Monday 1 April 2024

(572) Beresford and Horsley-Beresford of Bolam Hall and Sefton Park, Barons Decies

Beresford, Barons Decies 
This fascinating family was a cadet branch of the Beresfords of Curraghmore, Earls of Tyrone and Marquesses of Waterford, who will be the subject of a future post. The genealogy below begins with 
the Most Rev. the Hon. and Rt. Hon. William Beresford (1743-1819), third surviving son of Sir Marcus Beresford (1694-1763), 4th bt. and 1st Earl of Tyrone. He was ordained in about 1764 and became a chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant in 1766.
Bishop's Palace, Dromore, built in 1781
He was made Bishop of Dromore (Co. Down) in 1780, and in the short period he was there, he built a handsome new episcopal house (later known as Bishopscourt), which became redundant in 1842 when the diocese of Dromore was merged with that of Down and Connor. The house was then repurposed as a Jesuit school before being abandoned after the Second World War.

In 1782 Beresford was translated to Kilkenny, as Bishop of Ossory, and he remained there until 1795, when he was promoted to be Archbishop of Tuam (Co. Galway) and Bishop of Ardagh (Co. Longford). Described as 'amiable, kind and loquacious', he was a patron of artists as well as architects. He was also an active politician, who supported the Union of Britain and Ireland and produced a weekly paper, The Patriot, which gave expression to his Pittite views. It was probably on account of his political usefulness that he was raised to the peerage as 1st Baron Decies in December 1812. He was married in 1763 to Elizabeth Fitzgibbon, sister of the 1st Earl of Clare, who was Lord Chancellor of Ireland, 1789-1802, and they had no less than fifteen children in the space of eighteen years. Remarkably, Elizabeth survived this experience (though six of the children did not) and lived another twenty-five years, although she did predecease her husband and did not, in fact, live to see him ennobled.

The archbishop's eldest son, Marcus Beresford (1764-1803), entered the army and rose rapidly to become a Brigadier-General, but died unmarried in his father's lifetime. When the archbishop died, therefore, his peerage passed to his second surviving son, the Rev. John Beresford (1773-1855). He held a range of benefices in Ireland, but was probably largely, if not entirely, non-resident, for in 1810 he married Charlotte Philadelphia (1784-1852), the daughter and sole heir of Robert Horsley (d. 1809) of Bolam Hall (Northbld), and the couple seem to have lived at her family home, although they also maintained an apartment in Paris. In 1816-18 they landscaped the grounds at Bolam to the designs of John Dobson, perhaps partly to provide employment in the recession which succeeded the Napoleonic wars. After his father's death, John had royal licence to adopt the name Horsley-Beresford, which was also used by his sons and grandsons, although subsequent generations dropped the Horsley, perhaps because with sale of Bolam Hall in about 1902 it seemed less important to keep the name alive. John and Charlotte had a more modest family than his father: just one son and three daughters. The younger daughters married well (to the 3rd Earl of Ailesbury and the 4th Duke of Montrose respectively), and the only son, William Robert John Horsley-Beresford (1811-93), 3rd Baron Decies, pursued a brief career in the army before retiring and devoting himself to estate management and country pursuits. He did not marry until he was nearly fifty, but his wife, the daughter of a neighbouring landowner, was thirty-three years his junior and they managed to produce five sons and four daughters between 1861 and 1878. Their careers are set out in the genealogical section below and cannot be rehearsed here, but the adjective 'colourful' might have been invented to describe their lives.

In later years, the 3rd Baron became somewhat eccentric, persisting in dressing in the style fashionable in his youth; he also suffered from increasing ill health, and for the last seven years of his life he lived at an hotel in York rather than at Bolam. His heir was William Marcus de la Poer Horsley-Beresford (1865-1910), 4th Baron Decies, who in 1901 married Maria Willoughby (1862-1939), a prominent cat breeder and fancier. They lived at first in a large suburban villa at Birchington-on-Sea (Kent), but in 1905 they bought Stoke Farm at Stoke Poges (Bucks) and renamed it Sefton Park (the name coming from the Earls of Sefton who had built the house). The couple were childless, and in 1910 he died from heatstroke after spending a very hot day at the races. The peerage and Sefton Park passed to his brother, John Graham Hope de la Poer Horsley-Beresford (1866-1944), 5th Baron Decies, who set about reducing and remodelling the house. The 4th Baron's widow took up nursing during the First World War, rising to be a Commandant in the Red Cross and receiving no less than twelve decorations for her service in France (where she was wounded) and during the Russian Revolution. In a cruel twist of fate, however, in 1920 she lost all her money helping a friend and was bankrupted, and she spent the last two decades of her life running a village shop in Surrey. 

