Earl Poulett (pronounced "Paulett") was a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1706 for John Poulett, 4th Baron Poulett. The Poulett family descended from Sir Anthony Paulet, who served as Governor of Jersey and as Captain of the Guard to Queen Elizabeth I.
His eldest son Sir John Poulett represented Somerset and Lyme Regis in the House of Commons. In 1627 he was raised to the Peerage of England as Baron Poulett, of Hinton St George in the County of Somerset. Lord Poulett later supported the Royalist cause in the Civil War.
His son, the third Baron, represented Somerset in Parliament and served as Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset. He was succeeded by his son, the fourth Baron. He was a commissioner for the Treaty of Union with Scotland. In 1706 he was created Viscount Hinton and Earl Poulett in the Peerage of England. Lord Poulett later served as First Lord of the Treasury and as Lord Steward of the Household.
When he died the titles passed to his eldest son, the second Earl. He was summoned to the House of Lords as Lord Poulett in his father's lifetime and also served as Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset.
His son, the fourth Earl, was Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset.
He was succeeded by his eldest son, the fifth Earl.
On his death the titles passed to his nephew, the sixth Earl. He was the third son of Vice-Admiral the Hon. George Poulett, second son of the fourth Earl. The sixth earl was heavily involved in steeplechasing as a racehorse owner whose cerise and blue colours were most famed for being carried to victory twice in the Grand National in 1868 and 1871 by The Lamb.
On the sixth Earl's death in 1899 a dispute arose over the succession to the titles. The titles were claimed by William Turnour Thomas Poulett, born to the Earl's first wife Elizabeth Lavinia during her marriage to Lord Poulett. He was born within wedlock and had styled himself "Viscount Hinton". His mother claimed that the Earl was his father, but this was widely believed to be untrue, including by the Earl himself (his father was instead believed to be Captain William Turnour Granville). In 1903 the Committee for Privileges of the House of Lords rejected William Turnour Thomas Poulett's claim to the titles. This was an interesting legal case as the House of Lords rejected the doctrine of pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant – that any child born within wedlock is always believed to fathered by the husband (see the Earl of Banbury for a similar case).
The Committee for Privileges instead decided that the rightful heir was the late Earl's son from his third marriage, William John Lydston Poulett, who became the seventh Earl Poulett. He fought in the First World War as a Captain in the Royal Horse Artillery and died on active service in 1918. He was succeeded by his only son, the eighth Earl. He was childless, though married thrice, and on his death in 1973 all his titles became extinct.
Lady Bridgett Poulett (1912-1975), the only sibling of the 8th Earl, was one of the foremost 'Society Beauties' of the 1930s. The ancestral family seat was Hinton House in the village of Hinton St George, Somerset. The Hinton Estate was sold by the 8th and last Earl Poulett in 1968 after which Lord and Lady Poulett settled in Jersey, Channel Islands. Since the 8th Earl lacked direct heirs and his sister Lady Bridget Poulett was childless, Hinton House was later subdivided into luxury flats.
Barons Poulett (1627)
- John Poulett, 1st Baron Poulett (1585–1649)
- John Poulett, 2nd Baron Poulett (1615–1665)
- John Poulett, 3rd Baron Poulett (1641–1679)
- John Poulett, 4th Baron Poulett (1663–1743) (created Earl Poulett in 1706)
Earls Poulett (1706)
- John Poulett, 1st Earl Poulett (1663–1743)
- John Poulett, 2nd Earl Poulett (1708–1764)
- Vere Poulett, 3rd Earl Poulett (1710–1788)
- John Poulett, 4th Earl Poulett (1756–1819)
- John Poulett, 5th Earl Poulett (1783–1864)
- William Henry Poulett, 6th Earl Poulett (1827–1899)
- William John Lydston Poulett, 7th Earl Poulett (1883–1918)
- George Amias Fitzwarrine Poulett, 8th Earl Poulett (1909–1973)
- "Earl Pouletts The Lamb Winner of the Grand National with Mr George Ede". WikiGallery.org. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
- "Lady Bridget Poulett – Person – National Portrait Gallery". Retrieved 29 February 2016.