Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon
Bertie was a music patron and composer, as well as a political writer. His brother-in-law Giovanni Gallini brought him into contact with J.C. Bach and Carl Friedrich Abel, and he was subsequently very involved in their careers. During his time in England (1791–1792, 1794-1795), Abingdon was a patron of Haydn's, who may have encouraged him to compose. Abingdon is credited with the composition of one hundred and twenty musical works.
Abingdon earned himself the reputation of a political maverick. His obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine remarked that “his frequent speeches in the House of Peers were peculiarly eccentric”. An outspoken critic of Lord North and his administration, he rigorously defended the liberties of the American colonies, yet denounced the French Revolution as a threat to “the Peace, the Order, the Subordination, the Happiness of the whole habitable Globe.” He argued that the movement for the abolition of the slave trade was simply the result of a “new philosophy” inspired by the new French republic.
When his elder brother James died in a fire at Rycote in 1745, Bertie became his father's heir, succeeding him as 4th Earl of Abingdon on 10 June 1760. In 1761, he sold the manor of West Lavington, Wiltshire to Robert Palmer and Thomas Walker, and in 1762, he sold the manor of Frilsham, Berkshire to George Amyand.
He married Charlotte Warren, daughter of Peter Warren and a descendant of the Schuyler family, the Van Cortlandt family, and the Delancey family of British North America, on 7 July 1768. With her he had at least four sons:
- Willoughby Bertie, Lord Norreys (8 February 1779 – 20 February 1779)
- Willoughby Bertie, Lord Norreys (born 9 April 1781), died in infancy
- Montagu Bertie, 5th Earl of Abingdon (30 April 1784 – 16 October 1854)
- Capt. Hon. Willoughby Bertie (24 June 1787 – 19 December 1810), married Catherine Jane Saunders on 26 November 1808, lost commanding HMS Satellite; posthumous son Willoughby Vere Bertie (20 April 1811 – 26 July 1812)
- Hon. Peregrine Bertie (30 July 1790 – 17 October 1849)
- Rev. Hon. Frederic Bertie (12 February 1793 – 4 February 1868), married Lady Georgiana Anne Emily Kerr, daughter of Lord Mark Kerr in 1825
- Lady Caroline Bertie (d. 12 March 1870), married Charles John Baillie-Hamilton on 23 January 1821
Abingdon was plagued by financial problems from the moment he inherited the earldom. With his own extravagant lifestyle doing little to alleviate his problems, he died insolvent in 1799. Much of his estates at Westbury, Wiltshire were sold off over a period from 1777 through his death.
- "Bertie, Willoughby". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Simon Towneley (with Derek McCulloch). "4th Earl of Abingdon", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed 20 May 2006), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
- The Musical "Oeuvre" of Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon (1740-99)'. Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle. 2000. pp. 1–27.
- Fred. S. Thacker The Thames Highway: Volume II Locks and Weirs 1920 - republished 1968 David & Charles
- The Gentleman's Magazine. October 1799. p. 903.
- "Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon". Rediscovering Rycote. Bodleian Library. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- H F Chettle, W R Powell, P A Spalding and P M Tillott (1953). "Parishes: West or Bishop's Lavington". In Pugh, R B; Crittall, Elizabeth. A History of the County of Wiltshire. Volume 7, Bradford, Melksham, and Potterne and Cannings Hundreds. London: Victoria County History. pp. 198–206. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- Page, William; Ditchfield, P H, eds. (1924). "Parishes: Frilsham". A History of the County of Berkshire. Volume 4. London: Victoria County History. pp. 70–73. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- "Westbury: Manors". A History of the County of Wiltshire. Volume 8, Warminster, Westbury and Whorwellsdown Hundreds. London: Victoria County History. 1965. pp. 148–163. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
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