Leixlip Castle (Co. Kildare)
In 1911, the 5th Baron married Helen (1893-1931), the daughter of the American railway magnate, George Jay Gould (1864-1923), who brought exceptional wealth into the marriage. The couple set up home in Paris and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle there. They undertook the remodelling of Sefton Park mentioned above, but they also bought the enchanting Leixlip Castle (Co. Kildare) and made additions there too. The result was that within three years the couple had run through $4m of her inheritance, and her family took steps to safeguard what was left, getting her brother made her trustee and settling only a modest annual allowance on Lord Decies. To live within drastically reduced means, the apartment in Paris was given up, Sefton Park was sold in 1917, Leixlip was rented out after 1922, and a smaller house at Englefield Green (Surrey) became their home. Helen, Lady Decies, died in 1931 and in 1936 the 5th Baron married another American heiress, the socialite and author, Elizabeth Wharton Lehr (1868-1944), but this union does not seem to have been a success and in 1942 Lord Decies filed for divorce, although the case had not been heard before he died at the beginning of 1944. By his first wife, Lord Decies had a son and two daughters. The son, Arthur George Marcus Douglas de la Poer Beresford (1915-92), 6th Baron Decies, served in the Second World War with the RAF Volunteer Reserve.
Kinnitty Castle (Co. Offaly)
In 1946 he sold Leixlip Castle and bought Castle Bernard, otherwise Kinnitty Castle (Co. Offaly), but this too was sold just five years later in 1951. In 1960 the 6th Baron inherited some £680,000 from his American cousin, Howard Gould, and this provided him with greater financial security, and he lived latterly at the Chateau de Bétouzet, Andrien (France)

At his death in 1992, the 6th Baron was succeeded by his only son, Marcus Hugh Tristram de la Poer Beresford (b. 1948), 7th Baron Decies, who was educated in Ireland and became chairman of one of the largest legal practices in Dublin. In 1989 he and his second wife bought Straffan Lodge (Co. Kildare) and raised their family of two sons and two daughters there, but in 2017 the house was sold. It is notable that since Bolam Hall was sold c.1902, circumstances have meant that the family has never settled anywhere for terribly long: Sefton Park, Leixlip Castle, Kinnitty Castle, the Chateau de Bétouzet, and Straffan Lodge have all passed in and out of their ownership in the last hundred and twenty years. One wonders what the future may hold!

Straffan Lodge (Co. Kildare)

Bolam Hall, Northumberland

A square two storey house with two five-bay fronts set at right-angles to each other, built for Robert Horsley (d. 1809). The main entrance front is very plain, with just a central pedimented doorway, plain architraves to the windows, and a shallow cornice supporting the hipped slate roof. The side elevation also has a pedimented doorcase, positioned under the staircase window in the second bay. The other ground floor rooms have tripartite windows which are probably a slightly later insertion. In 1901, when it was advertised to let, the house contained a large entrance hall, dining, drawing and morning rooms and seventeen bedrooms as well as the usual domestic offices. The house was divided into two dwellings c.1980.

Bolam Hall: entrance front and side elevation, 2000. Image: Brian Pearson.

Bolam Hall: extract from Ordnance Survey 6" map showing the layout of the grounds, 1895.
The grounds, including a large and beautiful lake, were laid out in 1816-18 by John Dobson of Newcastle for the Rev. John Beresford, later 2nd Baron Decies. According to Hodgson, he undertook the work 'to give employment to the poor in the scarce, disastrous winters of 1816 and 1817'. The lake and its wooded surroundings have been a country park since about 1980.

Descent: Robert Horsley (d. 1809); to daughter, Charlotte Philadelphia (1784-1852), later wife of Rev. John Beresford (later Horsley-Beresford) (1773-1855), 2nd Baron Decies; to son, William Robert John Horsley-Beresford (1811-93), 3rd Baron Decies; to son, William Marcus de la Poer Horsley-Beresford (1865-1910), 4th Baron Decies, who first let it and then sold it c.1902 to Frank H. Burn; sold c.1912 to Arthur Fenwick (d. 1917); sold to William Boustead Dickenson (fl. 1923); sold c.1929 to Maj. Richard Straker (fl. 1939); sold or leased to Wentworth Henry Canning Beaumont (1890-1956), 2nd Viscount Allendale; sold to Mary Evelyn, Lady Readhead (1882-1953); sold 1956...Anne van Gruisen (fl. 1977); sold 1980 and divided into two residences, while the grounds became a country park.

Sefton Park, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

A farm here was acquired and developed as a ferme ornée by the 2nd Earl of Sefton, for whom Humphry Repton undertook landscaping in 1808; it was known as Stoke Farm throughout the 19th century. The house is apparently essentially of this time, but has been through several phases of alterations which have radically altered its appearance. As first built, the house consisted of a nine-by-four bay block of two storeys, with a veranda along its south (garden) front. The main entrance seems at this time to have been at the west end, where an Ionic porch projected from a single-storey forebuilding which was also decorated with Ionic columns.

Sefton Park: the house from the south-west in 1824, from an engraving in Ackermann's Repository of the Arts.

Sefton Park: another early 19th century view, showing the entrance at the west end of the building.
After 1838, the 3rd Earl of Sefton moved back to Croxteth Park (Lancs) leaving his widowed mother and sisters at Sefton Park, and they occupied the property until the last survivor, Lady Maria Molyneux, died in 1872. The house was then let and perhaps later sold, but its ownership in the late 19th century is uncertain. This is unfortunate because before 1875 the house was radically altered, with the construction of a large, three-storey service wing to the north of the original building. This seems to have involved at least the partial demolition of the forebuilding at the west end of the house, necessitating the construction of a new main entrance on the north side of the house and a subsidiary entrance on the east side.

