Friday 5 July 2013

(53) Agar of Somerley, Earls of Normanton

Agar, Earls of Normanton
Charles Agar (1736-1809), the third son of Henry Agar (d. 1746) of Gowran Castle (see the previous post), was an ambitious and successful Church of Ireland clergyman who rose to be Archbishop of Cashel and later of Dublin.  He built a considerable personal fortune through judicious investment, and in reward for his consistent support of the Government was awarded a peerage as 1st Baron Somerton in 1795.  He was promoted to a viscountcy in 1801 and in 1806 created Earl of Normanton.  His son, Welbore Ellis Agar (1778-1868), the 2nd Earl, married a daughter of the Earl of Pembroke and purchased the Somerley estate in Hampshire in 1825, and this has descended in the male line down to the present day.  The 2nd Earl, who was a great collector of paintings, built a spacious picture gallery in 1850-51, perhaps to his own design.  The 3rd Earl, who inherited in 1868, immediately commissioned William Burn to add the top floor and remodel the house.  In 1883 the 3rd Earl owned a total of 42,961 acres, including estates in Kilkenny and Tipperary; 10,000 acres in Wiltshire (Idmiston etc.); 7,000 acres in Lincolnshire (Crowland, sold in 1886); 1,000 acres in Northamptonshire (Welford) as well as the Somerley estate in Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire.  The family also rented Ditchley Park (Oxfordshire) from the Viscounts Dillon from at least 1818-89.

Somerley House, Ellingham, Hampshire

The core of the house is a five bay building of yellow brick built by Samuel Wyatt in 1792-95 for Daniel Hobson, a London manufacturer.  The house has a very regular plan, a grid three rooms wide and two deep; along the south side is a colonnade of coupled Ionic columns.  In 1850-51 the 2nd Earl of Normanton added (possibly to his own designs) a spacious picture gallery to the east side of the house and a large drawing room north of it, which makes this side of the house very irregular.  Then in 1868-69 William Burn enlarged the house for the 3rd Earl: he added a second floor to the original house, extended the porch, refaced the additions of 1850-51 in a restrained Italinate manner, and added wings to either side of the main front which projected forward as far as the porch; these were removed in the 1960s.  
Somerley at its greatest extent, before the removal of the wings in the 1960s

Somerley in 2012.
Inside, the principal rooms are the shape which Wyatt gave them, although the internal fitting-out was not completed until after 1814 for Henry Baring.  The entrance hall has two dark green demi-columns at the end; beyond it lies the saloon, which rises through two storeys and has a balcony round, which must be an alteration of 1850-51 or 1868-69.  Left of the entrance hall is Wyatt’s staircase with an iron handrail of simple classical motifs and an oval skylight.  Right of the hall is the West Library, continued east by the East Library.  In the former are fine bookcases; in the latter a delicate plaster ceiling with circular motifs and an overmantel older than 1790.  North of the saloon is the dining room, white and blue, with a good chimneypiece of the 1790s.  In 1870 a new drawing room was built east of the East Library, which forms the link between the house and picture gallery; it is L-shaped, with the two parts divided by a wide opening and two fluted columns.  The chimneypiece in this room, with two white maidens, which is by F. Brown junior of Salisbury and dates from 1835, must have come from elsewhere in the house.  The picture gallery of 1850-51 has coffered coving and a coffered long centre strip flanked by strips of glazing in panels of different lengths.  The chimneypiece, known as the Rubens chimneypiece, may well be Flemish.  It has two pairs of twisted columns and in the lintel close foliage and putti.  Outside, the house stands on a fine terrace overlooking the River Avon.  The house has a very pretty former lodge in cottage ornée style on the Ashley drive, which is currently for sale.
Somerley: Ashley Lodge in 2013.  Image: Rightmove

A new red brick neo-Georgian dower house was built for Fiona, Countess of Normanton c.1970 by Kenneth Bemlow of Clutton’s, who had earlier built a new house at Bayham for her brother, 4th Marquess Camden.

