Thursday 12 October 2023

(557) Bennet of Dawley House, Chillingham Castle and Walton Hall, Earls of Tankerville

Bennet of Dawley and Chillingham, 
Barons Ossulston and Earls of Tankerville 
This family trace their descent from Sir John Bennet (c.1557-1627), kt., who was the third son of Richard Bennet (c.1528-74) of Clapcot, Wallingford (Berks), who featured in my previous post. Like so many successful Elizabethans, he came from a minor gentry background, but immensely improved his social and economic position through a successful legal and administrative career. He spent nearly twenty years in posts in York, where he became a member of the Council in the North, but about 1608 he seems to have moved to London, where he became a Chancery Master and also Chancellor to Queen Anne of Denmark. The 1610s mark the apogee of his career, but as early as 1607 he bought the Dawley House estate at Harlington (Middx), some fourteen miles west of London, although he does not seem ever to have lived there, preferring a house in nearby Uxbridge. In 1622 he was convicted by the Star Chamber of corruption, fined the colossal sum of £20,000, imprisoned, and debarred from public office. It is not, in fact, clear that he was any more venal than most of his contemporaries, but he committed the extra crime of being found out, and was disgraced accordingly. He was not, however, stripped of his estate at Dawley, which passed at his death to his eldest son, Sir John Bennet (1589-1658), kt., who unlike his father and sons shunned a career in public affairs. Although Royalist in his sympathies, he managed to avoid the formal sequestration of his estate, paying only a modest fine in 1643, and by the time of his death the house at Dawley was surrounded by a park of some 200 acres. His sons, Sir John Bennet (1616-95), later 1st Baron Ossulston, and Sir Henry Bennet (1618-85), 1st Baron Arlington and later 1st Earl of Arlington, were much more active in the Royalist cause, and the latter spent the Commonwealth years in exile with the Stuart court and acting as the king's representative in Spain. He returned to England in 1661 and quickly became one of King Charles II's closest advisers, as Secretary of State, 1662-74. During his long years of office, he was able to acquire a number of well-rewarded public posts for himself and his brother. In 1666 - the year he took a Dutch wife - he bought Euston Hall in Suffolk, which he subsequently rebuilt. He was raised to the peerage in 1665 and promoted to an earldom in 1672, becoming a Knight of the Garter later the same year. Having no son to succeed him, the king agreed that his peerage could descend to his daughter, Isabella (1667-1723), but when she was only five, she was married to one of the king's many illegitimate children, Henry Fitzroy (1663-90), who was created Earl of Euston on their marriage and Duke of Grafton in 1675. Isabella's peerages, as Countess of Arlington, thus merged into the Dukedom at her death in 1723, and descended with the senior title until 1936, when they fell into abeyance until the barony was successfully revived in 1999. Account of their descendants, and of Euston Hall, will be given in a future post on the Fitzroy family, Dukes of Grafton.

Dawley descended in 1658 to Sir John Bennet (1616-95), who was made a Knight of the Bath in 1661 and raised to the peerage as Baron Ossulston in 1682. Since his younger brother had already taken his title from the village in Middlesex where their family estate lay - minus the initial H - Sir John took his title from the name of the hundred (a historic administrative division) in which Dawley stood. It is not clear why he did not simply become 'Lord Dawley': perhaps he felt 'Lord Ossulston' suggested greater antiquity! He rebuilt the house and laid out the grounds at Dawley, creating the property that was depicted in Britannia Illustrata in 1707. He married twice, but only his second marriage produced children: a son and two daughters. His daughters both died young, but his son, Charles Bennet (1674-1722), survived to inherit the peerage and the Dawley estate, which he continued to improve in the early 18th century. The death of his father-in-law, Ford Grey (1655-1701), 3rd Baron Grey of Wark and 1st Earl of Tankerville, meant that he and his wife also inherited the Grey family seats of Uppark (Sussex) and Chillingham Castle (Northumberland), but Dawley seems to have remained their principal seat. A Whig in politics, he was rewarded when the Whigs came to power in 1714 by promotion to an earldom, taking the title of Earl of Tankerville which his father-in-law had previously held; and also by appointment as Chief Justice in Eyre of Forests south of the Trent.

At his death in 1722, the 1st Earl was succeeded by his eldest son, Charles Bennet (1697-1753), 2nd Earl of Tankerville, who was a Whig and a courtier. Unlike his father and grandfather, who made very canny marriages that significantly enhanced the family's wealth and status, the 2nd Earl married for love. His bride is usually described as a butcher's daughter, but that rather understates her social position, as her father was a yeoman grazier from County Durham. They met at a ball in Newcastle-on-Tyne, and her father, thinking her too young to marry, sent her to friends in Holland to get her away from his attentions. But he followed her, and when her hosts in Holland realised he was pressing his suit, they sent her back to England, only for the ardent Lord Ossulston (as he then was) to conceal himself on the same boat - reputedly by hiding in an empty cask - and carry her off to a compliant clergyman in Jarrow after they landed at South Shields. The young lady, who was both good looking and good natured, later caught the eye of King George II, and seems to have been one of his many mistresses for a time in the mid-1730s. What the 2nd Earl thought of being cuckolded by the king is not recorded, but he and his wife had no further children after 1727 and his career prospered in the 1730s, culminating in his appointment in 1740 as Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland. This probably implies that he was then chiefly resident at Chillingham. He had sold Dawley in 1725 to the Jacobite Lord Bolingbroke, apparently preferring Uppark as a southern seat, but in 1747 he sold Uppark as well, retaining only a town house in London. He was apparently short of money, for when he died in 1753 his son found he had left considerable debts. His widow, who survived him by more than twenty years, inherited lands in America from a cousin and retired to a comfortable town house at Kensington, on the western edge of London.

Chillingham descended in 1753 to the 2nd Earl's elder son, Charles Bennet (1716-67), 3rd Earl of Tankerville, who occupied himself with a military career during his father's lifetime and rented Dorney Court (Bucks) before inheriting Chillingham. Immediately after inheriting, he set about rebuilding the south range of the castle to make it more habitable. He married one of the daughters of Sir John Astley (1688-1771), 2nd bt., of Patshull Hall (Staffs) and died at the young age of fifty-one. The 3rd Earl and his wife (who lived until 1791) had two sons and two daughters who survived to adulthood. The younger son was a career officer in the army, dying in 1815 as a Lieutenant-General, but the estates passed in 1767 to the elder son, Charles Bennet (1743-1822), 4th Earl of Tankerville. On the death of his maternal grandmother in 1764, he had inherited Whitehall and Abcott Manor in Shropshire, and in 1771 a lead-rich Shropshire estate, which contributed strongly to the family's income in the 19th century. In 1772 he bought Walton Hall at Walton-on-Thames (Surrey) as a southern seat, conveniently close to London. Although much less grand than either Dawley or Uppark had been, Walton became the principal family home, and was the place where the 4th Earl's countess created a notable garden and successfully propogated exotic species. The two elder sons of the 4th Earl both entered Parliament as Foxite Whigs, and the younger, the Hon. Henry Grey Bennet (1777-1836) made a particular mark as an effective and persistent performer in the House of Commons. His career was cut short, however, by a sexual scandal in 1825, soon after his brother had moved to the House of Lords as Charles Augustus Bennet (1776-1859), 5th Earl of Tankerville.

In 1806, the 5th Earl had married a French ward of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, who generously provided a dowry of £10,000 for the match and helped the 5th Earl politically as well. The couple inherited the Chillingham and Shropshire estates from the 4th Earl in 1822, but Walton Hall went to the 4th Earl's widow for her life. Soon after inheriting Chillingham, the 5th Earl brought in Sir Jeffry Wyatville to advise on additions and remodelling, but although grand schemes were formulated, only a limited amount was done, and the most significant survival of his work today is the formal garden with its enclosing walls west of the castle. When the 5th Earl inherited Walton Hall from his mother in 1836, the house was very old-fashioned and may have been in some disrepair, and the 5th Earl decided to rebuild it. For this, the Earl turned to Sir Charles Barry, who had just won the competition to rebuild the Palace of Westminster, but he opted for an essay in Barry's innovative Italianate style, rather than the Gothic and Tudor of Parliament. The house was, in fact, a comprehensive remodelling of the old house rather than a complete rebuilding, but the house that emerged was completely unrecognisable, and its transformation was marked by giving it a new name: Mount Felix. By 1850 - for reasons which are unclear - the 5th Earl had run into financial difficulties, and Mount Felix was sold in 1852. His remaining estates passed at his death in 1859 to his only son, Charles Augustus Bennet (1810-99), 6th Earl of Tankerville, who sat as MP for North Northumberland from 1832-59. In contrast to his father and uncle, he sat as a Conservative, albeit one on the liberal wing of his party. In 1879, he converted to Roman Catholicism, and in the same year he lost his eldest son and heir apparent, who died of cholera while soldiering in India. As a result, when the 6th Earl died at an advanced age in 1899, his second son, George Montagu Bennet (1852-1931), inherited Chillingham and came into the title as 7th Earl of Tankerville.

Before he was thirty, the 7th Earl had tried the navy and the army and decided neither was the life for him, and in the early 1880s he emigrated to America, where he spent nearly twenty years as a cattle rancher. While there, he became involved with the revivalist meetings of Moody and Sankey, through which he met and married the daughter of a New York physician. They came back to England after his father's death and took over the management of the Chillingham estate. The family's remaining Shropshire property was sold in 1912, and from 1916 onwards a good deal of money was ploughed into the restoration of Chillingham, which they found 'a wreck'. In 1919 his wife bought the Plas Newydd estate at Llangollen (Denbighs.), once the home of the famous 'Ladies of Llangollen', but it was sold in 1932, after her husband's death. Chillingham was then inherited by their elder son, Charles Augustus Ker Bennet (1897-1971), 8th Earl of Tankerville, who faced heavy death duties, and quickly decided he could not afford to live in the castle. Many of the contents were sold in 1932 and he moved to a modern house in the village at Chillingham. Efforts were made to find a tenant for the castle, but when these failed it was simply shut up and abandoned. A fire in 1940 extensively damaged the north and west sides of the building and by the 1960s the castle was ravaged by wet and dry rot and the Victorian service wing had been unroofed, and it seemed increasingly likely that the building would meet the fate of so many other houses at that time and be demolished. With the 9th Earl and his son, the present 10th Earl, living chiefly in America, the family's connection to the house and estate was weakened, but happily demolition was averted when Sir Humphrey & Lady Wakefield took the house on in 1981. Sir Humphrey had previous experience of country house restoration, and Lady Wakefield was a descendant of the senior line of the Grey family, from whom Chillingham passed to the Bennets. Over the last forty years the castle has been put back into good repair, and although a good deal of historic interior decoration was lost during half a century of neglect, it has been given a new lease of life.