Sefton Park: the house from the north-east, showing the Victorian service wing and the new entrances on the north and east sides made c.1890.
In 1905 the house was sold to the 4th Baron Decies, who changed its name to Sefton Park, and after he died in 1910 it passed to his brother, John Graham Hope de la Poer Beresford (1866-1944), 5th Baron Decies. He engaged Horace Farquharson to make major changes to the house, replacing the Victorian service wing at right-angles to the main façade with what is now the eastern third of the main front. On the south side, he pulled down the old veranda and built a pair of bow windows at either end of the front, and created a balustraded terrace in front of the elevation. He also remodelled the interiors, creating a series of panelled rooms, with at least one imported 17th century overmantel. 

Sefton Park: drawing room, c.1917

Sefton Park: the north front of the house today

Sefton Park: the remodelled south front, c.1917.
During the Second World War the house was requisitioned for military use and in 1948 it was sold for use as commercial offices. After 1989 there was an extensive redevelopment of the site for Hitachi Data Systems, who have built two large new buildings in the grounds as their European corporate headquarters, and it now forms an 'office campus' occupied by several well-known firms.

Descent: built for William Philip Molyneux (1772-1838), 2nd Earl of Sefton; to son, Charles William Molyneux (1796-1855), 3rd Earl of Sefton; to sister, Lady Maria Molyneux (d. 1872)... let or sold to Walter Barron (fl. 1889)... to John George Bulteel (1856-1920); sold 1905 to William Marcus de la Poer Horsley-Beresford (1865-1910), 4th Baron Decies; to brother, John Graham Hope de la Poer Beresford (1866-1944), 5th Baron Decies; sold 1917 to Sir Bernard Oppenheimer (d. 1922), diamond merchant; sold 1923 to Sir Walter de Freece (husband of Vesta Tilley); sold 1928 to Sir Frederick William Duncan (1859-1929), 2nd bt.; to widow, Helen Julia (1866-1953), Lady Duncan; sold 1948 to Glaxo Ltd; sold 1982 to GEC plc; sold c.1989 to Hitachi Data Systems.