Descent: Ambrose St. John sold 1782 to Daniel Hobson, a London manufacturer (d. 1805); to ?son, Edward Hobson, who sold 1814 to Henry Baring (1776-1848), who sold 1825/28 to Welborne Ellis Agar, 2nd Earl of Normanton (1778-1868); to son, James Charles Herbert Welbore Ellis Agar, 3rd Earl of Normanton (1818-96); to son, Sidney James Agar, 4th Earl of Normanton (1865-1933); to son, Edward John Sidney Christian Welbore Ellis Agar, 5th Earl of Normanton (1910-67); to son, Shaun James Christian Welbore Ellis Agar, 6th Earl of Normanton (1945-2019); to son, James Shaun Christian Welbore Ellis Agar, 7th Earl of Normanton (b. 1982).

The Agars of Somerley

Agar, Most Rev. Charles (1736-1809), Archbishop of Dublin, 1st Baron & 1st Viscount Somerton and 1st Earl of Normanton.  
Most Rev. Charles Agar
1st Earl of Normanton
Third son of Henry Agar (1707-46) [see previous post] and his wife Anne, daughter of Rt. Rev. Welbore Ellis, Bishop of Meath, born 22 December 1736.  Educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1755; BA 1759; MA 1762; DCL 1765); Chaplain to Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1763; rector of Ballymagarvey and Skryne, 1763; rector of Annagh, 1765-66; Dean of Kilmore, 1765-68; Bishop of Cloyne, 1768-79; Archbishop of Cashel 1779-1801; Archbishop of Dublin, 1801-09.  He was the Church of Ireland's leading spokesman against attempts to resist the dismantling of the framework of restrictions on Irish Catholics, and a stout defender of the rights and privileges of his church.  He was politically able and a formidable speaker, but his views won him many enemies, and after his death he was unjustly portrayed as exceptionally venal, anti-Catholic and subservient to the English political establishment; views expressed with a virulence which has tainted his reputation.  Although undoubtedly acquisitive, he built his considerable fortune partly through judicious investment, and he spent considerable sums on building a new cathedral at Cashel and churches and schools in his dioceses.  From about 1770 onwards he was prominent in the cabinets of successive Lords Lieutenant of Ireland, and for his consistent support of the Government he was created Baron Somerton of Somerton (Kilkenny), 1795, Viscount Somerton, 1800, and Earl of Normanton, 1806: the advancement of any commoner to an earldom was unusual and for this to happen to a clergyman was perhaps unprecedented.  He married, 22 November 1776, Jane (1751-1826), elder daughter of William Benson of Downpatrick (Down) and had issue: 
(1) Welbore Ellis Agar (1778-1868), 2nd Earl of Normanton (q.v.); 
(2) Capt. Hon. George Charles Agar FRS (1780-1856), born 1 August 1780; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1800; BA 1804; MA 1807); served in 3rd Guards; died unmarried, 24 January 1856; will proved in P.C.C., 29 February 1856;
(3) Hon. and Ven. James Agar (1781-1866) of Greenmount Manor, Antrim and 47 St Stephen's Green, Dublin, born 10 July 1781; educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1801, BA 1805; MA 1808); curate of St Nicholas Within, Dublin and prebendary of Timothan in St. Patrick's, Dublin, 1805-09; vicar of Carrigallen (Leitrim), 1809-66; rector and vicar of Holywood (Down), 1814-66; archdeacon of Kilmore (sinecure), 1816-66; married, 7 July 1829, Louisa (d. 1885), youngest daughter of Samuel Thompson of Greenmount (Antrim), but died without issue, 6 September 1866 and was buried in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin; administration of goods granted 22 November 1866 (estate under £50,000);
(4) Lady Frances Anne Agar (d. 1839), m. 14 December 1798, Thomas Ralph Maude, 2nd Viscount Hawarden (1767-1807), but died without issue, 23 May 1839.
He died 14 July 1809, aged 72, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where his wife was also interred after her death, 25 October 1826.  They are commemorated by a monument designed in 1815 by John Bacon junior with 'an immodest but accurate' inscription.  His will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 3 August 1809 (estate estimated at £400,000).