Dawley House, Middlesex

Dawley House began as the manor house of one of the two manors in the parish of Harlington, now in the western suburbs of London. It was acquired with some 600 acres by Sir John Bennet (c.1557-1627) in 1607, but he apparently lived at Uxbridge rather than Dawley, which was let during his lifetime. His son, also Sir John Bennet (1589-1658), kt., did however reside at Dawley, and may have made improvements to it. Part of the estate had been laid out as a park by 1657, when there were 200 acres attached to the house, and in 1690 Lord Ossulston received licence to impark a further 300 acres, on which avenues were laid out. A print (which exists in two states and was published in Britannia Illustrata in 1707) shows formal gardens to the south and west of the house. 

Dawley House: bird's eye view by Leonard Knyff, engraved by Jan Kip, published 1707.
By the time the engraving was made, Lord Ossulston had rebuilt the house, for he paid tax on 16 hearths in 1664 and on 27 hearths a few years later. The print shows a modestly-detailed astylar two-storey house built round a courtyard, with a hipped roof and dormers. It had nine bays on the south front and was perhaps nine bays square; there were also extensive out-buildings attached to the east side of the house, which may have incorporated portions of the earlier house. The gardens which are the focus of the print are more impressive than the house, and the form of the parterre designs suggests that they were laid out by George London, who is known to have been gardener to Lord Ossulston's brother, the Earl of Arlington. The approach was marked by a magnificent set of iron gates in the style of Jean Tijou, whose book of designs was in Lord Ossulston's library. Even grander was the great greenhouse, lit by eighteen windows, that stood south-east of the house.

Dawley House: plan of grounds by John Jenner, n.d. but perhaps c.1723-25, when Jenner was working for the 2nd Earl at Uppark. The grander garden scheme this plan shows by comparison with the 1707 engraving was either not carried out or not wholly carried out. Image: TNA MPH 1/246
Lord Ossulston's son, who succeeded in 1695 and was made Earl of Tankerville in 1714, continued the development of the house and park, which was extended by 73 acres in 1707. The road shown to the east of the house in the engraving was diverted further east and a very broad ride was laid out to the north of the house, but a semi-circular patte d'oie south of the formal gardens, with avenues radiating out from it in the manner of Hampton Court or Osterley Park, which is shown on an undated early 18th century plan by John Jenner, seems not to have been carried out, as there is no sign of it on John Rocque's map of 1754. John Price of Richmond, who was an architect as well as a builder, was constructing an addition to the house in 1712, and in 1719-20 he 'partly rebuilt' the house to the designs of Nicholas Dubois. 

Dawley House: detail of John Rocque's map of Middlesex, 1754, showing the house and grounds.
In 1725, however, the 2nd Earl of Tankerville, who had inherited Dawley, Chillingham and Uppark, sold Dawley to the Tory polician, Henry St. John (1678-1751), 1st Viscount Bolingbroke. Having supported the Jacobite rebellion in 1715, Bolingbroke had been exiled to France, where he acted as foreign minister for the Old Pretender. In the 1720s, however, by the favour of George I's mistress, the Duchess of Kendal, he was rehabilitated and allowed to return to England, although he remained excluded from the House of Lords. He was supposed to be politically inactive, but his ostentatious rural seclusion at Dawley was itself a form of political statement, since the Tory, or 'country', party extolled the virtues of rural as opposed to city life. He again remodelled or rebuilt the house at Dawley to the designs of James Gibbs - the favourite architect of the Jacobite right. Rocque's map suggests this was a complete rebuilding, for in place of the square courtyard house facing south, Rocque depicts a conventional Palladian layout with a central block and curved links to pavilion wings, facing east. However, the only known engravings of the house, published in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1802, long after most of it had been demolished, show a two-storey block with arched windows on both floors, a seven-bay centre and projecting two-bay wings. This is hard to reconcile with the plan as shown by Rocque. 

Dawley House: engravings of the house published in the Gentlemen's Magazine in 1802, long after it had been pulled down.
Decorative panel, perhaps for an overmantel, corresponding to
Alexander Pope's description of the hall at Dawley.
Provenance unknown, but possibly from Dawley.

By 1728, Bolingbroke had turned his attention to internal decoration, and a letter of Alexander Pope (who was a regular visitor) mentions "I overheard him yesterday agree with a painter for £200, to paint his country hall with trophies of rakes, spades, prongs, &c. and other ornaments, merely to countenance his calling this place a farm". This decoration was executed in monochrome, and what may be an overmantel panel from the room was offered for sale a few years ago: it certainly corresponds to Pope's description. In other rooms there were more ambitious, though still rustic, decorations: "Young winged Cupids smiling guide the plough, And peasants elegantly reap and sow." 

In 1735 Lord Bolingbroke returned to France and he sold Dawley in 1739. In 1772 Lord Paget broke up the estate and Dawley House was largely pulled down in 1776, when the materials were sold by auction, leaving only a fragment which was said to have been formerly part of the service buildings, but could have been one of the pavilions of the Bolingbroke house if Rocque's plan is accurate. This was a five-by-four bay block with a hipped roof and a fine early 18th century doorcase, perhaps moved from elsewhere when the rest of the house was pulled down. 

Dawley House: engraving of the fragment of the house which survived demolition, c.1820.

Dawley House: the house shortly before demolition in the early 1950s. Image: Historic England BB56/1370.

It was not at first occupied by the De Salis family, who acquired the site in 1791 but preferred nearby Dawley Court. They appear to have rented it for some years to Tattersalls as a stud farm, and by 1816 it was a farmhouse. Later in the 19th century a new farmhouse was built nearby and Dawley House again had gentry tenants. It was still apparently well maintained in 1902, but after damage during the Second World War, it was pulled down in the early 1950s. An EMI factory car park later stood on the site.

Descent: John Aubrey (d. 1557); to son, William Aubrey, who sold 1564 to William Roper... Richard Reynolds (fl. 1590)... William Hitchcock who sold 1595 to Sir Ambrose Copinger (d. 1604), kt.; to widow, later wife of Sir John Morris of Ongar (Essex); sold 1607 to Sir John Bennet (c.1557-1627), kt.; to son, Sir John Bennet (1597-1658), kt.; to son, John Bennet (1616-95), 1st Baron Ossulston; to son, Charles Bennet (1674-1722), 2nd Baron Ossulston and 1st Earl of Tankerville; to son, Charles Bennet (1697-1753), 2nd Earl of Tankerville, who sold 1725 to Henry St. John (1678-1751), 1st Viscount Bolingbroke; sold 1739 to Edward Stephenson; sold 1755 to Henry Paget (1719-69), 2nd Earl of Uxbridge; to cousin, Henry Paget (1744-1812), 9th Baron Paget and later 1st Earl of Uxbridge of a new creation, who sold 1772 to Thomas Flight; sold to John Thistlewood; sold 1797 to Peter de Salis (d. 1807), Count de Salis; to son, Jerome de Salis (later Fane de Salis) (d. 1836), Count de Salis; to widow (fl. 1841); to son, William Fane de Salis (d. 1896); to son, Sir Cecil Fane de Salis (d. 1948), who sold Dawley Court in 1929. 

Euston Hall, Suffolk

An account of this house is reserved for a future post on the Fitzroy family, Dukes of Grafton.

Chillingham Castle, Northumberland

A century ago, one writer described the part of the border country around Chillingham as 'the most romantic spot in the British Islands' and whether or not such hyperbole can be justified, it is undeniable that the castle and park, with its famous (and carefully nurtured) herd of wild white cattle, still exert a powerful romantic appeal. 

Chillingham Castle: a romantic early 19th century watercolour, capturing the spirit of the castle and parkland
but employing considerable artistic licence in the layout and detail. Image: Private Collection.
There was a tower at Chillingham by 1255, when King Henry III stayed here, but the present building seems to date from the years around 1344, when Sir Thomas Grey de Heton was granted licence to crenellate. The castle he built is roughly square, and originally comprised four square angle towers linked by curtain walls, with a vaulted ground floor in each of the towers. Today, the towers are joined by stone ranges built against the curtain walls, but there is evidence that these are later than the corner towers, and they probably replaced earlier timber structures in the late 14th or 15th century. The Great Hall is in the south range on the first floor, with the former chapel to its east, in the south-east tower. The castle was badly damaged in 1513, after the Battle of Flodden, and withstood a siege during the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, but was restored before 1541 by Ralph Ellerker, who held the wardship of the young Grey heir and garrisoned it for the King. His repairs involved the partial rebuilding of the north wall and towers and probably parts of the east and west ranges as well, but the aim of the work was to return the castle to defensibility, not to modernise it. 

Chillingham Castle: the north front, as remodelled c.1630 for the 1st Baron Grey of Wark.
Chillingham thus remained largely in its medieval state until the early 17th century, when the union of the Crowns of England and Scotland brought the promise of more peaceful conditions to the border lands. When work did take place, probably for Sir William Grey, 1st Baron Grey of Wark, who inherited the estate in 1623 and moved to Epping Place in Essex in 1636, it involved remodelling the north front to make a new entrance, with a three-storey frontispiece with coupled columns, a fashionable conceit that may have been familiar from Oxbridge colleges or from great houses further south, such as Stonyhurst (Lancs) or Browsholme Hall (Yorks WR). But whereas more sophisticated architects displayed their classical erudition in employing a correct hierarchy of the different architectural orders on such frontispieces, at Chillingham all the columns are Tuscan.
Chillingham Castle: drawing room, with ceiling and frieze of c.1630
Image: Nick Kingsley. Some rights reserved.
Inside, some new interiors were created, including the drawing room above the hall, which retains its Jacobean frieze and
 a good plaster ceiling with patterned ribs and pendants, and the long gallery in the north range, which had two fine overmantel carvings of Susannah and the Elders and the Sacrifice of Isaac, the first of which was later moved to the east range. Another surviving overmantel is the armorial one in the library next to the drawing room, which originally stood in the steward's room.