Beresford family, Barons Decies

1st Baron Decies
Beresford, Most Rev. the Hon. and Rt. Hon. William (1743-1819), 1st Baron Decies. 
Sixth, but third surviving son* of 
Sir Marcus Beresford, 4th bt. and 1st Earl of Tyrone and his wife Lady Katherine, from 1767 Baroness La Poer in her own right, daughter and heiress of James Power (d. 1704), 3rd Earl of Tyrone, born 16 April 1743. Educated at Kilkenny College and Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1759; BA 1763; MA 1766; DD 1780). Prebendary of Rathmichael in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin and vicar of Bray (Co. Dublin), 1764-68; rector of Bray, 1765-68, and chaplain to the viceroy, 1766; rector of Termonmaguirke (Co. Tyrone), 1767-80; Rector of Urney (Co. Derry), 1768-80; Bishop of Dromore (Co. Down), 1780-82, where he built a handsome new episcopal residence; Bishop of Ossory (Co. Kilkenny), 1782-95; Archbishop of Tuam (Co. Galway) and Bishop of Ardagh (Co. Longford), 1795-1819. Admitted a freeman of Waterford, 1775. He was a Pittite Tory in politics, and organised a weekly paper, The Patriot. As bishop and archbishop he was a regular attender at the Irish Parliament, and he supported the Union of Great Britain and Ireland. He was sworn of the Privy Council of Ireland, 1794, appointed a Commissioner of the Board of Education, and raised to the peerage as 1st Baron Decies, 22 December 1812. He was 'an amiable, kind and loquacious individual', and a patron of artists including Gilbert Stuart, who painted his portrait. He married, 12 June 1763 at Donnybrook (Co. Dublin), Elizabeth, second daughter of John Fitzgibbon of Mountshannon (Co. Limerick), MP for Newcastle (Co. Wicklow) and sister of John Fitzgibbon (1748-1802), 1st Earl of Clare, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, 1789-1802, and had issue:
(1) Brig-Gen. Marcus Beresford (1764-1803), born 1 June 1764; educated at Westminster and Trinity College, Dublin (matriculated 1780); an officer in the army (Ensign, 1786; Lt., 1787; Capt., 1789; Maj., 1793; Lt-Col., 1794; Col., 1801; brevet Brig-Gen., 1802); Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance, 1800; MP in Irish Parliament for St Canice, 1790-94 and Swords, 1798-1800; died unmarried, 6 January and was buried at St Michael (Barbados), 7 January 1803;
(2) Thomas Beresford (b. c.1765), born about 1765; died young;
(3) Henry Beresford (b. c.1766), born about 1766; died young;
(4) Hon. Catherine Eleanor Beresford (c.1768-1837), born about 1768; married, 1789 (licence 11 November), Rev. William Carew Armstrong (1752-1839) of Mealiffe (Co. Tipperary), prebendary of Kilmoylan, and had issue four sons and three daughters; died at Tramore (Co. Waterford), 6 November 1837;
(5) Elizabeth Beresford (b. c.1769), born about 1769; died young;
(6) Hon. Araminta Anne Beresford (c.1771-1816), born about 1771; married, 26 May 1794, Very Rev. Arthur John Preston DD (1761-1844), rector of Loughcrew (Co. Meath), 1784-98, canon of Kildare Cathedral, 1793-1808; Dean of Kildare, 1808-09 and Dean of Limerick, 1809-44 (who m2, 1819, Isabella (d. 1859), daughter of Rev. Dr. John Shepherd and had further issue one daughter), son of Rev. Nathaniel Preston, vicar of Loughcrew, and had issue two sons; died 26 September 1816;
(7) Hon. Harriet Beresford (c.1772-1834), born about 1772; married, 1796 at St Peter, Dublin (licence 26 January), Col. Thomas Bermingham Daly Henry Sewell (1774-1852) (who unsuccessfully claimed the barony of Athenry in 1800), son of Thomas Bailey Heath Sewell (1746-1803), and had issue two sons (one of whom died in infancy) and four daughters; died 11 June 1834;
(8) Rev. John Beresford (later Horsley-Beresford) (1773-1855), 2nd Baron Decies (q.v.);
(9) Hon. Frances Beresford (c.1775-1864), born about 1775; married, 1797 (licence 14 January), as his third wife, Col. Thomas Burrowes (b. c.1742) of Dangan Castle (Co. Meath), and had issue one son and one daughter; died 7 October 1864;
(10) Rev. the Hon. George de la Poer Beresford (1776-1842), born 21 May 1776; educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1791; LLB and LLD 1797; MA 1809); ordained deacon, 1797 and priest, 1798; Rector of Killererin, 1798-99, prebendary of Faldown, 1798-1816 and of Iniscarra, 1799-1826; vicar choral of Cork, 1816-26, vicar of Fenagh, 1816-42 and Provost of Tuam, 1816-42; married, 21 May 1798 at St George, Dublin, Susan, third daughter of Hamilton Gorges (1739-1802) of Kilbrew (Co. Meath), and had issue five sons and two daughters; died 10 August 1842;
(11) William Beresford (b. c.1777), born about 1777; died young;
(12) Henry Beresford (b. c.1778), born about 1778; died young;
(13) William Beresford (b. c.1779), born about 1779; died young;
(14) Rev. the Hon. William Beresford (1780-1830), born 20 November 1780; educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1798; MA 1809); ordained priest, 1802; rector and vicar of Kilvine, Ballinrobe, Crossboyne, Kilcolman and Mayo, c.1803-08; rector and vicar of Headford, c.1808-16; prebendary of Laccagh, 1808-30 and of Tullaghorton (diocese of Lismore), 1809-30; vicar choral and vicar of Tuam, 1812-30; admitted a freeman of Waterford, 1802; married, 19 July 1804 by special licence at her father's house in Portman Sq., Westminster, Lady Anna (1774-1836), second daughter of Charles Bennet (1743-1822), 4th Earl of Tankerville, and had issue one son and one daughter; died 27 June 1830;
(15) Hon. Louisa Beresford (c.1782-1851), born about 1782; married 1st, 16 April 1806, by special licence at 46 Upper Seymour St., Portman Sq., in the parish of St Marylebone (Middx), the immensely rich merchant and interior designer, Thomas Hope (1769-1831) of Deepdene (Surrey), and had issue four sons and one daughter; married 2nd, 29 November 1832, Gen. William Carr Beresford (1768-1854), 1st Viscount Beresford of Beresford and Marquis of Campo Maior, illegitimate son of George Beresford, 2nd Earl of Tyrone; died 21 July 1851.
He lived in the episcopal and archepiscopal residences attached to his bishoprics, and also maintained a town house in London.
He died at Tuam Palace, 6 September 1819, and was buried at Clonagam (Co. Waterford). His will was proved in Dublin in 1819; he is said to have left goods to the value of £250,000. His wife died 24 August 1807.
* The Dictionary of Irish Biography calls him an illegitimate son, but does not cite an authority for this, and it may be a confusion with his nephew of the same name, who was an illegitimate son of the 2nd Earl of Tyrone (vide supra).