Agar, Welbore Ellis (1778-1868), 2nd Earl of Normanton.  Eldest son of Most Rev. Charles Agar (1736-1809), 1st Earl of Normanton, and his wife Jane, elder daughter of William Benson of Downpatrick (Down), born 12 November 1778.  Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1798; BA 1802).  Described as 'short and thick-set in person, and always dressed in the plainest manner'.  He was a great connoisseur of works of art and built the picture gallery at Somerley to house his collection.  He married, 17 May 1816, Lady Diana Herbert (1790-1841), daughter of 11th Earl of Pembroke and 8th Earl of Montgomery, and had issue:
(1) James Charles Herbert Welbore Ellis Agar (1818-96), 3rd Earl of Normanton (q.v.); 
(2) Lady Mary Jane Diana Agar (1822-1904), m. 28 July 1845, Rt. Hon. Horatio Nelson, 3rd Earl Nelson (1823-1913) and had issue five sons and four daughters;
(3) Hon. Herbert Welbore Ellis Agar (1823-1901) of Stanton House, Highworth (Wilts); born 19 September 1823; educated at Harrow and Magdalene College, Cambridge (admitted 1844), m. 10 August 1871, Helen Millicent (d. 1932), daughter of James A. Gibson MLA Tasmania and had issue one son and two daughters; died 9 August 1901; will proved 2 January and 20 December 1902 (estate £54,035)
(4) Capt. Charles Welbore Herbert Agar, 44th Foot (1824-55), born 12 November 1824; killed at the Battle of Sebastopol, 18 June 1855; died unmarried and without issue; will proved 5 February 1869 (estate under £14,000);
He rented Ditchley Park (Oxon) from 1818, and acquired the Somerley estate in Hampshire in 1825, where he added the picture gallery to the house in 1850-51.
He died 26 August 1868 in London, aged 89, and was buried at Somerley.  His will was proved 2 November 1868 (estate under £700,000).

Agar, James Charles Herbert Welbore Ellis (1818-96), 3rd Earl of Normanton.  
3rd Earl of Normanton
by Camille Silvy, 1860
Eldest son of Welbore Ellis Agar (1778-1868), 2nd Earl of Normanton, and his wife Lady Diana, daughter of George Augustus Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke & 8th Earl of Montgomery, born 17 September 1818.  Educated at Westminster and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1838; MA 1842); President of the Tory Pitt Club at Cambridge; MP for Wilton, 1841-52; DL Wilts and Hants.  In 1873 he was created Baron Somerton of Somerley in the UK peerage.  He married, 9 April 1856, Caroline Susan Augusta (1834-1915), daughter of William Keppel Barrington, 6th Viscount Barrington of Ardglass and had issue: 
(1) Lady Caroline Elizabeth Agar (1857-94), born 21 March 1857; m. 6 September 1876, Edward Hyde Villiers, 5th Earl of Clarendon (1846-1914) and had issue one son and one daughter; died 9 May 1894, aged 37; buried at Vicarage Road Cemetery, Watford (Herts);
(2) Charles George Welbore Ellis Agar, Viscount Somerton (1858-94), born 27 April 1858; died of influenza, unmarried and in the lifetime of his father, 17 January 1894, aged 35; administration of goods granted 7 March 1894 (estate £1,608)
(3) Lady Mary Beatrice Agar (1859-1943), born 10 August 1859; died unmarried, 20 August 1943, aged 84; will proved 10 March 1944 (estate £8,518)
(4) Lady Margaret Elizabeth Diana Agar (1863-1941), born 10 December 1863; m. 23 July 1884 Hon. Ivan Campbell, younger son of John Alexander Gavin Campbell, 6th Earl of Breadalbane and Holland and had issue; died 21 March 1941, aged 77;
(5) Sidney James Agar (1865-1933), 4th Earl of Normanton (q.v.)
(6) Lady Mary Adelaide Agar (1869-1921), born 18 August 1869; m. 14 July 1894, Henry St. George Foley, son of Gen. the Hon. Sir St. George Gerald Foley, and had issue one son and one daughter; died 7 June 1921, aged 51; will proved 17 December 1921 (estate £8,657)
(7) Hon. Henry Augustus Bernard Agar (1870-85), born 21 November 1870; died unmarried, 25 April 1885, aged 14; 
(8) Hon. Francis William Arthur Agar (1873-1936), born 19 October 1873; m. 26 October 1897, Laura Astley (d. 1960), daughter of Henry Steinmetz Kennard, and had issue one son and one daughter; died 18 August 1936; will proved 28 September 1936 (estate £9,445).
He inherited the Somerley estate and the lease of Ditchley Park from his father in 1868 and made further alterations to the house at Somerley in 1868-70.  In 1883 he owned 10,060 acres in Wiltshire, 9,468 acres in Hampshire, 7,020 acres in Lincolnshire (Postland in Crowland), 1,153 acres in Dorset, 1,065 acres in Northamptonshire, 7,625 acres in Tipperary, 5,567 acres in Kilkenny and 1,003 acres in Limerick; making a total of 42,961 acres worth £48,280 a year.
He died 19 December 1896, aged 78; buried at Ellingham (Hants), where his widow was also interred.  His will was proved 3 March 1897 and 10 August 1898 (estate totalling £52,665)

