Monday 5 May 2014

(121) Amherst of Bayhall and Montreal House, Earls Amherst

Amherst of Montreal Park, Earls Amherst
The Amhersts were yeomen farmers in west Kent in the late medieval period and early 16th century.  Their most important properties seem to have been at Pembury, but did not include the manor of Bayhall which subsequently became their first seat.  It was Richard Amherst (1565-1632) who first achieved more than local consequence. He was educated at Oxford and Grays Inn, and developed a successful and lucrative legal practice in London. In 1607 he became steward to Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset, of Knole Park, and he served four successive earls in this capacity until his death, becoming also the friend and adviser of the 3rd and 4th Earls in particular. By 1609 he leased from the Sackville estate a house at Lewes in Sussex which remained his country home until his death, and he also bought some land in Kent and Sussex from them. The biggest and most significant of these purchases was the Bayhall estate at Pembury, where there was a moated medieval manor house of the Culpeper family. It is not clear when he acquired Bayhall, but it was perhaps around 1617, when he first became a JP for Kent. Since he never moved from Lewes to Bayhall, he perhaps intended the estate as a home for his eldest son, Richard Amherst (1600-64). Richard was also a lawyer, and it may be that it was only when he retired in the 1650s that his thoughts turned to rebuilding Bayhall as a fashionable country house. The house that he built is long-demolished, but is well recorded in two magical birds-eye views by Jan Siberechts painted in the 1680s.  They show an Artisan Mannerist house, on the cusp between Jacobean exuberance and the sober Jonesian classicism of the later 17th century. A distinctive feature is the articulation of the main facade by a giant order: something also found at Lees Court and the demolished Syndale Court in Kent, and at a handful of other houses around London. The designer is unidentifiable, but was almost certainly a London bricklayer.  Accompanying the house was a walled formal garden and a surrounding landscape of drives and avenues which can still be traced in the landscape. In 1664 Bayhall passed to Richard junior's eldest son, Charles Amherst (d. 1705) and, when he died without issue, to his cousin, Charles Selby (later Amherst) (d. 1744/5). He too died without issue and the house passed again to a cousin, Charles Browne (d. 1753); it was sold after his widow died in 1790.

One of Richard Amherst senior's brothers was the Rev. Jeffery Amherst (1574-1647), who became rector of Southease near Lewes and later of Horsmonden (Kent). He evidently belonged to the High Church faction of the Church of England, and in 1643 was ejected from his living at Horsmonden for his 'superstitious observations'. He died in 1647, having had three sons who went respectively into the church, medicine and the law. The youngest, the lawyer John Amherst (1619-91), was financially successful and evidently had political ambitions. He stood unsuccessfully for Seaford in 1671 and in 1688-89 bought an estate at Bletchingley in Surrey which gave him influence with the electors of the small parliamentary borough there, allowing his son to be elected for the seat the same year.  The son, Jeffery Amherst (1649-1713) was active in public affairs but after being defeated at Bletchingley in 1690, never stood for Parliament again. He seems to have sold his father's Surrey estate and bought instead Brook or Brooks Place at Riverhead near Sevenoaks, a modest farming estate. His son, Jeffery Amherst (1677-1750) rebuilt Brook Place soon after inheriting it as a five-bay, two-storey house, and it was apparently here that he brought up a family that included two future generals and an admiral.  The eldest son, Sackville Amherst (1715-63), followed family tradition and became a lawyer but seems to have conspicuously lacked the cautious temperament judged an asset in that profession. He ran up debts and may have been variously scandalous: by 1750 his brother and eventual heir, Jeffery Amherst, was threatening to sever relations with him permanently if he did not mend his ways.

Jeffery Amherst (1717-97), later 1st Baron Amherst, must have found a ne'er-do-well brother a tiresome distraction from a successful military career.  After a brief spell as page and then secretary to the Duke of Dorset at Knole in the 1730s, the Duke helped him to secure a commission in the army, and he was involved in all the major campaigns of the 1740s and 1750s. In 1758 he was sent to America as Commander-in-Chief of British forces and promoted Major-General. Over the next six years his careful planning secured a string of British victories and wrested control of what later became Canada from the French.  He was helped in his work by his younger brother, Lt-Gen. William Amherst (1732-81), who recaptured St John's in Newfoundland from the French in 1762.  Both men return to England in the mid 1760s, their active campaigning over. Jeffery had been appointed Governor of Virginia as a reward for his services in America, but he was non-resident.  In 1768 he was shocked to be asked to resign to provide a post for the impoverished Norborne Berkeley, and in a huff also resigned his other military appointments as well. The parliamentary opposition made political capital out his apparent ill-treatment, and matters were only smoothed over when King George III promised him a peerage (Baron Amherst, 1776) and new Government appointments of equal value: he was made Lt-Governor of Guernsey and Lt-General of Ordnance. During the American War of Independence he was twice offered his old command there, but he did not want to return to America and refused. He did consent to become a military adviser to the Government, with the post of Commander-in-Chief of land forces in Britain and a seat in the Cabinet, but he was so reluctant to explain the reasons for his opinions to politicians that he did not exert much influence on military policy.

Both Jeffery and his brother William embarked in the late 1760s on building new houses. Jeffery's was a new house on the Riverhead estate, which he called Montreal Park; it was under construction in 1769-70. William's was a house he called St. John's near Ryde in the Isle of Wight, which was built at much the same time on land which his wife had inherited. The houses are both severe Palladian villas, and although Montreal was a five bay house with pavilion wings while St. Johns is a seven bay house with a broad canted bay overlooking the sea, they have sufficient points of similarity to suggest that the brothers could have shared an architect; but there seems to be no documentary evidence to suggest who this might have been.

