Described by Sir Malcolm Innes of Edingight, formerly Lord Lyon, as 'the most authoritative account of the formation and functions of baronies in Scotland','The Scottish Genealogist', vol. 47, June 2000, pp. 35-41.

The power to create barons still exists in Scotland and was exercised into the 1990s* according to Hugh Peskett, Consultant Editor for Scotland, Burke's 'Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage'. See Peskett, Hugh; 'Scottish Feudal Baronies''Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage', Burke's, 107th Ed. and 'East Lothian Life', Autumn 2003, p. 17, where he wrote: 'There are some rare exceptions [to baronies being held of the Crown], deriving from the ancient power exercised by the earls of the seven ancient earldoms, and by the Lords of the Isles, to erect baronies (a power which they still have and which was exercised into the 1990s)'.

*The Barony of Skelbo was re-granted by the Countess of Sutherland in 1996.

Note that right of regality in Scotland included, along with rights of chancery and other rights, rights of admiralty (Croft Dickinson, p. xlii*), where appropriate, and that these rights were protected by article 19 of the Act of Union of 1707 which states 'that the Heritable Rights of Admiralty and Vice-Admiralties in Scotland be reserved to the respective Proprietors as Rights of Property, subject nevertheless, as to the manner of Exercising such Heritable Rights to such Regulations and Alterations as shall be thought proper to be made by the Parliament of Great Britain'. Lords of Regality would therefore also have been Lords Admiral in the Admiralty of Scotland, if their lands were coastal (which Mordington is, given that it is bounded by the River Whitadder and that there is no bridge in Scotland below the barony before the open sea), and the title of Lord Admiral survived the Heritable Jurisdictions Act of 1747 in the same way that the title of Hereditary Sheriff, as recognised by the Lord Lyon (e.g. Argyll, Bute, Wigtown), and Lord of Regality, also survived that Act; that is, on the basis that, according to Senior Counsel, the Act must be construed by reference to its purpose and was an Act to remove jurisdictions, not titles. Note also that s.10 Public Offices (Scotland) Act 1817 confirmed that the title Vice-Admiral of Scotland still existed at that date. See also Sacheverell, William, 'An Account of the Isle of Man', Manx Society, 1859, Essay III, where it states '[The Lord of Man's] right of Admiralty was likewise asserted in this assembly [the Manx Parliament], as wrecks, royal fish, &c., are his by his regality.' For use of the title 'Lord Admiral' by a Lord of Regality see Grierson, James, 'St. Andrews as it was and as it is', 3rd Ed., Cupar, 1838, p. 56 where it says 'The power and privilege of admiralty was also among the rights of the see, and the archbishop was lord admiral in all places within the bounds of his own regality.' Since the Archbishop was lord admiral he was entitled to describe himself as 'Lord Admiral' and the admiralty within which he was a Lord Admiral was the Admiralty of Scotland; hence he was a Lord Admiral in the Admiralty of Scotland.

*'The lord of regality might possess his own chancery for the issue of brieves, which were served in his own name and not in the name of the King; his own mint; his own rights of admiralty, and so forth... The only right which a full regality did not possess was the right to try treason'; that is, a grant of full rights of regality was a grant of all the rights exercised by the King, including rights of admiralty and excluding only treason. See also Grant, Alexander, 'Franchises North of the Border: Baronies and Regalities in Medieval Scotland', The Boydell Press, 2008, p. 12, with reference to the regality of Sprouston being held with 'the same liberties as the Lord Alexander King of Scotland used to hold his other lands of his kingdom'. Of course, these rights included the right to grant arms, as described above, which right was preserved by s.63 Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000.

In 1936 it was written that 'The Regality Court of Holyroodhouse is still active. The Hereditary Keeper of the Palace, the Duke of Hamilton, as Lord of Regality, appoints a bailie and other officials to the Court.' - 'An Introductory Survey of the Sources and Literature of Scots Law'by various authors with an Introduction by the Rt. Hon. Lord Macmillan, Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, Stair Society Publications, Edinburgh, 1936, printed by Robert Maclehose & Co., Vol. I., p. 112-114. The Office of Hereditary Keeper of the Palace of Holyroodhouse is one of the great Offices of the Royal Household in Scotland and is held by the Duke of Hamilton; it is a Lordship of Regality which is acknowledged to exist today. The current (2012) Baillie of Holyroodhouse is John Scott Moncrieff of Murray Beith Murray, Edinburgh. See 'A treatise on the history, law, and privileges of the palace and sanctuary of Holyroodhouse' by Peter Halkerston (1831), p. 11 etc., for more information. With regard to the power of earls and lords of regality to grant arms, it would be nonsensical if an earl or lord of regality could nobilitate (e.g. make a baron) but not grant marks of nobility (i.e. arms) at the same time. Since arms are the means by which nobility is 'known' ('nobilis') it follows that a right to nobilitate must necessarily imply a right to grant arms. A careful reading of the Acts of Parliament of 1592 and 1672 establishing the powers and duties of the Lord Lyon reveals that the 1592 Act conferred the power to visit (i.e. examine) the arms of noblemen, barons and gentlemen, to distinguish (i.e. to grant marks of difference to cadet branches) and to matriculate (i.e. record) arms, to inhibit common sort of people from bearing arms and to impose penalties on those who contravene the Act. There is nothing here that prevents an earl or lord of regality from exercising an existing right to grant arms, which says that arms already granted by such people before that date were not valid or which says that such a right cannot be exercised in the future. The 1672 Act provides that everyone who uses arms shouldsubmit an account of their arms with evidence confirming their right to the arms, gives the Lord Lyon the power to grant arms to virtuous and well-deserving people (but this does not necessarily exclude others from doing the same), to furnish extracts of registered arms (i.e. provide official copies of entries in the register) and to impose or remit penalties for the unauthorised use of arms (but this does not means that arms authorised by others are unlawful). The Act also says that the Lyon's register will be the true and unrepealable rule of all arms and bearings in Scotland but this does not of itself prevent arms granted otherwise than by the Lord Lyon from being recorded in the register. In other words, there is nothing in either of these Acts which gives the Lord Lyon the exclusive right to grant arms or which deprives those who had that right from exercising it in the future. It is true that Sir Thomas Innes of Learney in his 'Scots Heraldry' (2nd ed., p. 83) quotes the case of Macdonell v Macdonald (1826) to the effect that 'a person cannot create arms unto himself' in support of his assertion that the 'the granting of arms is part of the Royal Prerogative committed to the Kings of Arms' but the fact that a person cannot assume arms does not exclude an earl or lord of regality from granting arms. Note that even today some nobles still appoint their own pursuivants, such as the Finlaggan Pursuivant to the Baron Macdonald of Sleat, the Slains Pursuivant to the Earl of Erroll, the Garioch Pursuivant to the Countess of Mar and the Endure Pursuivant to the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, although these pursuivants do not grant arms (See 'Complete Peerage', vol. XI, app. C, 'Heralds of the Nobility' for further information). Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, former Lord Lyon King of Arms, says in his 'The Robes of the Feudal Baronage of Scotland' (P.S.A.S, Vol. LXXIX, p.117, n. 2) that in Scotland 'the Crown was not the "sole" Fountain of Honour'.

For more on regalities/palatinates see here.

The arms of Milne quartered with Senior. Quarterly, first and fourth, azure a cross moline between four fleur-de-lys or (for MILNE), second and third, per fess, gules and azure, a fess ermine between, in chief, two lions heads erased or and, in base, a dolphin naiant embowed argent (for SENIOR). Above the shield is placed a chapeau Gules furred Ermine (in respect of his feudal Barony of Mordington), thereon a Helm befitting his degree with a mantling Azure doubled Or and on a wreath of the liveries is set for crest the head, neck and wings of a swan bearing in its beak a Tudor rose Proper seeded Or, and in an escrol over the same this motto 'Honore et amore'.

I am also descended, via the Hammersley and Eden families from the Buncombe-Poulett-Thomson family, whose arms are: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, argent a buck's head cabossed gules, attired or, on a chief azure a cross crosslet fitchee of the third between two mullets of six points (spur revels per Balfour Paul) of the first (for THOMSON); 2nd, sable, three swords in pile points downwards proper, pommels and hilts or, a crescent for difference (for POULETT); 3rd, argent, a fret between four crescents sable (for BUNCOMBE).

The arms of Buncombe-Poulett-Thomson as copied from a manuscript in the College of Arms in 1851.

The Poulett/Paulet family and the Barony of St. John

The Poulett/Paulet family are also descended from the Barons of St. John (otherwise St. John of Basing) through the marriage of Sir John Paulet, son of William Paulet of Melcombe Paulet (about a mile west of North Petherton, Somerset), and great-grandfather of William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester (see 'Burke's Peerage') to Constance de Poynings, elder daughter by his second wife and co-heiress of Hugh de Poynings (dvp), son and heir of Thomas de Poynings, 5th Lord St. John of Basing (and possibly also 2nd Lord Poynings of Basing - see below). The other co-heirs were Hugh's daughter by his first wife, Joan, and a younger daughter by his second wife, Constance.

The barony of Basing (Hampshire) was a feudal barony held by Hugh de Port (d. 1096), a Norman baron (from Port-en-Bessin, Calvados), at the Domesday Survey. He was the most important Domesday tenant in Hampshire, holding 53 manors of the king and 13 manors of the Bishop of Bayeux, together with a further 13 manors in Kent. The barony was held for the service of 57 knights in 1166. His great-great grandson, William de Port (d. 1239), 5th feudal baron, adopted the surname St. John as heir of his great-uncle, William de St. John (a Norman family originally from St-Jean-le-Thomas, Manche), Baron of Halnaker, Sussex (close to the Goodwood Park racecourse, Chichester). William de St. John's eventual heir and successor, John de St. John (d. 1329), 8th feudal baron, was summoned to Parliament as 'Lord St. John ('of Basing' on later writs) on 29 December 1299, whereby he is deemed to have become a baron by writ. The barony by writ passed to the de Poynings family through the marriage of Isabel, brother and heiress of Edmund de St. John, 3rd baron by writ, to Lucas de Poynings, who was summoned to Parliament in 1367/8 as 'Luce de Ponynges', whereby he is held to have become Lord Poynings of Basing, which would appear to be a second barony by writ, separate from that of St. John of Basing (and to which, if it exists, I am also a co-heir). Lucas de Poynings was the younger brother of Michael de Poynings, 1st Lord Poynings (d. 1368/9), another barony created by writ in 1367/8.

Note that William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester, was created Lord St. John of Basing, a barony by letters patent, on 9 March 1538/9. This creation did not affect the existence of the barony by writ, of which the 1st Marquess was one of the co-heirs (and not the most senior). The barony by writ of St. John (of Basing) remains in abeyance to this day (as does the barony of Poynings of Basing, if it exists). See the 'Complete Peerage' under 'Saint John, otherwise Saint John of Basing', 'Saint John (erroneously Saint John of Basing)', 'Poynings of Basing' and 'Poynings' for further information. Note that there was a further barony of Poynings created by patent in 1544/5.

The arms of William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester, from Blaeu's map of Hampshire (1645). These arms have the crescent which was granted to John Thomson in 1814. This must indicate that they were actually a cadet branch of the Paulet/Poulett family, but they must have 'lost' the differencing at some point, which would seem to be heraldically incorrect. The 6th Marquess was created Duke of Bolton in 1689; he built Hackwood Park, near Basingstoke.

The arms of Buncombe. Argent, a fret between four crescents sable, as per a manuscript held by the College of Arms relating to the grant of arms to Buncombe-Poulett-Thomson. These arms can be seen in the church and the manor house at Goathurst, Somerset, and in the church at Trull, Somerset. See below for further information on the Buncombe family.

The arms of John St. John (d. 1302), 7th feudal baron, who was at the famous seige of Caerlaverock castle in 1300 - argent, on a chief gules two mullets or.

The seal of John St. John (d. 1302) from the Barons' Letter of 1301.

The village of St-Jean-le-Thomas, original home of the St. John family in Normandy, half-way between Avranches and Granville and almost due north of Mont St. Michel, which is within view of the village. Any castle or fortification might well have been on the very hill from which this photograph was taken.

Sanson Seal, Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Edrington House, Mordington, Berwickshire.

39 Castle St., Norham (the white cottage in the middle), headquarters of Milne Global Enterprises Inc.

Epsom College. The windows to the left of the door are those of the Masters' Common Room. Naturally, I managed to kick a rugby ball through one of these windows on my first day at school.

Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, where I was born in 1955.

Fonthill Prep School (now called Rockwood Park and no longer a school building - though the school is still thriving at the site of the old pre-prep in Coombe Hill Road) - the front. I was given 6 of the best (with a leather riding crop) for climbing out on the roof on the left (from the little flat-roofed dormer window), where I then spent the afternoon waving and making rude gestures to my friends on the tennis court (where this picture was taken from). Unfortunately, when I tried to get back in I found that someone had locked the window and so I had no alternative but to call for help. Another thrashing! The dorms (dormitories) were on the top two floors of the wing on the left. We used to throw darts at eachother in the dark I remember (this stopped abruptly when someone was hit in the eye - I didn't invent this game by the way) and terrify eachother silly with tales of mad axemen wandering the corridors (we were so terrified we didn't even dare to go to the loo). We also used to go and raid the larders in the middle of the night. On one occasion almost the entire school was involved (about 50 to 60 boys). Unfortunately, we were caught by the headmaster and this escapade ended with him chasing the entire school round and round the outside of the gym building (not shown) in the dark. But we were little darlings really and looked forward to being tucked up in bed with our teddies and kissed goodnight by the matron (who seemed quite grown up to me but she can't have been more than about 18 - I had been at boarding school from the age of 4). Near the gym were acres and acres of old glasshouses. My pals and I used to spend happy hours throwing stones at these from long range. The crash of breaking glass was very satisfying to a 10 year old. Funnily enough, I was happy here and used to go around the corridors singing at the top of my voice ('Edelweiss' and 'Early one morning' and such stuff); no-one seemed to take any notice. The school had the most fantastic grounds with miles and miles (so it seemed) of rhododendrons where, on a Sunday, the school would be split into two teams; one team would be based at one end of the grounds (near the chapel) and the other team would be based at the other end (near Fonthill Pre-Prep). The objective was to crawl and creep to the enemy base without being seen. Naturally, each side set up defensive ambushes at likely spots with boys armed with great tufts of turf and mud. The invaders would creep forward similarly armed and the most fantastic mud fight would ensue (with reinforcements arriving once battle had been joined). We got absolutely filthy from head to toe. It was a happy little school on the whole. Most of the pupils were English but we had a spattering of exotic foreigners, including Indian and Arab princes and the sons of European aristocrats with outlandish names (Stael-Holstein was one I remember). What on earth their parents made of their 'English education' I hate to think. I was probably the most thrashed boy in history of the school (I also got thrashed for making a very rude noise with the organ pump in the middle of a sermon during Sunday chapel - this was a hand pump manned by the boys on a rota basis) and the only boy in the 1st XI cricket team with a batting average of less than one. I became a serious bird-watcher at this school and we set up a branch of the YOC (Young Ornithologists Club).