The entrance archway is approached by a flight of steps and leads into the sloping central courtyard of the castle, which is surrounded by rather gaunt three-storey ranges with mullioned and transomed windows that have the simplest mouldings. Facing the visitor is the hall range, in front of which is a two-storey addition which in its current form seems to be 18th century, but which may be wholly or partly a reconstruction of an early 17th century predecessor. Alternatively, it may have been created in the 18th century to make use of decorative details removed from the south front when it was remodelled in 1753. What is visible now is an open arcade with segmental arches on the ground floor, and above that an enclosed storey approached by an open stair with coarsely-detailed 17th century stone balusters. On top of this is a terrace with a similar 17th century stone balustrade. In front of the arches of the arcade, and clearly re-used, are a set of stumpy Ionic columns supporting six small statues standing on corbels, from a set representing the Nine Worthies. Similar columns flank the doorway on the first floor, and another statue is placed in the centre of the terrace balustrade, which is raised at this point to form a sort of gable behind the figure. The statues closely resemble those on the porch at Gibside Hall (Co. Durham), where they date from 1625.

Chillingham Castle: it is unclear whether the forebuilding in the courtyard is the reworking of a 17th century feature,
or an 18th century stage for display of sculpture removed from the south front. Image: Paul Johnson.

Chillingham Castle: engraving of the south front (though titled as the west front) by Samuel & Nathaniel Buck, 1718,
showing it before the rebuilding of 1753.

Chillingham Castle: the south front as rebuilt in 1753. Image: TSP. Some rights reserved.
Later alterations to the castle seem to have begun in 1753 with the remodelling of the central part of the south front of the castle, between the towers, as a conventional five bay, two-storey Georgian façade with a small two-storey canted bay window in the centre. This has octagonal columns at the angles bearing small figures, perhaps a reference to the similar 17th century features on the courtyard side of the hall. At the same time, new decorative plasterwork was introduced into the house, and the grounds south of the castle were landscaped to create the sweeping lawns favoured at the time. Next on the scene was John Paterson, who in 1803 remodelled a number of rooms on the east side of the castle - reputedly after a fire - for the 4th Earl of Tankerville, including the apse-ended school room and Parapet Room. 

Chillingham Castle: ground and first floor plans in 1913. Image: Country Life
In about 1824, the 5th Earl of Tankerville brought in Sir Jeffrey Wyatville, who proposed two alternative schemes for major additions on the west side of the house, the larger of which which would almost have doubled its size. (Some of the unexecuted designs are reproduced by Jeremy Musson in the article cited below). In the end, however, the work carried out by Wyatville in 1828 was limited to the redecoration of several rooms, and the laying out of the formal gardens west of the castle. The great hall had become a dining room in the late 17th or 18th century, but he altered it and installed two magnificent white marble fireplaces from Colen Campbell's Wanstead House (Essex), acquired at the demolition sale in 1822. These remain in situ but are boxed in and not visible, being so out of character with the medievalising theme of the room, with its displays of armour, weapons, and hunting trophies. The final major addition to the castle was the building of a large service wing on the east side for the 6th Earl in 1872-73.

Chillingham Castle: the new garden laid out by Wyatville in 1827-28 and recently replanted. Image: Paul Johnson
In 1629, Sir William Grey had a licence to empark his lands at Chillingham. A 1711 survey of the estate by Henry Pratt shows that an elaborate parterre existed in the western garden by that time. There was a further remodelling of the grounds c.1754, but the present landscape is largely the work of the estate steward, John Bailey, whose brief seems to have been to create a picturesque landscape that designed around the needs of the historic herd of wild cattle. Wyatville, thwarted of his ambition to build a large addition to the castle, created a new formal garden in c.1827-28. 

As so often, the house went into decline in the 20th century. The 6th Earl came to regard the house as a white elephant, and the 7th Earl and his American wife found it 'a wreck' in 1916 and devoted many years to putting it in order. Their son, the 8th Earl, could not afford to sustain the effort, and in 1933 he held a major sale of the contents of the house and moved to a modern house in the village. He attempted to find a tenant for the castle, and when that failed, the house was abandoned. By 1939, a guidebook declared that "Chillingham Castle has fallen upon evil days. Untenanted, emptied of its treasures, most of its interest nowadays is in its picturesque exterior. The castle and grounds are not usually shown...The grounds are neglected - but enough remains of the Italian garden on the west side, where the old jousting-ground was, to show how charming it must have been in its prime". There was a serious fire in 1940, caused by the burning of rubbish abandoned in the house, which burned out part of the north side and left the west wing water damaged and smoke blackened. By the 1960s the condition of the house was a cause of major concern, with the Victorian service wing roofless and completely derelict and rampant wet and dry rot throughout the house. It was offered to the National Trust, who understandably turned it down, and its future seemed very bleak. It was rescued by the current owners, Sir Humphrey and Lady Wakefield, who had a family connection to the place, as Lady Wakefield was descended from the senior line of the Grey family, who had settled at Howick Hall (Northbld), which her mother had inherited in 1963. Sir Humphrey, who had previous experience restoring Lough Cutra Castle in Ireland, expressed a willingness to take on the restoration and the 10th Lord Tankerville, who lives in America, thankfully made him a gift of it. Sir Humphrey subsequently bought enough of the surrounding land to protect the setting. Over the subsequent twenty years a thorough programme of repairs took place, but in decorating and furnishing the interiors no attempt was made to reinstate the lost Georgian interiors. Almost all the plain plastering of the walls was lost to the dry rot, and the decision was taken to leave the rubble stone of the walls exposed. This policy has made the house a sort of flamboyant stage set, 'evoking the trials and triumphs of this historic border... mansion described by Sir Walter Scott as "bearing the true rust of the baron's wars"'. The 19th century service wing has been retained but converted into holiday flats. 

Chillingham Castle: the hall, as restored in the late 20th century. Image: Paul Johnson.

Descent: built for Sir Thomas Grey de Heton (d. before 1369); to son, Sir Thomas Grey (c.1359-1400); to son, Sir Thomas Grey of Wark; to son, Sir Ralph Grey (d. 1465); to son, Sir Edward Grey; to son, Sir Ralph Grey (1529-66), kt.; to son, Sir Thomas Grey (1549-90), kt.; to brother, Sir Ralph Grey (c.1552-1623), kt.; to son, Sir William Grey (1593-1674), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Grey of Wark; to son, Ralph Grey (1630-75), 2nd Baron Grey of Wark; to son, Ford Grey (1655-1701), 3rd Baron Grey of Wark and 1st Earl of Tankerville; to daughter, Lady Mary Grey (d. 1710), wife of Charles Bennet (1674-1722), 2nd Baron Ossulston and later 1st Earl of Tankerville of a new creation; to son, Charles Bennet (1697-1753), 2nd Earl of Tankerville; to son, Charles Bennet (1716-67), 3rd Earl of Tankerville; to son, Charles Bennet (1743-1822), 4th Earl of Tankerville; to son, Charles Augustus Bennet (1776-1859), 5th Earl of Tankerville; to son, Charles Augustus Bennet (1810-99), 6th Earl of Tankerville; to son, George Montagu Bennet (1852-1931), 7th Earl of Tankerville; to son, Charles Augustus Ker (1897-1971), 8th Earl of Tankerville; to son, Charles Augustus Grey Bennet (1921-80), 9th Earl of Tankerville; to son, Peter Grey Bennet (b. 1956), 10th Earl of Tankerville, who gave it in 1981 to Sir Humphrey Wakefield (b. 1936), 2nd bt.

Walton House (later Mount Felix), Walton-on-Thames, Surrey

There was reputedly a house on this site by the mid 17th century, but it was developed into a small estate by Harry Rodney, father of Admiral Lord Rodney, in the early 18th century. The earliest house of which anything is known is said to have been built in 1748-50 by William Etheridge for Samuel Dicker, a wealthy Jamaican planter who bought the estate in 1744 and retired permanently to England three years later. He acquired additional land and laid out a garden, and in 1747-48 also built a toll bridge across the river Thames below Walton House, also to the designs of William Etheridge. This was a wooden 'mathematical bridge', the elegance of which was so much admired that Canaletto recorded it in a painting of 1754, which also shows Walton House in the background. 

Canaletto's view of Walton Bridge, 1754 (Dulwich Picture Gallery)

Detail of Canaletto's view of Walton Bridge, showing Walton House, 1754.

Walton House: watercolour view by John Hassall, 1823. Image: Surrey Archives Service 4348/4/30/3

Although Canaletto's image of the house is very indistinct, it fairly clearly shows the same house as was recorded in 1823 by John Hassall and in a group of drawings by Lord Tankerville's daughter, Mary Elizabeth Bennet (later Monck). Hassall's view shows an eleven-bay house, the central five bays of which are much more closely spaced, and I think that very probably the central five bays were built in the 1710s for Harry Rodney, and that Etheridge's work involved the addition of the wings and perhaps the internal remodelling of the rest.

Walton House: view of the entrance front by Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet, c.1822. Image: Elmbridge Museum.
The house was acquired by Charles Bennet, 4th Earl of Tankerville in 1772, and his wife laid out fine gardens around the house. When the 4th Earl died in 1822 he bequeathed Walton House to his widow, and only when she died in 1836 did it pass to their son, the 5th Earl. With coffers swollen by the profits of lead mining in Shropshire, he decided in 1836 to remodel the house, and commissioned Sir Charles Barry - who had recently won the competition to design the new Houses of Parliament - to transform it into an Italianate villa dominated by a tall, square entrance tower that formed a porte-cochère, which he named Mount Felix. 

Mount Felix: entrance front of the Barry house, 1958. Image: Historic England AA59/3271

Mount Felix: garden front while in use as a voluntary hospital in the First World War. Image: Auckland Museum PH-ALB-398-p8-3 

Subsequent owners - who included the founder of the Illustrated London News and a member of the family which owned the Thomas Cook travel company - made few major changes to the house. In 1915, the then owners, John and Kathleen Compton, loaned the house for use as a wartime emergency hospital, which by 1920 had treated some 27,000 men, chiefly Australian and New Zealand servicemen wounded at Gallipoli and later in France. When the house was returned to the Comptons it was in poor condition, and they were unable to afford to restore it or live in it. It was sold to a syndicate which planned to turn it into a country club, but it was eventually converted into flats, while the stables were turned into houses. During the Second World War, the ballroom was used as a temporary morturary to enable identification of the bodies of those killed during an attack on the nearby Vickers factory in 1940, and after the war it housed a small business and various shows. In 1966, a fire severely damaged the house and it was demolished the following year, leaving only some of the outbuildings and the entrance gates erected by Mrs. Ingram in 1870. The site of the house was covered by a large housing development.