When General William Amherst died in 1781, his children were orphaned and Lord Amherst took them in and made the son, William Pitt Amherst, his heir. In 1788 he arranged for a new peerage grant with a special remainder to his nephew, so that when he died in 1797 William became the 2nd Baron Amherst. His upbringing had included a long Grand Tour, giving him a useful knowledge of languages, and in 1809-11 he served as ambassador to the kingdom of Naples, where the Englishman Sir John Acton had recently ceased to be Prime Minister and there were deep rifts between the Sicilian constitutionalists and nationalists which he tried unsuccessfully to heal. In 1816-17 he undertook an embassy to China, but when he refused to kow-tow to the Emperor he was sent away from Peking without an audience, and was obliged to return home, being shipwrecked on the way. There followed another period in the political wilderness until in 1823 he was appointed governor-general of Bengal, apparently being chosen as the least objectionable of the available candidates. He was sent out with a mandate to implement military reforms and reduce the cost of the army, but circumstances obliged him instead to begin a new campaign in Burma, which took two years, cost £5 million, and badly damaged morale in the Indian army. In 1826 he received the traditional reward of an Indian governorship, a promotion in the peerage, becoming Earl Amherst of Arracan (one of the places in Burma he had added to the empire), but in 1828 he returned early from the posting at his own request, and although not in disgrace he played no further active part in politics or diplomacy. 

On his return to England Lord Amherst made some minor changes to Montreal Park to the design of Thomas Atkinson, but the house remained much as it was built until it was sold in the 1920s by the 4th Earl Amherst. It was demolished in the 1930s for housing development.  General Amherst's house, St. Johns, was sold by the 1st Earl in the 1790s, but has fared better, being enlarged in 1871 and converted into a school at the end of the Second World War.  After the sale of Montreal Park the family had no country house; the 5th Earl had a career as a pilot and airline administrator either side of service in two world wars, but he remained a bachelor, and when he died in 1993, aged 96, his titles became extinct.

Bayhall, Pembury, Kent

Bayhall, by Jan Siberechts, c.1680-90, in the collection of Tryon Palace, Raleigh, North Carolina

Bayhall by Jan Siberechts, c.1680-90 (detail), from the collection of Yale Center for British Art, Yale, USA

The moated medieval manor house of the Culpeper family was rebuilt in the 1650s in the Artisan Mannerist style typical of the Commonwealth years.  The new house is recorded in two views attributed to Jan Siberechts, probably painted in the 1680s, which were no doubt commissioned by Charles Amherst and at one time hung in the house (both are now in American collections).  The house had a main east front of seven bays and two storeys, with giant pilasters articulating the whole facade, and a parade of closely-spaced dormers in the roof.  The giant pilasters were a conceit found at several houses of the 1650s and derive ultimately from Serlio's seventh book of architecture (1575), which has several designs for houses with giant pilasters.  They were found also at Syndale (demolished) and Lees Court in Kent. Also typical of the date are the tall and elaborately moulded chimneystacks.  It is not clear from the views whether the house was built on a courtyard plan, but there was another seven bay range facing north and some building - perhaps incorporating part of the medieval house, on the south side of the court.

After the death of Elizabeth Browne in 1790, if not before, the house declined into a farmhouse and much of it was pulled down. Enough survived in 1844 to merit a description in the New Guide to Tunbridge Wells:
The present structure was raised by Richard Amherst, Esq., who died in 1664. The old mansion was surrounded by a moat, a considerable portion of which remains, and traces of the whole are clearly perceptible. The principal entrance appears to have been at the north-east front, over a bridge which still remains. There are eight pilasters in this front, which extend the whole width of the building. A great part of the house has been pulled down, but what is left is very interesting. The rooms are lofty and spacious, and the substantial staircase, with its heavy balusters, reminds one of the old baronial mansions of the Norman times. The walls of the staircases and landing-places are painted in panels, but so finely is it done, that it requires a close inspection to be satisfied that it is not panelled wainscoting. It is a perfect specimen of the illusive powers of house-painting. On the landings are two old chimney-pieces made of oak, the largest of which is seven feet square. In one of the upper rooms is a very old iron vane. From the top of one of the chimneys the branch of an alder tree peeps out, which is actually growing inside the chimney, where the tree is eight or nine feet in length. At the east entrance are some stone steps, almost hidden in the grass and turf.
About as much of the house existed some sixty-five years later when it was photographed in the last stages of dereliction. The remainder was pulled down shortly afterwards, and all that remains now is a neglected barn of red brick with raised sandstone quoins.

Bayhall: the surviving fragment of the house photographed by G. Towner in 1910.

Descent: Crown granted 1547 to William Parr, Marquess of Northampton; who sold 1547 to Sir Anthony Browne KG; sold 1548 to William Wybarne;... [forename unknown] Wybarne sold c.1610 to Robert Sackville (1561-1609), 2nd Earl of Dorset; to son, Richard Sackville (1589-1624), 3rd Earl of Dorset, who sold to Richard Amherst (1565-1632); to son, Richard Amherst (1600-64), who rebuilt the house; to son, Charles Amherst (d. 1705); to nephew, Charles Selby (later Amherst) (d. 1744/5); to nephew, Charles Browne (d. 1753); to widow, Elizabeth Browne (née Mittel) (d. 1790); sold to Thomas Streatfield; sold c.1830 to the Marquess Camden.

Montreal House, Sevenoaks, Kent

Jeffery Amherst (d. 1713) acquired a house called Brook Place at Riverhead near Sevenoaks which is said to have been built in the 16th century by a member of the Culpeper family from the materials of a suppressed hospital of St John. 

Brook Place, Riverhead
It was rebuilt in the 18th century as a substantial five bay, two storey gentleman farmer's house with dormers in the roof and a service wing at the rear. This was the modest country home of several generations of the Amherst family, but when the 1st Lord Amherst was rewarded in the early 1760s for his military successes in North America, he bought additional land nearby and created a new house and estate. It was called Montreal Park after the Canadian city, his capture of which left the whole of North America in British hands. The new house was built after Lord Amherst returned from Canada in 1764; work was in progress in 1769-70, and was presumably complete by the time an engraving was published in 1777.  The new house was a Palladian villa with a pedimented two-storey main block, five bays by three, linked to square pavilion wings; the original designer is unknown. 

Montreal Park, from an engraving published in 1777.