Beresford (later Horsley-Beresford), Rev. John (1773-1855), 2nd Baron Decies. Fourth, but eldest surviving, son of Most Rev. the Hon. and Rt. Hon. William Beresford (1743-1819), 1st Baron Decies, Archbishop of Tuam, and his wife Elizabeth, second daughter of John Fitzgibbon (and sister of 1st Earl of Clare), born 20 January 1773. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1789), Emmanuel College, Cambridge (matriculated 1791; BA 1795; MA 1809), Lincolns Inn (admitted 1795) and Kings Inns, Dublin (called to Irish bar, 1797). Ordained deacon and priest, 1803. Rector and vicar of Burrishoole, Kilmina and Achill, 1803-09; rector of Gowna and Granard, 1805-11; rector of Aherne and Ballymore, 1806-55; prebendary of Kilrossanty in diocese of Lismore, 1812-55, but was probably largely, if not entirely, non-resident. He took the additional name Horsley in 1819 after succeeding his father as 2nd Baron Decies. He married, 26 July 1810, Charlotte Philadelphia (1784-1852), only surviving child and heiress of Robert Horsley (1749-1809) of Bolam Hall (Northbld), and had issue:
(1) William Robert John Horsley-Beresford (1811-93), 3rd Baron Decies (q.v.);
(2) Hon. Georgina Catherine Horsley-Beresford (1812-66?), born 21 August 1812 and baptised at Bolam, 24 August 1812 and again at St Marylebone, 4 June 1813; married 1st, 7 August 1831 at Bolam (div. 1843), William Watson (c.1811-67) of North Seaton (Northbld) (who m2, 29 November 1843 at St George-in-the-East, London, Julia Charlotte (c.1813-87), daughter of Robert Johnson, merchant), son of William Watson (d. 1830), and had issue at least two sons; married 2nd, 25 September 1845  at St Clement Danes, London, Henry Edward Brown, solicitor, son of Richard Brown; possibly the 'Catherine Brown' buried at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster (Middx), 12 January 1866;
(3) Hon. Louisa Elizabeth Horsley-Beresford (1814-91), born 6 April and baptised at Bolam, 21 August 1814; married, 25 November 1834 at Great Bedwyn (Wilts), Ernest Augustus Charles Brudenell-Bruce (1811-86), 3rd Marquess of Ailesbury, of Tottenham House (Wilts), MP for Marlborough 1832-78, and had issue five sons and two daughters; died at Biarritz (France), 14 October, and was buried at Great Bedwyn, 22 October 1891; will proved 22 January 1892 (effects £43,122);
(4) Hon. Caroline Agnes Horsley-Beresford (1818-94); after her second marriage she operated as a successful racehorse owner and trainer under the soubriquet 'Mr Manton'; she married 1st, 15 October 1836, James Graham (1799-1874), 4th Duke of Montrose, of Buchanan Castle (Stirlings), MP for Cambridge, 1825-32 and Lord Lieutenant of Stirlingshire, 1843-74, and had issue three sons and three daughters; married 2nd, 22 January 1876 at Holy Trinity, Chelsea (Middx), William Stuart Stirling-Crawfurd (1819-83) of Milton (Lanarks) and Cannes (France); married 3rd, 26 July 1888, Marcus Henry Milner DSO MVO (1864-1939), racehorse trainer and comptroller to the Earls of Derby; after her second marriage she lived at Sefton Lodge, Newmarket (Suffk); she died in London, 16 November 1894.
He inherited Bolam Hall (Northbld) in right of his wife on his marriage in 1810. He also maintained an apartment in Paris (France).
He died in London, 1 March 1855; his will was proved in the PCC, 30 May 1855. His wife died at Ryde (IoW), 9 March 1852.