Descent: Anthony Twine and his mother Elizabeth Twine; sold 1713 to Harry Rodney; sold 1720 to Leonard Smelt (d. 1740); to son? William Smelt, who sold 1744 to Samuel Dicker (d. 1760); sold after his death to John Zephaniah Holwell; sold c.1765 to Martin Yorke, who sold 1772 to Charles Bennet (1743-1822), 4th Earl of Tankerville, who may already have been in occupation as a tenant; to widow, Emma (d. 1836), Countess of Tankerville; to son, Charles Augustus Bennet (1776-1859), 5th Earl of Tankerville; sold 1852 to Sir Edward Gambier; sold 1856 to Herbert Ingram MP (d. 1868); to widow, Ann (d. 1896), later the wife of Sir Edward William Watkin; sold 1898 to John Mason Cook (d. 1905); sold after his death to John Compton; sold c.1920 to Felix Syndicate Ltd.

Bennet family of Chillingham Castle, Earls of Tankerville

Bennet, Sir John (c.1557-1627). Third son of Richard Bennet (c.1528-74) of Clapcot, Wallingford (Berks) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Teasdale of Sandford Dingley (Berks), born about 1557. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1573; BA 1577; MA 1580; BCL and DCL 1589) and incorporated at Cambridge, 1583. Admitted an advocate, 1590 and made an honorary member of Grays Inn, 1599 and a member of Doctor's Commons, 1604-27. Vicar-general and Chancellor of the archdiocese of York, 1591-96, 1599-1608; counsel to the commissioners for a treaty with Scotland, 1597; MP for Ripon, 1597-98, 1604-10, York, 1601 and Oxford University, 1614, 1621-22; a member of the Council in the North, 1599-1613; judge of the Prerogative Court of York, 1599-1609 and Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1603-22; a commissioner for the Union of England and Scotland, 1604; Master in Chancery, 1608-22; Chancellor to Queen Anne of Denmark, 1608-19. JP for Yorks (ER), 1594-1622, Yorks (NR and WR) by 1601-22, Co. Durham, 1604-22; Middlesex 1608-22. He was sent as an envoy to Brussels, 1617, on a fruitless mission to seek the punishment of the author of an attack on King James I published there. He was knighted, 23 July 1603. In 1622 his career ended in disgrace when he was tried in the Star Chamber for corruption and imprisoned in the Fleet Prison for about a year, as well as being fined £20,000 and banned from holding public office. He devoted his time in prison to religious meditation and after being released published The Psalme of Mercy (1625). He was a friend and executor of Sir Thomas Bodley, kt., who entrusted him with the rebuilding of the University Schools (now part of the Bodleian Library) at Oxford. He married 1st, 29 May 1586 at St Thomas, Salisbury (Wilts), Anne (d. 1602), daughter of Christopher Weeks MP of Salisbury; 2nd, Elizabeth (d. 1614), daughter of Sir Thomas Lowe, haberdasher and alderman of London; and 3rd, by 1617, Leonora (d. 1638), daughter of Adrian Vierandeels of Antwerp and widow of Abraham Tryon (d. 1608) of London, merchant and Gregory Donhault (d. 1614) of London, master in chancery, and had issue, with two further sons and three further daughters by his first wife and one daughter by his second wife, who probably all died in infancy:
(1.1) Anne Bennet (b. 1587), baptised at St Thomas, Salisbury (Wilts), 4 May 1587; died young;
(1.2) Sir John Bennet (1589-1658), kt. (q.v.);
(1.3) Anne Bennet (b. 1591), baptised at St Martin, Salisbury, 21 September 1591;
(1.4) Sir Thomas Bennet (1592-1670), of Salthrop (Wilts), born 5 December and baptised at St Michael-le-Belfry, York, 10 December 1592; ed. at Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1610); Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford from 1611 (BCL 1615; DCL 1624); admitted to Grays Inn, 1617; a Master in Chancery, 1635-70; knighted at Whitehall, 21 August 1661; married 1st, Charlotte (d. 1636), daughter of William Harrison of London and had issue two daughters; married 2nd, 1638/9 (licence 27 December 1638), Thomasine, daughter and co-heir of George Dethick, barrister, son of Sir William Dethick (c.1542-1612), Garter King of Arms, and had issue one son; died 27 June and was buried at Wroughton (Wilts), 1 July 1670; will proved in the PCC, 8 November 1670;
(1.5) William Bennet (b. c.1594), born about 1594; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1611; BA 1615; MA 1618) and Grays Inn (called 1620); barrister-at-law;
(1.6) Elizabeth Bennet (b. 1597), baptised at St Michael-le-Belfry, York, 27 December 1597; married, 7 March 1615/6 at Harlington, [forename unknown] Gregory;
(1.7) Rev. Matthew Bennet (1599-c.1661), baptised at St Michael-le-Belfry, York, 1 April 1599; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1615; BA 1616) and Grays Inn (admitted 1618); ordained deacon and priest, 1622; rector of Harlington, 1628-44 and St. Nicholas Acons, London, 1637-61 (ejected c.1645 but restored 1660); died unmarried before July 1661;
(1.8) Frances Bennet (b. 1600), baptised at St Michael-le-Belfry, York, 12 November 1600;
(2.1) Rev. Michael Bennett (c.1610-55?), born about 1610; educated at Christ Church and Brasenose Colleges, Oxford (BA 1628; MA 1631); ordained deacon, 1631 and priest, 1634; rector of Cowley (Glos), 1632-34, Sudborough (Northants), 1633-45, Greatford with Wilsthorpe (Northants), 1636-39, and Yardley Hastings (Northants), 1639-55; probably died in 1655.
He purchased the Dawley House estate at Harlington in 1607, but he seems to have let it and lived at the Treaty House, Uxbridge (Middx).
He died intestate and was buried at Christ Church, Newgate, London, 15 February 1626/7. His first wife died 9 February 1601/2, and was buried at York Minster, where she is commemorated by a monument erected in 1615 to the designs of Nicholas Stone (and said to be his earliest surviving work). His second wife was buried at Harlington, 14 May 1614. His widow died in 1638 and was buried at Uxbridge, where she is commemorated by a fine monument..

Bennet, Sir John (1589-1658), kt. Eldest surviving son of Sir John Bennet (c.1557-1627), kt. and his first wife, Anne, daughter of Christopher Weeks MP of Salisbury, baptised at St Thomas, Salisbury (Wilts), 15 June 1589. He was knighted at Theobalds, 15 June 1616. Unlike his father and sons he preferred living quietly on his estates to the world of high politics. During the Civil War he was evidently a moderate Royalist and Parliamentary soldiers were billeted on the estate in 1642-43, but he seems to have avoided sequestration by paying a modest fine of £100. His house at Uxbridge, later known as the Treaty House, was used for abortive negotations between representatives of the King, Parliament and the Scots in 1645. He married, 26 June 1615 at St Peter-le-Poer, London, Dorothy (d. 1659), daughter of Sir John Crofts of Saxham (Suffk) and had issue including:
(1) Sir John Bennet (1616-94), kt., 1st Baron Ossulston (q.v.);
(2) Sir Henry Bennet (1618-85), kt., 1st Baron Arlington and 1st Earl of Arlington (q.v.);
(3) Robert Bennet; third son; died without issue;
(4) Charles Bennet (fl. 1658), fourth son; married Anne, daughter of Richard Wigmore of Upton Court (Herefs) and had issue one son and two daughters; living in 1658, when he was executor of his father's will;
(5) Thomas Bennet; fifth son; died without issue
(6) Anne Bennet (d. 1623); buried at Harlington, 28 August 1623;
(7) Dorothy Bennet (b. c.1624; fl. 1658); married, 1647/8 (licence, 19 January), Benjamin Baron (b. c.1621; fl. 1660) of London, merchant, and had issue at least two sons and two daughters; living in 1658;
(8) Anne Bennet (1628-31), baptised at Harlington, 23 October 1628; died young and was buried at Harlington, 7 March 1630/1;
(9) Arthur Bennet (1630-31), baptised at Harlington, 13 January 1629/30; died in infancy and was buried at Harlington, 5 April 1631;
(10) Edward Bennet (1631-68), baptised at Harlington, 30 June 1631; died unmarried and without issue and was buried at Harlington, 14 November 1668;
(11) Elizabeth Bennet (1633-96), baptised at Harlington, 12 October 1633; married, perhaps bigamously, 13 July 1662, as his second wife*, Sir Robert Carr (1637-82), 3rd bt. of Aswarby (Lincs), MP for Lincolnshire, 1665-82, son of Sir Robert Carr (d. 1667), 2nd bt., and had issue two sons and two daughters; died August 1696 and was buried at Sleaford (Lincs); will proved in the PCC, 18 August 1696;
(12) Richard Bennet (1637-43), baptised at Harlington, 15 May 1637; died young and was buried at Harlington, 26 June 1643.
He inherited Dawley House from his father in 1627, and the Treaty House at Uxbridge (Middx) from his stepmother in 1638.
He was buried at Harlington, 16 November 1658; his will was proved in the PCC, 16 June 1659. His widow was buried at Harlington, 2 November 1659; her will was proved in the PCC, 7 December 1659.
* Sir Robert's first wife, Isabel Falkingham, was his mother's maid; he is said to have paid her £1,000 'that she should not claim him' when he was courting Elizabeth Bennet.