Montreal Park: William Atkinson's plan of proposed additions (in pink) to the house, 1829.
Image: Kent Library & History Centre U1350/P21
In 1828-29, additions were made either side of the main block by William Atkinson for the 1st Earl Amherst to increase the accommodation. Family diaries and letters show that the additions were the subject of a remarkable amount of discussion and debate among the family, and that Atkinson's role was to raise practical issues and to give architectural form to the additions that were agreed. His surviving plans show, incidentally, that by this time the corridor linking the left-hand wing to the house had already been converted into a conservatory. There seem to have been few later changes. 

Montreal Park in the early 20th century.

In 1926 the 4th Earl Amherst, who had already sold some outlying parts of the estate for housing development, sold the remainder to Julius Runge (d. 1936) of Kippington Court, who wished to preserve the estate in undeveloped form. After his death, however, it was sold to Capt. Bernard Thorpe, who demolished the house in the late 1930s to make way for a planned 650-house estate. The war intervened before much building could be done, and when development resumed in 1952 a smaller area of the park was developed with around 200 houses. An account of the history of the estate can be found here.

Although nothing is left of the house, there are some remnants of the landscaped grounds. On an obelisk in the park (now in the garden of a house in Marlborough Crescent) is a full list of Lord Amherst's victories - nine in five years, 1758-62. Further south-west are the remains of a summerhouse with a stone arched entrance. Humphry Repton prepared designs for the gardens at Montreal Park in 1812, but it is not known where anything was done to his plans. His scheme included an exquisite trellis verandah on cast iron pillars to connect the living rooms with the garden, and the division of the garden into specialised areas, including a wild flower garden and an aquatic garden. Thomas Cundy designed a rustic cottage for the park in 1818, but again it is not known if this was ever built.

Montreal Park: the obelisk commemorating Lord Amherst's victories, now in a private garden in Marlborough Crescent.

Descent: Jeffery Amherst (1649-1713); to son, Jeffery Amherst (1677-1750); to son, Sackville Amherst (1715-63); to brother, Field-Marshal Sir Jeffery Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst (1717-97); to widow (d. 1830) for life and then to nephew, William Pitt Amherst, 2nd Baron & 1st Earl Amherst (1773-1857); to son, William Pitt Amherst, 2nd Earl Amherst (1805-86); to son, William Archer Amherst, 3rd Earl Amherst (1836-1910); to brother, Hugh Amherst, 4th Earl Amherst (1856-1927), who sold 1926 to Julius Runge (d. 1936) of Kippington Court; sold after his death to Capt. Bernard Thorpe who demolished the house and planned the development of a housing estate on the site.

St. John's House, Ryde, Isle of Wight

St John's House, Ryde, in the early 19th century, showing Humphry Repton's landscaping of the grounds.

St John's House from an engraving published in 1808.
The house was built about 1769 for Col. William Amherst and named from his recapture of St Johns, Newfoundland, from the French in 1762.  The house consisted of a seven-bay two storey block with lower one-bay wings and a broad canted bay facing the view down to the sea; the architect is unknown, but some similarities to Montreal House suggest that the brothers who built the two houses may have shared an architect. In 1796 the house was sold to Edward Simeon, who employed Humphry Repton to landscape the grounds.  Almost nothing is left of Repton's landscaping or of the picturesque lodges and seaside buildings he provided, but the house itself still exists. It remained in the Simeon family until 1865 and was sold in 1871 to J.P. Gassiot, who rebuilt the east wing to the designs of Binfield Bird of Cowes and laid out the reduced grounds to the designs of W.B. Page in 1871. The house became a school in 1947 and the usual school buildings were built at a relatively discreet distance from the main building. A major renovation of the building and replacement of the some of the school buildings was undertaken in 2016-17.

St John's House today.

Descent: Lt-Gen. William Amherst (1732-81); to son, William Pitt Amherst, 2nd Baron & 1st Earl Amherst (1773-1857) who let the house to Samuel Leake and later Sir Archibald Macdonald; sold 1796 to Edward Simeon (d. 1812); to nephew, Sir Richard Godin Simeon (d. 1854), who let it after 1834; to son, Sir John Simeon, sold 1865 to Sir Henry Thompson; sold 1871 to John Peter Gassiot (d. 1877), who gave the house in 1877 to his daughter Anne Wright Gassiot (d. c.1912), wife of Gen. Henry Carr Tate (d. 1901); to nephew, Rev. Thomas John Puckle (d. 1920); to sister, Elizabeth Dorothea, wife of Harold de Vaux Brougham; sold 1945 after her death to Orten Estates Ltd., which sold 1947 to the Diocese of Portsmouth and Isle of Wight County Council.

The Amherst family of Bayhall and Montreal Park, Earls Amherst

Amherst, Richard (d. c.1600). Son of John Thomas Amherst (d. 1578) and his wife Parnell Reynes. He married at Pembury, 1564, Margaret Rixon and had issue including:
(1) Richard Amherst (1565-1632) (q.v.);
(2) William Amherst (b. 1567), baptised September 1567; married and had issue a daughter;
(3) Robert Amherst (b. 1570), baptised January 1570;
(4) John Amherst (b. 1572), baptised September 1572; died young;
(5) Rev. Jeffery Amherst (1574-1662) (q.v.);
(6) Elizabeth Amherst (b. 1576), baptised February 1576;
(7) John Amherst (b. 1578), baptised 18 July 1578; possibly the 'John Amherst, citizen and merchant of London' who was admitted to Grays Inn, 1612;
(8) Edward Amherst (b. 1581), baptised 12 March 1581;
(9) An unnamed daughter (d. 1584), died 29 January 1584.
He died about 1600.