Horsley-Beresford, William Robert John (1811-93), 3rd Baron Decies. Only son of Rev. John Beresford (later Horsley-Beresford) (1773-1855), 2nd Baron Decies, and his wife Charlotte Philadelphia, only daughter and heiress of Robert Horsley of Bolam Hall (Northbld), born 24 June 1811 and baptised at Bolam, 17 March 1812. Educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. An officer in the 10th Hussars (Cornet, 1827; Lt., 1829; Capt., 1833) and the Grenadier Guards (Lt. & Capt., 1834; retired 1837). He succeeded his father as 3rd Baron Decies, 1 March 1855. He took no part in public affairs, but devoted himself to the management and improvement of his estate, which he made one of the most productive in Northumberland. As a young man he was a keen participant in hunting and a follower of other sports, particularly wrestling. In later years he became somewhat eccentric, particularly in the matter of dress, where he adhered to the fashions of his youth. He married, 31 July 1860 at Bolam, Catherine Anne (1844-1941), second daughter of Cdr. William Dent Dent RN (1796-1872) of Shortflatt Tower (Northbld), and had issue:
(1) Hon. Caroline Catherine Horsley-Beresford (1861-1929), born 11 October 1861 and baptised at Bolam, 3 January 1862; a great traveller, she was said 'to have visited almost every country in the course of an exceptionally active life'; she married, 14 July 1886 at St Peter, Eaton Sq., Westminster (Middx), as his second wife, Col. George Alexander Eason Wilkinson CBE DSO (1860-1941) of Middlethorpe Hall, York and Dringhouses Manor (Yorks), inspector of racecourses for the Jockey Club and manager of York Racecourse, son of Dr. Matthew Eason Wilkinson of Middlethorpe Hall, but had no issue; died at Bath (Som.), 9 February 1929; will proved 28 August 1929 (estate £3,768);
(2) Hon. Louisa Beresford (1863-66), born 20 March 1863; died young, 5 December 1866;
(3) William Marcus de la Poer Horsley-Beresford (1865-1910), 4th Baron Decies (q.v.);
(4) John Graham Hope de la Poer Horsley-Beresford (1866-1944), 5th Baron Decies (q.v.);
(5) Hon. Seton Robert de la Poer Horsley-Beresford (1868-1926), born 25 July 1868; educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge (matriculated 1887); he was briefly an officer in the army reserves (2nd Lt., 1888; Lt., 1890; retired 1894) and later a war correspondent during the Boer War; bankrupted in 1901 and after going to America for his elder brother's wedding he stayed there for a decade, joining Archer H. Morgan of New York in 1914 and organising the supply of 25,000 American horses for the war effort in France; he later became a director of two shipping associations and developed a co-operative shipping plan between North and South America; he returned to England in 1919 but seems to have been a compulsive gambler (he published The future at Monte Carlo (1923) advocating a system for 'beating the bank') and he was bankrupted again in 1925; an all-round sportsman, he played ice hockey for the All England team, was an amateur boxer, won the World trap-shooting championship four years running, 1901-04, and played first class cricket for Middlesex and the MCC, 1909-10; he married 1st, 20 November 1899 at Chelsea Register Office (div. 1908 on the grounds of his adultery and cruelty) Delia Dorothy (c.1874-1966?), (who m2, 1909, Sir Charles Philip Huntington (1888-1928), 3rd bt., and m3, 1928 Sir Edward Lingard Lucas (1860-1936), 3rd bt. and was bankrupted 1936), daughter of Daniel John O'Sullivan of The Grange, Killarney (Co. Kerry); married 2nd, 28 June 1915 at St Lawrence Jewry, London, Joan Rosemary (1890-1971), ice-skating champion (who m2, 28 February 1929, Col. Ralph Patterson Cobbold (later Cobbold-Sawle) DSO (1869-1965)), daughter of Rear-Adm. Sir Charles John Graves-Sawle (1851-1932), 4th bt. of Penrice House, St Austell (Cornw.); died 28 May 1928, and was buried in the Cimetière Communal de Ste. Marguerite at Nice (France)
(6) Hon. Catherine Elizabeth Ellen Horsley-Beresford (1870-1948), born 9 May and baptised at Windermere (Westmld.), 13 June 1870; married, 16 September 1902 at St Michael-le-Belfry, York, Lt-Col. Edward James Machell Lumb (1863-1962) of Northcroft House, Englefield Green (Surrey), son of James Lumb of Homeward, Hensingham (Cumbld.), but had no issue; died at Monte Carlo (Monaco), 11 March 1948; will proved 7 July 1948 (estate £7,457);
(7) Hon. Charlotte Ernestine de la Poer Horsley-Beresford (1871-1923), born 3 September 1871; married, 8 October 1892 at St Peter, Eaton Sq., Westminster (sep. 1902 after he unsuccessfully brought divorce proceedings on the grounds of her adultery, which she denied), Maj. Cameron Barclay (1866-1954) of The Orchard, York, fourth son of Henry Ford Barclay of Markham (Essex), and had issue one daughter; died at Royat-les-Bains, Auvergne (France), 28 September 1923 and was buried at Stoke Poges (Bucks); will proved 29 October 1923 (estate £3,375);
(8) Hon. Henry William Walter Horsley-Beresford  (1876-1924), born 22 April 1876; an officer in the army (2nd Lt., 1895; Lt. 1897; retired 1906; returned to colours as Capt., 1915; retired 1919), seconded to the British South African Police, 1897-1900; moved to the USA with his wife in 1909 and had minor roles in films; married*, 6 October 1904 at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), as her third husband, the stage and film actress 'Kitty Gordon' (1878-1974), who was born Constance Millie, daughter of Col. Joel Blades and was the widow of Maxwell James (d. c.1902) and Michael Levenston (d. 1904), theatre manager, (she m4, 1932 (licence 15 Sept.) in New York, Ralph Ranlet (b. 1874), an American stockbroker); they had no issue, but her daughter, Cynthia Vera (1901-45) by Maxwell James took the name Beresford, and herself became a film actress; he died at Garche, Seine-et-Oise (France), 28 January 1924; administration of goods granted 27 March 1925 (estate £3,612);
(9) Hon. William Arthur de la Poer Horsley-Beresford (1878-1949), born 9 August 1878; an officer in Strathcona's Horse in the Boer War and in the army (2nd Lt., 1918) during the First World War; proprietor of the Frensham Ponds Hotel, 1941-44; lived latterly at Wokingham (Berks); married 1st, 17 June 1901 at St Stephen, Buffalo, New York (USA) (div. 1919), Florence (1882-1969), daughter of Dr. Gardner L. Miller of Providence, Rhode Island (USA), and had issue three sons and two daughters; married 2nd, 22 July 1919 in London (div. 1928), Laura (1899-1958) (who m2, 8 October 1932 (div. 1946), Reginald Robert Coventry (1901-61) and m3, 2 December 1950, John Hamilton Hamilton (1901-79)), daughter of Capt. St. John Halford Coventry (1866-1920), and had further issue one son and one daughter; married 3rd, 18 August 1933 in London (div. 1940), Georgina Leonora (1879-1969), only daughter of Richard Frederick Hendrick Mosselmans and formerly wife of Capt. Henry Barnard, Lord Sholto George Douglas (1872-1942), His Imperial Highness Prince Mehmed Burhameddin (1885-1949) of Turkey and Count Fernand de Bertier de Sauvigny; married 4th, 1941, Ida Kaye Kauffman, and had further issue one son and one daughter; died 11 July and was buried at Henley Road Cemetery, Reading, 14 July 1949; will proved 20 October 1949 (estate £9,686).
He inherited Bolam Hall from his father in 1855, but for the last seven years of his life lived at the North-Eastern Hotel, York. After the First World War, his widow converted her home at Sunningdale (Berks) into an hotel as a money-making venture; she lived latterly at White Lodge Hotel, Blindley Heath (Surrey).
He died at the North-Eastern Hotel, York, 3 July 1893, and was buried at Bolam; his will was proved 28 August 1893 (estate £40,717). His widow died aged 96 on 27 February 1941 and was buried at Stoke Poges; her will was proved 22 December 1941 (estate £11,877).
* Henry Horsley-Beresford first obtained a licence to marry Kitty Gordon on 2 March 1903, when she was the widow of Maxwell James, but the marriage did not proceed and she married Michael Levenston instead. After his death, four months later, she returned to Henry and the marriage proceeded. Kitty filed for divorce in 1910 on the grounds of his adultery, but failed to complete the paperwork and the case was struck off by the courts in 1912.