Early one morning,
Just as the sun was rising,
I heard a maid sing,
In the valley below.

Chorus: Oh, don't deceive me,
Oh, never leave me,
How could you use
A poor maiden so?

Remember the vows,
That you made to your Mary,
Remember the bow'r,
Where you vowed to be true,


Oh Gay is the garland,
And fresh are the roses,
I've culled from the garden,
To place upon thy brow.


Thus sang the poor maiden,
Her sorrows bewailing,
Thus sang the poor maid,
In the valley below.


Fonthill Prep School - the main school room on the first floor. Each boy had his own bit of shelf-space where he could store things (I had a collection of Airfix soldiers). These were quite open and the theory (which seemed to work) was that this would encourage respect for the property of others. The whole school used to sit on the benches round the edge of this room before leading off down to meals (there were fewer than 60 pupils at that time I seem to remember). On one such occasion I put a whole box of drawing pins on the seat of my best friend next to me (just to the right of the fireplace). He promptly came and sat on them just as the headmaster (a renowned thrasher) entered the room. My friend nobly sat in silence with tears streaming down his face until the headmaster had left the room, thus saving me from a severe thrashing. Lessons were also held in this room, with the boys sitting round the table. On one occasion, I was given 6 of the best for spinning a roll of sellotape across this table in the middle of a lesson. Every weekend we had to sit in this room and write dutiful letters to our parents. I always used to write something like 'Dear Mummy and Daddy, I hope you are well. I am well. Please send chocolate cake. Lots of love, Graham.' (My mother made the most fabulous chocolate cakes and the arrival of one of these for my birthday or on some other occasion made me the most popular boy in the school. Personally, I would have preferred to have kept the whole cake to myself but this was not allowed.)

Fonthill Prep School - the gym/theatre. This was the scene of my only foray into the world of theatre when I played Shylock in 'The Merchant of Venice'. I was so bad that the Headmaster got the audience to give me a special round of applause for effort (as opposed to achievement). I remember it well.

'The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

Fonthill Prep School - the swimming pool. Green and full of bugs with huge eyes and zillions of legs (also massive jaws or pincers - or both - of course); I became a very fast swimmer.

Extracts from the school Year Book:

1967 Yearbook

"Characters of the XI Football"

"Milne, Centre-half.  Under eleven years old, he had to carry this difficult and exacting position; he was clearly the best man for the job, and is likely to become a very good player."

"Characters of the XI Cricket"

"G. Milne: He can hit very hard, but has not yet acquired the basic survival kit, so his innings are brief; but he will soon learn and then he will be a formidable forcing bat.  He fields well and is developing a leg break."

1966 yearbook

"Members of the XV Rugger"

"Milne: (Full Back) : Although under 10 and a half, he was quite the best and most reliable tackler in the team.  With two more seasons' experience he should become a very good player all round."

Fonthill School rugby and football colours.

Recognised as Baron of Mordington by interlocutor of the Court of the Lord Lyon dated 11 Nov 2004 and matriculated arms at the LO 30 October 2007. Changed name from Milne to Senior-Milne by warrant of the Lord Lyon King of Arms dated 20 Dec 2004 as heir male of his mother, Pamela Mary Milne (ne Senior), elder daughter and senior heraldic co-heiress of Oliver Nassau Senior.

Here is a 'Burke's style' pedigree.

Note that the reputed author of the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, Bernard de Linton, Abbot of Arbroath, began his career in the Church as Minister of Mordington. He would have been appointed to that office by the Baron of Mordington.

'It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for liberty - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.'

The Barony of Mordington

For an overview of feudal baronies see here. A more detailed history of the Barony to 1636 is available here. Here is a full list of the Barons of Mordington.

Robert the Bruce with Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, to whom he granted the Barony of Mordington - see below.

According to Black's 'Surnames of Scotland' the name 'Mordington' is derived from the 'old barony of the same name in Berwickshire, the 'tun' of a Saxon named Mordyn, Mording or Morthing. William de Mordington, the first recorded of the name, appears soon after 1200 as a vassal of the prior of Durham (Raine*). William de Morthington held part of the vill of Lamberton, c. 1235, was Chancellor of Scotland in the reign of Alexander II.... He and his son, Sir Peter de Mordingtoun, are frequent witnesses to Coldingham charters (Raine*, App.)... The family appears to have ended in an heiress, the afore-mentioned Agnes, daughter of Sir Peter de Mordingtoun, who married Henry de Haliburton.

*'The History and Antiquities of North Durham...', Rev. James Raine, London, 1852.

Seal of William de Mordington dated 1246 (Durham University Library Archives & Special Collections: Medieval seals based on Greenwell & Blair's catalogue, no. 2896); [colour] a bend sinister [colour].

'The first mention of Mordington is in a charter of King Edgar (c.943-975) granting various lands in southern Scotland, including Mordington, to Durham cathedral; this grant was confirmed by William Rufus on 29 August 1095 (Durham University Library Archives & Special Collections, Durham Cathedral Muniments, Miscellaneous Charter 559). However, the original charter of erection of the feudal or territorial Barony of Mordington (Berwickshire), which is now a personal title as a consequence of the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 (but see below), is lost at a date before 1312 to 1329, in which period the Barony was resigned by Sir Henry de Haliburton (a signatory of the Ragman Roll of 1296 as 'tenaunt le Roi du counte de Berewyk') and his spouse Agnes de Morthingtoun (evidently the heiress) to Robert the Bruce for re-grant to Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray, who commanded the left wing at the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) and was Regent of Scotland from 1329. It seems likely that the barony was granted to Thomas Randolph after he and Sir James Douglas ('the good Sir James') captured Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1318. A lordship of Mordington, held by the family of that name, is referred to in charters dating from the time of Patrick, 5th Earl of Dunbar (1152-1232), which means that the lordship/barony of Mordington is older than the oldest surviving Scottish peerage, the Earldom of Sutherland, which dates from about 1235, and also older than the oldest surviving English peerage, the barony of de Ros, which dates from 1265. In 1335, on the death of John Randolph, 3rd Earl of Moray (who commanded the first Scottish division at the battle of Halidon Hill, near Berwick-upon-Tweed, in 1333), the Barony passed via an heiress from the Earls of Moray to the Earls of Dunbar or March and then also by marriage (as dowry) to the Douglas family of Dalkeith, later Earls of Morton, and was held by that family from 1372 until 1636, apart from a period of forfeiture between 1581 and 1585 when it was held by the 1st and 2nd Dukes of Lennox and 1585 to 1588 when it was held by Archibald Douglas, 8th Earl of Angus. In 1634 the lands of Over Mordington were detached from the Barony and granted to Sir James Douglas (second son of William Douglas, 10th Earl of Angus), later 1st Lord Mordington (which title became extinct in 1755), and in 1636 the Barony, which then consisted solely of the lands of Nether Mordington (with Edrington House, the manor place of Nether Mordington, as the caput), was granted to Thomas Ramsay (of the family of Ramsay of Edington, near Chirnside, Berwickshire, apparently a branch of the family of Ramsay, Earls of Dalhousie), Minister of the Kirk at Foulden, Berwickshire, and Helen Kellie, his spouse, to be held in free regality ('in libera regalitate'). The Barony was subsequently owned by the families of Douglas of Mordington (1658-1685), Douglas (1685-1773), Douglas Watson (1773-1785), Marshall (1785-1834), Soady (1834-1864), Chirnside (1864-1939), Sutherland (1939-1949), Edwards (1949-1962), Robertson (1962-1975) and Elphinston (1975-1998) until it was acquired jointly by the present owners in 1998 when they purchased Edrington House, the caput (legal head) of the barony, and the remaining lands. The Barony of Mordington has been held in free regality ('in libera regalitate'), that is as a palatine lordship, since 24th March 1381-2 when, on his marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of the future Robert III, Sir James Douglas (d. before May 1441) received a grant of Mordington and other lands from Robert II in free regality ('Scots Peerage', VI, 350 referring to Reg. Honor. de Morton; also Register of the Great Seal, II, 993 being a charter of confirmation under the Great Seal dated 9th July 1470 to William Douglas of Morton and Whittingham referring, inter alia, to the 'baroniam de Mordingtoun' and to grants of Mordington 'in libera regalitate by Robert II and Robert III).

  • By a charter under the Great Seal dated 17th October 1540 the Barony of Mordington (held in regality) was incorporated into the Regality of Dalkeith.
  • By a charter under the Great Seal dated 13th December 1581 the Regality of Dalkeith was incorporated into the Dukedom of Lennox.
  • By a charter under the Great Seal dated 29th January 1585-6 the Regality of Dalkeith was dissolved from the Dukedom of Lennox and granted to Archibald Douglas, 8th Earl of Angus.
  • On the death of Archibald Douglas, 8th Earl of Angus, on 4th August 1588 the Regality of Dalkeith devolved upon Sir William Douglas of Lochleven (Scots Peerage, VI, 371), who succeeded to the Earldom of Morton.
  • By a charter under the Great Seal dated 23rd August 1634 (RMS, IX, 214; RS1/41 ff. 128v-131v) William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton, resigned lands within the Barony of Mordington (being the lands of Over Mordington and others) into the hands of the King for re-grant to Sir James Douglas of Mordington, second son of William Douglas, 10th Earl of Angus.
  • By a charter under the Great Seal dated 13th September 1636 (RMS, IX, 589; C2/55/2, no. 245; RS1/45 ff. 144-146) William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton, resigned the remaining lands of the Barony of Mordington (being the lands of Nether Mordington, dissolved from the Regality of Dalkeith) into the hands of the King for re-grant to Thomas Ramsay, Minister of the Kirk at Foulden, and Helen Kellie, his spouse, to be held by the said Thomas Ramsay and Helen Kellie, his spouse, 'in libera regalitate'. This Regality, which was not a new regality but a confirmation of the regality which had existed since 1381-2* and which was confirmed by a Crown Charter of Resignation and Confirmation in 1856 (C2/256 fo. 97, no. 256 - see page 98, line 23), has been held by their successors in title ever since, though regality jurisdiction was (purportedly) successively reduced (1747) and then abolished (2004).

Two arguments have been put forward concerning the validity of the grant of regality in 1636. Firstly, that the grant of a new regality required the personal signature of the king (because the Barons of the Exchequer had no authority to grant something new i.e. alienate Crown rights) and, secondly, that a subject could not create a lord of regality. However, the regality was not a new regality because the Barony of Mordington had been held in regality since 1381-2 (so there was no creation of a new regality, merely the transfer of an existing regality, and the Barons of the Exchequer could receive resignations and make re-grants of existing subjects) and, in any event, in 1407 the Earl of Douglas bestowed regality rights over Buittle, Preston and Borgue on Sir James Douglas of Dalkeith (see Alexander Grant’s ‘Franchises North of the Border’, p. 14 and Reg. Honor. de Morton, vol. II, p. 203), which shows that a lord of regality could in fact transfer regality rights over part of his lands to another person. In addition, an ordinary baron could not create a baron (as such) but he certainly could create a baron (in effect) by selling his barony. The charter of 1386 (Reg. Honor. de Morton, vol. II, p. 154) which purportedly erected the regalities of Dalkeith and Morton is key because while it erects the various lands and baronies referred to into one barony and regality of Dalkeith ('in unam integram et liberam baroniam et in liberam regaliam feu regalitatem') there are no parallel words of erection for the lands and baronies of the purported regality of Morton (i.e. the baronies of Morton, Mordington and Whittinghame), probably because these lands and baronies were held not of the King but of the Earl of March.* The erroneous reference to a regality of Morton being erected at that date (in Alexander Grant’s ‘Franchises North of the Border’, p. 37) appears to have arisen because the service due from the relevant lands and baronies (one silver penny) was to be paid at Morton. While these lands and baronies were held in regality they were not united into one regality, which means that the Barony of Mordington was originally held on its own in regality. This is significant because when the Barony of Mordington was dissolved from the Regality of Dalkeith in 1636 (into which it was incorporated in 1540), what was dissolved from that regality was what was incorporated into that regality in the first place; a barony held in regality. It cannot be otherwise because, as Croft Dickinson makes clear ('The Court Book of the Barony of Carnwath 1523-1542', p. xxxvii, l), a barony, being impartible and indestructible (p. xxxii, xxxvi)**, retained its separate legal identity (and its separate court) unless united 'in unam et integram baroniam', which is why the Barony of Mordington continued to exist as a separate legal entity even after it had been incorporated into the Regality of Dalkeith; that legal entity was a barony held in regality. The barony held in regality was a creation of the Crown (in 1381/2) so it would have been creating 'something new' to have split off the regality rights from that barony, not the other way round. But these arguments are academic in any event in view of the resignation and confirmation (which is a re-grant) by Crown Charter in 1856. *The Earldom of Dunbar was forfeited to the Crown in 1435 (RPS, 1435/3) so the Barony of Mordington was held of the Crown from that year. **See also Peter McIntyre, 'Introduction to Scottish Legal History', Ch. XXVIII, 'The Franchise Courts', p. 375, where he states 'It required a royal grant to create a baron court; once created it was impartible and indestructible; only a royal act, the Heritable Jurisdcitions Act 1747 (20 Geo. II c.43) could limit the franchise jurisdiction of the baron court.' Note also that a charter of 20/6/1589 (RMS, V, 1674) granted the Regality of Dalkeith, including the barony of Mordington, to William Douglas, Earl of Morton, and to a series of heirs, whom failing 'to the assignees of said earl whatsoever'. According to J. F. Riddell, in his 'Inquiry into the Law and Practice in Scottish Peerages' (Edinburgh, 1862, Vol. I, p. 208-211) this power of assignation would have been enough to allow the simple conveyance of a personal peerage title to an assignee, as happened with Cardross ('Complete Peerage', 2nd ed., vol. 3, p. 18-19), so would logically have been enough to allow the sale of a feudal barony held in regality to a purchaser (being an assignee). In other words, if the Earl of Morton had the power to assign the Barony of Mordington to an assignee at all, he must also have had the power to assign the Barony with its impartible regality jurisdiction.


