Earl of Lichfield

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Earl of Lichfield is a title that has been created three times in British history.

The first creation, in the Peerage of England, was in December 1645 by King Charles I for Charles Stewart (1639–1672). Before that, Lord Bernard Stewart, youngest son of Esmé Stewart, 1st Duke of Lennox, was to be created Earl of Lichfield by Charles I for his actions at the battles of Newbury and Naseby but died before the creation could be implemented. Charles Stewart, the son of Bernard's younger brother George, who had been killed at the Battle of Edgehill, was instead created Earl of Lichfield in December 1645, soon after the Battle of Rowton Heath. Charles Stewart's cousin, who held the titles of Duke of Richmond and Earl of Lennox through the first Duke of Lennox's eldest son James, died aged eleven in 1660 with Charles Stewart as his heir. The 1st Earl of Lichfield of the 1645 creation thus succeeded as 3rd Duke of Richmond and 6th Duke of Lennox.[1] In that same year he was created Hereditary Great Chamberlain of Scotland, Hereditary Great Admiral of Scotland, and Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset. On 15 April 1661 he was invested with the Order of the Garter.[2] He married Frances Teresa Stuart, the celebrated beauty and alleged former mistress of King Charles II. In disgrace with the king, Charles was sent into exile as ambassador to Denmark, where he drowned on 12 December 1672. All of the English and Scottish titles that had been bestowed upon the male heirs became extinct.

Ditchley House, the seat of the Lee family and current home of the Ditchley Foundation

The second creation, in the Peerage of England, came in 1674 when King Charles II bestowed the titles of Baron Spelsbury, Viscount Quarendon and Earl of Lichfield upon Sir Edward Lee, 5th Baronet, of Quarendon (1663–1716) in anticipation of his marriage to the king's illegitimate daughter Charlotte Fitzroy, whose mother was Barbara Villiers. The wedding took place in 1677. The Lee Baronetcy, of Quarendon in Buckinghamshire, had been created in the Baronetage of England in 1611 for Henry Lee. He was the cousin and heir of Henry Lee of Ditchley. The 1st Earl of Lichfield from the Lee family was succeeded by his third but eldest surviving son, George Henry Lee, who became the 2nd Earl and 6th Baronet. He constructed the stately home of Ditchley in Oxfordshire. On his death the titles passed to his son George Henry Lee, the 3rd Earl. He represented Oxfordshire in the House of Commons and served as Captain of the Honourable Band of Gentlemen Pensioners from 1762 to 1772. He died childless and was succeeded by his uncle, the 4th Earl. He was also childless. On his death in 1776 all his titles became extinct.

Shugborough Hall, the seat of the Anson family
Arms of the Anson family, current Earls of Lichfield

The third creation, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, came in 1831 in favour of Thomas Anson, 2nd Viscount Anson (1795–1854), a landowner and Whig politician who served as Master of the Buckhounds from 1830 to 1834 and as Postmaster General from 1835 to 1841. He was the eldest son of Thomas Anson, 1st Viscount Anson, who in 1806 had been created Baron Soberton, of Soberton in the County of Southampton, and Viscount Anson, of Shugborough and Orgreave in the County of Stafford, both in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

The Anson family is descended from George Anson, Member of Parliament for Lichfield from 1770 to 1789. Born George Adams, he was the son of Sambrooke Adams and his wife Janette Anson, sister of the famous naval commander George Anson, 1st Baron Anson. In 1773, on the death of his uncle Thomas Anson (brother of Lord Anson), he succeeded to the substantial estates accumulated by his uncle Lord Anson, including the Anson family seat of Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire. The same year he assumed by Royal license the surname of Anson in lieu of Adams. His eldest son was Thomas Anson, 1st Viscount Anson who represented Lichfield in the House of Commons as a Whig from 1789 to 1806 until he was raised to the peerage as Baron Soberton and Viscount Anson - see above - in 1806. He was succeeded in these titles by his eldest son, the 2nd Viscount, who in 1831 was created Earl of Lichfield, of Lichfield in the County of Stafford, in William IV's coronation honours. On his death the titles passed to his eldest son, the 2nd Earl. He sat as Member of Parliament for Lichfield and served as Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire. The titles descended from father to son until the death of his grandson, the 4th Earl, in 1960. He was succeeded by his grandson, the 5th Earl, the only son of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas William Arnold Anson, Viscount Anson (1913–1958), eldest son of the 4th Earl. Known professionally as Patrick Lichfield, he was a successful photographer.

As of 2010 the titles are held by the 6th Earl, only son of the 5th Earl and Lady Leonora Grosvenor, daughter of the 5th Duke of Westminster. He succeeded as the 6th Earl of Lichfield upon his father's death on 11 November 2005. The 6th Earl married in December 2009 Lady Henrietta Conyngham, daughter of Henry Conyngham, 8th Marquess Conyngham.[3][4] They have one son, Thomas Ossian Patrick Wolfe Anson, Viscount Anson (b. 20 May 2011).[5]

Several other members of the Anson family have also gained distinction. Sir George Anson, younger brother of the 1st Viscount Anson, was a General in the Army and represented Lichfield in the House of Commons. He was the father of 1) Talavera Vernon Anson (1809–1895), an Admiral in the Royal Navy, and 2) Thomas Anson, a cricketer. William Anson, younger brother of the 1st Viscount Anson, was created a Baronet in 1831 (see Anson Baronets for more information on this branch of the family). The Very Reverend Frederick Anson (1779–1867), younger brother of the 1st Viscount Anson, was Dean of Chester. He was the father of 1) Frederick Anson, Canon of Windsor, and 2) George Edward Anson, private secretary to Prince Albert. The Honourable George Anson, second son of the 1st Viscount Anson, was a prominent soldier and politician. The Honourable Augustus Anson, third son of the 1st Earl, was a Member of Parliament and recipient of the Victoria Cross. The Right Reverend the Honourable Adelbert Anson, fourth and youngest son of the 1st Earl, was a clergyman and served as Bishop of Qu'Apelle in Canada. The Honourable Sir George Augustus Anson (1857–1947), second son of the 2nd Earl, was a courtier and Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army.

The courtesy title of the eldest son and heir apparent of the Earl is Viscount Anson.

The family seat of the Ansons is Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire, which is about 15 miles from the city of Lichfield. Admiral Anson, the 1st Earl of Lichfield and others are buried at St Michael and All Angels Church in Colwich, a short distance from Shugborough Hall. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Earl and other Ansons of Shugborough after 1854 were buried at St Stephen's Church in Great Haywood[6] until the 5th Earl decided to return to the Anson vault at Colwich. He was buried there in 2005.[7]

Earls of Lichfield, First Creation (1645)[edit]

Main articles: Duke of Richmond and Duke of Lennox

Earls of Lichfield, Second Creation (1674)[edit]

Other titles: Baronet, of Quarendon (1611), Baron Spelsbury (1674), Viscount Quarendon (1674)

Earls of Lichfield, Third Creation (1831)[edit]

Other titles: Baron Soberton (1806), Viscount Anson (1806)

The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Thomas Ossian Patrick Wolfe Anson, Viscount Anson (b. 2011).[8]

See also[edit]