4th Baron Decies
Horsley-Beresford, William Marcus de la Poer (1865-1910), 4th Baron Decies. 
Eldest son of William Robert John Horsley-Beresford (1811-93), 3rd Baron Decies, and his wife 
Catherine Anne, second daughter of Cdr. William Dent Dent RN of Shortflatt Tower (Northbld), born 12 January and baptised at Bolam, 4 March 1865. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1885). He succeeded his father as 4th Baron Decies, 3 July 1893. JP and DL (from 1890) for Northumberland and the Cinque Ports. He married, 12 March 1901 at St Michael, Chester Sq., Westminster (Middx), Maria Gertrude (1862-1939), a prominent cat lover and breeder, younger daughter of Sir John Pollard Willoughby (1798-1866), 4th bt., but had no issue.
He inherited Bolam Hall from his father in 1893, but had let it by 1899 and evidently sold it c.1902. He lived at a suburban villa (Beresford Lodge) at Birchington-on-Sea (Kent) until he bought Sefton Park, Stoke Poges (Bucks) in 1905.
He died, apparently of heatstoke, after a day at the races, 30 July 1910 and was buried at Stoke Poges; his will was proved 20 October 1910 (estate £97,484). His widow took up a nursing career (rising to be a Red Cross volunteer Commandant) during the First World War (wounded and won twelve decorations) and Russian Revolution; in 1920 she is said to have lost all her money helping a friend, was bankrupted, and was reduced to running a village shop and tearoom near East Grinstead (Sussex) for the rest of her life; she died 4 April 1939.

5th Baron Decies
Horsley-Beresford, John Graham Hope de la Poer (1866-1944), 5th Baron Decies. 
son of William Robert John Horsley-Beresford (1811-93), 3rd Baron Decies, and his wife Catherine Anne, second daughter of Cdr. William Dent Dent RN of Shortflatt Tower (Northbld), born 5 December 1866. Educated at Eton. An officer in the army reserves (2nd Lt., 1887; Col.), 1886-1910, who served in South Africa and Somaliland; Colonel of the Southern Irish Horse, 1911-16 and was awarded the DSO, 1904. He succeeded his brother as 5th Baron Decies, 30 July 1910, and was a representative Irish peer, 1912-44. Chief Press Censor for Ireland, 1916-19. Director of the Income Taxpayers Society, c.1920-44. He married 1st, 7 February 1911 at St Bartholomew, New York, Helen Vivien (1893-1931), daughter of George Jay Gould of New York (USA), a railway magnate of great wealth*, and 2nd, 25 May 1936 in Paris (France), Elizabeth Wharton** (1868-1944), daughter of Joseph Wilhelm Drexel of Philadelphia (USA), banker, and widow of John Vinton Dahlgren (1868-99), lawyer, and Henry Symes Lehr (1869-1929), socialite, and had issue:
(1.1) Hon. Eileen Vivien de la Poer Beresford (1912-75), born 17 August 1912; married, 21 April 1931 at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster (Middx), Maj. Robert Alfred O'Brien MVO KStJ (1902-82), and had issue one son and two daughters; died 10 May 1975 and was buried at Englefield Green (Surrey); will proved 9 July 1975 (estate £98,596);
(1.2) Hon. Catherine Moya de la Poer Beresford (1913-67), born 21 September 1913; married 1st, 16 April 1936 at Brompton Oratory (sep. by 1943; div. 1946), Hon. Patrick Herbert Bellew (1905-84), artist and cartoonist (who m2, Helen Carol (fl. 2003), daughter of Walter Clinton Louchheim (1870-1957) of New York (USA)), and had issue one son; married 2nd, 19 December 1946 at Reno, Nevada (USA), Dr Max Wilhelm Johannsen (1909-65) of New York, and had further issue two sons and one daughter; died at Palm Beach, Florida (USA), 26 May 1967; administration of her goods (with will annexed) was granted 27 February 1968 (effects in England, £2,733);
(1.3) Arthur George Marcus Douglas de la Poer Beresford (1915-92), 6th Baron Decies (q.v.).
He inherited Sefton Park, Stoke Poges (Bucks) from his brother in 1911 and remodelled it. He bought Leixlip Castle (Co. Kildare) and enlarged it, but after 1922 he let it, and it was sold after his death. He lived latterly at Parkside House, Englefield Green (Surrey).
He died 31 January 1944 and was buried at Stoke Poges (Bucks); his will was proved 6 July 1944 (estate £25,948). His first wife died 3 February 1931 and was buried at Stoke Poges. His second wife died 13 June 1944.
* Newspaper reports at the time of the marriage mentioned that the wedding gifts included jewellery valued at $1m. It is said that some years later, Lady Decies' brother was made her trustee as her husband had spent some $4m of her fortune in less than three years.
** After the death of her second husband she wrote two books giving an insider's view of the American 'gilded age': "King Lehr" and the Gilded Age (1935) and Turn of the World (1937). The former gives an intimate picture of her unconsummated marriage to a gay man. Lord Decies filed for divorce in 1942, but his petition was contested and the matter remained unresolved when he died.