Norham Castle, painted by my great-great-great-grandfather, John Hughes (1790-1857)

Goswick beach looking towards Holy Island. The little dot on the horizon is Lindisfarne Castle, a 6 mile walk along the beach. This beach is a 5 minute drive from Norham.

Goswick beach looking towards Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Some photos of my daily bike ride round Ladykirk.

Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM), Lympstone 1977 - YO76 Group photo.

= Annabel Catherine Margaret Horsfield
Denys Gordon Milne CBE (1926-2000)

Gardener, historian, yachtsman, vintage car enthusiast and lover of all things Scottish.

Westbury. My parents' home in Sussex from 1966 to 2000.

DENYS GORDON MILNE, CBE (1982), MA (Oxon), BSc (Oxon), late of Westbury, Old Lane, St. John's, Crowborough, East Sussex (1966-2000), formerly of 46 Beacon Hill, Dormansland, Surrey (1961-66); b 12 Jan 1926 at Lerwick, Shetland Islands; educ Epsom College 1937-44 and Brasenose Coll., Oxford (MA Hons Mod. History) 1947-50, Colonial Service Course 1950-51, Blues in athletics and lacrosse, represented Scotland in discus; Pilot Officer, RAF Regt. 1944-47 (Prize Cadet, Officer Cadet Training Unit No. 24 1946; Adjutant 2700 Lt AA Squadron), Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45; Asst. District Officer, Colonial Admin. Service, Northern Nigeria 1951-55; British Petroleum Co. 1955-81 (BP, Nigeria and Ghana 1955-61; BP, London 1961-63; Gen. Mngr BP, Nigeria 1963-65; Rgnl Crdntr BP, London 1965-71; Dir. Shell Mex and BP, London 1966-71; Chm. and Man. Dir. BP Southern Oil, Cape Town, South Africa 1971-75; Dep. Chm. BP Oil Ltd, London 1975-76; Man. Dir. and Chief Exec. BP Oil Ltd, London 1976-81); President Inst. of Petroleum 1978-80; Member Scottish Economic Council 1978-81; Trustee Nat. Motor Museum 1979-89; Member Adv. Cttee on Energy Conservation 1980-81; President UK Petroleum Industry Assoc. 1980-81; Dir. Business in the Community 1981-84; Dir. Silkolene Lubricants Plc 1981-91; Dir. Fluor Daniel Ltd 1981-90; Dir. The Weir Group Plc 1983-92; Chm. Horder Centre for Arthritis 1983-96; Member Court of Assistants Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers (Master 1993-94) from 1986; Chm. Council of Epsom College 1990-95; Trustee and Dep. Chm. Centre for South African Studies, York Univ. 1990-95.

My father and mother outside Buckingham Palace on the occasion when he was awarded the CBE in 1982.

Sailing in the Med.

Obituary in The Times

The Beloved Physicians - The Milne family and Barnardo's

Kebbaty House, Midmar - one-time home of Dr. Robert Milne (1849-1922), my great-grandfather.

Kebbaty House - the garden (from the tennis court).

Kebbaty House - the stables.

Kebbaty House - the tennis court.

The Grade B listed Kebbaty Mains (or 'Mains of Kebbaty'), Midmar - home of James Milne (1809-1875), father of Robert Milne (1849-1922). The gates shown are those of Kebbaty House.

Mains of Kebbaty is listed in 'An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland' , Volume 3: Highland, Orkney and Grampian.

The 2003 sale of Kebbaty Mains was reported in the national press in an article titled 'Lording it up; Grampian country house offers a chance to escape to your very own little world' (Daily Record, 10 June 2003), something that would have amused my great-great-grandfather I think.

Another photo of Kebbaty Mains.

Another photo of Kebbaty Mains.

Descent of Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997) from Alexander Milne of Fyvie, Aberdeenshire (Note that I have not traced a connection between Alexander Milne and my family but I think it is safe to assume that there is a connection at some point; I assume that all Milnes from Aberdeenshire, where the name comes from, are related.) Interestingly, this descent means that Princes William and Harry are 1/256th Milne and therefore have more Milne blood than they do that of the Stuarts, the former royal house of Scotland.

Withyham Church and Vicarage, Withyham, Sussex. My parents' local church where Jamie, our eldest, was Christened. I proposed to Annabel here, on a spot almost behind the tree in the centre of the picture. If you follow the lane going up the hill off to the right you come to the 500 Acre Wood, of Winnie-the-Pooh fame (called the '100 akre wood' in the books). When I was a boy I used to spend whole days wandering in this wood without meeting anyone (apart from a plump little bear of course). On one occasion while out walking in this wood, a friend of my mother, a local farming lady, who knew A. A. Milne (or Christopher Milne or both of them - I can't remember which) pointed to a tree we were standing next to and said 'Did you know that this is Owl's Tree?' Believe it or not, this lady's surname is 'de la Bere'.


My grandfather, George Milne (1894-1942), bottom left. Bastille Day, Paris, 1916.

Arch House, Ecclefechan, Dumfries & Galloway, the home of my great-grandmother's family, the Nightingales. This is the house where Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was born. It is now run as a museum by the National Trust for Scotland.

July 2005. The Camel estuary near Rock in Cornwall, where my parents used to take us on family holidays and where I now take my own children.

Rock at sunset.

A rainbow at Rock.

Possible origins of the Milne family

Note added 11 June 2006. According to Spatial-Literacy.org, Milne is the 386th most frequent name in the UK (there were nearly 15,000 Milnes in the UK in 1998 apparently - what a thought!) and is in the top 20% in terms of social status, so it's now official that the Milne family is very grand (but I knew that anyway). See also this.

The Milne family come from Aberdeenshire, where they have been settled (i.e. making a public nuisance of themselves) since the Middle Ages. However, the view that the name Milne is derived from the old English 'myln', in turn derived from the Latin 'molina', meaning 'mill', and thus referring to people living 'at or near a mill' is, in my view, open to question, although it is an obvious and apparently plausible explanation. Where a name is associated with some physical object, such as a mill, one would expect that name to be as geographically widespread as the object itself, all other factors being equal. In other words you would expect to find the name Milne wherever there were mills, that is pretty much everywhere. In this context, one must ask why the name 'Milne' was local to Aberdeen and the North-East of Scotland. The origin of the Milne name has not, in my view, been investigated sufficiently. While it may turn out to be nothing at all, I have discovered a possible derivation of the Milne name that I feel merits further investigation. Note that the surname Miller is very common in Scotland, though less common in Aberdeenshire.

(According to Black's 'Surnames of Scotland' the earliest references to the name appear to be; during the reign of King Alexander III (1249-1286), to one Adam Molendinarius, into whose death an inquest was held at the Castle of Dumfries (In this instance, 'molendinarius' probably means 'miller', referring to an occupation rather than a surname proper); a reference in 1364 to one Ade Molendinarius, in the service of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Moray upon receiving a remission and protection, probably also a reference to an occupation; a reference in 1382 to Hugh and Johannes de Molendino who were excommunicated at Fyvy, which seems to be the first reference to a surname as such.)

The words 'de Molendino' evidently occur in a charter (the 1382 charter referred to above), written in Latin, and mean 'of the mill'. It is possible that 'de Molendino' means exactly that, as in, say, 'John of [that is, who lives at or near] the mill'. However, it is also possible that 'de Molendino' is a Latinized form of 'de Molyneux', derived from the French 'moulineau', a diminutive of 'moulin', meaning 'mill'. There was a Norman family called de Molyneux, later Earls of Sefton, who came to England with the Conqueror, apparently from Moulineaux near Rouen (VCH, Lancs, iii. 67, n. 7) and who are ancestors on my mother's side. Note, in this context, that names were always Latinized in charters at this time, sometimes with rather ridiculous consequences (e.g. 'Marsh' became 'de Marisco' and 'de L'Isle' became 'de Insula'); thus, the name 'de Molyneux' would invariably have been Latinized to 'de Molendino'.

The question arises as to how the name 'de Molyneux' might have become 'Milne'. 'Molyneux' is pronounced 'Mullen-you' and 'Milne', at least in Scotland, is usually pronounced 'Mullen'. It is easy to see how 'Mullen-you' might gradually have been shortened to 'Mullen' and acquired the spelling of a familiar object which sounded the same, namely 'Milne', which is Scots for 'mill'. Note that an Elizabeth de Molyn of Berwickshire signed the Ragman Roll (1296).

Apart from the fact that 'de Molendino' is a possible Latinization of 'de Molyneux', there are a number of other factors that point to a possible connection to the de Molyneux family, as follows:

1. The arms of Milne are a reversal of those of Molyneux, as illustrated; this is a recognized form of differencing. It is possible that this is simply co-incidence, both arms being canting (or punning); the cross moline is also referred to as a millrine. Too much emphasis should not necessarily be placed on the similarity in the arms but it is an intriguing fact nonetheless and the Milne arms as shown are certainly what could have been adopted by a younger son or a descendant of a younger son of the de Molyneux family.

The arms of Molyneux, Earls of Sefton (Azure, a cross moline or)

The later arms, before differencing, of various Milne families in Scotland (Or, a cross moline azure). See Nisbet and Paul.

2. A certain Vivian de Molyneux, being 'a younger son of one of the twelfth-century lords of Sefton in south-west Lancashire', accompanied Avice de Lancaster (d. 1190) into Scotland on the occasion of her marriage to Richard de Morville (d. 1189) in 1167. See 'The Anglo-Norman Era in Scottish History' (Clarendon Press, 1980) by Professor G. W. S. Barrow, pages 82 and 187. Vivian de Molyneux witnessed a number of de Morville charters and was granted land at Oxton in Lauderdale by Alan, Lord of Galloway (son of Roland, Lord of Galloway and Elena de Morville) which he later exchanged for land nearby at Saltoun, East Lothian. Professor Barrow states that 'in Scotland the [de Molyneux] surname does not seem to have survived' but he was evidently unaware of the later occurance of the name 'de Molendino' in Aberdeenshire.

Croxteth Hall, Liverpool.

Once the seat of the Molyneux family, Earls of Sefton. Apparently Liverpool City Council are trying to trace the rightful owners of Croxteth Hall to this day.

3. The Milne family are a 'sept' of the Gordon clan of Aberdeenshire, which means that, at some point in the past, the Milne family have effectively put themselves under the protection of the Gordon clan. Not far from both Oxton and Saltoun (see 2. above) is the small town of Gordon where the Gordon family first settled in the reign of David I (1124-53). The Gordons moved from Gordon in Berwickshire to Aberdeenshire in the early 1300s when Sir Adam de Gordon was granted lands at Strathbogie (Scots Peerage, Vol. 4, p.512). It is possible that the descendants of Vivian de Molyneux moved to Aberdeenshire at the same time. An Elizabeth de Molyn of Berwickshire signed the Ragman Roll (1296), so 'Molyn' may represent a transitional form of the name from Molyneux, through Molyn, to Milne.

We thus have a possible, indeed plausible explanation (but one requiring further research) of the origins of the Milne family of Aberdeenshire; from Moulineaux, near Rouen in Normandy, prior to the Conquest, to Sefton in Lancashire after the Conquest, to Oxton in Lauderdale and then Saltoun in East Lothian in the late 12th century and from there to Aberdeenshire, possibly in the early 14th century with the Gordon family, when a family called 'de Molendino' are, according to the Lyon Clerk, recorded in that area. For the first time, I believe, we have an identifiable individual, Vivian de Molyneux from Sefton in Lancashire, who may be the founder of the Milne family in Scotland.

It should be said that substantial numbers of (mainly) younger sons of Norman families emigrated to Scotland from England, with a significant contingent coming from the northern counties, particularly Yorkshire. This emigration, often at the invitation of the Kings of Scots themselves, amounted to nothing less than a Norman invasion of Scotland, initially concentrated in the south of the country, less violent but ultimately no less complete than the Norman invasion of England. Some of these Norman families are well-known, such as Bruce and Balliol, both of whom eventually occupied the throne, but others are less so, being knights, squires, clerks and even cooks and others of humble station. Some families achieved lasting prominence, others have left only a name and others have disappeared without trace. Since Vivian de Molyneux witnessed various charters and was granted land, it is clear that he must have been of some importance and was almost certainly a knight. Professor Barrow refers to him as 'an undoubted adventurer hitching his wagon to the de Morville star'.

View from the chateau of Robert the Devil at Moulineaux looking towards Rouen and the Seine. Is this where the Milne family come from?

= Pamela Mary Senior

Sister of Anne Barbara Senior. Mrs. Kipling (see below), wife of Rudyard Kipling, was my mother's godmother.

A hidden valley near my mother's home in Kent. My favourite walk. Being near the old Pilgrim's Way to the shrine of Thomas a Becket at Canterbury, one half expects to meet the Wife of Bath and her merry band of pilgrims from Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' jangling down the track. The valley has probably not changed since that time.

The same valley looking back to where the first photo was taken from.

The top of the valley.

The path to the top of the valley.

'Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.'

A view of the village green at Challock, Kent. This green is about a kilometre long.

Oliver Nassau Senior (b. 28 Nov 1901 m. 8 Sep 1927 d. 30 Jun 1992)

Farmer and Chartered Surveyor. An only child. He was born at 98 Cheyne Walk, London, once the home of Thomas Carlyle and now owned by the National Trust. It is an interesting fact that my father's family used to live in the house in Ecclefeachan, in Scotland, where Thomas Carlyle was born. This house is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland.