Agar, Sidney James (1865-1933), 4th Earl of Normanton.  
4th Earl of Normanton
by Elliott & Fry, 1881
Second but eldest surviving son of James Charles Herbert Welbore Ellis Agar (1818-96), 3rd Earl of Normanton, and his wife Caroline Susan Augusta, daughter of William Keppel Barrington, 6th Viscount Barrington, born 9 April 1865.  Educated at Eton; a Liberal Unionist in politics; JP and DL Hants.  He married, 3 November 1894, Lady Amy Frederica Alice Byng (1865-1961), daughter of 4th Earl of Strafford and had issue: 
(1) Lady Georgina Mary Elizabeth Agar (1896-1967), born 1 May 1896; died unmarried, March 1967; 
(2) Lady Alexandra Henrietta Alice Agar (1897-1971), born 23 April 1897; m. 12 April 1917 (div. 1951) Peter Haig Thomas, son of John Howard Thomas of Yscyborwen (Glam) and had issue one son and three daughters; died 5 January 1971;
(3) Lady Caroline Amy Cora Agar (1899-1989); born 11 July 1899;  died unmarried, May 1989;
(4) Lady (Mary) Karen Agar (1901-75), born 14 November 1901; m. 9 December 1925 (div. 1945), Lt-Cdr Herbert Ernest Pretyman RN, younger son of Ernest George Pretyman and had issue one son and one daughter; 
(5) Lady Diana Julia Agar (1904-29), born 13 June 1904; died unmarried, 18 March 1929, aged 24; 
(6) Lady Amy Louise Agar (1905-83), born 4 October 1905; m. 21 October 1925, Michael William John Biddulph, 3rd Baron Biddulph and had issue two sons and two daughters; 
(7) Lady Rosemary Beatrice Agar (1908-84), born 3 June 1908; m. 23 April 1931, Capt. Christopher John Darell Jeffreys, only son of 1st Baron Jeffreys and had issue two sons; died 13 August 1984;
(8) Edward John Sidney Christian Welbore Ellis Agar (1910-67), 5th Earl of Normanton (q.v.).
He inherited the Somerley estate from his father in 1896.
He died 25 November 1933, aged 68, and was buried at Ellingham (Hants).  His will was proved 20 February and 10 May 1934 (estate totalling £627,412)

Agar, Edward John Sidney Christian Welbore Ellis (1910-67), 5th Earl of Normanton.  Only son of Sidney James Agar (1865-1933), 4th Earl of Normanton, and his wife Lady Amy Frederica Alice, daughter of Henry William John Byng, 4th Earl of Strafford, born 29 March 1910.  Educated Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (BA); Capt, Royal Horse Guards, WW2.  He married, 1st, 5 July 1937 (div. 1943), Hon. Barbara Mary, only daughter of Sir Frederick Frankland and Baroness Zouche and formerly wife of Brig. Otho Leslie Prior-Palmer DSO MP; and 2nd, 30 October 1944, Lady Fiona Pratt (1911-85), younger daughter of John Charles Pratt, 4th Marquess Camden and formerly wife of Maj. Sir (John) Gerard Henry Fleetwood Fuller, 2nd bt. and had issue:
(2.1) Shaun James Christian Welbore Ellis Agar (b. 1945), 6th Earl of Normanton (q.v.); 
(2.2) Hon. Mark Sidney Andrew Agar (b. 1948), of Bathealton Court (Somerset), born 2 September 1948; m.1st, 1973 (div. 1979), Rosemary, daughter of Maj. Philip Marnham; and 2nd, 8 February 1985, Arabella Clare, daughter of John Gilbert Gilbey and formerly wife of Thomas Charles Blackwell, and has issue two sons.
He inherited the Somerley estate from his father in 1933. His widow built a new dower house on the estate in 1970.
He died 28 January 1967, aged 57.