Bennet, Sir Henry (1618-85), kt., 1st Baron Arlington and 1st Earl of Arlington. Second son of Sir John Bennet (1589-1658), kt., and his wife Dorothy, daughter of Sir John Crofts of Saxham (Suffk), baptised at Little Saxham (Suffk), 6 September 1618. Educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1635; BA 1639; MA 1642; Student, 1636-48), where he gained a reputation as a scholar and a poet. In 1643 he entered the service of George, Lord Digby, secretary of state to Charles I, and saw military action in a skirmish at Andover, where he received a scar on the bridge of his nose that he bore with pride for the rest of his life. From the end of 1644 until 1647 he acted as a Royalist courier, visiting Paris, Rome and Dublin, eventually joining the court in exile at St Germain in 1647, where he became Secretary to James, Duke of York, 1648-57 and a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, 1656-61. In 1657 he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Spain, remaining there until 1661, absorbing the formal manners of the Spanish court, and being at least attracted to Roman Catholicism. On returning to England he was MP for Callington, 1661-65 and was made a member of the Privy Council, 1662-85, Keeper of the King's Privy Purse, 1661-62 and then Secretary of State for the South, 1662-74. He used his position as one of the king's inner cabinet of senior ministers to acquire other roles and was Postmaster General, 1667-77 and a Commissioner for Trade, 1668-72. His power and influence at court reached a peak in 1672 and thereafter slowly declined. In 1674 Parliament threatened to impeach him, and although the charges against him were dropped in the face of his masterly defence, he sought a quieter life and gave up the Secretaryship for a post as Chamberlain of the Royal Household, 1674-85. He was a JP for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Kent, Middlesex, Oxfordshire, Surrey and Westminster 1662-85 and for Thetford 1668, 1670, and became a Governor of the Charterhouse 1667, Steward of Norwich Cathedral 1668, High Steward of Wallingford 1670-85 and of Kingston-upon-Thames 1683-85 and Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, 1681-85. He was Grand Master of Freemasons, 1679-85. He had been knighted by December 1656 and was raised to the peerage as Baron Arlington, 14 March 1664/5, and was promoted Viscount Thetford and Earl of Arlington, 22 April 1672; both peerages being created with a special remainder that allowed them to descend in the female line. He was also made a Knight of the Garter, 15 June 1672 and was awarded honorary degrees by the Universities of Oxford (DCL, 1663) and Cambridge (LL.D, 1681). The assessment of contemporaries tended to stress his learning, cultivation and subtlety, but historians have until recently taken a harsher view, seeing him as a timid, self-serving intriguer. The more balanced assessment is probably that he was intelligent, shrewd and tactful, and while possessed of a natural timidity, had sufficient courage to seize the opportunities that opened to him. He was a generous host and promoter of the talents of younger men, several of whom, however, showed less gratitude when they became rivals rather than clients. He was fluent in Latin, Spanish and French, and cultivated a wide network of contacts across western Europe. He married, 16 April 1666, Isabella* (1633-1718), daughter of Lodewyck van Nassau, lord of Beverweerd (Netherlands), a cousin of William of Orange, and had issue:
(1) Isabella Bennet (1667-1723), 2nd Countess of Arlington (q.v.).
He purchased Euston Hall (Suffk) in 1666 and built a new house there, with interiors painted by Verrio and gardens laid out by John Evelyn. His town house in London, Arlington House (on the site now occupied by Buckingham Palace), where Verrio also worked, was badly damaged by fire in September 1674, by which he was estimated to have lost £40-50,000.
He died 28 July 1685, and was buried at Euston (Suffk); his will was proved in the PCC, 6 November 1685. His widow died 18 January, and was buried at Euston, 25 January 1717/8; her will was proved in the PCC, 24 February 1717/8.
* She was naturalised by Act of Parliament, 10 November 1666.

Bennet, Isabella (1667-1723), 2nd Countess of Arlington. Only child of Sir Henry Bennet (1618-85), 1st Earl of Arlington, and his wife Isabella, daughter of Lodewyck van Nassau, lord of Beverweerd (Netherlands), born in 1667. She succeeded her father as Countess of Arlington in her own right, 28 July 1685. She married 1st, 1 August 1672 at her father's house (when she was five and her husband was nine) and again 6 November 1679 at her father's lodgings in Whitehall (when she was twelve and her husband sixteen), Henry Fitzroy, the second illegitimate son of King Charles II and Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, who was created Baron Sudbury, Viscount Ipswich and Earl of Euston on his first marriage, and Duke of Grafton, 11 September 1675. She married 2nd, 1698 (licence 14 October), Sir Thomas Hanmer (c.1678-1746), 4th bt., of Bettisfield (Flints). She had issue by her first husband:
(1.1) Charles Fitzroy (1683-1757), 2nd Duke of Grafton, born 25 October 1683; succeeded his father as 2nd Duke of Grafton, 9 October 1690 and his mother as Earl of Arlington, 7 February 1722/3; sworn of the Privy Council, 1715; a Lord of the Bedchamber, 1714-17; Lord Chamberlain, 1724-57; Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, 1705-57; appointed a Knight of the Garter, 1721; awarded an honorary degree by Cambridge University (LLD, 1728) and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, 1749; married, 30 April 1713 at St Luke, Chelsea (Middx), Henrietta (1690-1726), daughter of Charles Somerset, Marquess of Worcester and grand-daughter of Henry Somerset, 1st Duke of Beaufort, and had issue four sons and three daughters; died 6 May 1757 [the Fitzroys, Dukes of Grafton, will be the subject of a future article].
She and her husband inherited Euston Hall from her father in 1685, and it remains the property of the current 12th Duke today.
She died 7 February and was buried 'very splendidly' at Euston, 15 February 1722/3, when her peerage passed to her son. Her first  husband died 9 October 1690 from wounds received on 28 September during the siege of Cork in the Williamite Wars in Ireland; he was buried at Euston. Her widower died 5 May 1746; his will was proved 22 September 1746.

1st Baron Ossulston
Bennet, Sir John (1616-95), kt., 1st Baron Ossulston.
Eldest son 
of Sir John Bennet (1589-1658), kt., and his wife Dorothy, daughter of Sir John Crofts of Saxham (Suffk), baptised at Little Saxham (Suffk), 5 July 1616. Educated at Pembroke College, Oxford* (matriculated 1635), and Grays Inn (admitted 1636). He is said to have served as an officer in the Royalist army (Capt.) during the Civil War, and after the Restoration he secured a series of posts of increasing responsibility, probably due largely to the influence of his younger brother, Sir Henry Bennet, later 1st Earl of Arlington, although his bullying manner made him much feared by his subordinates. He was several times suspected of embezzling public funds and in the reign of James II he was obliged to refund over £12,000 to the state for money falsely claimed. He was an officer in the Gentlemen Pensioners 1660-76 (Lt., 1662); MP for Wallingford, 1663-79; Treasurer of the Fund for the Relief of Indigent Loyal Officers, 1663; Deputy Post Master, 1666-72; and a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to King Charles II, 1676-85. JP for Middlesex, 1660-87 and the City of Westminster, 1665-88; DL for Middlesex, 1662-before 1680. He was made a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of King Charles II, 1661, and raised to the peerage as Baron Ossulston, 24 November 1682, taking his title from the hundred in which his seat at Dawley lay. He married 1st, 28 October 1661 at St Andrew Undershaft, London, Elizabeth (d. 1672), daughter of Lionel Cranfield, 1st Earl of Middlesex, and widow of Edmund Sheffield (1611-58), 2nd Earl of Mulgrave, and 2nd, 1673 (licence 1 May), Bridget (d. 1703), daughter of John Grubham Howe (1625-79) of Cassey Compton (Glos) and Langar (Notts) and sister of Sir Scrope Howe (1648-1713), 1st Viscount Howe, and had issue:
(2.1) Charles Bennet (1674-1722), 2nd Baron Ossulston and 1st Earl of Tankerville (q.v.);
(2.2) Hon. Annabella Bennet (c.1675-98), born about 1675; married, 9 February 1696/7 at Harlington (Middx), with a portion of £30,000, John Cecil (1674-1721), Lord Burghley and later 6th Earl of Exeter, but had no issue; died aged 23 on 30 July and was buried at St Martin, Stamford (Lincs), 6 August 1698;
(2.3) Dorothy Bennet (1676-94), baptised at Westminster, 5 December 1676; died unmarried and was buried at Harlington, 7 March 1693/4.
He inherited Dawley House from his father in 1658 and rebuilt it. He laid out the grounds c.1690, probably to the designs of George London.
He died 11 February and was buried at Harlington, 15 February 1694/5, where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved in the PCC, 18 February 1694/5. His first wife died about 1 February 1671/2. His second wife died 14 July and was buried at Harlington, 21 July 1703; her will was proved in the PCC, 23 July 1703.
* He became a significant benefactor of his alma mater in about 1672, when he endowed two fellowships and two scholarships and contributed largely to the rebuilding of the college.

Bennet, Charles (1674-1722), 2nd Baron Ossulston and 1st Earl of Tankerville. Only son of John Bennet (1616-95), 1st Baron Ossulston, and his second wife, Bridget, daughter of John Grubham Howe of Langar (Notts), born 12 November and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster, 16 November 1674. He succeeded his father as 2nd Baron Ossulston, 11 February 1694/5, was further promoted in the peerage as 1st Earl of Tankerville of the second creation, 19 October 1714, and was made a Knight of the Thistle, February 1720/1. A Whig in politics, he was Chief Justice in Eyre of the Forests south of the Trent, 1715-22 and sworn of the Privy Council, 1716. He married*, 3 July 1695 at Harting (Sussex), Lady Mary (d. 1710), only daughter and heiress of Ford Grey (1655-1701), 3rd Baron Grey 0f Wark and 1st Earl of Tankerville of the first creation, of Uppark (Sussex) and Chillingham Castle (Northbld), and had issue:
(1) Lady Bridget Bennet (1696-1738), baptised at Harlington, 3 September 1696; married, 20 May 1716, John Wallop MP (1690-1762) of Hurstbourne Park and Farleigh House, Farleigh Wallop, later 1st Viscount Lymington and 1st Earl of Portsmouth (who married 2nd, 4 June 1740 at Binfield (Berks), Elizabeth (1691-1762), elder daughter of James Griffin (1667-1715), 2nd Baron Griffin of Braybrooke (Northants) and widow of Henry Neville (later Grey) (1683-1740) of Billingbear (Berks)), third son of John Wallop of Farleigh Wallop, and had issue six sons and four daughters; died at Lyndhurst (Hants), 12 October 1738 and was buried at Farleigh Wallop (Hants);
(2) Charles Bennet (1697-1753), 2nd Earl of Tankerville (q.v.);
(3) Lady Annabella Bennet (1698-1769), baptised at Harlington, 6 December 1698; married, 10 February 1720/1, William Powlett (c.1693-1757), MP for Lymington, 1729-34, Winchester, 1741-47, and Whitchurch, 1754-57, eldest son of Lord William Powlett (1665-1729) and grandson of Charles Powlett (d. 1699), 1st Duke of Bolton, and had issue one son and one daughter; died in London, 22 November and was buried at Old Basing (Hants), 30 November 1769; will proved in the PCC, 1 December 1769;
(4) Hon. John Bennet (c.1700-03), born about 1700; died in infancy and was buried at Harlington, 7 June 1703;
(5) Lady Mary Bennet (1701-29), baptised at Harlington, 2 August 1701; married, 5 August 1720 at the Fleet Prison, London, William Wilmer (c.1692-1744) of Sywell (Northants), Whig MP for Northampton, 1715-27, 1734-44, and had issue three sons and one daughter; died 24 May and was buried at Sywell, 2 June 1729;
(6) Hon. Henry Bennet (1702-21), baptised at Harlington, 31 August 1702; died unmarried and was buried at Harlington, 24 August 1721;
(7) Hon. Grey Bennet (1704-24), baptised at Harlington, 18 May 1704; died unmarried, 19 November, and was buried at Harlington, 21 November 1724; will proved in the PCC, 27 February 1724/5.
He inherited Dawley House from his father in 1695 and and employed both John Price and Nicholas Dubois to make alterations to it (in 1712 and 1719-20 respectively). He and his wife inherited Uppark (Sussex) and Chillingham Castle from her father in 1701.
He died at Dawley, 21 May and was buried at Harlington, 26 May 1722; his will was proved in the PCC, 12 June 1722. His wife died 31 May and was buried at Harlington, 3 June 1710.
* His marriage in July 1695 seems to have put an end to a turbulent period in his personal affairs. A year earlier, Narcissus Luttrell reports 'Lord Ossulston's eldest son is to marry Mrs. Thomas of Wales...having £5000 per annum land, besides £50,000 in money' (7 July) and again he 'is to marry Mrs Crew, one of the heiresses of the Lord Crew' (11 September). On 20 January 1694/5 a warrant was issued 'to search for Mr. Bennett, son of Lord Ossulston, and Mr Popham Conway... in order to prevent their fighting' and finally on 16 April 1695 Lord Lexington was informed that 'it is said Lord Ossulston is married to a young exchange woman. His relations have carried him into the country to see how he is to be brought off'.