OLIVER NASSAU SENIOR, BA (Oxon), ARICS, late of Park Manor, 8 St. Aldhems Road, Branksome Park, Poole, Dorset (1985-92); 12 Minterne Grange, Crichel Mount Rd., Lilliput, Poole, Dorset (1971-1985); Purbeck Cottage, Chaddesley Glen, Poole, Dorset (1959-1971); Ardencote, Alington Rd., Poole, Dorset (1955-59); 24 Northmoor Road, Oxford (1946-1955) (J R R Tolkein lived at 20 Northmoor Road at the time - oddly enough he moved to Poole - 'Woodridings', 19 Lakeside Rd - in 1968); Belmont House, Thame, Oxon (1936-1946); 25 Newton Court, Church St., Kensington (1935-1936); Mill Dene, Eastbourne Road, Seaford, Sussex (1931-1935); Cambridge (1930-1931); Tideways, Bosham, Sussex (Winter 1929); The Bough Farm, Burwash Common, Sussex (1925-1929); b 28 Nov 1901 at 98 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London; educ St. Peter's, Chesterfield Rd., Eastbourne 1912-15; Haileybury 1915-17, Eastbourne College (moved school following bout of double pneumonia) 1917-19; Studied for Responsions for Oxford at a private crammer in Eastbourne 1919-20; Univ. College, Oxford (B.A. Agric.) 1921-24; Farming pupil at Iford Farm (prop. J & H Robinson), Sutton House, Iford, nr. Lewes, Sussex (1924-25); Farming in Burwash, Sussex 1925-29; Studied crop husbandry, Cambridge 1930-31; Served articles (ARICS 1933) with Powell & Co., Lewes, Sussex 1931-35; Working independently in London 1935-36; Land Agent for E H Dashwood Esq, Aston Rowant Estate, Oxon 1936-38; Asst. Land Agent, HQ Eastern Command, London 1938-40; Asst. Land Agent, War Dept., Oxford 1940-46; Senior Asst. Land Commissioner, Min. of Ag., Gloucester 1946-48; Asst. Bursar, St. John's College, Oxford 1948-55; President Architecture & Surveying Institute 1934

He is listed in the Marquis de Ruvigny's 'The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal' (Mortimer Percy Volume, Part I, Page 282). This records my grandfather's royal descent via the Eden family, but a different descent from the one shown under Barbara Hammersley (daughter of Dulcibella Eden) below.

Rudyard Kipling

He owned the farm next door to 'Batemans', the Kipling's house in Sussex. My grandparents met when my grandfather advertised a puppy for sale in the local paper. My grandmother, who was Kipling's secretary at the time and living at 'Batemans' (now held by the National Trust), arrived at my grandfather's farm to look at the puppy in the Kipling's huge chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. This car is still going strong and was sold at auction some years ago.

My grandfather, Oliver Nassau Senior (1901-1992), as a young boy.

Oliver Nassau Senior (1901-1992) in uniform.

Belmont House, Thame. My grandparents' home from 1936 to 1946. The house was requisitioned by the Army during the war and they ruined it. My grandparents had to sell the house when it was handed back to them.

Belmont House from the back.

Thame on a market day. Belmont House is behind the lorry on the left. This photo was taken before 1937, probably around 1935 or possibly even 1936 when my grand-parents lived there.

My grandparents, Oliver Senior (1901-1992) and Dorothy Senior, nee Gardner-Smith (1904-1987). I think this is at my parents' wedding in 1953.

Poole, Dorset

An aerial view of the entrance of Poole Harbour, the largest natural harbour in Europe, and Sandbanks. Three of my grandparents homes are in this view; Purbeck Cottage (just where the neck of Sandbanks joins the mainland) and Ardencote and Minterne Grange, further left along the shoreline.

The Poole Harbour ferry (which you can also see in the photo above). Going on this is always an adventure.

View of Sandbanks from the area of Evening Hill. This is almost exactly the view from my grandparent's former home at 12 Minterne Grange.

Branksome Chine, about 100m from my grandparent's former home in Chaddesley Glen. I used to play on this beach when I visited my grandparents as a child. The path from Chaddelsey Glen comes down the wooded bank on the left of the picture.

= Dorothy Gardner-Smith (b. 31 May 1904 d. 27 Dec 1987)

Daughter of Herbert Heaton Gardner-Smith (1869-1927) and Annie Elizabeth Gardner-Smith, nee Pierce (1874-1918)

Secretary to Rudyard Kipling, author of 'The Jungle Book' etc. Stern (but kind) reprover of naughty grand-children.

I have a family tree for the Gardner-Smiths going back to the late eighteenth century.

Percival Gardner-Smith (1888-1985)

Fen Ditton Hall, Fen Ditton, nr. Cambridge. Sometime home of Rev. Percival Gardner-Smith (1888-1985), my grandmother's uncle. He was Dean of Jesus College, Cambridge, from 1922 to 1956 and left 225,000 to the college in his will.

The Rev. Percival Gardner-Smith BD (1888-1985)

In the grounds of Fen Ditton Hall with Sophie Gardner-Smith (nee Leeke) (1885-1960), first wife of Rev. Percival Gardner-Smith, in the foreground. Her grandfather, William Leeke ('Waterloo William') (1797-1879), Ensign of the 52nd Light Infantry Regiment (later The Royal Green Jackets), was the youngest British officer at the Battle of Waterloo, where he carried the Regimental Colours.

William Leeke ('Waterloo William') (1797-1879) - the youngest officer at the Battle of Waterloo.

Herbert Heaton Gardner-Smith (1869-1927) and Annie Elizabeth Gardner-Smith, nee Pierce (1874-1918) with their daughters, Eve (Aunty Paddy) and Dorothy, my grandmother. Photo taken at 'Hartfield', Helensburgh. He was born Herbert Heaton Gardner Smith (i.e. his surname was 'Smith') but adopted the surname Gardner-Smith on 8 October 1901.

Obituary of Herbert Heaton Gardner-Smith published in a local Durban newspaper in 1927:

'The late Mr. Herbert Heaton Gardner-Smith, who passed away at Addington Hospital as the result of an accident, was a retired surveyor, Lloyds Register of Shipping. He was the eldest son of the Rev. Gardner-Smith, of Scarborough, England, and the only brother of the Rev. Percival Gardner-Smith, Fellow and Dean of Jesus College, Cambridge, England. To know Mr. H. H. Gardner-Smith was to know a thorough gentleman, a staunch friend, honest and upright in all his dealings. No man could find a better friend or listen to a better entertainer; a man of the world who could make and keep a friend for life. Such a careful reader of character was he that he never made a false friendship. It was a pleasure to be numbered among his acquaintances, for he was always considerate for others, even while suffering much himself. He arrived in Durban a little more than a year ago in very poor health, the result of the severe strain of the late War. In addition to his own occupation, he daily rendered hours of time as a special constable in the London Metropolitan Police Force and was a highly qualified St. John Ambulance man. He also showed great pluck in dealing with the suppression of the smuggling of opium by the Chinese living in Limehouse, one of the worst parts of London. He was a scholar and spoke many languages, and quite recently started to learn Zulu, and often rode in rikshas just to converse with the "puller". It seems a strange working of Providence that, after being fully restored to health here and able to walk three of four miles every morning, he should die at Addington as the result of an accident. Mr. Herbert Heaton Gardner-Smith was born in Bradford on July 2, 1869 and died on Oct. 11, 1927, aged 58 years.'


Walter Nassau Senior (1850-1933 m 1887)

Barrister, of 98 Cheyne Walk, London (until 1904); 12 Chichester Terrace, Brighton (until 1912), Branksome, Saffrons Rd, Eastbourne (until 1920) and then 50 St. John's Rd, Eastbourne and also of The Haven, Heatherwood Park Road, Totland, Isle of Wight (until 1924*). An only child. He was born at Donnington Priory, which featured in 'The 39 Steps'. Educated at Rugby and University College, Oxford. Student at Lincoln's Inn in 1871, called to the Bar in 1875. He was an equity draftsmen and conveyancer** who had chambers in Lincoln's Inn at 2 Old Buildings in 1880 and 21 Old Buildings by 1885 (Foster's Men-at-the-Bar lists him at 21 Old Square). From 1890 he does not have a chambers address so presumably ceased to practice.

*I suspect that this holiday home had to be sold following the collapse of Cox's & King's in 1923.

**Equity draftsmen and conveyancers were a specialist kind of barrister engaged in the technical business of drafting all the complex written proceedings in a court action in Chancery and also drafting legal documents concerned with land and trusts within the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery.

Chichester Terrace, Brighton. This terrace faces directly onto the sea front and beach.

Brighton as it was.

50 St. John's Rd, Eastbourne, the second house from the left at the bottom of the picture; the one with the white steps leading down from the balcony to the garden. It must have been a nice place to live in the 1920's; large houses in a quiet, leafy road, just a short walk from the church, a golf course and the sea front, with its bright shops, views of the sea, the gardens with their bandstand and, of course, the pier. An ever-changing kaleidoscope of life and colour.

50 St. John's Rd, Eastbourne, second from the right, from the other side.

Eastbourne bandstand.

Saffron's Road, Eastbourne.

Totland Bay, Isle of Wight, as it was when my grandfather was a boy. See here for further photos. This beach is only a short walk from my great-grandfather's old house 'The Haven'.

A postcard of holidaying in Totland.

Totland Bay, Isle of Wight, from Headon Warren, with Colwell Bay and Fort Albert (on the point) beyond. In the background on the far shore and approximately behind the ship is the Pylewell estate, once seat of Ascanius William Senior (1728-1787) - see below. The tumulus on top of Headon Warren (roughly the spot from which this picture was taken) was my grandfather's favourite place.

The Needles, Isle of Wight (from Alum Bay, I think).

Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berks. Home of the Hughes family.

Walter Nassau Senior was named after his uncle, Walter Scott Hughes (who died in 1846 at the age of 20 of malaria). Walter Scott Hughes was named after Sir Walter Scott, his godfather and close friend of his grandmother, Mary Anne Watts, who died in 1853, 3 years after Walter Nassau Senior's birth. Walter Scott Hughes was the nearest sibling in age to his sister, Jane, (mother of Walter Nassau Senior) and they were the closest of friends and companions. She was devastated by his death.

= Mabel Barbara ('Barbara') Hammersley (1864-1943)

Daughter of Hugh Hammersley (1819-1882) and Dulcibella Eden (d. 1903) and first cousin of Gertrude Jekyll, (b. 1804 d. 26 Mar 1876), the famous gardener - see below.

Mabel Barbara Hammersley steering 'Belinda', 'Uncle Freddie's [Frederick Cox of Cox's Bank]' yacht in about 1912.

Dulcibella Eden (d. 1903)

Warren House, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, home of Hugh Hammersley and Dulcibella Eden.

The Eden and Ham(m)ersley families

The Eden family

The arms of the Eden family

Dulcibella Eden was the great-granddaughter of Sir Robert Eden (d. 1755), great-great-great-grandfather of Sir Anthony Eden, Prime Minister and 1st Earl of Avon. Sir Robert married Margaret Lambton (died 2 July 1730), daughter of John Lambton of Durham. She was of the same family as the Lambton Earls of Durham.

Anthony Eden, KG, MC, PC (1897-1977), Prime Minister and 1st Earl of Avon.

Windlestone Hall, Rushyford, Nr. Bishop Auckland, County Durham, home of the Eden family, then a special school for boys, now redeveloped as housing.

The Eden family trace their descent, via the Lambtons (Earls of Durham), the Eures (Lords Eure), the Bowes (ancestors of the Bowes-Lyons, Earls of Strathmore - the family of the late Queen Mother), the Cliffords (Lords Clifford and later Earls of Cumberland), the Percys (Earls - and later Dukes - of Northumberland) and the Mortimers (Earls of March) from Lionel, Duke of Clarence, second son of Edward III. One of this line is Sir Henry Percy, 'Harry Hotspur', (1364-1403).

Also of this line are Sir Ralph Eure (killed at the battle of Ancrum Moor in 1545), Warden of the Middle March and Captain of Berwick Castle, and Sir Ralph's father, William, 1st Lord Eure (d. 1547/8), Warden of the East March (i.e. north Northumberland). Sir Ralph Eure was notorious for his cruel raids into Scotland against the Border reivers. See 'The Steel Bonnets' by George MacDonald Fraser for more information.

See Burke's 'Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Avon, Earl of', 'Aukland, Baron', 'Eden of Winton, Baron', 'Henley/Northington, Baron'.

The Hammersley family

Arms of Sir Hugh Hammersley (1565-1636), Lord Mayor of London (1627), being the arms anciently borne by the family in Staffordshire and granted to Sir Hugh in 1614. Note that Thomas Hammersley (1747-1812), see below, was granted the arms of Sir Hugh Hamersley , with due differences (gules, three rams heads couped erminois), in 1803 ('Records of the Hammersley family', p. 81; see also Burke's 'General Armory' under 'Hammersley of Pall Mall, London').

The Hamersley/Hammersley family come from Staffordshire and trace their descent from a Hugo le Kinge who is supposed, according to some sources, to have initially settled at Ombersley, Worcestershire, moving later to Staffordshire. It would seem that he took the name de Ombersley, carrying that name into Staffordshire and naming his lands accordingly. Almost immediately, it seems, the name became de Homersley and later Hamersley or Hammersley*. In 1318 Roberto de Homersley is recorded holding land in Homersley, Staffordshire ('Hugo le Kinge filius Ade le Kinge dedi fr. Roberto de Homersley fratre meo totam terram meam in Homersley' - I think is quoted from the Visitation of Staffordshire 1614 and 1663-4). I have my doubts about the 'Ombersley' story but we can be sure that Roberto de Homersley held an estate called Homersley in Staffordshire in 1318. He must have been a substantial freeholder. The family also trace their descent, via Mary Derham (sometimes Dereham) of Derham, Norfolk, wife of Sir Hugh Hamersley (1565-1636), Lord Mayor of London, from the Tuchet family (Lords Audley) and, via the latter, have numerous royal ancestors, including Llewelyn the Great, Prince of Wales.

*Source - 'Hamersley - From the Old Iron Chest' (1996) by Daphne Foulkes-Taylor of Glen Iris, Western Australia.

Ombersley, Worcestershire in the 1940's by W. A. Green (1907-1983).

Descent of Sir Hugh Hamersley (1565-1636) from Roberto de Homersley (living 1318)

  • Roberto de Homersley, brother of Hugo le Kinge, held the lands of Homersley, Staffordshire, in 1318 - see above. He had issue:
  • Adam de Homersley, living 3 Richard II (1379/80). His son or grandson:
  • Radulphus de Homersley. By his wife Isolda he had issue:
  • A son who had issue:
  • A son who had issue:
  • Richard Hamersley (d. 1548), High Bailiff of Stafford 1538 and 1544. He had issue:
  • Richard Hamersley of Stone (d. 1568), High Bailiff of Stafford 1550, 1555, 1562. By his wife, Elizabeth, he had issue:
  • Hugh Hamersley (d. 1567). By his wife, Anne Gerrard, he had issue:
  • Sir Hugh Hamersley (1565-1636), Lord Mayor of London (1627), married Mary Derham (d. 1646/7) and had issue - see below.

