PAULET, PouLETT or Powlett, an English family of an ancient Somersetshire stock, taking a surname from the parish of Pawlett near Bridgwater. They advanced themselves by a series of marriages with heirs, acquiring manors and lands in Somersetshire, Wiltshire, Devonshire and Hampshire. A match with a Denebaud early in the 15th century brought the manor of Hinton St George, still the seat of the elder line, the earls Poulett. An ancestor of this branch. Sir Amias Poulett or Paulet (d. 1537), knighted in 1487 after the battle of Stoke, was treasurer of the Middle Temple in 1521, when Wolsey, in revenge for an indignity suffered at the knight's hands when the future chancellor was a young parson at Limington, forbade his leaving London without leave. To propitiate the cardinal. Sir Amias, rebuilding the Middle Temple gate, decorated it with the cardinal's arms and badge. Sir Hugh Poulett, his eldest son, a soldier who had distinguished himself in 1544 at Boulogne in the king's presence, had, in 1551, a patent of the captaincy of Jersey with the governance of Montorgueil Castle. His wisdom and experience in the wars made Queen Ehzabeth employ him at Havre in 1562 as adviser to the earl of Warwick. He died in 1572, having married, as his second wife, the wealthy widow of Sir Thomas Pope, founder of Trinity College, Oxford. Sir Amias Poulett (i 536-1 588), Sir Hugh's son and heir by a first marriage, is famous as the puritan knight into whose charge at Tutbury and Chartley was given the queen of Scots. After his prisoner's sentence at Fotheringhay, he beset Elizabeth's ministers with messages advising her execution, but he firmly withstood " with great grief and bitterness," the suggestion that she should be put to death secretly, saying that God and the law forbade. Sir Anthony Poulett (156 2-1600).
his eldest surviving son, succeeded him as governor of Jersey and was father of John Poulett (1586-1649) to whom Charles I. in 1627 gave a patent of peerage as Lord Poulett of Hinton St George. In spite of the puritan opinions of his family he declared for the king, raising for the royal army a brigade which he led in Dorsetshire and Devonshire. He was taken prisoner for the second time at the fall of Exeter in 1646 and suffered a heavy fine. His eldest son John, the second Lord Poulett (1615-1665) was taken with his father at Exeter. John, the fourth Lord Poulett (1663-1743), having been a commissioner for the union, was created in 1706 Viscount Hinton of Hinton St George and Earl Poulett. In 1710-1711 he was first lord of the treasury and nominal head of an administration controlled by Harley. A garter was given him in 1712. A moderate Tory, his places were taken from him at the accession of the house of Brunswick. The fifth earl (d. 1864) re-settled the family estates in 1853 in order to bar the inheritance of one William Turnour Thomas Poulett who, although born in wedlock of the wife of the earl's cousin William Henry Poulett, was repudiated by her husband, afterwards the si.xth earl. In 1903 the sixth earl's son by a third marriage established his claim to the peerage, and in 1909 judgment was given against the claim of William Turnour Thomas Poulett, then styling himself Earl Poulett.
A younger line of the Paulets, sprung from William Paulet of Melcombe, serjeant-at-law (d. 1435), reached higher honours than an earldom. William Paulet, by his marriage with Eleanor Delamare (d. 1413), daughter of Philip Delamare and heir of her brother, acquired for his descendants Fisherton Delamare in Wiltshire and Nunney Castle in Somerset. Their son Sir John Paulet married Constance, daughter and coheir of Hugh Poynings, son and heir of Sir Thomas Poynings, Lord St John of Basing. Through this marriage came the lordship and manor of Basing, and the manor of Amport or Ham Port which is still with the descendants of Hugh de Port, its Norman lord at the time of the Domesday Survey. Sir John Paulet of Basing, by his cousin Alice Paulet of the Hinton line (his wife in or before 1467), was father of Sir William Paulet, who, during a very long and supple career as a statesman in four reigns - " I am sprung," he said, " from the willow and not from the oak " - raised his house to a marquessate. Henry VIII. rewarded his diplomatic and judicial services and his campaign against the Pilgrims of Grace with the site and lands of Netley Abbey, the revival of the St John barony, a garter and many high offices. The king's death found him lord president of the council and one of the executors of the famous will of the sovereign. The fall of the protector Somerset gave him the lord treasurership and a patent of the earldom of Wiltshire. He shared the advancement of Northumberland and was created in 1551 marquess of Winchester, but, although he dehvered the crown jewels to the Lady Jane in 1553, he was with the lords at Baynard Castle who proclaimed Queen Mary. In spite of his great age he was in the saddle at the proclamation of Mary's successor and was speaker in two EHzabethan parliaments. Only his death in 1572 drove from office this tenacious treasurer, whose age may have been nigh upon a hundred years.
His princely house at Basing was held for King Charles by John, the fifth marquess, whose diamond had scratched " Aimez Loyaute " upon every pane of its windows. Looking on a main road. Basing, with its little garrison of desperate cavaliers, held out for two years against siege and assault, and its shattered walls were in flames about its gallant master when Cromwell himself stormed an entry. The old cavalier marquess died in 1675, his great losses unrecompensed, and his son Charles, a morose extravagant, had the dukedom of Bolton in 1689 for his desertion of the Stuart cause. This new title was taken from the Bolton estates of the Scropes, Lord Winchester having married a natural daughter of Emmanuel, earl of Sunderland, the last Lord Scrope of Bolton. Charles, second duke of Bolton (1661-1722), was made lord-lieutenant of Ireland in 1717. A third Charles, the 3rd duke, is remembered as an opponent of Sir Robert Walpole and as the husband of Lavinia Fenton, the Polly Peachum of Gay's opera. The sixth and last duke of Bolton, an admiral of undistinguished services, died in 1794 without legitimate issue. His dukedom became extinct, and Bolton Castle again passed by bequest to an illegitimate daughter of the fifth duke, upon whom it had been entailed with the greater part of the ducal estates. (O. Ba.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)