DURFORT, a village of south-western France, formerly in the province of Guienne, now in the department of Tarn-et-Garonne, 18 m. N.W. of Montauban by road. It was at one time the seat of a feudal lordship which gave its name to a family distinguished in French and English history. Though earlier lords are known, the pedigree of the family is only clearly traceable to Arnaud de Durfort (fl. 1305), who acquired the fief of Duras by his marriage with a niece of Pope Clement V. His descendant, Gaillard de Durfort, having embraced the side of the king of England, went to London in 1453, and was made governor of Calais and a knight of the Garter.
The greatness of the family dates, however, from the 17th century. Guy Aldonce (1605-1665), marquis de Duras and comte de Rozan, had, by his wife Elizabeth de la Tour d'Auvergne, sister of Marshal Turenne, six sons, three of whom played a distinguished part. The eldest, Jacques Henri (1625-1704), was governor of Franche Comté in 1674 and was created a marshal of France for his share in the conquest of that province (1675). The second, Guy Aldonce (1630-1702), comte de Lorges and duc de Quintin (known as the duc de Lorges), became a marshal of France in 1676, commanded the army in Germany from 1690 to 1695, and captured Heidelberg in 1693. The sixth son, Louis (1640?-1709), marquis de Blanquefort, came to England in the suite of James, duke of York, in 1663, and was naturalized in the same year. On the 19th of January 1672-1673 he was raised to the English peerage as Baron Duras of Holdenby, his title being derived from an estate in Northamptonshire bought from the duke of York, and in 1676 he married Mary, daughter and elder co-heiress of Sir George Sondes, created in that year Baron Throwley, Viscount Sondes and earl of Feversham. On the death of his father-in-law (16th of April 1677), Duras succeeded to his titles under a special remainder. He was appointed by Charles II. successively to the command of the third and second troops of Horse Guards, was sent abroad on several important diplomatic missions, and became master of the horse (1679) and lord chamberlain to the queen (1680). In 1682 he was appointed a lord of the bed-chamber, and was present at the king's deathbed reconciliation with the Roman Church. Under James II. Feversham became a member of the privy council, and in 1685 was given the chief command against the rebels under Monmouth (q.v.), in which he mainly distinguished himself by his cruelty to the vanquished. He was rewarded with a knighthood of the Garter and the colonelcy of the first troop of Life Guards, and in 1686 he was appointed to the command of the army assembled by King James on Blackheath to overawe the people. On James's flight, Feversham succeeded in making his peace with William, on the intercession of the queen dowager, at whose instance he received the mastership of the Royal Hospital of St Catherine near the Tower (1698). He died without issue on the 8th of April 1709. [See G.E. C(ockayne), Complete Peerage, and art. in Dict. Nat. Biog.]
Jean Baptiste (1684-1770), due de Duras, son of Jacques Henri, was also a marshal of France. In 1733 he resigned the dukedom of Duras to his son, Emmanuel Félicité, himself receiving the brevet title of duc de Durfort. Emmanuel Félicité (1715-1789), duc de Duras, took part in all the wars of Louis XV. and was made a marshal of France in 1775. His grandson, Amédée Bretagne Malo (1771-1838), duc de Duras, is mainly known as the husband of Claire Louise Rose Bonne de Coëtnempren de Kersaint (1778-1828), daughter of Armand Guy Simon de Coëtnempren Kersaint (q.v.), who, as duchesse de Duras, presided over a once celebrated salon and wrote several novels once widely read.
The family of Durfort is represented in France now by the branch of Durfort-Civrac, dating from the 16th century. Jean Laurent (1740-1826), marquis de Civrac, married his cousin, the daughter of the duc de Lorges; his son, Guy Emeric Anne (1767-1837), duc de Civrac, became afterwards duc de Lorges. Henri, marquis de Durfort-Civrac (1812-1884), was a well-known politician, and was several times elected vice-president of the chamber of deputies.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)