Bennet, Charles (1697-1753), 2nd Earl of Tankerville. Eldest son of Charles Bennet (1674-1722), 2nd Baron Ossulston and 1st Earl of Tankerville, and his wife Lady Mary, only daughter and heiress of Ford Grey, 3rd Baron Grey of Wark and 1st Earl of Tankerville, baptised at Harlington, 21 December 1697. Educated at Eton from 1707 and Winchester, 1712. Known as Lord Ossulston from 1714 until he succeeded his father as 2nd Earl of Tankerville, 21 May 1722. An officer in the 8th Dragoons (Capt., 1716). A courtier, he was Lord of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales, 1729-33, Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, 1731-33, Master of the Royal Buckhounds, 1733-37 and a Lord of the Bedchamber to the King, 1737-38. Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland and Newcastle, 1740-53; one of the Governors of Newcastle Infirmary. He was made a Knight of the Thistle, 1730 and awarded an honorary degree by Cambridge University (LLD), 1749. He married, c.1715* at Jarrow (Co. Durham), Camilla (1698-1775), (who became a mistress of King George II** and a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Caroline, 1737 and later to Princess Augusta), daughter of Edward Colville of Whitehouse (Co. Durham), yeoman grazier and butcher, and had issue:
(1) Charles Bennet (1716-67), 3rd Earl of Tankerville (q.v.);
(2) Lady Camilla Bennet (d. 1785); married 1st, 14 January 1754 at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster (Middx), Gilbert Fane Fleming (c.1724-76), son of Gilbert Fleming (d. 1762), Governor of the Leeward Islands, and had issue two daughters; married 2nd, 9 October 1779, Basil Wake (1720-1800) of Bath (Som.); buried at St James, Bath (Som), 7 February 1785;
(3) Hon. George Bennet (1727-93), said to have been born 28 October and baptised in the chapel of the Coldstream Guards barracks at Westminster, 1 November 1727 when King George II was one of his godfathers; educated at Eton, 1742; died about April 1793.
He inherited Dawley House, Uppark and Chillingham Castle from his father in 1722, and built a new stable at Uppark (to the design of John Jenner) in 1723-25; but he sold Dawley in 1725 to Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke and Uppark in 1747 to Sir Matthew Featherstonhaugh. He had a house in St James' Sq., London, the staircase of which was decorated by Jacopo Amigoni in 1730-31. Later his town house was in Gerrard St. His widow inherited property in the colonies of Virginia and Maryland from her cousin, John Colville (1690-1755), and lived latterly at a house in Kensington Square.
He had a stroke while travelling and died at the Green Man, Ilford (Essex), 14 March 1753; he was buried at Harlington, 20 March 1753 and his will was proved in the PCC, 11 April 1753. His widow died at Kensington, 8 October 1775; her will was proved in the PCC, 24 October 1775.
* The couple are said to have met an an assize ball in Newcastle, but her father - thinking her too young to marry - sent her to Rotterdam. Lord Ossulston pursued her there and pressed his suit, and when she was sent back to England, he contrived to secrete himself on the same vessel, in a cask, and they landed together at South Shields, being married soon afterwards at Jarrow, then a well-known resort for young couples wishing to marry without parental consent.
** In 1735, Lord Hervey described her as 'a handsome, good-natured, simple woman' and Sir Robert Walpole told the Queen that she was 'a very safe fool and would give the King some amusement without giving Her Majesty any trouble'.

Bennet, Charles (1716-67), 3rd Earl of Tankerville. Elder son of Charles Bennet (1697-1753), 2nd Earl of Tankerville, and his wife Camilla, daughter of Edward Colville of Whitehouse (Co. Durham), yeoman grazier and butcher, usually said to have been born 6 September 1716 but baptised at All Saints, Newcastle-on-Tyne (Northbld), 27 August 1716. Educated at Winchester, 1729-31, and undertook the Grand Tour, 1734-36. An officer in the army (Ensign, 1734; Capt. 1739; Maj., 1741; Lt-Col. 1743; retired 1749), who saw service in the West Indies and was present at the siege of Cartagena (Columbia). Whig MP for Northumberland, 1748-49, but the election result was contested and he withdrew his claim. He was known as Lord Ossulston until he succeded his father as 3rd Earl of Tankerville, 14 March 1753. On inheriting, he found his father had left considerable debts, to pay off which he attempted to obtain an official post. Although this attempt was unsuccessful he was granted a secret service pension of £800 a year in 1756. He married, 23 September 1742 at St Julian, Shrewsbury (Shrops.), Alicia (1716-91), fourth, but second surviving, daughter and co-heir of Sir John Astley (1688-1771), 2nd bt., of Patshull Hall (Staffs), and had issue:
(1) Charles Bennet (1743-1822), 4th Earl of Tankerville (q.v.);
(2) Lady Camilla Elizabeth Bennet (1747-1821), born 11 March and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster, 22 March 1746/7; married 1st, 5 September 1764 at Cologne (Germany), Capt. Pieter von Donhoff (1720-64), Count Donhoff, a Polish nobleman in the service of the Dutch States General, who died about a month after their wedding at his seat near Nijmegen (Netherlands); she married 2nd, 11 September 1778 at St Martin in the Fields, Westminster (Middx) (sep. before 1814*), Robert Robinson (d. 1814) of Appleby (Westmld), and had issue one son and one daughter; died at Chelmsford (Essex), 2 September, and was buried at Easthampstead (Berks), 10 September 1821;
(3) Lady Frances Alicia Bennet (c.1749-1835), born about 1749; married 1st, 17 January 1776 at St Martin, Exeter (Devon), William Aslong (1748-80), and had issue two sons and one daughter (who all died young); married 2nd, 27 March 1781 at St Mary Bredin, Canterbury (Kent), as his second wife, Rev. Richard Sandys (c.1746-82), eldest son of Richard Sandys of Northbourne Court (Kent), and had issue one daughter; married 3rd, 26 August 1783 at St Alphage, Canterbury, Rev. Edward Beckingham Benson (1755-95), rector of Deal (Kent), and had issue one daughter (who died young); buried at Harbledown (Kent), 23 March 1835;
(4) John Grey Bennet (1751-53), baptised at St Thomas, Salisbury (Wilts), 26 October 1751; died in infancy 25 August 1753 and was buried at Hitcham (Bucks), where he was commemorated by an inscribed flagstone;
(5) Hon. Henry Astley Bennet (1757-1815), born 3 April and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., London, 10 April 1757; an officer in the army (Ensign, 1774; Capt., 1778; Lt-Col., 1791; Col., 1795; Maj-Gen., 1798; Lt-Gen., 1805); lived latterly at Oakingham, Easthampstead (Berks); married, 17 June 1798 at St Luke, Chelsea (Middx) Mary Cranfield (d. 1816), but had no issue; died 13 December and was buried at Easthampstead, 18 December 1815; will proved in the PCC, 13 January 1816.
He rented Dorney Court (Bucks) (where he employed Stiff Leadbetter on repairs in 1753-54) before he inherited Chillingham Castle from his father in 1753. He also had a town house in Upper Brook St. and later in Hertford St., Westminster. In 1756 he had a significant inheritance from his maternal great-uncle, John Colville of Virginia (USA).
He died at East Sheen (Surrey), 27 October, and was buried at Harlington (Middx), 6 November 1767; his will was proved in January 1768. His wife died in London, 28 February and was buried at Harlington, 7 March 1791; administration of her goods with will annexed was granted, 15 March 1791, and by her wiill her two 'unworthy and undutiful daughters' were cut off with the proverbial shilling; her chief heir was her younger surviving son.
* Her second husband went on to have at least four illegitimate children, named in his will, who were all minors at the time of his death in 1814.

