Henry Brydges, 2nd Duke of Chandos

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Henry Brydges (later 2nd Duke of Chandos) aged about five, pictured in 1713 with his father James Brydges (later 1st Duke of Chandos), his elder brother John (later Marquess of Carnarvon) and either his mother Mary (died 1712) or his stepmother Cassandra.[1]

Henry Brydges, 2nd Duke of Chandos, KB (17 January 1708 – 28 November 1771), known from 1727 to 1744 by the courtesy title Marquess of Carnarvon, was the second son of the 1st Duke of Chandos and his first wife Mary Lake. He was the Member of Parliament for Hereford from 1727 to 1734 and for Steyning between 1734 and 1741.

Career and titles[edit]

Henry Brydges was born the second son of the Hon. James Brydges, eldest son of the 8th Baron Chandos. He was educated at Westminster School and St John's College, Cambridge.[2] On his father succeeding as 9th Baron Chandos in 1714 (and shortly thereafter being created Earl of Carnarvon), he became The Hon. Henry Brydges, and in 1719, on his father being created Duke of Chandos, he became Lord Henry Brydges. His elder brother died without male issue in 1727, at which point he became heir to the dukedom and acquired the courtesy title Marquess of Carnarvon.

From 1729 to 1735 Carnarvon was Master of the Horse to Frederick, Prince of Wales, and in 1732 was invested as a Knight of the Bath. On the death of his father, he succeeded as 2nd Duke of Chandos.[3]

He was described by King George II as "a hot headed, passionate, half-witted coxcomb".[3]

Financial problems[edit]

When his father died on 9 August 1744, the estate was heavily burdened by debt, the family having lost money in the South Sea Bubble. A decision was made to demolish the family seat, Cannons. In 1747 a twelve-day demolition sale saw both the contents and the very structure of the house itself sold piecemeal.

Marriages and children[edit]

The Duke of Chandos, while staying at a small country inn, saw the ostler beating his wife in a most cruel manner; he interfered and literally bought her for half a crown. She was a young and pretty woman; the Duke had her educated; and on the husband's death he married her. On her death-bed, she had her whole household assembled, told them her history, and drew from it a touching moral of reliance on Providence; as from the most wretched situation, she had been suddenly raised to one of the greatest prosperity; she entreated their forgiveness if at any time she had given needless offence, and then dismissed them with gifts; dying almost in the very act.[4]

The Gentleman's Magazine (1832)

Anne, Duchess of Chandos (died 1759), by Joseph Highmore, in the Walker Art Gallery.

On 21 December 1728 he married Lady Mary Bruce (1710–1738), daughter of Charles Bruce, 4th Earl of Elgin and Lady Anne Saville. They had two children who survived childhood, Lady Caroline Brydges (1729–1789) and James Brydges, 3rd Duke of Chandos (1731–1789) who were painted by Bartholomew Dandridge in 1738[5]

The Duke's second marriage was unconventional. In 1744 he married Anne Wells, a former chambermaid from Newbury in Berkshire. They had met a few years earlier in circumstances described by a witness as follows:

The Duke of Chandos and a companion dined at the Pelican, Newbury, on the way to London. A stir in the Inn yard led to their being told that a man was going to sell his wife, and they are leading her up with a halter around her neck. They went to see. The Duke was smitten with her beauty and patient acquiescence in a process which would (as then supposed) free her from a harsh and ill-conditioned husband. He bought her, and subsequently married her (at Keith's Chapel) Christmas Day, 1744.[6]

Anne died in 1759, without male issue, and Chandos married for a third time in 1767 to Elizabeth Major (1731–1813), daughter of Sir John Major, 1st Baronet.

Death of step-mother: Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu's description[edit]

The Dowager Duchess of Chandos, the widow of the 1st Duke, died in 1750 at Shaw House.

Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu in a letter, dated Sandleford, 21 December 1750 to Miss Anstey, wrote: "My dear Miss Anstey, ... A little before I went to London I lost my very good neighbour, the Dutchess of Chandos, a stroke of the palsy carried her off in a few days : her bodily pains were great, but her mind felt the serenity that gilds the evening of a virtuous life. She quitted the world with that decent fare-well which people take of it, who rather consider it as a place in which they are to impart good than to enjoy it Her character has made a great impression on me, as I think her a rare instance that age could not make conceited and stiff, nor retirement discontented, nor virtue inflexible and severe..."[7]

In a letter to Mrs. Donnellan dated Sandleford, 30 December 1750, Mrs. Montagu continued, "My rich neighbours are dull, and my poor ones are miserable ... The Dutchess of Chandos is greatly missed by the poor in this rigorous season. There is a family at Donnington Castle who are very generous and charitable, but nothing can entirely avail in a part of the world where manufacture decays; daily labour must give daily bread; occasional alms like medicine to the diseased, but can hardly procure constant health. To make the poor happy one must make them industrious..."[7]


  1. ^ "Brydges, Lord Henry (BRGS723LH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ a b Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume III, pp131–132
  3. ^ "The Contrast, by the Author of "Yes and No"", The Gentleman's Magazine, 102: 347, April 1832 
  4. ^ Portrait of James Brydges, Lord Wilton, later 3rd Duke of Chandos (1731–1789) and Lady Caroline Brydges, later Lady Caroline Leigh (1729/30-1804)
  5. ^ Notes and Queries, Fourth Series, VI, 179; 27 August 1870
  6. ^ a b The Letters of Mrs Elizabeth Montagu: Containing her letters from an early..., published and edited by Matthew Montagu, volume iii, London, 1813.
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Herbert Rudhale Westfaling
James Wallwyn
Member of Parliament for Hereford
With: Thomas Geers
Succeeded by
Thomas Foley
Sir John Morgan, Bt
Preceded by
Thomas Bladen
The Viscount Vane
Member of Parliament for Steyning
With: Robert Fagg 1734–1740
Hitch Younge 1740–1741
Succeeded by
Charles Eversfield
Hitch Younge
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
James Brydges
Duke of Chandos
Succeeded by
James Brydges