Amherst, Richard (1565-1632), serjeant-at-law, of Bayhall.  Eldest son of Richard Amherst (d. c.1600) and his wife Margaret Rixon, baptised 5 August 1565. Educated at St John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1582), Staples Inn and Grays Inn (admitted 1585; called to bar, 1592; ancient of the inn, 1600; reader, 1612; bencher, 1612-23; dean of chapel, 1622); Serjeant-at-law, 1623 and Queen's Serjeant to Queen Henrietta Maria by 1630; Treasurer of Serjeants Inn, 1626-32; MP for Lewes, 1614, 1621; steward to four successive Earls of Dorset at Knole House (Kent), 1607-32; commissioner of sewers for Kent and Sussex, 1604-29; JP for Sussex, 1606-32 and Kent, 1617-32; commissioner of oyer and terminer, Home Circuit, 1625-32. He married 1st, 20 February 1592/3, Anne, daughter and co-heir of William Reynes of Mereworth and 2nd, after 29 March 1605 at Wingham (Kent), Margaret (b. 1572), second daughter of Sir Thomas Palmer of Wingham, and had issue:
(1.1) Richard Amherst (1600-64) (q.v.);
(1.2) Anne Amherst (b. 1603), baptised at Pembury, 1 January 1603/4; died unmarried, before 1634;
(2.1) Frances Amherst (b. 1608); married, after 29 May 1641, Thomas Beck of Lutwyche (Salop);
(2.2) Margaret Amherst (c.1610-66); married, 21 June 1630 at St Mary-le-Bow, London, Sir James Colbrand (1582-c.1640) of Lewes (Sussex), 2nd bt. and had issue; buried 26 July 1666.
He rented a house at Lewes from the Sackvilles of Knole by 1609 and acquired further property in Sussex from them; perhaps about 1617 he purchased the Bayhall estate from the 3rd Earl of Dorset, but Lewes continued to be his main home.
He died 12 April 1632 and was buried at Lewes (Sussex), 14 April 1632; his will was proved 3 May 1632.

Amherst, Richard (1600-64), of Bayhall. Only son of Richard Amherst (d. 1632) and his first wife, Anne, daughter and co-heir of William Reynes of Mereworth, baptised 17 May 1600. Educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1612) and St John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1618). He married, 26 March 1627 at Ightham (Kent), Dorothy (1602-54), daughter and co-heir of John Craddock of Luddesdown and Ightham, and had issue:
(1) William Amherst (1631-32); died young;
(2) Elizabeth Amherst (1633-1708); married Sir Henry Selby (d. 1715), kt., serjeant-at-law and had issue one son and one daughter; buried at Pembury, 30 January 1707/8;
(3) William Amherst (1634-63); educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1652); died unmarried, 10 December 1663 and was buried at Pembury;
(4) Charles Amherst (d. 1705) (q.v.);
(5) Richard Amherst (d. 1654); died young and was buried at Pembury, 26 June 1654;
(6) Henry Amherst; died young;
(7) Margaret Amherst; died unmarried;
(8) Isabella Amherst (1638-1665/6), baptised 14 March 1638; died unmarried and was buried at Pembury, 24 March 1665/6;
(9) Dorothy Amherst (d. 1712); married 4 May 1687, her second cousin, Jeffery Amherst (1649-1713) (q.v.), but died without issue; buried at Pembury, 4 May 1712.
He inherited Bayhall from his father in 1632 and built a new house there in the 1650s.
He died 29 August 1664 and was buried at Pembury.

Amherst, Charles (d. 1705), of Bayhall.  Eldest surviving son of Richard Amherst (1600-64) and his wife Dorothy, daughter and co-heir of John Craddock of Luddesdown and Ightham (Kent). Educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1660). He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Bayhall from his father in 1664. At his death the estate passed to his nephew, Charles Selby (later Amherst).
He was buried at Pembury, 16 November 1705.

Amherst (né Selby), Charles Selby (d. 1745), of Bayhall. Son of Sir Henry Selby (d. 1715), kt., serjeant-at-law and recorder of London, and his wife Elizabeth (d. 1708), daughter of Richard Amherst (1600-64) (q.v.).  He married Margaret, daughter of John Robinson of Denbighshire, esq. and widow of Sir George Strode, but had no issue.
He inherited Bayhall from his uncle, Charles Amherst, in 1709.  At his death it passed to his nephew, Charles Browne (d. 1753).
He was buried at Pembury, 8 March 1744/5.

Amherst, Rev. Jeffery (1574-1647). Fifth son of Richard Amherst (fl. late 16th cent.) and his wife Margaret Rixon, baptised at Pembury, 13 June 1574. Educated at St. John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1595; BA 1599; MA 1606); ordained deacon and priest, 1606; vicar of Fletching (Sussex), 1609-16; rector of Southease, 1609-41 and Horsmonden (Kent), 1615-43; his living at Horsmonden was sequestered in c.1643, some residents having objected to his 'enormities and superstitious observations' in February 1641, when he was also said to have been absent for seven months. He married 1st, 25 September 1610 at Southease (Sussex), Joan, daughter of John Barnden or Barrenden, and 2nd, Eleanor, widow of Owen Vaughan, and had issue:
(1) Anne Amherst (1611-12), baptised 6 October 1611; died in infancy, 1612;
(2) Margaret Amherst (b. 1613; fl. 1647), baptised 14 March 1613; married Tristram Thomas of Tonbridge (Kent);
(3) Rev. Richard Amherst (1615-c.1645), baptised 12 November 1615; educated at St John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1634; BA 1637/8; MA 1641); rector of Southease (Sussex), 1642; married, 16 November 1641 at Woodchurch (Kent), Mary Bowen or Boughen and had issue one son and two daughters; died before 1647;
(4) Dr. Arthur Amherst (1618-78), baptised 21 January 1618; educated at St. John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1637; BA 1640/1) and Bourges University (D.Med, incorporated at Oxford, 1662); practised medicine at Hastings (Sussex) and Tunbridge (Kent); married Eleanor, daughter of Sir Thomas Tresse, kt. and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 2 July 1678 and was buried at Tunbridge; will proved 16 July 1680;
(5) John Amherst (1619-91) (q.v.).
He was buried at Southease, 28 September 1647; his will, written four days before his burial, was not proved until 2 December 1662.