The above was compiled from Leigh's 'History of the Ancient Parish of Leeke' and from the Visitations of Staffordshire of 1583 and 1662 and the Visitation of Warwickshire of 1682. It would appear, on this basis, that the line back to Roberto de Homersley has not been established and that Sir Hugh's earliest proven ancestor is Richard Hamersley (d. 1548), High Bailiff of Stafford.

Descent of Mary Derham (d. 1646/7) from Edward I

Edward I (1239-1307) = Eleanor of Castile (1240-1290) and had issue;
Elizabeth Plantagenet (1282-1316) = Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford (d. 1322) and had issue;
Margaret de Bohun = Hugh de Courtenay, Earl of Devon (b. 1303) and had issue;
Sir Philip Courtenay of Powderham Castle = Anne Wake and had issue;
John Courtenay (b. About 1384 d. Before 29 Jul 1406) = Joan Champernowne (b. About 1385 d. 1419) and had issue;
Sir Philip Courtenay (b. 1404 d. 16 Dec 1463) = Elizabeth Hungerford (d. 14 Dec 1476) and had issue;
Elizabeth Courtenay (b. About 1430 d. 1 Sep 1493) = Sir Humphrey Audley (k. 1471 at Tewkesbury) and had issue;
Sir John Audley of Swaffham Market = Muryell Brewse of Wenham, Suffolk and had issue;
Ele Audley = Thomas Derham of Crymplesham (b. 1503 d. 29 Aug 1554) and had issue;
Baldwin Derham of Derham, Norfolk = Margaret Hethe and had issue;
Mary Derham (d. 1646/7) = Sir Hugh Hamersley (1565-1636), Lord Mayor of London (1627).

A fascinating question: Is the famous 'Ashbourne portrait' of Shakespeare actually Sir Hugh Hamersley (1565-1636)?

The famous 'Ashbourne portrait' is believed by many to be the best portrait of Shakespeare. This portrait is held by some 'Oxfordians' (those who believe that the 'real Shakespeare' was, in fact, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford) to be Edward de Vere and they use this to support their assertions in the authorship debate. Others believe that the 'Ashbourne portrait' is actually Sir Hugh Hamersley (1565-1636), apparently as a result of the discovery by X-Ray of an over-painted copy of the Hamersley arms (which others believe are the arms of a different family) and also because the Ashbourne portrait appears to have been 'touched up' to produce a receding hairline and a smaller ruff, amongst other 'adjustments'. As with most issues in the 'authorship debate', this question has generated, and continues to generate, some very heated discussions.

The Ashbourne portrait of Shakespeare in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington. The portrait of Sir Hugh Hamersley in Haberdashers Hall, London.
The two portraits overlaid.

Just to confuse matters, the cover of a new (August 2005) Oxfordian book showing the Ashbourne portrait overlaying a portrait of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.

Another of my ancestors, Thomas Salusbury (c. 1555-executed 1586), is believed by some to have been the real Shakespeare - see below.

The 'London Hammersleys' - A banking dynasty

The Ham(m)ersley family were bankers from the very earliest days of banking in this country, from a period when there were no banks in the modern sense (which generally date from the late 1600s onwards) and banking and financial services were primarily provided by goldsmiths, merchants and others. There can be little doubt that Sir Hugh Hamersley (1565-1636) himself was a financier and one of his grandsons, another Hugh (1663-1692), is recorded as a 'citizen [of London] and goldsmith'. We have a Hugh Hamersley who was a goldsmith at the sign of the Three Cups in the Strand in 1685 and a Richard Hamersley who was a goldsmith at the sign of the Sun and Marygold in the Strand (possibly the same place) in 1695 (Source: 'A Handbook of London Bankers', Price, 1890) but it was not until 1796 that Thomas Hammersley (1747-1812) founded what became Hammersley & Co, as described below.

Note: The other major branch of the family are the Hamersley family (one 'm') of Pyrton Manor, Pyrton, nr. Watlington, Oxfordshire, descended from Sir Hugh's third son, William. See 'Burke's Landed Gentry' under 'Ducat-Hamersley of Pyrton Manor' and Burke's 'Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Heytesbury, Baron' (Holmes A'Court). Note that there is a range of mountains called the 'Hamersley Range' in Western Australia, which range includes a 'Mount Pyrton', both named after an Edward Hamersley of this family. There is a branch of the Pyrton family in the United States.

Thomas Hammersley (1747-1812), founder of a banking dynasty, by Richard Golding, after Hugh Douglas Hamilton. Published 1822.

Richard Cox (1718-1803), founder of Cox & Co. in 1758. Portrait by Sir William Beechey.

  • Hugh Hamersley (1663-1714), of Cadeby Hall, Lincs. (which he inherited through his wife, Mary Pye), was Vicar of Roxby, Lincs, and Chaplain to William III. He was apparently* a grandson of Sir Hugh Hamersley (1565-1636), Lord Mayor of London.
  • His only son, Hugh Hammersley (1706-1757), the first to spell his name with a double 'm', of Ouslethwaite Hall, Worsbrough (which he inherited through his second wife, Elizabeth Archdale - he had 3 daughters by his first wife, Elizabeth Wade), was a solicitor in Doncaster, of which town he became Mayor.

Ouslethwaite Hall, Genn Lane, Worsborough

  • His second but eldest surviving son, Thomas Hammersley (1747-1812), joined the London bank of Herries, Farquhar & Co. on its foundation in 1772, selling the Cadeby and Ouslethwaite estates at this time. He left this bank in 1786 to set up Ransom, Morland & Hammersley & Co. (57 Pall Mall) and left them in 1796 to set up Hammersley, Montolieu, Brooksbank, Greenwood, Drewe & Co. (76 Pall Mall) which became Hammersley, Greenwood, Drewe & Co. in 1806. In 1823 the bank became Hammersley, Greenwood, Brooksbank & Co. and moved to 69 Pall Mall. Hammersley & Co., as they were later known (after the death of Charles Greenwood in 1832 I assume), were bankers to the royal family or members of the royal family, including George IV from when he came of age. The bank was taken over in 1840 (on the death of Hugh Hammersley, son of Thomas and sole remaining partner) by Coutts & Co., later part of National Westminster Bank (NatWest) and now part of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Hammersley & Co. were also bankers to the Secret Service for a time (Source: 'Coutts & Co. 1692-1992', Edna Healey, 1992).
  • There was a strong rivalry between Hammsersley & Co. and Coutts & Co. for the account of George IV when he was Prince of Wales, which is explained in more detail in 'Coutts & Co. 1692-1992' (Edna Healey, 1992). The Prince moved his account from Coutts & Co. as soon as he came of age in order to avoid being under his father's eye in monetary matters. Thomas Coutts's (1735-1822) tactics to try and win back the account included begging letters to the Prince (assuring the Prince that he, Thomas Coutts, was motivated purely by loyalty and had no monetary interest in the matter!), at a time when it was thought that George III was dying, and repeated attempts to influence the Prince through his friends and his mistress, Mrs. Fitzherbert.
  • There is a family legend to the effect that Hammersley & Co. lent money to the Royal Family on the security of the Crown Jewels. This appears to be a slight embellishment but it is true that Hammersley & Co. lent money to the Prince of Wales (later George IV) and held a casket of royal jewels as security, as evidenced by a letter from the Prince Regent to W. Morland and T. Hammersley dated 10 May 1791 which states '... in order to secure the payment of the said sum of 25,000 … his said Royal Highness hath delivered to the said William Morland and Thomas Hammersley … a casket covered with red morocco leather containing a diamond epaulette, a diamond star, a diamond George, a diamond garter and sundry diamond trinkets and ornaments belonging to his Royal Highness …'. Note that 25,000 in 1791 is equivalent to about 1.8m today.
  • Thomas Hammersley's (1747-1812) eldest son, Hugh Hammersley (1774-1840) was a partner in his father's bank, as described above. His second son, Charles Hammersley (1782-1862), joined his uncle, Charles Greenwood (1748-1832), of the family of Greenwood of Stapleton Park, as a partner of Cox & Co. (of Craig's Court, Whitehall), bankers and army agents, founded by Richard Cox in 1758. Thomas Hammersley (1747-1812) had a third son, George Hammersley (1785-1835), but I have no further record of him. Thomas Hammersley (1747-1812) had married Charles Greenwood's sister, Anne Greenwood, and Charles Greenwood's great aunt, Mary, had married Joshua Cox of Quarley Park and Grantley, near Andover, the father of Richard Cox of Aspenden Hall, Hertfordshire, founder of Cox & Co. - so the families of Hammersley, Greenwood and Cox were closely related.
  • Charles Hammersley's (1782-1862) two elder sons, Charles Hammersley (1817-1890), who died without issue, and Hugh Hammersley (1819-1882) were also partners of Cox & Co. There were two further sons, Henry Hammersley (1823-1883) and Frederick Hammersley (1824-1901) - see below.
  • Both of Hugh Hammersley's (1819-1882) two elder sons, Arthur Charles Hammersley (1856-1912) and Hugh Hammersley (1858-1930) were also partners in the firm. There was a third son, Guy Hammersley (b. 1871) but I have no further record of him.
  • The original offices of Cox & Co. were in Albermarle Street. The firm moved to Craig's Court in 1765 and remained there until 1888, although not in the same building. They then seem to have moved to Charing Cross and to have occupied various buildings in that area. In 1922 Cox & Co., who by then had been long-established as 'bankers to the British Army', merged with Henry S. King & Co. to become Cox's & King's and moved into newly-built head offices at 6 Pall Mall. In 1923 the banking side of the business was taken over by Lloyd's Bank, now Lloyds TSB (there is still a branch/office of Cox's & King's at 7 Pall Mall, London SW1), while the rest became Cox & Kings, the travel company, which still exists today. I think the failure of Cox's & King's may have been associated with Horace Farquhar, 1st Earl Farquhar, who died a bankrupt on 30 August 1923. Over time the firm had been Richard Cox (1758-1765), Cox & Drummond (1765-1772), Cox & Mair (1772-1779), Cox, Mair & Cox (1779-1783), Cox, Cox & Greenwood (1783-1790), Cox & Greenwood (1791-1801), Cox, Greenwood & Cox (1801-1803), Greenwood & Cox (1803-1806), Greenwood, Cox & Co. (1806-1832), Cox, Hammersley & Co. (1833-1834) and Cox & Co. (1833-1922).
  • Cox & Co. seem also to have been bankers to members of the royal family. It is related that when Frederick, Duke of York (1763-1827) introduced Charles Greenwood, a partner of the firm, to his father, George III, as "Mr. Greenwood, the gentleman who keeps my money.", the army agent ventured to remark "I think it is rather his Royal Highness who keeps my money." a rejoinder which greatly delighted the old King. "Do you hear that? Frederick do you hear that? You are the gentleman who keeps Mr. Greenwood's money."
  • A poem which appeared in the 'B.E.F. Times' (British Expeditionary Force) in March 1917 goes as follows:

    Kindly manager of Cox,
    I am sadly on the rocks,
    For a time my warring ceases,
    My patella is in pieces;
    Though in hospital I lie,
    I am not about to die;
    Therefore let me overdraw
    Just a very little more.
    If you stick to your red tape
    I must go without my grape,
    And my life must sadly fret
    With a cheaper cigarette,
    So pray be not hard upon
    A poor dejected subaltern.
    This is all I have to say,
    'Impecunious' R.F.A.

    The alleged response from Cox's was:

    Sir, the kindly heart of Cox
    Cannot leave you on the rocks,
    And he could not sleep in bed
    Thinking you were underfed;
    So if you will let us know
    Just how far you want to go,
    Your request will not be in vain,
    Written from your bed of pain,
    We will make but one request -
    Keep this locked within your breast,
    For if others know, they'll say,
    'Good old Cox is sure to pay
    Only take him the right way.'

  • Dulcibella Eden's elder sister, Mabel (1837-1889), married Frederick Cox (b. 1835) of this family.
  • The Hammersley family are connected by marriage with two other great banking families, the Barings (bank founded 1762) and the Hambros (bank founded 1839) - see below.

The arms of Greenwood of Stapleton - sable, a chevron ermine between three saltires or, a mullet for difference.

Descent of Anne Greenwood, wife of Thomas Hammerlsey (1747-1812), from Edward I

Edward I, King of England (d. 1307) m Eleanor of Castile and had issue;
Joan Plantagenet m Gilbert de Clare, 3rd Earl of Gloucester, 7th Earl of Hertford and had issue;
Margaret de Clare m Hugh de Audley, 1st Earl of Gloucester, and had issue;
Margaret de Audley m Ralph Stafford, 1st Earl of Stafford, and had issue;
Hugh Stafford, 2nd Earl of Stafford m Philippa Beauchamp and had issue;
Catherine Stafford m Michael de la Pole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk, and had issue;
Isabel de la Pole m Thomas Morley, 5th Baron Morley, and had issue;
Anne Morley (d. 1471) m John Hastings (b. before 6 Jan 1411 d. 9 Apr 1477) of Gressenhall and had issue;
Elizabeth Hastings m Sir Robert Hildyard of Winestead-in-Holderness (b about 1435) and had issue:
Katherine Hildyard (d bef 5/4/1540) m William Girlington of Frodingham, Lincolnshire, and had issue:
Isabel Girlington (living 3/4/1519) m Christopher Kelke of Barnetby, Lincolnshire, (d 2/2/1523), son of Roger Kelke of Barnetby and Elizabeth de la See* and had issue:
William Kelke, merchant of London m Thomasine Skerne, daughter of Percival Skerne, and had issue:
Cecily Kelke (b. 1552) m (Aug 1574) John Farrar of Ewood (d. 1627/8) and had issue;
John Farrar of Ewood** (b. 1578) m, secondly, Susan Waterhouse and had issue;
William Farrar of Ewood (d. 8 Oct 1684) m Frances (or Thomasin***), daughter of Richard James of Portsmouth, and had issue;
Frances Farrar m James Greenwood of Stapleton (d. 1712) and had issue;
Rev. William Greenwood (d. 1727), Rector of Darfield, m Sarah Wainwright and had issue;
Rev. Francis Greenwood (d. 15 June 1761), Rector of Higham Ferrers, m Ann(e) Harrington (b. 1717 d 1813) of Lavenham, Suffolk, and had issue;
Anne Greenwood m Thomas Hammersley (1747-1812).