4th Earl of Tankerville
Bennet, Charles (1743-1822), 4th Earl of Tankerville.
Eldest son of Charles Bennet (1716-67), 3rd Earl of Tankerville, and his wife Alicia, fourth daughter of Sir John Astley, 2nd bt., of Patshull (Staffs), born in London, 15 November and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 10 December 1743. Educated at Eton, 1753-60. He succeeded his father as 4th Earl of Tankerville, 27 October 1767, was sworn of the Privy Council, 1782, and served as 
Joint Postmaster-General, 1782-83, 1784-86, but is said to have become disillusioned by politics and to have retired from public life. He was a leading cricketer, playing for Hambledon Cricket Club until 1781, and later acting as promoter of matches. In 1784 he sat on the Committee at the Star and Garter tavern in Pall Mall which devised some of the most important laws of cricket, including the leg-before-wicket rule. He spent a great deal of money gambling on matches and sponsoring teams, and employed two talented cricketers amongst his domestic staff: William Bedster, who acted as his butler, and Edward Stevens (one of the best bowlers of his generation) who was a gardener at Walton Hall. In later life he amassed a renowned collection of shells at Walton Hall, which his will directed should be sold. He married, 7 October 1771 at Gatton (Surrey), Emma (1752-1836), gardener, botanist, and botanical artist, younger daughter and co-heir of Sir James Colebrook (1722-61), 1st bt. of Gatton, and had issue:
(1) Lady Caroline Bennet (1772-1818), born 2 October and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster, 1 November 1772; married, 23 June 1795 by special licence at her father's house in Portman Sq., Westminster, Sir John Wrottesley (1771-1841), 9th bt. of Wrottesley (Staffs) and later 1st Baron Wrottesley (who m2, 1819, Julia, daughter of John Conyers of Copt Hall (Essex) and widow of his first wife's brother, the Hon. John Astley Bennet (1778-1812)), and had issue five sons and one daughter; died 7 March and was buried at Tettenhall (Staffs), 16 March 1818;
(2) Lady Anna Bennet (1774-1836), born 28 April and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster, 30 May 1774; married, 19 July 1804 by special licence at her father's house in Portman Sq., Westminster, Rev. Hon. William Beresford (1780-1830), third son of William Beresford (1743-1819), Archbishop of Tuam and 1st Baron Decies, and had issue one son and one daughter; died at Walton Hall and was buried at Harlington (Middx), 19 September 1836;
(3) Charles Augustus Bennet (1776-1859), 5th Earl of Tankerville (q.v.);
(4) Hon. Henry Grey Bennet (1777-1836), born 2 December  and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster, 27 December 1777; educated at Eton, 1788-92; an officer in the Foot Guards (Ensign, 1793; Lt. & Capt. 1794; retired 1796); travelled in Italy and Sicily and then returned to education at Lincoln's Inn (admitted 1798; called 1803) and Peterhouse, Cambridge (matriculated 1799); barrister-at-law practising on the western circuit; an officer in the Glendale Volunteers (Capt., 1803); he became an extremely active Whig MP, sitting for Shrewsbury, 1806-07, 1811-26, and a close friend of Henry Brougham and Thomas Creevey, who  described him as "‘most amiable, occasionally most boring, but at all times most upright and honourable"; he had a strong interest in geology, was President of the Geological Society of London, 1813-15, and funded the creation of a readership in geology at Oxford University, 1818; Fellow of the Royal Society; he married, 15 May 1816, Gertrude Frances (1791-1841), eldest daughter of Lord William Russell MP (1767-1840) and had issue one son (who predeceased him) and two daughters; he was evidently bisexual, for in 1825, his family being ill, he took them to Spa (Belgium) for a cure, where he was publicly accused of soliciting a homosexual act, an allegation which he found it impossible to wholly deny; his wife stood by him, but the incident destroyed his moral reputation and he was obliged to retire from Parliament and live abroad with his family at a villa near Lake Como and later at Pisa (Italy); in 1826 he inherited Chilton House (Bucks) from his uncle, Sir John Aubrey (1739-1826), 6th bt., but let it; he died in Florence (Italy), 29 May 1836; administration of his goods (with will annexed) was granted in the PCC, 14 July 1837, and further administration was granted 30 July 1851;
(5) Hon. John Astley Bennet (1778-1812), born 22 December 1778 and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster, 2 February 1779; educated at Eton and Royal Naval Academy (admitted 1793); an officer in the Royal Navy (Lt., 1799; Cdr., 1802; Capt., 1805; retired 1807); married, 27 August 1811 at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster, Julia (1783-1860) (who m2, 19 May 1819, her brother-in-law, Sir John Wrottesley (1771-1841), 9th bt. and 1st Baron Wrottesley), daughter of John Conyers of Copthall (Essex); died suddenly at Meriden (Warks), 14 September 1812, while travelling to London, and was buried at Tettenhall (Staffs); will proved 1 February 1813;
(6) Lady Margaret Alicia Emma Bennet (1780-1813), born 22 May and baptised at St Marylebone (Middx), 16 June 1780; died unmarried, 27 March and was buried at Harlington (Middx), 3 April 1813;
(7) Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet (1783-1861), born 24 March and baptised at St Marylebone, 25 April 1783; a very competent amateur artist who was a pupil of John Varley, and who made a collection of drawings of Walton Hall which were published in 1924; married, 26 July 1833 by special licence at her brother's house in Grosvenor Sq., Westminster, as his second wife, Sir Charles Miles Lambert Middleton (later Monck) (1779-1867), 6th bt. of Belsay Hall (Northbld), but had no issue; died 27 February 1861;
(8) Lady Harriot Maria Bennet (1785-1801), born 26 May 1785 and baptised at St Marylebone, June 1785; died unmarried, 6 March, and was buried at Walton-on-Thames, 9 March 1801;
(9) Lady Augusta Sophia Bennet (1787-1809), born 27 November and baptised at St Marylebone (Middx), 27 December 1787; died unmarried, 10 February and was buried at Harlington, 18 February 1809.
He inherited Whitehall, Shrewsbury and Abcott Manor (Shropshire) from his maternal grandmother in 1764, and Chillingham Castle from his father in 1767. He inherited further lands in Shropshire from his father-in-law in 1771, and in the 19th century these proved to have rich lead deposits. He bought Walton Hall, Walton-on-Thames (Surrey) in 1772. He had sold Abcott Manor before 1812. In 1803 he employed John Paterson to rebuild the east side of Chillingham Castle after a fire.
He died at Walton Hall, 10 December and was buried at Harlington, 19 December 1822; his will was proved 10 February 1823 and further administrations were granted February 1839 and March 1845. His widow died at Walton Hall, 20 November 1836, and was buried at Harlington; her will was proved in the PCC, 14 December 1836.

Bennet, Charles Augustus (1776-1859), 5th Earl of Tankerville. Eldest son of Charles Bennet (1743-1822), 4th Earl of Tankerville, and his wife Emma, younger daughter and co-heir of Sir James Colebrook, 1st bt., born 28 April and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster (Middx), 29 May 1776. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1793; hon. MA 1795) and travelled in Italy in 1797. Major commanding the Glendale Volunteers, 1803. He was a Foxite Whig in politics, and sat as MP for Steyning, 1803-06, Knaresborough, 1806-18 and Berwick, 1820-22. He was sworn of the Privy Council, 1806, and was Treasurer of the Royal Household, 1806-07 in the Ministry of All the Talents. A physically small man (Lady Holland referred to him as 'Little O'), his political career was hampered by pride, indecision and poor oratory: he was a ready enough speaker but could not project his voice enough to be heard well in the House of Commons. He lost his seat at Knaresborough, where he sat on the Duke of Devonshire's interest, because he was more independent in his voting than the Duke was prepared to tolerate, and his politics were too radical for many Liberal constituencies. He accumulated substantial debts (said to amount to £40,000), which his father paid off in 1817 on condition that he and his family lived at Walton Hall with his parents on an allowance of £1100 a year, out of which he was obliged to pay £500 a year for the interest on the money his father had had to borrow to pay his debts! In later life he withdrew from public life due to problems with his sight. Known as Lord Ossulstone until he succeeded his father as 5th Earl of Tankerville, 10 December 1822. He married, against the wishes of his father, 28 July 1806, by special licence, at Devonshire House, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), Corisande Armandine Sophie Leonice Hélène (1782-1865)*, daughter of Antoine Louis Marie, Duc de Gramont, and the ward of the Duchess of Devonshire, whose husband provided a dowry of £10,000 for her, and had issue:
(1) Lady Corisande Emma Bennet (1807-76), born 10 August and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster, 5 September 1807; married, 13 April 1830, at her father's house in Grosvenor Sq., Westminster, as his first wife, Rt. Hon. James Howard Harris GCB (1807-89), 3rd Earl of Malmesbury, Foreign Secretary, 1852, 1858-59 and Lord Privy Seal, 1866-68 and 1874-76, but had no issue; died 17 May 1876 and was buried at Christchurch Priory (Hants), where she is commemorated by a fine monument;
(2) Lady Harriet Alicia Bennet (1808-24), born 23 August 1808 and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster, 1 June 1809; died young at Walton Hall, 11 January, and was buried at Harlington (Middx), 19 January 1824;
(3) Charles Augustus Bennet (1810-99), 6th Earl of Tankerville (q.v.).
He inherited Chillingham Castle and the Shropshire estate from his father in 1822 and employed Sir Jeffry Wyatville to make alterations to Chillingham c.1825-28. He inherited Walton House on the death of his mother in 1836 and largely rebuilt it to the designs of Sir Charles Barry in 1836-39, after which it was renamed Mount Felix, but financial retrenchment caused him to sell it in 1852. He had a town house in Grosvenor Square, Westminster.
He died in London, 25 June, and was buried at Harlington (Middx), 1 July 1859. His widow died in London, 23 January 1865.
* Lord Melbourne described her to Queen Victoria in 1839 as 'a frivolous little woman, who doesn't know what she is about'.

6th Earl of Tankerville 
Bennet, Rt. Hon. Charles Augustus (1810-99), 6th Earl of Tankerville.
Only son of Charles Augustus Bennet (1776-1859), 5th Earl of Tankerville, and his wife 
Armandine Sophie Leonice Hélène, daughter of Antoine Louis Marie, Duc de Gramont, born 10 January and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster (Middx), 18 February 1810. Educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1827; BA 1831). Lord Brougham described him as 'a very agreeable, intelligent young man... a sort of Liberal Conservative'. He sat in Parliament as Conservative MP for North Northumberland, 1832-59. Known by the courtesy title of Lord Ossulston from 1822. He was called to House of Lords in this barony by a writ of acceleration just a month before he succeeded his father as 6th Earl of Tankerville, 25 June 1859. JP and DL for Northumberland. Lt-Col. commanding Northumberland Rifle Volunteers, 1860. He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1866 and was Captain of the Gentlemen at Arms, 1866-67 and Lord Steward of the Household, 1867-68 during Disraeli's first administration. He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1879. He married, 29 January 1850 at Kimbolton (Hunts), Lady Olivia (1830-1922), social reformer and philanthropist, eldest daughter of George Montagu, 6th Duke of Manchester, and had issue:
(1) Hon. Charles Bennet (1850-79), Lord Ossulston, born 31 December 1850 and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster, 3 February 1851; educated at Harrow; known by the courtesy title of Lord Ossulston from 1859; took the civil service examination in 1870 (coming 12th) but became an officer in the army (Ensign & Lt., 1870) who served in the Afghan War, 1878-79; died unmarried of cholera at Abbottabad (India), 29 June 1879; administration of goods granted to his father, 17 April 1880 (effects under £1,000);
(2) George Montagu Bennet (1852-1931), 7th Earl of Tankerville (q.v.);
(3) Hon. Frederick Augustus Ker Bennet (1853-91), born 31 May and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster, 9 July 1853; educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1871; BA 1875; MA 1878) and the Inner Temple (admitted 1873; called 1877); barrister-at-law, practising on the north-eastern circuit until 1889; died unmarried, 5 September 1891; administration of goods granted February and 12 August 1892 (effects £20,162);
(4) Lady Corisande Olivia Bennet (1855-1941), born 23 July and was baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster, 13 August 1855; became mentally ill in the 1870s and was admitted to The Briars, Sandown (IoW), 1889; died unmarried, 11 January 1941;
(5) Lady Ida Louise Bennet (1857-87), born 22 June and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster, 18 July 1857; married, 6 December 1877 at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster, John William Ramsay (1847-87*), 13th Earl of Dalhousie, and had issue seven sons; died of peritonitis at Le Havre (France) while returning from a visit to the USA, 24 November 1887.
He inherited Chillingham Castle and the Shropshire estate from his father in 1859. His widow lived latterly at Greystones, Tunbridge Wells (Kent).
He died 18 December 1899 and was buried at Chillingham; his will was proved 12 May 1900 (estate £85,931). His widow died 15 February 1922; her will was proved 19 June 1922 (estate £12,547).
* Lord Dalhousie took to his bed after his wife's death and died in his sleep, probably of a stroke, less than twenty-four hours after her.