Amherst, John (1619-91). Youngest son of Rev. Jeffery Amherst of Horsmonden and his wife Joan, daughter of John Barnden, baptised 12 January 1619/20. Educated at St. John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1637) and Grays Inn (admitted 1637; called to bar, 1646; bencher; Treasurer, 1673-75); barrister-at-law; stood unsuccessfully for Parliament at Seaford, 1671. He married 1st, 4 January 1648 at St Margaret Pattens, London, Margaret, daughter of Jeffery Kirby of London; 2nd, Elizabeth (d. 1667), daughter of [forename unknown] Bickerton of Leicestershire and widow of [forename unknown] Triggs and Richard Higginson of London, and 3rd, after 7 November 1668, Jane, daughter of Sir Francis Stydolphe of Mickleham and widow of Henry Yate of Warnham and Sir Henry Onslow of Warnham, and had issue:
(1.1) Jeffery Amherst (1649-1713) (q.v.);
(1.2) John Amherst; died young;
(1.3) John Amherst; died young;
(1.4) Margaret Amherst (b. 1651), born 27 March and baptised 1 April 1651;
(1.5) Annabella Amherst (b. 1654; fl. 1702), born 14 and baptised 19 January 1654; married John Mills of Brewhurst (Sussex) (fl. 1713);
(1.6) Mary Amherst (b. 1655), born 7 and baptised 14 March 1655; married, after 10 August 1678, Henry Yates (1659-1716) of Sussex.
He purchased an estate at Bletchingley (Surrey) after the death of John Glyd (d. 1689), a fellow bencher at Gray's Inn.
He died 4 May 1691 and was buried at Mickleham (Surrey).

Amherst, Jeffery (1649-1713) of Brook Place, Riverhead, MP. Only son of John Amherst (d. 1691) and his first wife, Margaret, daughter of Jeffery Kirby of London, baptised 12 January 1649/50. Educated at Tonbridge, Christ's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1667) and Grays Inn (admitted 1666; called to bar, 1670; bencher, 1698); barrister-at-law; commissioner for assessment in Sussex, 1679-80 and in Kent and Surrey, 1689-90; MP for Bletchingley (Surrey), 1689-90; JP for Kent, 1699-1713. He married 1st, 8 October 1670 at Horsham (Sussex), Elizabeth (c.1653-86), daughter of Henry Yates of Warnham (Sussex), and 2nd, 4 May 1687, his second cousin, Dorothy (d. 1712), daughter of Richard Amherst (1600-64) of Bayhall, Pembury and had issue:
(1.1) John Amherst (1672-77), baptised at Warnham, 10 April 1672; died young, 10 March 1676/7;
(1.2) Jane Amherst (b. 1673; fl. 1713), born 10 and baptised 15 April 1673; married [forename unknown] Boyd; died without issue;
(1.3) Margaret Amherst (b. 1675; fl. 1702), baptised at Warnham (Sussex), 19 February 1674/5; married, 9 June 1692 at St Mary Aldermary, London, John Seyliard of Pendell Court, Bletchingley (Surrey);
(1.4) Jeffery Amherst (1677-1750) (q.v.);
(1.5) Frances Amherst (b. 1678), baptised 25 June 1678; died young;
(1.6) Henry Amherst (b. 1680; fl. 1707); educated at University College, Oxford (matriculated 1703; BA 1706/7); died after 2 October 1707;
(1.7) Richard Amherst (d. 1681); died in infancy, 11 March and was buried 13 March 1681/2;
(1.8) Charles Amherst (d. 1682); died in infancy, 11 August 1682 and was buried at Warnham, 18 August 1682;
(1.9) Elizabeth Amherst (b. 1684); died young.
He acquired Brook Place at Riverhead.
He was buried at Pembury, 15 August 1713; his will was proved 2 December 1713. His first wife was buried 25 February 1686. His second wife died without issue and was buried at Pembury, 4 May 1712.

Jeffery Amherst 1677-1750
by Thomas Hudson
Amherst, Jeffery (1677-1750), of Brook Place, Riverhead. Only son of Jeffery Amherst (d. 1713) of Brook Place and his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Yate or Yates, baptised at Warnham (Sussex), 29 July 1677. Educated at Horsham, Christ's College, Cambridge (admitted 1695) and Grays Inn (admitted 1692; Treasurer 1739-44). He married, after 10 February 1713, Elizabeth (d. 1752), daughter of Thomas Kerrill of Hadlow (Kent), and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Amherst (1714-79), baptised June 1714; poet and amateur naturalist; married at Halstead (Kent), 1751, Rev. John Thomas, rector of Notgrove (Glos); died without issue, 1779; 
(2) Sackville Amherst (1715-63) of Brook Place, Riverhead; educated at Inner Temple (admitted 1730); apprenticed to Thomas Norton of the Court of Chancery, 1732; admitted to Grays Inn, 1742; ran up debts and gave concern to the family; died unmarried and without issue, 12/15 December 1763 and was buried at Notgrove (Glos);
(3) Jeffery Amherst (1716/7-97), 1st Baron Amherst (q.v.);
(4) Vice-Adm. John Amherst (1717/8-78), baptised 6 January 1717/8; Vice-Admiral of the White; married Ann, daughter of Thomas Lindzee, but died without issue at Gosport (Hants), 14 February 1778; buried at Sevenoaks where he is commemorated with his brother William on a monument;
(5) Margaret Amherst (1718-35), baptised 3 February 1718; died unmarried, 9 May 1735 and was buried at Sevenoaks, 14 May 1735;
(6) Mary Amherst (1720-21), baptised December 1720; died in infancy and was buried at Sevenoaks, 17 February 1721;
(5) Thomas Amherst (b. & d. 1725), baptised 29 May 1725; died in infancy and was buried at Sevenoaks, 6 June 1725;
(6) Sidney Amherst (1728-29), baptised 22 September 1728; died in infancy and was buried at Sevenoaks, 2 May 1729;
(7) Charles Amherst (1729-30), baptised 16 September 1729; died in infancy and was buried at Sevenoaks in April 1730;
(8) Lt-Gen. William Amherst (1732-91) (q.v.);
He inherited Brook Place from his father in 1713 and rebuilt it.
He died 21 October 1750 and was buried at Sevenoaks, 1 November 1750; his will was proved 21 November 1750. His widow was buried 1 May 1752.