*My researches indicate that Hugh Hamersley (1663-1714), Vicar of Roxby, may have actually been the great-grandson of Sir Hugh Hamersley (1565-1636) via his third son, William (1617-1676), rather than his grandson via Sir Hugh's second son, Francis (1613-1659), as is generally thought (Francis is often stated to have died in 1665). According to Burke's 'Landed Gentry' this William married an Elizabeth Cogan (1626-1706) in 1660 and had a son called Hugh (1663-1718, 1646-1692 according to Boyd's 'Inhabitants of London'), ancestor of the Ducat-Hamersley family of Pyrton Manor. However, there is a record of a Hugh Hamersley who was born 25 Dec 1642 at Kencott, Oxon. Given the 1660 marriage of William and Elizabeth (which may be the wrong date), I believe that this Hugh might be the son of William (1617-1676) by an earlier marriage (i.e. before his marriage to Elizabeth Cogan) and that he (Hugh b. 1642) might have been the father of Hugh (1663-1714), ancestor of the 'London Hammersleys', my branch of the family. I believe that Hugh (b. 1642) may have married a Katherine Finch in Cambridge (St. Mary the Great) on 3 Dec 1662 and that this Katherine may be the Katherine who died in Roxby, Lincs. (where Hugh (1663-1714) was Vicar) in 1699. A Hugh Hamersley, son of a Katherine and Hugh Hamersley was Christened at St. Botolph Without, Aldersgate, London, on 29 Nov 1663. I believe that Hugh (b. 1642) may have married a second wife, Anne Preston (b. 1656) on 22 Dec 1671. Both of Sir Hugh's two elder sons, Sir Thomas (dsp 1651) and Francis (died without issue in 1659 according to Boyd's 'Inhabitants of London' and his will does not mention any children), seem to have died without issue. Anyway, there is a mystery here that needs to be sorted out. Note that the birth date of 1646 may refer to the will of Mary Hamersley, wife of Sir Hugh, so that 1646 means 'mentioned in a will of 1646' but possibly actually born in 1642 (25 Dec) as above. So that's clear then.

Thomas Hammersley (1747-1812) - see above - married (1771) Anne Greenwood (d. 1822), daughter of Rev. Francis Greenwood, Rector of Higham Ferrers, and had issue:

  • Anne Hammersley (1773-1841). Married (1805) William Ward, Bishop of Sodor & Man and had issue.
  • Hugh Hammersley (1774-1840). Educated at Eton. Senior partner of Hammersley & Co., bankers of Pall Mall, London. Married (1822) Baroness Marie de Montolieu de St. Hippolite, great-grand-daughter of David de Montolieu (1668-1761), Baron of St. Hippolite (or Saint-Hippolyte), General in the Army, who fought for William III at the Battle of the Boyne (1690). They had one son, Hugh Montolieu Hammersley (1825-1896), who married (1851) Henrietta Bouverie (d. 1929) and had 3 daughters (See 'Burke's Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Radnor, Earl of'). The male line of the Montolieu family became extinct in England on the death of Marie's father, Louis de Montolieu, Baron of St. Hippolite, whose eldest daughter she was. The Montolieu family were ancient French nobility having settled in Languedoc in the 12th century, where they owned land near Marseilles known as the Val de Montolieu, which was later known as the Val de Giraud; I believe I am right in saying that by this time not one single family in the British peerage could trace a male line descent back this far. Being Protestant the family left France after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, going to Holland and then to England. The de Montolieu name spread amongst the British aristocracy as a result of inter-marriage with the family but now seems to have died out - see Burke's 'Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Margesson, Viscount'; 'Elibank, Baron'; 'Radnor, Earl of'; 'Courtown, Earl of'; 'Eglinton, Earl of'; 'Lamb, Baronet'.
  • Caroline Hammersley (1774-1806). Married General Sir Henry Calvert, Bt. (1763-1826). Their eldest son, Sir Henry Calvert, Bt. (1801-1894), Grenadier Guards, who assumed the name of Verney on inheriting the Verney estates, married, secondly in 1858, Frances Nightingale, sister of Florence Nightingale. See Burke's 'Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Verney of Claydon House'.
  • Mary Hammersley (1777-1843). Married Charles Barker in 1827.
  • Charles Hammersley (1782-1862) of 25 Park Crescent. Educated at Eton. Senior partner of Cox & Co, bankers and army agents of Craig's Court, Whitehall, London. Married (1809) Emily Poulett-Thomson and had 11 children - see following list. My family notes say of him: 'The prosperity which attended Charles Hammersley throughout his career as an army agent was mainly due to his personal intelligence and energy , to his unbroken devotion to his work, and to the confidence universally inspired by a character in which a rigid sense of honour and justice was ever tempered by the impulses of a benevolent and generous nature.'
  • Diana Hammersley (1783-1854). Married Captain (later Rear-Admiral) George Hills RN. Their son, George (1816-1895), became the first Bishop of British Columbia 1859-1892.
  • George Hammersley (1785-1835). Partner of Hammersley & Co.
  • Frances Harriet Hammersley (1788-1876). I have no further information.
  • Charlotte Emily Hammersley (1789-1858). I have no further information.

Charles Hammersley (1782-1862) - see above - married Emily Poulett-Thomson - see below - and had issue:-

  • Emily Hammersley (b. 6 Feb 1810 d. 12 Jan 1878). Married Charles Richard Littledale (1807-1892) of Scarlets, Wargrave, Berks (sometime home of James Edward Austen (1798-1874), nephew of Jane Austen, the authoress) on 16 Jun 1835. I have no record of any issue.
  • Maria Hammersley (b. 29 Sep 1811 d. 1 May 1855). Unmarried.
  • Julia Hammersley (b. 18 Mar 1813 d. 19 Jul 1895). Married Edward Jekyll (1804-1876), Captain in the Grenadier Guards, on 25 Jul 1836. They had seven children including Gertrude Jekyll, (1843-1932), undoubtedly the most famous gardener England has ever produced. Gertrude's brother, Walter, was a friend of the author, Robert Louis Stevenson and he allowed his name to be used in Stevenson's book 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde' (1886). Of Julia Hammersley's two grand-daughters, my grand-father's second cousins; Pamela married Reginald McKenna (d. 1943), Home Secretary (1911-1915) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1915-1916) and had issue; Barbara married, secondly, Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg, V.C., G.C.M.G., K.C.B., K.B.E., D.S.O. and three bars, Governor-General of New Zealand (1946-52), and their son, Paul Richard Freyberg, O.B.E., M.C., 2nd Baron Freyberg (1923-1993), was Colonel of the the Grenadier Guards.
  • Cecilia Hammersley (b. 22 Aug 1814 d. 28 Feb 1890). Married Henry Stuart (d. 19 May 1880), grandson of John Stuart (1780-1841), 1st Marquess of Bute, on 9 Nov 1840. They had 10 children. Interestingly, their daughter, Gertrude Mary Stuart (d. 1905), married, on 23 October 1866, Everard Hambro (later Sir Everard) (1842-1925), first chairman of Hambros Bank (founded in 1839 as C. J. Hambro & Son and became Hambros Bank in 1921) and great-grandfather of Charles Hambro (1930-2002), chairman of Hambros plc, who was created a life peer in 1994.
  • Caroline Hammersley (b. 17 Apr 1816 d. 1901). Unmarried. Lived with her brother, Charles, and inherited his houses at Lowndes Square and Bourne End.
  • Charles Hammersley (b. 24 Aug 1817 d. 29 Dec 1890) of Lowndes Square and Abney House, Bourne End. Banker and senior partner with Cox & Co. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. Unmarried. After his death a friend wrote 'If I could not appeal to all who knew him I would not venture to speak of Charles Hammersley, as I do, to readers many of whom perhaps have only heard his name. I knew him for full thirty years, and when I say that he was one of the most kindly of men, with the keenest sense of right and of honour, with all the best instincts of the true English gentleman, - truthful, straightforward, sincere and just, I am sure that all those who had any acquaintance with him will confirm my estimate of the man, and corroborate my opinion of his character.'
  • Hugh Hammersley (b. 15 Mar 1819 d. 28 Sep 1882) of Sun House, Chelsea; Cromwell Gardens and Warren House, Kingston-upon-Thames. Educated at Eton. Banker with Cox & Co. Married Dulcibella Eden (d. 1903) on 23 Jan 1856. They had 9 children - see following list. My family notes say of him that 'he was a man of very cultivated mind and refined tastes, and by his gentle and affectionate nature greatly endeared himself to all who came in contact with him.' The 1881 census lists the inhabitants of their house at 6 Cromwell Gardens; the domestic staff consisted of a governess, two footmen, a footboy, a housekeeper, three ladies' maids, three housemaids, three kitchen maids, a nursery maid and a school room maid - 16 staff for a family of 8.
  • Catherine Hammersley (b. 28 May 1821 d. 21 Mar 1887). Married, as his second wife, Thomas Weguelin M.P. (d. 5 Apr 1885), partner of Thomson, Bonar & Co., of London and St. Petersburg, Russia merchants, Director and then Governor of the Bank of England (1855-56), on 30 Nov 1844. They had 11 children. I assume that John Reinhard Weguelin (1849-1927), the painter who interpreted the classical style of Poynter and Alma Tadema, was related to this family.
  • Henry Hammersley (b. 1 Mar 1823 d. 26 Oct 1883). Educated at Eton. Served in the Indian Army. Married Caroline Lapsley, daughter of Col. Lapsley. They had 3 children, two boys, Charles Henry Hammersley (1854-1900) and Frederick Hammersley (1856-1902), who emigrated to Australia, and a girl, Emily, who died young.
  • Frederick Hammersley (1824-1901) of Ash Grange, Aldershot, Surrey. Educated at Eton. Major-General and Inspector of Army Gymnasia. He served in the Crimea and was decorated for gallantry. He founded the Army School of Physical Training at Aldershot, where there is a portrait of him, and is known as 'the father of Army gymnastics'. His work led directly to the Grand Military Tournament and Assault at Arms of 1880, which became the Royal Naval & Military Tournament in 1884 and later the Royal Tourament, which was axed by the Labour Government in 1999. There is a Hammersley Barracks at Aldershot today (Army School of Physical Training, Hammersley Barracks, Fox Lines, Queens Avenue, Aldershot, Hants GU11 2LB). He was co-founder and first chairman of the Amateur Athletics Club in 1866, which became the Amateur Athletics Association in 1880. He married Sarah Keating, daughter of Dean Keating of Limerick, on 14 Mar 1854. They had 3 children, including one boy, Frederick (1858-1923). Sheldrake’s Military Gazette stated in an obituary (27 December 1901) that 'In the private paths of life and especially in the village in which he has breathed his last, he has long since won for himself the sobriquet of ‘the dear old General’ and his loss will be felt most keenly by the older villagers with whom he would stop and exchange pleasant greetings, whilst his hands were ever open to the poor.' Frederick (1858-1923) also became a Major-General and took part in the Sudan expedition of 1884-5, the Nile expedition of 1898 (where he fought at the Battle of Khartoum), the South African War (severely wounded at Talana Hill) and the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, where he commanded the 11th Division. He married Edith Grant and had two daughters.
  • Elizabeth Hammersley (b. 4 Dec 1825 d. 6 Nov 1897). She married William Baring (1819-1906), Capt. Coldstream Guards, of Norman Court, Hants (See Burke's 'Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Northbrook, Baron'), and had 4 children. Their daughter, Rosa Frederica (1854-1927), married in 1885, secondly, George FitzGeorge (1843-1907), eldest son of George, Duke of Cambridge (1819-1904), grandson of George III, who had married Sarah Fairbrother in 1847 in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act. Their daughter, Mabel Iris FitzGeorge (1886-1976), my grandfather's second cousin, married, firstly in 1912, Robert Balfour (1869-1942), and, secondly in 1945, Prince Vladimir Galitzine (1884-1954), whereby she became Princess Vladimir Galitzine. By her first marriage Mabel Iris FitzGeorge had issue General Sir Robert (Victor) FitzGeorge-Balfour (1913-1994), a distinguished soldier who served in the Coldstream Guards and who commanded the Brigade of Guards from 1958-1960. He married Mary Diana Christian, daughter of Rear-Admiral Arthur Christian (1863-1926), formerly of Milntown, Isle of Man, and Ewanrigg, Cumbria, in 1943 and had issue. Fletcher Christian of mutiny on the Bounty fame was of this family, himself apparently of royal descent. Norman Court is now a preparatory school. Note that Princess Galitzine was my grandfather's second cousin twice over since her grandmother, Elizabeth Hammersley (above) was the sister of Hugh Hammersley, my grandfather's grandfather, and her grandfather, William Baring (1819-1906), was half-brother to my grandfather's grandmother, Dulcibella Eden (d. 1903), through their mother, Frances Poulett-Thomson (d. 1877).

Prince Vladimir Galitzine (see above), on the right, with Grand Duke Nicholai 'at the Brodi Station'. This will have been shortly before the Russian Revolution of 1917, I guess.

Norman Court Preparatory School, West Tytherley, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 1NH. The Baring family sold Norman Court to Washington Singer (of the sewing machine family) in 1906 and the house became a school in 1952.

Major-General Frederick Hammersley (1824-1901). See above.

Major-General Frederick Hammersley (1858-1923), commanded the 11th Division at the landing at Suvla Bay (Gallipoli campaign) on 6 August 1915. See above. Here are the lyrics of 'And the band played Waltzing Matilda'.

Hugh Hammersley (1819-1882) - see preceding list - married Dulcibella Eden (d. 1903) in 1856. They had 9 children, 6 of which, including Barbara, married people of royal descent (marked *); this information comes from 'The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal', Mortimer-Percy Volume, p. 281-2). The only spouse not so marked, Philip Apsley Treherne (1872-1922), was, in fact, descended from Sir Hew Dalrymple, 1st Bart. of North Berwick (d. 1737) and 3rd son of James, 1st Viscount Stair (1619-1695), which family is almost certainly also of royal descent.