7th Earl of Tankerville
Bennet, George Montagu (1852-1931), 7th Earl of Tankerville.
Second, but only surviving, son of Charles Augustus Bennet (1810-99), 6th Earl of Tankerville, and his wife Lady Olivia, eldest daughter of George Montagu, 6th Duke of Manchester, born 30 March and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster (Middx), 24 April 1852. Educated at Radley. Served in the Royal Navy, 1865-69 (Midshipman, 1867-69) and the Army (Sub-Lt., 1872; Lt., 1874; retired 1880); ADC to Duke of Marlborough as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1876-80. 
Known by the courtesy title of Lord Bennet after the death of his elder brother in 1879. After leaving the army he spent nearly twenty years cattle ranching in America. JP and DL for Northumberland. A Conservative in politics. He was noted for his fine tenor voice, and while in America he became involved as a singer with the evangelical campaigns of Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey, through which he met his wife. He was also a competent artist and talented wood-carver. He married, 23 October 1895 at Tacoma, Washington State (USA), Leonora Sophia (c.1873-1949), daughter of James G. van Marter of New York (USA), physician, and had issue:
(1) Georgina Bennet (b. & d. 1896), born 16 July 1896; died in infancy, 17 July 1896;
(2) Charles Augustus Ker Bennet (1897-1971), 8th Earl of Tankerville (q.v.);
(3) Lady Ida Olivia Sophie Bennet (1898-1900), born 10 November 1898; died in infancy, May 1900;
(4) Hon. George William Bennet (1903-81), born 21 November 1903; educated at Winchester and Trinity College, Cambridge (BA 1925; MA 1933); mechanical engineer; Fellow of the British Horological Institute; married, 12 February 1929 at St Peter, Eaton Sq., Westminster, Constance Clare (1901-86), daughter of Cyril Wace of Victoria, British Columbia (Canada), but had no issue; died 12 February and was cremated in Edinburgh, 16 February 1981.
He inherited Chillingham Castle and the Shropshire estate from his father in 1899, but his lands in Shropshire were sold after 1912. His wife bought Plas Newydd, Llangollen (once the home of 'The Ladies of Llangollen') in 1919 but sold it in 1932. As a widow she lived in Edinburgh.
He died 9 July 1931 and was cremated in Edinburgh; his will was proved 6 October 1931 and 23 February 1932 (estate £56,592). His widow died 15 February and was cremated in Edinburgh, 18 February 1949; her will was proved in Scotland and sealed in London, 11 June 1949.

8th Earl of Tankerville 
Bennet, Charles Augustus Ker (1897-1971), 8th Earl of Tankerville.
Elder son of George Montagu Bennet (1852-1931), 7th Earl of Tankerville, and his wife Leonora Sophia, daughter of James G. van Marter of New York (USA), born 16 August 1897. Educated at Eton. Known by the courtesy title of Lord Ossulston until he succeeded his father as 8th Earl of Tankerville, 9 July 1931. He served in the First World War with the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force; and in the Second World War was in the RAF Volunteer Reserve (F/Lt.). Associate of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Founder and Life President of Chillingham Wild Cattle Association. JP for Northumberland. In about 1929 he opened a cinema on the estate, which he subsequently transferred to Wooler (Northbld). He married 1st, 20 October 1920 at St Margaret, Westminster (div. 1930), Roberta Nolan-Mitchell (1897-1992), daughter of Julian St John Nolan of Chicago, merchant, and step-daughter of Percy Mitchell, and 2nd, 1 July 1930, Violet (1908-2003), daughter of Erik Pallin of Stockholm (Sweden), and had issue:
(1.1) Charles Augustus Grey Bennet (1921-80), 9th Earl of Tankerville (q.v.);
(1.2) Hon. & Rev. George Arthur Grey Bennet (1925-2001), born 12 March 1925; educated at Radley and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (BA 1946; MA 1951); senior physics master at Clifton College, Bristol; ordained deacon, 1969 and priest, 1970; vicar of Shaston Team Ministry, 1973-80; rector of Redenhall, Harleston, Wortwell and Needham, 1980-90; joined RC church 1994 and became a RC priest, 1997; assistant priest, Wymondham (Norfk); author of Electricity and Modern Physics (1965); Progress through Lent (1993) and One Fold, One Shepherd (1996); married, 27 July 1957, Hazel Jane Glyddon (1926-2006), health visitor, only daughter of Ernest William George Judson of Bishopswood, Chard (Som.) and had issue two sons (the elder of whom is heir presumptive to the earldom) and one daughter; died 4 July 2001;
(2.1) Hon. Ian Bennet (1935-98), born 16 April 1935; educated at Radley and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (BA 1958; MA 1962), an officer in the Royal Naval Reserve; died unmarried, 2 November 1998; will proved 16 March 1999;
(2.2) Lady Corisande Bennet (b. 1938), born 10 April 1938; genealogist; married, 6 April 1963, Lt-Cdr. Timothy Bain Smith RN (1935-2022) of Wickens Manor, Charing (Kent), younger son of Lt-Col. George Stewart Bain Smith of Cartmel (Lancs), and had issue two sons; living in 2019.
He inherited Chillingham Castle from his father in 1931, but lived at a small manor house in the village of Chillingham (formerly the rectory?). An attempt was made to let the castle in 1933, but it stood empty and decaying throughout the mid 20th century. 
He died 1 December 1971; his will was proved 12 July 1972 and 7 June 1973 (estate £238,976). His first wife married 2nd, 19 December 1930, John Holt Wilson of Redgrave Hall  (Suffk) and died 23 November 1992; her will was proved 8 January 1993 (estate £35,790). His widow died 3 November 2003; her will was proved 29 April 2004.

Bennet, Charles Augustus Grey (1921-80), 9th Earl of Tankerville. Elder son of Charles Augustus Ker Bennet (1897-1971), 8th Earl of Tankerville, and his first wife, Roberta, daughter of John Nolan of Chicago and step-daughter of Percy Mitchell, born 28 July and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster (Middx), 15 October 1921. Educated at Radley. Known by the courtesy title of Lord Ossulston from 1931 until he succeeded his father as 9th Earl of Tankerville, 1 December 1971. He served in the Second World War with the RAF Volunteer Reserve (F/Lt). He married 1st, 15 May 1943 at Canadian Memorial Chapel, Vancouver (div. 1950), Virginia (c.1915-54), eldest daughter of Louis M. Diether of Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) and formerly wife of [forename unknown] Morris, and 2nd, 22 June 1954, Georgiana Lilian Maude (1917-98), librarian, daughter of Rev. Gilbert Wilson MA PhD DD of Regina, Saskatchewan (Canada), and had issue:
(1.1) Lady Corisande Elizabeth Bennet (b. 1947), born 21 March 1947;
(2.1) Lady Alexandra Katherine Bennet (1955-93), born 5 May 1955; died unmarried at San Mateo, California, 29 April 1993;
(2.2) twin, Peter Grey Bennet (b. 1956), 10th Earl of Tankerville, born in San Francisco, California (USA), 18 October 1956; educated at Grace Cathedral School, San Francisco, Oberlin Conservatory, Ohio (BMus) and San Francisco State University (MA Mus); known by the courtesy title of Lord Ossulston from 1971 until he succeeded his father as 10th Earl of Tankerville, 1 December 1980; musician in San Francisco; now living;
(2.3) twin, Lady Anne Thérèse Bennet (b. 1956), born 18 October 1956; married, 1981, Timothy Michael Poirier of San Francisco; living in 2019.
He lived chiefly in the USA. He inherited Chillingham Castle from his father in 1971. After his death the 10th Earl made a gift of the castle in 1981 to Sir Humphrey Wakefield, who was willing to restore it, and who bought enough land around it to protect its setting.
He died 27 April 1980; his will was proved 2 December 1980 (estate in England, £33,576). His first wife died in Montreal (Canada), 5 November 1954. His widow died in San Francisco, 19 November 1998.

Principal sources

Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 2003, pp. 3857-58; D. Lysons, An historical account of those parishes in the county of Middlesex which are not described in the Environs of London, 1800, pp. 125-35; Country Life, 8 March 1913, pp. 346-55; T. Friedman, James Gibbs, 1984, pp. 315-16; Sir N. Pevsner, I. Richmond et al., The buildings of England: Northumberland, 2nd edn., 1992, pp. 227-30; J. Harris, 'The Dawley of Tankerville and Bolingbroke', Georgian Group Journal, 1994, pp. 58-64; J. Musson, 'Chillingham Castle, Northumberland', Country Life, 22 April 2004, pp. 130-35; S.J.G. Hall, 'Caring for the legend of the wild bull: an interpretation of the Georgian landscape of Chillingham Park, Northumberland', Garden History, vol. 38 (2), 2010, pp. 213-30; C. O'Brien, I. Nairn & B. Cherry, The buildings of England: Surrey, 3rd edn., 2022, p. 700; 

Location of archives

Bennet family, Earls of Tankerville: deeds, estate, family and legal papers, 17th-20th cents [Northumberland Archives, NRO424]; deeds, estate and family papers, correspondence and diaries, 13th-18th cents [The National Archives, C104]

Coat of arms

Gules, a bezant between three demi-lions rampant argent.

Can you help?

  • Can anyone provide portraits or photographs of the people whose names appear in bold above, for whom no image is currently shown?
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Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 12 October 2023.

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