Field-Marshal Lord Amherst
by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1765
Amherst, Field-Marshal Rt. Hon. Sir Jeffery (1717-97), 1st Baron Amherst, of Montreal Park. Second son of Jeffery Amherst (1677-1750) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Kerrill of Hadlow (Kent), born 29 January 1716/7. Page and later Secretary to 1st Duke of Dorset at Knole, c.1732-35; officer in the Army, 1735-96, serving at first in the 1st Foot Guards and Lord Ligonier's Regiment (Lt-Col., 1745; Maj-Gen., 1759; Lt-Gen., 1765; General, 1778; Field-Marshal, 1796); Commander-in-Chief of the British army in North America, 1758-64; Governor of Virginia, 1759-68 and of Quebec, 1760-63; Lt-Governor of Guernsey, 1770-97; Lt-Gen. of Ordnance, 1772-82; Commander-in-Chief of land forces in Great Britain, 1778-82, 1793-95; Colonel of 15th Regiment of Foot, 1756-79, 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot, 1758-68, 1768-97, 3rd Regiment of Foot 1768-79, 2nd Troop of Horse Grenadier Guards, 1779-82; and Queen's Troop of Horse Guards (later 2nd Life Guards), 1782-97. He was described by Horace Walpole as 'provident, methodic, conciliating and cool'; modern assessments tend to judge him as slow but practical and methodical in the field; his approval of the distribution of smallpox-infected blankets to native Americans in an attempt to exterminate them offends modern sensibilities but was not criticised at the time. He was appointed KB 1761, made a member of the Privy Council, 1772, elevated to the peerage as Baron Amherst of Holmesdale, 20 May 1776 and further created Baron Amherst of Montreal, Kent, with remainder to his nephew, William Pitt Amherst, 6 September 1788; in 1795 he declined an earldom. He married 1st, 20 May 1753 at Grays Inn Chapel, Jane (1722-65), only daughter of Thomas Dalison of Manton (Lincs) and Hamptons (Kent), who became insane before her death, and 2nd, 26 March 1767 at her father's house in Clifford St., Westminster, Elizabeth (1739-1830), eldest daughter and co-heir of Lt-Gen. the Hon. George Cary.  Both marriages were childless, but he had a natural son whose mother is unknown:
(X1) Maj-Gen. Jeffery Amherst (c.1752-1814), born about 1752; brought up in the household of his aunt, Elizabeth Thomas, at Notgrove; educated latterly at Royal Academy, Caen (France); entered the army (Major, 1783; Lt-Col., 1788; Colonel, 1795, Major-General, 1798; Colonel of East Worcestershire militia, 1808; Governor of Upnor Castle (Kent), 1812; died 1814/15.
He inherited the Riverhead estate on the death of his brother in 1763, and purchased the adjacent land on which Montreal Park was built shortly afterwards. At his death his property passed to his widow for life and thence to his nephew, William Pitt Amherst. He bequeathed direct to his nephew 24,000 acres in New York State and lands in Canada confiscated from the Jesuits which had been promised to him by Parliament.
He died 3 August 1797, aged 81, and was buried at Sevenoaks, 10 August 1797, where he is commemorated by a monument designed by William Tyler; his will was proved 18 August 1797. His first wife died 7 January 1765 and was buried at Plaxtol (Kent). His widow died in London, 22 May 1830, aged 90, and was buried at Sevenoaks; her will was proved 23 July 1830.

Gen. William Amherst
by Robert Edge Pine, 1779
Amherst, Lt-Gen. William (1732-91) Youngest son of Jeffery Amherst (1677-1750) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Kerrill of Hadlow (Kent), baptised at Sevenoaks, 5 February 1732; entered the Army as ensign in 1st Foot Guards, 1755 (Lt., 1757; Capt., 1757; Lt-Col., 1759; Col., 1766; Maj-Gen. 1777; Lt-Gen 1779); served in North America with his brother Jeffery during the Seven Years War and was instrumental in the recapture of St Johns, Newfoundland from the French at the Battle of Signal Hill, 1762; aide-de-camp to King; MP for Hythe, 1766-68 and Launceston, 1768-74; Lt-Governor of Portsmouth; appointed Lt-Governor of Newfoundland, 1774, but declined to act; adjutant-general of HM Forces, 1778-81; Colonel of 32nd Regiment of Foot, 1775-81.  He married, 31 March 1766, Elizabeth (d. 1776), daughter of Thomas Paterson, and had issue:
(1) William Pitt Amherst (1773-1857), 2nd Baron and 1st Earl Amherst (q.v.);
(2) Elizabeth Frances Amherst (c.1774-1826), baptised February 1774; married, 3 April 1799, the Hon. John Hale, Receiver-General of Lower Canada, and had issue; died 18 June and was buried at Quebec (Canada), 20 June 1826;
(3) Harriott Sarah Amherst (b. 1775), born 2 September and baptised at St. Helens, Isle of Wight, 8 October 1775; died young.
He built a house near Ryde, Isle of Wight in 1769 which he called St. Johns after his most important victory. At his death it passed to his son.
He died 13 May 1781; he and his brother John are commemorated by a monument in Sevenoaks church designed by William Tyler. His wife died 7 March 1776.