Agar, Shaun James Christian Welbore Ellis (1945-2019), 6th Earl of Normanton.  Elder son of Edward John Sidney Christian Welbore Ellis Agar (1910-67), 5th Earl of Normanton and his second wife, Lady Fiona, daughter of John Charles Pratt, 4th Marquess Camden, born 21 August 1945.  Educated at Eton; Capt., Blues & Royals.  In 1974 he succeeded his kinsman, the 8th Viscount Clifden, in his subsidiary title as 9th Baron Mendip.  He married 1st, 29 April 1970 (div. 2000), Victoria Susan (b. 1949), daughter of John H.C. Beard of Ringwood (Hants) and La Tourelle, St Peter Port, Guernsey (who m2, Timothy Chadwick of Fulham, Middx); 2nd, January 2009, Rosalind Nott (1955-2011) and 3rd, 2016, Diana Dawn (b. 1945), daughter of Col. R.C.S. Collison and widow of John R. Duppa de Uphaugh (1934-2012), and had issue:
(1.1) James Shaun Christian Welbore Ellis Agar (b. 1982), 7th Earl of Normanton (q.v.); 
(1.2) Lady Portia Caroline Agar (b. 1976), m. 2003, Harry Baker, son of Charles Baker of Chiddingfold (Surrey) and has issue one son and one daughter; 
(1.3) Lady Marisa Charlotte Agar (b. 1979).
He inherited the Somerley estate from his father in 1967.
He died 13 February 2019. His first wife is now living. His second wife was buried at Ellingham, 24 June 2011. His widow is now living.

Agar, James Shaun Christian Welbore Ellis (b. 1982), 7th Earl of Normanton. Only son of Shaun James Christian Welbore Ellis Agar, 6th Earl of Normanton, and his first wife, Victoria Susan, daughter of John H.C. Beard of Ringwood (Hants) and La Tourelle, St Peter Port (Guernsey), born 7 September 1982. He married, June 2012, Lady Lucy Caroline Alexander (b. 1984), younger daughter of 2nd Earl Alexander of Tunis and has issue:
(1) Lady Georgina Rose Agar (b. 2014), born 8 May 2014;
(2) Arthur Alexander Christian Welbore Ellis Agar (b. 2016), Viscount Somerton, born 14 February 2016;
(3) Hon Frederick Charles Edward Agar (b. 2018), born 26 February 2018.
He inherited the Somerley estate from his father in 2019.
Now living. 


Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, successive editions; Sir N. Pevsner & D. Lloyd, The buildings of England: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1967, pp. 508-09; J.M. Robinson, The latest country houses, 1984, p. 226; A.P.W. Malcolmson, Archbishop Charles Agar, 2002.

Where are their papers?

Agar family of Somerley, Earls of Normanton: deeds, manorial records, family and estate papers concerning Somerley estate and property in Wiltshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Ireland, 15th-20th cents. (Hampshire Archives, 21M57); family correspondence, 19th cent. (Hampshire Archives, 34M69)
James Charles Herbert Welbore Ellis Agar, 3rd Earl of Normanton (1818-96): estate and family correspondence and papers, 1840-1908 (Georgetown Univ., Lauinger Lib.: Earl of Normanton papers)

Revision and acknowledgements

This account was first published 5 July 2013 and was updated 13 May 2014, 18 February and 29 February 2016, 13 March 2018, 16 February and 7 April 2019, and 20 March 2020.

1 comment:

  1. Hello there, The Rev. James Agar built a Church of Ireland rectory in Carrigallen (Co. Leitrim). It states Cork above which I believe to be incorrect. I have spent the last 8 years doing up the rectory and it is now in its former glory. I also never knew that James Agar had an association to Greenmount College. Interesting.


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