  • Arthur Charles Hammersley (1856-1912) of 56 Princes Gate, London. Educated at Eton. Banker with Cox & Co. He married (1886) Mary Louisa Campbell*, daughter of Col. George Herbert Frederick Campbell (b. 1811) (See 'Burke's 'Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Cawdor, Earl of'), by whom he had 4 children, including one son, Hugh (b. 1892). He married 2ndly, in 1902, Violet Mary Williams-Freeman (See Burke's 'Landed Gentry' under 'Williams-Freeman'), by whom he had 3 children, including two boys, Christopher (b. 1903) and David (b. 1904), who had an only daughter. There is a charming portrait of her, painted in 1907, by Philip Wilson Steer called 'Violet Hammersley'.
  • Hugh Greenwood Hammersley (1858-1930) of 16 Sackville St, London and The Grove, Hampstead. Educated at Eton. Banker with Cox & Co. He married Mary Frances Grant*, daughter of General Owen Edward Grant of the Grants of Dalvey (See 'Burke's 'Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Grant of Dalvey'), by whom he had an only daughter. There is a charming portrait of her by John Singer Sargent in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The portrait is called 'Mrs. Hugh Hammersley'. He married (1913), secondly, Mabel Elizabeth Lilford, aged 25 (he was 54). See her portrait, 'Mrs. Hugh Hammersley' (1913), by Philip Wilson Steer in the Government Art Collection. I have no record of any children of the second marriage.
  • Margaret Dulcibella Hammersley (1861-1922). She married Sydney Francis Godolphin Osborne* by whom she had 3 children. Their eldest son was Sir Francis D'Arcy Godolphin Osborne (1884-1964), 12th and last Duke of Leeds, a close friend of the late Queen Mother from her youth, who was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Holy See from 1936-1947 and one of the group led by Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty who helped conceal some 4000 escapees, both Allied soldiers and Jews, from the Nazis; 3925 survived the war. Their story was portrayed in the 1983 film 'The Scarlet & The Black' ('an inspirational tale of moral courage, human spirit, sacrifice, compassion, forgiveness and altruism' according to the Wikipedia article), in which Gregory Peck played O'Flaherty, a real-life Scarlet Pimpernel, which some consider to be Peck's best film. Peter Burton (1921-1989), the first 'Q' in the Bond movies, played D'Arcy Osborne. The film was based on the book 'Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican: Hugh Joseph O'Flaherty' by J P Gallagher. D'Arcy Osborne was, in this sense, a member of a real-life 'League of the Scarlet Pimpernel'. My mother tells me that Sir D'Arcy, as he then was, used his own money to help to provide food, shelter, clothing and medical treatment for the fugitives. D'Arcy Osborne also played a key part in a plot in 1940, which involved the Pope and certain German generals, to overthrow Hitler (See Owen Chadwick, 'Britain and the Vatican During the Second World War', 1988, Cambridge Paperback Library, p. 86 et seq.); had this plot worked it would have averted the Second World War. Major Sam Derry, in his 'Escape Line', described meeting Sir D'Arcy Osborne in the Vatican in 1943: 'Unruffled poise... Seldom have I met any man in whom I had such immediate confidence. He welcomed us warmly, yet I found it impossible to behave with anything but strict formality. Apart from the restraining influence of my clothing [he was not used to being dressed as a monsignor] I was almost overwhelmed by an atmosphere of old-world English courtliness and grace which I had thought belonged only to the country-house parties of long ago. Sir D'Arcy was spry, trim, a young sixty, but he had spent years enough in the diplomatic service to develop an astonishing aptitude for creating around himself an aura of all that was most civilized in English life. I felt as though I had returned home after long travels, to find that royalty had come to dinner, and I had to be on my best behaviour.' At this dinner Derry was in disguise as a Monsignor; afterwards Sir D'Arcy 'offered him the command of the escape organisation'. He later lived at the Palazzo Sacchetti, 66 Via Giulia, Rome, which contains some of the grandest state rooms in the city. Note, as a matter of interest, that Lady Camilla Osborne (b. 1950) the only daughter of the 11th Duke married Nigel Dempster, the society columnist.

Sir D'Arcy Osborne (1884-1964), 12th and last Duke of Leeds.

Palazzo Sacchetti, Rome.

Palazzo Sacchetti, Rome - Sala dei Mappamondi.

Memorial stone in the Protestant Cemetery, Via Nicola Zabaglia, Rome.

  • Dora Edith Hammersley (b. 1862). She married Sir Francis Alexander Campbell* (1852-1911), son of Col. George Herbert Frederick Campbell (b. 1811), (See 'Burke's Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Cawdor, Earl of') and had, with other issue, Ivan (b 1887) and Mabel (b 1891), an elder son, Sir Ronald Hugh Campbell, PC, GCMG (1883-1953), Ambassador to France (1939-1940) and Portugal (1940-1945), who married Helen Graham (d 1949) and had issue, with a son, Capt Robin Francis Campbell, DSO, who lost a leg and was captured while leading 'Operation Flipper' (see here also), the commando raid of 1941 to assassinate General Rommel, a daughter, Mary Campbell (1909-1949), who married Cyril Reginald Egerton (1905-1992) and had issue, with three daughters, an only son, Francis Ronald Egerton (b 1940), 7th Duke of Sutherland (See 'Burke's Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Sutherland, Duke of').

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (1891-1944), who laid his own Iron Cross on the body of Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes, VC, MC (1917-1941), who was killed leading an operation to assassinate him ('Operation Flipper'). See above.

  • Mabel Barbara Hammersley (1864-1943). She married Walter Nassau Senior* (1850-1933), a barrister, of 98 Cheyne Walk, London (until 1904); 12 Chichester Terrace, Brighton (until 1912), Branksome, Saffrons Rd, Eastbourne (until 1920) and then 50 St. John's Rd, Eastbourne and also of The Haven, Totland Bay, Isle of Wight (until 1924), my great-grandfather, by whom she had one child, Oliver Nassau Senior (1901-1992).
  • Maud Emily Hammersley (1866-1951). She married (1891) Sir Henry Duff-Gordon* (1866-1953) (See 'Burke's Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Duff-Gordon'), by whom she had 4 children.
  • Beatrice Caroline Hammersley (1868-1953). She married Philip Apsley Treherne (1872-1922), descended from Sir Hew Dalrymple, 1st Bart. of North Berwick (d. 1737) and 3rd son of James, 1st Viscount Stair (1619-1695). I have no record of any children. He was the nephew of Georgina Treherne (1837-1914), who 'grew up to wreak havoc on almost everyone she met' and whose life was the subject of a recent biography 'Inside flap, The Disastrous Mrs. Weldon: The Life, Loves and Lawsuits of a Legendary Victorian' by Brian Thompson.
  • Guy Hammersley (b. 1871). I have no further information.
  • Sylvia Katherine Hammersley (b. 1876). I have no further information.

Hornby Castle, Yorkshire. One-time seat of the Dukes of Leeds.

Mary Hammersley (1863-1911), my grandfather's aunt, by John Singer Sargent (1892)

'Aunt Dorothy' (Mabel Elizabeth Lilford), my grandfather's aunt, and her husband, Hugh Hammersley (1858-1930) by Ronald Gray (1868-1951) - see above. This was painted at Eden House, Eden Road, Totland, Isle of Wight, now a retirement home. I would guess that Hugh Hammersley inherited this house from his mother, Dulcibella Eden. From where Aunt Dorothy is sitting there is a view across the Solent over Hurst Castle towards Lymington - see below.

When my parents were engaged they took Aunt Dorothy out to dinner in London. At the time my father was a student of slender means at Oxford and my mother was training as a nurse in Birmingham. After the meal they took a taxi to take Aunt Dorothy home but my father realised that he hadn't got enough money to pay the fare, so he had to borrow the money from Aunt Dorothy, whose normal mode of transport was a huge, old, chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce.

Mrs. Hugh Hammersley (Mabel Elizabeth Lilford), painted by Philip Wilson Steer in 1913, when she was 25 (Government Art Collection).

Totland Bay from Turf Walk. Eden House is behind this viewpoint to the left. Paddle steamer in the foreground.

Another picture by Ronald Gray. This might be Aunt Dorothy (see above).

Violet Hammersley (1877-1962), my grandfather's aunt, by Philip Wilson Steer (1907)

Mary Hammersley (ne Grant) and Violet Hammersley (ne Williams-Freeman) were cousins twice over. They were third cousins through their common descent from Sir George Robinson, 5th Bt. (1730-1815) of Cranford Hall, Cranford, Northants. See Burke's 'Peerage and Baronetage'. Mary's grandfather, General James Grant, married Mary Blencowe, daughter of Robert Blencowe of Hayes Park, Middlesex, who married Penelope, daughter of Sir George Robinson, 5th Bt. The Robinson family were descended from the Villiers and the Sheffield families, both of which were created Dukes of Buckingham, in 1623 (extinct 1687) and 1703 (extinct 1735) respectively. Violet's grandfather, Herman Merivale, married Caroline Robinson, daughter of William Robinson, son of Sir George Robinson, 5th Bt. In addition, Mary Blencowe's sister, Frances, married William Peere Williams-Freeman, Violet's great-grandfather. See the pages linked from the two images above for further information.

The Duff-Gordon family

Sir Henry Duff-Gordon (1866-1953), 6th Bt., and Maud (nee Hammersley), Lady Duff-Gordon (1866-1951), my grandfather's uncle and aunt.

His elder brother, Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon (1862-1931), 5th Bt., and his wife Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, who died without issue, were surviviors of the Titanic disaster of 1912. The failure of their lifeboat, which was less than half full, to return to pick up survivors caused a public outcry and Sir Cosmo became a focus of criticism, though he was cleared of blame by the official enquiry. Another relative, Lily Carter (my great-great-grandmother's niece, being the daughter of Thomas Hughes, author of 'Tom Brown's Schooldays'), and her husband, the Rev. Ernest Carter, were also on board the Titanic. She refused a place on a lifeboat and they both drowned.

Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon (1863-1935) by de Laszlo (1913)

'Put even the plainest woman into a beautiful dress and, unconsciously, she will try to live up to it.' - Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon

Harpton Court, New Radnor, one-time home of the Duff-Gordon family. Partially demolished in 1956. My mother remembers playing badminton in the hall; this would have been in the 1930s I guess.

The entrance to Harpton Court today.

Sir Andrew Duff-Gordon, current bart, and family, painted by Richard Foster.

The Buncombe-Poulett-Thomson family

Dulcibella Eden's (d. 1903) grandfather, John Buncombe-Poulett-Thomson (son of Andrew Thomson of Roehampton, Surrey, son of John Thomson of Crichton (bur. Greyfriars, Edinburgh in 1746), a banker in Edinburgh, and Elizabeth Ronaldson) of Waverley Abbey House, near Farnham, Surrey, was senior partner of Thomson, Bonar & Co. of London and St. Petersburg, Russia merchants. His mother, Harriet Buncombe, was the sole heiress of Col. John Buncombe of Goathurst, Somerset and representative of her great-grandfather, Edward Poulett (d. 1635) of Goathurst, Somerset, a branch of the family of Poulett, Earls Poulett; a junior branch of this family became the Paulet Marquesses of Winchester (the premier marquessate in England) and Dukes of Bolton (now extinct). He assumed the name and arms of Buncombe and Poulett by Royal Licence in 1814. These arms are blazoned in Burke's General Armory as: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, argent a buck's head cabossed gules, attired or, on a chief azure a cross crosslet fitchee of the third between two mullets of six points of the first (for Thomson); 2nd, sable, three swords in pile points downwards proper, pommels and hilts or, a crescent for difference (for Poulett); 3rd, argent, a fret between four crescents facing inwards sable (for Buncombe).

The arms of Buncombe impaling Poulett, from the church at Goathurst, Somerset.

The arms of Thomson of Roehampton are identical to the arms of Thomson of London, matriculated in 1766 (see Balfour Paul 'An Ordinary of Scottish Arms') and similar to those of Thomson of Fairliehope (see Balfour Paul), matriculated in 1672 when the 'Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland' was established, and also to those of Thomson of Gourlaybank, Clackmannan. Fairliehope is just north of Carlops, near Penicuik, Midlothian. All these arms seem to be based on the arms of Thomson of that Ilk as per the Workman Manuscript of 1565-1566.

The arms of Thomson of Roehampton (1811). These are the arms as per Balfour Paul, which have spur revels rather than the mullets of six points described in Burke's General Armory.

The name Thomson is apparently an Anglicized version of the name MacTavish, an ancient clan from Knapdale which claims descent from Niall of the Nine Hostages. The name MacTavish stems from Taus Coir, (Tammis) a son of Gillespic and a daughter of Sween the Red, Lord and Toisech (meaning leader, Chief) of Castle Sween and of Knapdale, in the last half of the 11th century. Gillespic later repudiated his wife and two sons to make a more powerful alliance by marrying his cousin Eva O'Duin, daughter of Paul 'an sparain', the Treasurer to the King of Scots. Eva was the heretrix of Lochawe and from her marriage with Gillespic came the founding of what later became known as Clan Campbell. Their grandson, Dugald, was the first to carry the name Cam Buel (wry-mouth). Taus (Thomas) became the progenitor of the Clan Tamhais (his brother Ivar (Evir), became the progenitor of Clan Iver). With the changing of the Gaelic to English in the mid 1600's, MacTamhais became (phonetically) MacTavish or Thom(p)son. The arms of Thomson shown above are almost identical to the senior quartering on the arms of the chief of the MacTavish clan.

Waverley Abbey House, nr. Farham, Surrey - one-time home of the Poulett-Thomson family.

Waverley Abbey House - in the grounds.