1st Earl Amherst,
by A.W. Devis, 1803
Amherst, Rt. Hon. William Pitt (1773-1857), 2nd Baron and 1st Earl Amherst, of Montreal Park. Only son of Lt-Gen. William Amherst (1732-91) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Patterson, born at Bath, 14 January 1773. Brought up in the Isle of Wight until the death of his parents, when he moved to Montreal Park under the guardianship of his uncle. Educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1789; BA 1793; MA 1797); toured the continent in 1793-96, visiting Lausanne, Augsburg, Verona, Padua, Venice, Florence, Rome, Lucca and Bologna; in Rome he met his first wife, then Countess of Plymouth, to whom he paid noted attention. He succeeded his uncle as 2nd Baron Amherst, 3 August 1797.  Lord of the Bedchamber to King George III, 1802-04; envoy to court of Naples, 1809-11; ambassador to China, 1816-17, but was refused admission; governor-general of Bengal, 1823-28, in which capacity he was responsible for the First Burmese War and the annexation of part of Burma; Lord of the Bedchamber to King George IV and King William IV, 1829-37.  In all his diplomacy and proconsular work he was deemed ineffective by contemporaries, and a proposal to appoint him Governor of Canada in 1835 was rejected by the Duke of Wellington; historians have largely concurred in this judgement. He was appointed to the Privy Council, 30 December 1815, created Viscount Holmesdale and Earl Amherst of Arracan (in Burma), 19 December 1826, and appointed GCH 1834.  He was awarded an honorary LL.D by Cambridge University, 1835.  He married 1st, 24 July 1800 at St George's, Hanover Square, London, Sarah (1762-1838), daughter and co-heir of Andrew Archer, 2nd Baron Archer and widow of Other Hickman Windsor (1751-99), 5th Earl of Plymouth, and 2nd, 25 May 1839 at Knole (Kent), Mary (1792-1864), eldest daughter of John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset, widow of Other Archer Windsor, 6th Earl of Plymouth, and co-heir of her brother, the 4th Duke of Dorset from whom she inherited Knole (Kent), and had issue:
(1.1) Lady Sarah Elizabeth Pitt Amherst (1801-76), born 9 July 1801; married, 8 September 1842, Sir John Hay-Williams (1794-1859), 2nd bt. of Bodelwyddan (Flints); died at Rhianva (Anglesey), 8 August 1876; will proved 28 October 1876 (estate under £8,000);
(1.2) The Hon. Jeffery Amherst (1802-26), born 29 August and baptised 16 October 1802; died unmarried 2 August and was buried at Barrackpore, 3 August 1826;
(1.3) William Pitt Amherst (1805-86), 2nd Earl Amherst (q.v.);
(1.4) The Hon. Frederick Campbell Amherst (1807-29), born 10 March and baptised 4 May 1807; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1824; BA 1828); died unmarried, 12 October and was buried in Worcester, 19 October 1829.
He inherited St John's House, Ryde from his father in 1781 and Montreal Park from his uncle in 1797. He sold St. John's in 1796 to Edward Simeon; after 1839 he appears to have lived at Knole with his second wife.
He died at Knole House, 13 March 1857, and was buried at Sevenoaks, 21 March 1857; his will was proved 11 May 1857. His first wife died 27 May 1838 and was buried at Riverhead. His widow died 20 July 1864; her will was proved 12 April 1865 (estate under £140,000).

Amherst, William Pitt (1805-86), 2nd Earl Amherst, of Montreal Park. Only surviving son of William Pitt Amherst (1773-1857), 1st Earl Amherst, and his first wife Sarah, daughter and co-heir of Andrew Archer, 2nd Baron Archer, born 3 September 1805 and baptised 2 November 1805. Educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1824; BA 1828); MP for East Grinstead, 1829-32. He married, 12 July 1834 at Syon Park (Middx), Gertrude (1814-90), sixth daughter of the Hon. & Rt. Rev. Hugh Percy, bishop of Carlisle, and had issue:
(1) William Archer Amherst (1836-1910), 3rd Earl Amherst (q.v.);
(2) Lady Mary Sarah Amherst (1837-92), born 8 May and baptised 10 June 1837; married, 15 October 1857, Wilbraham (d. 1909), 2nd Lord Egerton of Tatton and 1st Earl Egerton and had issue; died 17 December 1892;
(3) Capt. the Hon. Frederick Amherst (1838-95), born 6 December 1838 and baptised 1 February 1839; served in Royal Navy, 1851-75 (Captain, 1864) and Army (Captain, 14th Hussars); Lieutenant, West Kent Yeomanry, 1876-81; died unmarried, 15 March 1895; will proved 4 May 1895 (estate £12,488);
(4) The Hon. & Rev. Percy Arthur Amherst (1839-1910), born 30 November 1839 and baptised 9 January 1840; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1858; BA 1862); ordained deacon, 1863 and priest, 1879; curate of Kettering (Northants), 1863-65, Black Bourton (Oxon), 1879-81 and Hungerford, 1888-89; married, 20 February 1874, Agnes Laura (d. 1887), daughter of Edward Stack; died without issue at Ossington (Notts), 30 January 1910;
(5) Lady Gertrude Elizabeth Amherst (1842-62), born 4 February 1842; died unmarried, 8 September 1862;
(6) Lady Constance Harriet Amherst (1843-79), born 28 February and baptised 9 May 1843; married at Riverhead, 8 November 1871, Sir Arthur Edward Monck Middleton (1838-1933), 7th bt., MP and had issue; died 7 October 1879;
(7) Capt. the Hon. Jeffery Charles Amherst (1844-77), born 3 October and baptised 23 November 1844; captain in Rifle Brigade; died unmarried at Cannes, 14 March 1877;
(8) The Hon. Josceline George Herbert Amherst (1846-1900), born 7 and baptised 10 June 1846; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1865); barrister-at-law; member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia;private secretary to Governor of Western Australia, 1885; died unmarried and without issue in Western Australia, 1 February 1900;
(9) Lady Margaret Catherine Amherst (1848-1939), born 23 June and baptised 2 August 1848; died unmarried, 7 February 1939; will proved 23 March 1939 (estate £36,728);
(10) Lady Elinor Amherst (1850-1939), baptised 10 April 1850; married, 25 November 1877, Capt. William Evelyn Denison MP (d. 1916) of Ossington (Notts), son of Sir William Thomas Denison KCB and had issue one son; died 26 July 1939; will proved 16 October and 14 November 1939 (estate £29,829);
(11) Lady Charlotte Florentia Amherst (1851-1935), born 11 August and baptised 7 November 1851; died unmarried, 8 January 1935; will proved 25 February 1935 (estate £36,333);
(12) Hugh Amherst (1856-1927), 4th Earl Amherst (q.v.).
He inherited Montreal Park from his father in 1857. In 1883 he owned 4,269 acres in Kent, 1,789 acres in Warwickshire (Umberslade Hall, which he inherited indirectly from his mother), 834 acres in Sussex (at Hove) and 743 acres in Essex (Lovington Farm, Great Yeldham).
He died 26 March 1886 and was buried at Riverhead; his will was proved 23 July 1886 (estate £109,128). His widow died 27 April 1890 and was buried at Riverhead; her will was proved 27 October 1890 (estate £1,759).

