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Egremont, Earls Of

EGREMONT, EARLS OF. In 1749 Algernon Seymour, 7th duke of Somerset, was created earl of Egremont, and on his childless death in February 1750 this title passed by special remainder to his nephew, Sir Charles Wyndham or Windham, Bart. (1710-1763), a son of Sir William Wyndham of Orchard Wyndham, Somerset. Charles, who had succeeded to his father's baronetcy in 1740, inherited Somerset's estates in Cumberland and Sussex. He was a member of parliament from 1734 to 1750, and in October 1761 he was appointed secretary of state for the southern department in succession to William Pitt. His term of office, during which he acted in concert with his brother-in-law, George Grenville, was mainly occupied with the declaration of war on Spain and with the negotiations for peace with France and Spain, a peace the terms of which the earl seems to have disliked. He was also to the fore during the proceedings against Wilkes, and he died on the 21st of August 1763. Horace Walpole perhaps rates Egremont's talents too low when he says he "had neither knowledge of business, nor the smallest share of parliamentary abilities."

The 2nd earl's son and successor, George O'Brien Wyndham (1751-1837), was more famous as a patron of art and an agriculturist than as a politician, although he was not entirely indifferent to politics. For some time the painter Turner lived at his Sussex residence, Petworth House, and in addition to Turner, the painter Leslie, the sculptor Flaxman and other talented artists received commissions from Egremont, who filled his house with valuable works of art. Generous and hospitable, blunt and eccentric, the earl was in his day a very prominent figure in English society. Charles Greville says, "he was immensely rich and his munificence was equal to his wealth"; and again that in his time Petworth was "like a great inn." The earl died unmarried on the 11th of November 1837, and on the death of his nephew and successor, George Francis Wyndham, the 4th earl (1785-1845), the earldom of Egremont became extinct. Petworth, however, and the large estates had already passed to George Wyndham (1787-1869), a natural son of the 3rd earl, who was created Baron Leconfield in 1859.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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