John Buncombe-Poulett-Thomson married Charlotte Jacob, daughter of John Jacob of Myles Place, The Close, Salisbury, in 1781 and had issue:

  • Andrew Poulett-Thomson (b. 1786 d. 28 Apr 1839). He married, firstly, Sophia Sumner (d. 7 Sep 1834), daughter of George Sumner, M.P., of Hatchlands, Surrey - they eloped to Gretna Green. They had 3 children, 2 sons, Andrew (d. 2 Jun 1836) and Henry (d. 7 Jun 1832), who both d.s.p., and a daughter, Charlotte. Charlotte married Thomas Weguelin, M.P., (d. 5 Apr 1885), Director and then Governor of the Bank of England (1855-56), as his first wife, and had issue. Andrew married, secondly, Sybilla Goodall and had a son, John, who died young. See their memorials in Windermere church.
  • George Poulett-Thomson (1797-1876), a noted political economist. Educated at Harrow, Pembroke College, Oxford and St John’s College, Cambridge (BA 1821), fellow of the Geological Society 1824, of the Royal Society 1826. He married Emma Scrope, daughter and heiress of William Scrope of Castle Combe (they lived at the Manor House, now a hotel) and assumed the name and arms of Scrope by Royal Licence. They had no children and the Castle Combe estate was sold in 1867 having been in the Scrope family since 1375. After his wife’s death in 1866, he moved to Fairlawn, near Cobham, Surrey. He was married again in 1867 to Margaret Savage, aged 26, who cared for him in his late years of blindness. His only child, Arthur Hamilton, son of an actress, was adopted by the Scropes in 1856. See Burke's 'Extinct Peerage' under 'Scrope, Barons Scrope of Bolton, Earl of Sunderland' and Burke's 'Landed Gentry' under 'Scrope of Castle Combe' and 'Scrope of Danby'.
  • Charles Poulett-Thomson (1799-1841) M.P. for Dover. Unmarried. He was created Lord Sydenham in 1840 and was the first Governor of a united Canada. He died as a result of a riding accident.
  • Harriet Poulett-Thomson. She married Rev. G. Locke, rector of Lee, Kent.
  • Charlotte Poulett-Thomson. She married Sir Charles Taylor (1770-1857) of Hollycombe House, Liphook, Sussex. See Burke's 'Landed Gentry' under 'Baldock of Hollycombe House'.
  • Emily Poulett-Thomson. She married Charles Hammersley (1782-1862). They had 11 children, listed above, including Hugh Hammersley (1819-1882) who married Dulcibella Eden (d. 1903) - see next entry. Thus, Hugh Hammersley and Dulcibella Eden were first cousins since their mothers (Emily and Frances) were sisters.
  • Frances Poulett-Thomson (d. 1877). She married William Baring (1779-1820), 4th son of Sir Francis Baring (1740-1810), 1st Bt. and founder of Barings Bros. (See 'Burke's Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Northbrook, Baron') and had 3 children. Their son, William Baring (1819-1906) married Elizabeth Hammersley (d. 1925), see above. Frances married, secondly in 1824, Arthur Eden (1793-1874). They had 4 children including Dulcibella Eden (d. 1903) who married Hugh Hammersley (1819-1882), her first cousin - see preceding entry. William Baring's brother, Alexander Baring (1774-1848), 1st Lord Ashburton, purchased The Grange, Hampshire in 1817 - see picture below. I mention this because The Grange is my second favourite building, after Mereworth Castle. It is quite simply a Greek temple dropped in an Elysian English landscape. When I first saw it (by accident) I could hardly believe my eyes.
  • Julia Poulett-Thomson. She married Baron Heinrich von Maltzan of Dresden, Saxony. Their son, also Heinrich, was the well-known orientalist who wrote 'My pilgrimage to Mecca: travels in the coastal region and the interior of Hejjas', 2 vols, Leipzig 1865 (reprint: Hildesheim 2004). Julia, Baroness von Maltzan, died in 1834.
  • Sophia Poulett-Thomson. She married Wilhelm Julius August Heinrich, Baron von Biel, on 14 Feb 1826. She died at Zierow (the family estate near Wismar in north Germany on the Baltic) on 10 Sep 1827, 9 days after the birth of her only child, Thomson Wilhelm Karl Andreas, Baron von Biel (1827-1905), of Kalkhorst near Lubeck, who died without issue. See her memorial in the church of Proseken near Wismar.

John Buncombe-Poulett-Thomson's sister, Anne, married his business partner, Thomson Bonar (of the Kilgraston family). They lived at Camden Place, Chislehurst, Kent (now a golf club), later the home of the Empress Eugenie.

Camden Place, Chislehurst, Kent.

The Manor House at Castle Combe, Wiltshire, home of George Poulett-Thomson (1797-1876) and his wife, Emma Scrope. The Scropes owned Castle Combe for 492 years. Now a luxury hotel. See above.

Myles Place, The Close, Salisbury. Home of the Jacob family for 150 years.

Heinrich von Maltzan, son of Julia Poulett-Thomson (above).

Kalkhorst, near Lubeck in 1916.

The Grange, Hampshire, now owned by English Heritage, who have consolidated the exterior of the building from its ruinous state. The Grange is now open to the public and the orangery is used for operas. See preceding list under Frances Poulett-Thomson for further information.

Charles Poulett-Thomson,
Lord Sydenham (1799-1841)

The diarist Charles Cavendish Fulke Greville described him as “the greatest coxcomb I ever saw, and the vainest dog.” He was actually an extremely able and clever man. In Canada his establishment would, in the words of the author John Richardson, 'acknowledge . . . the sway of at least one mistress.' Married or single, all women 'excited his homage,' but the 'attentions' he devoted to a married woman in Toronto, Richardson recorded, 'were so very marked, that the scandalous circles rang with them.' He declined the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1839.

Andrew Thomson's (see above) sister, Maria, married Sir Joshua Vanneck (1777-1844), 1st Lord Huntingfield of Heveningham Hall, Suffolk (See Burke's 'Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Huntingfield, Baron'). Harriet, their grand-daughter by their second son, Gerard (b. 1786), married (1845) the Duc dell' Albaneto of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Andrew Thomson was supposed to have been the lover of (or rather one of the many lovers of) Catherine the Great (1729-1796), Empress of Russia. Another grandfather, Thomas Eden (1783-1805), father of Arthur Eden (1793-1874), married Mariana Jones, daughter of Arthur Jones of Reigate Priory, Surrey.

In a letter to me dated 7 June 2001, Rouge Croix Pursuivant, stated that a pedigree on official record at the College of Arms gives the following descent:

  • Sir Amyas Poulett, Kt., Privy Councillor to Elizabeth I, of Hinton St. George, Somerset (descended from Sir John Paulet of Paulet and Goathurst, Somerset, Kt., (d. 1356), whose grandson, William Paulet, was ancestor of the Marquesses of Winchester), married Margaret Harvey. His eldest son, Sir Anthony Poulett (d 1600), was ancestor of the Earls Poulett (See Burke's 'Peerage & Baronetage' under 'Poulett, Earl'). They had:
  • Edward Poulett of Goathurst, Somerset (aged 58 in 1623), buried at Goathurst in 1643, married his cousin Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of Edward Poulett (should be Paulet - see below) of Goathurst, Somerset, where she was baptised in 1571 (Note that the Visitation of Somerset of 1623 states (p. 88) that the son of Sir Amyas who married Elizabeth was called George and that their son, Edward, married Dorothy Worth and that they had 3 daughters called Alice, Jane and Anne). They had:
  • Edward Poulett of Goathurst, baptised at Goathurst in 1580, buried at North Petherton, Somerset in 1635, married Elizabeth Popham*. They had:
  • Mary Poulett, baptised at North Petherton, Somerset in 1630, died in 1705 and buried at Goathurst, married, firstly, John Buncombe, buried at North Petherton in 1674. They had:
  • Edward Buncombe, born 5 June 1661 at Goathurst, died 1712, married Anne. They had:
  • John Buncombe of Goathurst, Colonel in the Army, died at Goathurst in 1756, married Mary Parsons (d. 1749). They had:
  • Harriet Buncombe, baptised at Goathurst in 1719, died 1787, buried Putney, married, secondly, Andrew Thomson of Roehampton.

*Elizabeth Popham was the daughter of Thomas Popham and Grace Harley (Visitation of Somerset 1672 - Popham of Sherston). Thomas Popham was the son of Edward Popham of Huntworth (nr. Bridgewater, Somerset) and Jane Norton, daughter of Richard Norton of Abbott's Lee. Edward Popham was the son of Alexander Popham of Huntworth** and Jane Stradling, daughter of Sir Edward Stradling (d 1535) of St. Donat's Castle, Glamorgan and Elizabeth Arundell, daughter of Sir Thomas Arundell of Lanherne (d 1485) and Catherine Dynham. Sir Edward Stradling was the great-grandson of Sir Edward Stradling (c. 1389-1451) and his wife, Jane Beaufort (b. 1391/2), illegitimate daughter of Cardinal Henry Beaufort (c. 1375-1447). Henry Beaufort was the son of John of Gaunt (1340-1399), Duke of Lancaster, son of Edward III by his wife, Phillipa of Hainault (1313/4-1369) (see page 4 of this pedigree).

**Alexander Popham's second son, Sir John Popham (1531-1607), Lord Chief Justice of England, and builder of Littlecote House, Hungerford, was the man who sentenced Mary, Queen of Scots, to death in 1587 and Guy Fawkes (of the Gunpowder Plot) to death in 1606.

The Somerset Archive and Record Service database (ref: DD/S/WH 114) states: 'Marriage settlements; Edward Poulett of Goathurst and Dorothy, daughter of Hugh Worthe of Wells, manors of Goathurst, Rhode and Sherston in Goathurst, North Petherton, Thurloxton and Durleigh and advowson of Goathurst, 1612 and of Edward Poulett of Goathurst and Elizabeth daughter of Grace Popham of Sherston, manor of Rhode in North Petherton, 5 messuages in Bridgwater, 1630.'

The Victoria County History of Somerset (p. 47 et seq) makes it clear that it was a Sir George Poulett who married Elizabeth Paulet (descended from William Paulet of Melcombe Paulet) in about 1584. Their son, Edward (d. 1635), had 5 daughters, Alice, Jane, Anne, Mary and Katherine and the Goathurst manor estate was spilt between the last 4 on his death. Mary succeeded to Katherine's share of the estate and married John Buncombe as above. It was her grandson, John Buncombe (above), who sold the remaining land of Goathurst manor and his half of the lordship to Sir Charles Kemeys-Tynte of Halswell House, Goathurst, in 1753, whose family also acquired the other two portions of the Goathurst manor estate at different times. John and Mary Buncombe lived at the mansion or court house (east of the church) until his death in 1756, after which it was occupied by the estate steward and his widow until about 1810. In 1811 it became the rectory house and in the later 20th century it was divided into two dwellings known as Dower House and Church Close.


This word started life in its current sense of 'nonsense' in around 1820 and its original spelling was 'buncombe'. It comes from the name of a county in North Carolina, USA: Buncombe. During a debate in Congress, the county's representative, Felix Walker, delivered a seemingly endless speech which many present felt to be meaningless and irrelevant, but the congressman refused to stop talking, declaring himself to be determined to deliver a speech 'for Buncombe'. Thus, bunkum became a term for long-winded nonsense of the kind often seen in politics, and from there progressed to the more general meaning of just plain 'nonsense'. The short form, bunk, was coined in the 20th century and its most famous use is Henry Ford's remark in 1916 that 'History is more or less bunk'.

Origins of the Buncombe family

Copies of newspaper correspondence held by the Somerset County Archives (Ref: A/AAM1) suggest that the name Buncombe is derived from Buncombe Hill, about 1 km NW of Broomfield, Somerset, which is about 8 km N of Taunton, and that the name of the hill is derived from the Saxon 'Ben-Cwm', meaning 'vale head' ('head of the valley') 'which so excellently describes the position of the place'; 'in modern Welsh, 'ben cwm' means 'the end of a valley'. According to this correspondence, the family were long landowners in Trull (see also here), 2 km south of Taunton, and their arms (illustrated and described above) can be seen in the parish church there, as well as in the manor house and church at Goathurst, Somerset, where the family also resided. Early references to the name are to be found in the Tax Roll of Somerset for 1326 (published by the Somerset Record Society in 1889), where we find a Richardo de Bonnecombe in the Hundred of Taunton Market-Leghe Episcopi (in Pitminster parish, about 5 km S of Taunton), and in the roll of the tenants of the manor of Taunton Deane in 1480, where we find a Stephen Buncombe. Deeds and papers of the Buncombe family of Taunton 1653-1823 are in the National Register of Archives (NRA 44637)

Trull church

Trull church interior

The Buncombe arms in Trull church - on a memorial to John Buncombe, Gent., who died in 1785. These are a reversal of the arms granted to Andrew Buncombe-Poulett-Thomson in 1814.

Basing House

Cromwell at the siege of Basing House, Old Basing, Hampshire, seat of John Paulet, 5th Marquis of Winchester, a staunch loyalist. The siege, which ended on 14 Oct 1645, lasted for 3 years and Cromwell personally stole a quarter of a million pounds worth of loot from the building. Seventy-four defenders died in the flames when the house was burned. Today the house is a ruin.

A sketch done during the siege.

The eternal 'class question'

The Thomson family are an excellent illustration of the relative ease with which middle class families joined, in a comparatively short space of time, the ranks of a supposedly exclusive and aristocratic ruling class. Thus Andrew Thomson, my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, was a 'Russia merchant', who was supposed to have been one of the lovers of Catherine the Great (but that's another story). His sister, Maria, married Sir Joshua Vanneck of Heveningham Hall, the first Lord Huntingfield (1777-1844), himself of middle class origin, and Andrew's grandson, Charles Poulett-Thomson (1799-1841) was created a hereditary peer, Lord Sydenham, and became Governor of Canada.

Heveningham Hall, Suffolk - built by the Vanneck family. Lionel Esher has called James Wyatt’s Vaulted Hall 'the most beautiful room in England.'

The Vaulted Hall at Heveningham.

Heveningham floodlit.

Heveningham - detail of the facade.

This rapid climb up the social ladder was achieved via a very simple and, one may say, well-worn route; the acquisition of WEALTH, which allowed the purchase of LAND, which provided a foothold in POLITICS, which, with luck, led to a TITLE and, at some stage, INTERMARRIAGE with the existing nobility; this allowed the new family to acquire noble blood (ancient or otherwise) and allowed existing noble families to marry off their daughters or to acquire a fat dowry for one of their sons. Other routes to the top were through civil, military or diplomatic service, the law or royal favour or bastardy; one must have a bit of colour. Sometimes this journey was achieved in a single generation but more usually it took several. The process of absorption of new blood had been going on since feudal times and before, to such an extent that the entire peerage were, in the 19th century, either newcomers or the descendants of newcomers, though many inherited an ancient bloodline on the female side (including for instance, the Percy family, who were Percy in the female line only and whose actual name in the male line was Smithson). I believe that, at that time, not a single peer could trace a male line descent from the feudal military baronage, though they loved the feudo-baronial trappings (ermine robes, heraldic banners and so on) that lent them an aura of historical legitimacy, to which of course they were entitled as inheritors of an ancient tradition, if not necessarily an ancient bloodline. Of course, as new families were being absorbed other families were dying out and the rate of extinction reached 25% per generation at some points (Yes, that's 100% a century, given 25 years to a generation, but some families lasted less than 100 years and others more). Thus, what we tend to think of as a static ruling class was, in fact, anything but; it was constantly being replaced on a rolling basis. This situation continued until the 20th century when the creation of hereditary peerages ceased, thereby making the hereditary aristocracy a closed caste and far more exclusive than it had ever been before - an interesting achievement for the socialists.


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