Amherst, William Archer (1836-1910), 3rd Earl Amherst, of Montreal Park. Eldest son of William Pitt Amherst (1805-86), 2nd Earl Amherst, and his wife Gertrude, daughter of the Hon. & Rt. Rev. Hugh Percy, bishop of Carlisle, born 26 March and baptised 3 May 1836. Educated at Eton; Captain in Coldstream Guards, 1855-62 (served in Crimea, 1854-56, severely wounded); JP and DL for Kent; MP for West Kent, 1859-68 and for Mid Kent 1868-80; knight of justice of St John of Jerusalem; summoned to House of Lords in his father's barony, 1880; succeeded his father as 3rd Earl Amherst, 26 March 1886. He married 1st at Linton (Kent), 27 August 1862, Lady Julia Cornwallis (d. 1883), only surviving daughter and heir of John Cornwallis, 5th and last Earl Cornwallis, and 2nd, 25 September 1889 at Christ Church, Mayfair, London, Alice Dalton (1854-1933), daughter of Edmund Probyn of Huntley Manor (Glos) and widow of Ernest Augustus Malet (1836-88), 5th Earl of Lisburne, but had no issue.
He inherited Montreal Park from his father in 1886; his first wife inherited Linton Place (Kent) from her father in 1852.
He died 14 August 1910, and was succeeded in his titles and estates by his only surviving brother; his will was proved 24 November 1910 (estate £137,657). His first wife died 1 September 1883 and was buried at Linton, 8 September 1883; her will was proved 23 February 1884 (estate £31,628). His widow married 3rd, 16 December 1914, His Serene Highness Prince Jean Pierre Sapieha-Kodénski and died, 27 April 1933; her will was proved 9 August 1933 (estate in UK £1,656).

Amherst, Hugh (1856-1927), 4th Earl Amherst, of Montreal Park. Youngest son of William Pitt Amherst (1805-86), 2nd Earl Amherst, and his wife Gertrude, daughter of the Hon. & Rt. Rev. Hugh Percy, bishop of Carlisle, born 30 January 1856 and baptised 14 March 1856. Captain in Coldstream Guards (served in Nile Expedition, 1884-85 with Guards' Camel Regiment); Lt-Col. of 12th Battalion, West Kent Volunteer Regiment. He succeeded his eldest brother as 4th Earl, 14 August 1910. He married, 2 January 1896, the Hon. Eleanor Clementina (1869-1960), daughter of Sir John St. Aubyn, 1st Baron St. Levan, and had issue:
(1) Jeffery John Archer Amherst (1896-1993), 5th Earl Amherst (q.v.);
(2) Lady Joan Gertrude Elizabeth Amherst (1899-1984), born 17 August 1899; married, 17 July 1931 (div. 1947), John, son of John Henry Stebbing of Worth (Sussex); on her divorce she resumed her maiden name; instructress at Hammersmith ice rink and later worked for the British Council; died 11 June 1984;
(3) Lady Mary (known as Molly) Evelyn Amherst (b.1902), born 1 May 1902 and baptised at Weymouth (Dorset), 24 June 1902; married, 20 October 1932, Charles Casamaijor Loftus Gaussen, son of Cmdr. Herbert Ponsonby Loftus-Gaussen of Brookmans Park (Herts) and had issue three sons; emigrated to Australia;
(4) The Hon. Humphrey William Amherst (1903-74), born 25 July 1903 and baptised at Weymouth (Dorset), 9 September 1903; educated at Charterhouse, RMC Sandhurst and Cambridge University; provincial commissioner on Gold Coast and later a farmer in Zimbabwe; died 1974.
He inherited Montreal Park from his brother in 1910 but sold it in 1926.
He died 7 March and was buried 12 March 1927; his will was proved 30 March 1927 and 7 February 1928 (estate £176,140). His widow died 17 September 1960; her will was proved 21 November 1960 (estate £3,043).

5th Earl Amherst
Amherst, Maj. Jeffery John Archer (1896-1993), 5th Earl Amherst. Elder son of Hugh Amherst (1856-1927), 4th Earl Amherst, and his wife Eleanor Clementina, daughter of 1st Baron St. Levan, born 13 December 1896. Educated at Eton and RMC Sandhurst; Major in Coldstream Guards (served WW1 in Europe, 1914-18 and WW2 in Middle East, 1940-44); MC 1919; journalist, New York Morning World, 1923-29; commercial air pilot and general manager of airline, 1929-39; hon. commission as Wing Commander, Royal Air Force, 1942; assistant air adviser to British Railways, 1945-46; manager, External Affairs, British European Airways, 1946 and director of associated companies, 1946-66. Author of an autobiography, Wandering Abroad, 1976. He was unmarried and had no issue.
He died 4 March 1993, aged 96, when the peerages became extinct.


Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 1924, p. 101; G.E.C[okayne], Complete Peerage, vol 1, pp.121-24; J. Phippen, Colgran's New Guide to Tunbridge Wells, 1844, pp. 157-59; D.W. Lloyd & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Isle of Wight, 2006, p. 242; J. Newman, The buildings of England: Kent - West Kent and the Weald, 2012, p. 447;;

Location of archives

Amherst family, Earls Amherst: deeds, estate and family papers, 1740-20th cent. [Kent History & Library Centre U1350; U36 acc.556, U1000/8]
Amherst, Jeffery (1717-97), 1st Baron Amherst: military correspondence and papers, 1749-86 [The National Archives, WO34]; correspondence and papers 1758-64 [William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Jeffery Amherst papers]
Amherst, William Pitt (1773-1857), 1st Earl Amherst: papers as Governor-General of Bengal, 1789-1835 [British Library, Asia Pacific and Africa Collections, MSS Eur F140]
Amherst, Humphrey William (1903-74): diaries and papers, 1930-47 [Rhodes House Library, Oxford MSS Afr. s. 1207]

Coat of arms

Gules, three tilting spears erect or, headed argent.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 5 May 2014 and was updated 21 June 2016 and 2 October 2017. I am grateful to Richard Long for additional information.

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