Beresford, Arthur George Marcus Douglas de la Poer (1915-92), 6th Baron Decies. Only son of John Graham Hope de la Poer Beresford (1866-1944), 5th Baron Decies, and his first wife, Vivien, daughter of George Jay Gould of New York (USA), born 24 April 1915. He served with the RAF Volunteer Reserve (Flying Offr) in the Second World War, and was awarded the American DFC. He married 1st, 21 October 1937, Ann Christina Margo (d. 1945), daughter of Sidney Walter Trevor of Camperdown, Victoria (Australia), and 2nd, 12 September 1945, Diana Mary (1916-2004), daughter of Wing Cdr. George Turner-Cain of Marsh House, Wells (Norfk) and widow of Maj. David W.A. Galsworthy, and had issue:
(2.1) Marcus Hugh Tristram de la Poer Beresford (b. 1948), 7th Baron Decies (q.v.);
(2.2) Hon. Sarah Ann Vivien de la Poer Beresford (b. 1949), born 23 June 1949; married 1st, 1975 (div. 1982), Jeorg B. Schnapka, son of Dr Hubert Schnapka of Bochum (Germany), and had issue one son; married 2nd, 1992, Andrew McMeekan;
(2.3) Hon. Clare Antoinette Gabrielle de la Poer Beresford (b. 1956), born 31 December 1956; married 1st, 1986 (div. 1995) Jorge Koechlin, son of Jose Edmondo Koechlin of Lima (Peru), and had issue one son; married 2nd, 2005, Peter Polster (b. 1962).
In 1946 he bought Kinnitty Castle (Co. Offaly) but sold it to the Irish government in 1951. He lived latterly at Chateau de Bétouzet, Andrien (France). In 1960 he inherited about 4% of the £17m estate of his cousin, Howard Gould.
He died 7 November 1992; his will was proved 16 June 1994 (estate in England & Wales, £75,155). His first wife died in St. Lucia (West Indies), 28 March 1945. His widow died 14 March 2004; her will was proved 23 March 2005.

Beresford, Marcus Hugh Tristram de la Poer (b. 1948), 7th Baron Decies. Only son of Arthur George Marcus Douglas de la Poer Beresford (1915-92), 6th Baron Decies, and his second wife, Diana, daughter of Wing Cdr. George Turner-Cain of Marsh House, Wells (Norfk) and widow of Maj. David W.A. Galsworthy, born 5 August 1948. Educated at St Columba's College and Trinity College, Dublin (BA 1971; MLitt 1975), and qualified as a solicitor. Partner in A. & L. Goodbody, solicitors, 1977-2010 (latterly Chairman). He succeeded his father as 7th Baron Decies, 1992. In retirement he pursued historical interests relating to members of his family, and published several books and articles, including Marshal William Carr Beresford: The ablest man I have yet seen with the army (2019) and (with K. Krenz) From Napoleon to the Nazis: The Mysterious Story of Marshal Beresford’s Silver (2023). A trustee of the Alfred Beit Foundation, 1999-2014 (Chairman, 2008-14), the Apollo Foundation, and the Irish Architectural Archive, as well as Alexandra College, Dublin, Hewetson's School, Millicent (Co. Kildare), and St Columba's College, Dublin. He married 1st, 11 April 1970 (div. 1974), Sarah Jane (b. 1947), only daughter of Col. Basil Leslie Gunnell of Gun House, New Romney (Kent), and 2nd, Jul-Sept 1981, Edel Jeanette (b. 1957), daughter of Vincent Ambrose Hendron (1901-77) of Dublin, and had issue:
(2.1) Hon. Louisa Katherine de la Poer Beresford (b. 1984), born 23 October 1984;
(2.2) Hon. Robert Marcus Duncan de la Poer Beresford (b. 1988), born 14 July 1988; heir apparent to the peerage; married, 2019, Susannah, daughter of James Hill of Dunganstown (Co.Wicklow), and has issue two sons;
(2.3) Hon. David George Morley Hugh de la Poer Beresford (b. 1991), born 4 May 1991;
(2.4) Hon. Jessica Laragh de la Poer Beresford (b. 1996), born 16 November 1996.
From 1989 he lived at Straffan Lodge (Co. Kildare) which he sold in 2017.
Now living. His first wife is now living. His second wife is now living.

Principal sources

Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 2003, pp. 1061-63, 4084-92; Sir N. Pevsner, I. Richmond et al, The buildings of England: Northumberland, 2nd edn., 1992, pp. 196-97; Sir N. Pevsner & E. Williamson, The buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, 2nd edn., 1994, p. 658; 

Location of archives

Beresford of Bolam Hall, Barons Decies: deeds and estate papers, 18th-20th cents. [Northumberland Archives]

Coat of arms

Beresford, Barons Decies: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, argent semée of cross crosslets fitchée three fleurs-de-lis within a bordure engrailed all sable (for Beresford); 2nd and 3rd, argent a chief indented sable (de la Poer); a mullet argent for difference.

Can you help?

  • Does anyone have fuller information about the ownership history of Bolam Hall in the 20th century or of Sefton Park in the late 19th century?
  • Can anyone provide photographs or portraits of the people whose names appear in bold above, for whom no image is currently shown?
  • If anyone can offer further information or corrections to any part of this article I should be most grateful. I am always particularly pleased to hear from current owners or the descendants of families associated with a property who can supply information from their own research or personal knowledge for inclusion.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 1 April 2024 and updated 12 April 2024.

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