Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 20th Earl of Shrewsbury

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"the premier Earl"
The Earl of Shrewsbury as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, July 1880

Major Charles Henry John Chetwynd-Talbot, 20th Earl of Shrewsbury, 20th Earl of Waterford, 5th Earl Talbot KCVO (13 November 1860 - 7 May 1921), was a British peer.

Family Background[edit]

Talbot, who was born at Eaton Place, London,[1] was the only son and heir of the Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 19th Earl of Shrewsbury. His grandfather, the Henry Chetwynd-Talbot, 18th Earl of Shrewsbury, had inherited the earldoms from a very distant cousin, and had to prove his claim to the premier earldoms of England and Ireland on the Roll in the House of Lords, by demonstrating his descent from the 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford. Lord Shrewsbury was the brother of Lady Gertrude Chetwynd-Talbot, wife (without issue) of the 13th Earl of Pembroke, and Lady Theresa Chetwynd-Talbot, wife of the 6th Marquess of Londonderry and a notable hostess.

Education and Marriage[edit]

He was educated at Eton College[1] and inherited the title while young (aged sixteen years). He proceeded to ruin his prospects by eloping on 21 or 22 April 1880[2] with an older married woman, Ellen Miller-Mundy, née Palmer-Morewood,[3] wife of a very rich commoner Alfred Edward Miller-Mundy of Shipley Hall whom she had married in 1873. Ellen was a granddaughter of the 7th Baron Byron (a distant kinsman of the poet Lord Byron, the 6th Baron), and already had a daughter Evelyn Hester Mundy[4]). The couple had one son, Viscount Ingestre (d. 8 January 1915)[5] and one daughter. The son died in the lifetime of his parents, but had several children including the 21st Earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford (the father of the current Earl).

Not all the influence of Lord Shrewsbury's two well-married older sisters[6] Theresa, Marchioness of Londonderry (1856-1918) and Muriel, Viscountess Helmsley (1859-1925), nor the efforts of his equally well-married and childless aunts Constance, Dowager Marchioness of Lothian (1836-1901) widow of the 8th Marquess (dsp 1870), Gertrude, Countess of Pembroke(1840-1906) or Adelaide, Countess Brownlow (1844-1917), could rehabilitate her, such being the mores of the Victorian and Edwardian age.[7][8] His own position as Lord High Steward of Ireland and Premier Earl of England made no difference. The Countess was apparently received privately, but high society doors remained closed to Lady Shrewsbury until her death in 1939.[9] Even more curiously, Lord Shrewsbury went almost scot-free, being allowed to officiate as Lord High Steward at two Coronations (1902) and (1911). In 1907, he was made KCVO, a personal honour granted by the Monarch.

Lady Shrewsbury was involved in a bizarre crime (with three other brothers) against her eldest brother Charles Rowland Palmer-Morewood of Alfreton Hall in 1887. Eventually, Lord and Lady Shrewsbury separated in 1896. Lady Shrewsbury lived on alone at Alton Towers (until her grandson sold it in 1924), plagued by monetary difficulties and ostracized by society. She died 23 August 1940, having outlived her husband by 19 years.

Public offices and honours[edit]

In right of his peerage he became Hereditary Lord High Steward of Ireland, in which capacity he took part in the coronations of Kings Edward VII and George V, and accompanied the former on his state visit to Dublin in July 1903. He was made KCVO in 1907.[1]

He also became High Steward of the Borough of Stafford in 1892.[1]

Equestrian Interests[edit]

In 1893, he started his own polo club.[10] In 1895, he founded the Staffordshire Polo Club at his residence, Ingestre Hall.[10] Players included Charles Stanhope, 8th Earl of Harrington, Algernon Burnaby, Captain Daily Fergusson, Captain the Hon. Robert Greville, Gerald Hardy, Albert Jones, Captain "Wendy" Jones, Edward and George Miller, Norman Nickalls, Bertram Portal, Captain Gordon Renton, Jasper Selwyn and John Reid Walker.[10]

For many years he was in business as a hansom cab owner, his vehicles marked "S.T" (for Shrewsbury and Talbot) and the horses "being of the best possible quality",[1] and he was first owner to have cabs that were fitted with noiseless tyres operating in London and Paris.[11]

For several seasons he also ran a daily Greyhound Coach service from Buxton to Alton Towers.[11] Lord Shrewsbury was responsible for deciding in 1918 to sell Alton Towers, which had been the family seat of previous Earls of Shrewsbury (and had come into this branch once the will of the 17th Earl had been overturned). Alton Towers is now a well known entertainment site.


Under his patronage, Clément Talbot Ltd was founded in 1903 to import the popular French Clément car into Britain. The famous automobile brand Talbot has emerged from the name of the Earl.

Military Service[edit]

The Earl served entirely on home service in Britain during World War I. He was Major in the Army Remount Service of the Army Service Corps from 1914 to 1915,[1] and temporary Major with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers 1916 to 1917.[12] It was in the same war that his only son, Viscount Ingestre, a Major in the Royal Horse Guards, died serving in England.[13]

Later life[edit]

The Earl died in May 1921, aged sixty, and was buried at the parish church of Ingestre.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g The Complete Peerage, Volume XII. St Catherine's Press. 1953. pp. 729–730. 
  2. ^ "Is He Ingestre" Evening Post, 2 December 1913, discussing a pre-emptive petition by the thirty-year-old heir to prove his legitimacy." from which "...on 16th, May 1881, Mr. Miller Mundy filed for divorce, alleging his wife’s misconduct with Lord Shrewsbury. They did not defend that petition. ..On 10th, December 1881, counsel also mentioned, the decree nisi was pronounced by Sir James Hanner, and it was made absolute on 20th, June, 1882. The next day there was the marriage in London.."
  3. ^ Strange British Crimes, 29 January 1888, New York Times, accessed 30 May 2008
  4. ^ Like her mother, Evelyn Mundy had an interesting marital career. She left her first husband Captain Hugh Harrison to marry a much younger man Francis Annesley, 6th Earl Annesley (1884-1914) in 1909. She had no children by three marriages, unlike her mother.
  5. ^ "Is He Ingestre" Evening Post, 2 December 1913, discussing a pre-emptive petition by the thirty-year-old heir to prove his legitimacy. " LONDON, October, 15 – The President of the Divorce Court had before him this week a rather remarkable case, this being the petition of the Hon. Charles John Alton Chetwynd Talbot, Viscount Ingestre, to be declared the legitimate son of the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury. Lord Ingestre was born less than three months after the marriage of his parents, his mother being the divorced wife of Mr. Miller Mundy, of Derbyshire. Lord Ingestre is heir to the peerage, and the petition was brought to remove any possibility of doubt arising in the future. The Crown was represented by the Attorney-General, who was nominally the defendant, and the parties cited were those next in succession, including Major General Sir Reginald Talbot, Mr. Humphrey John Talbot, and Mr. Geoffrey Richard Henry Talbot."
  6. ^ Another sister Lady Gwendolen Chaplin (c. 1858-1937) was less well-married, but well-connected. Her brother-in-law was the 1st Viscount Chaplin, and his elder daughter Edith (1879-1959) went on to marry Theresa Londonderry's only surviving son Viscount Castlereagh
  7. ^ :Society and Scandal in Edwardian England" on the blog Edwardian Promenade, 25 January 2011, retrieved 25 November 2012 "Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 20th Earl of Shrewsbury wreaked havoc when he eloped with the very married Ellen Miller-Mundy. She managed to divorce her husband and marry the Earl only months before the birth of their son, Viscount Ingestre, in 1882. Unfortunately, the Earl and Countess separated soon after, and though Lord Shrewsbury could re-enter society, no amount of support from his powerful sisters–which included Theresa, Marchioness of Londonderry–facilitated her re-entrance. Due to this gross breach of etiquette, Lady Shrewsbury spent the remainder of her life plagued with monetary troubles and largely ostracized from society until her death in 1940."
  8. ^ Shrewsbury, Earl of (E, 1442) in Cracroft's Peerage. Retrieved 25 November 2012
  9. ^ Joan Perkin (1989). Women and Marriage in 19th Century England Routledge, 1989, p. 111. On pp. 112, the author quotes Consuelo Marlborough realizing "although separated couples were not received in Court circles, London Society would not be so governed." However, other sources state that Lady Shrewsbury was never received by London society or the great houses, probably because her divorce, her remarriage (three months before the birth of the heir) and her subsequent actions were so flagrant. The examples given by Joan Perkins in her book are for separated couples, not divorced couples. By High Victorian times, morals were more rigid. Couples who were separated discreetly but still kept up appearances such as Lord and Lady Londonderry (Shrewsbury's sister) had no problems being accepted.
  10. ^ a b c Horace A. Laffaye, Polo in Britain: A History, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2012, p. 29
  11. ^ a b Who Was Who, 1916-1928. A & C Black. 1947. p. 958. 
  12. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1920. Kelly's. p. 1466. 
  13. ^ The Complete Peerage, Volume XII. St Catherine's Press. 1949. p. 730. 

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Shrewsbury
Lord High Steward of Ireland
Succeeded by
The Earl of Shrewsbury
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Charles Chetwynd-Talbot
Earl of Shrewsbury
Succeeded by
John Chetwynd-Talbot
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Charles Chetwynd-Talbot
Earl of Waterford
Succeeded by
John Chetwynd-Talbot
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Charles Chetwynd-Talbot
Earl Talbot
Succeeded by
John Chetwynd-Talbot