Egerton family, Earls of Bridgewater
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Thomas Egerton (1540-1617), natural son of Sir Richard Egerton of Ridley (Cheshire), was Lord Chancellor 1603-17, and was created Baron Ellesmere in 1603 and Viscount Brackley in 1616. He built up considerable estates in Cheshire and adjoining counties, including the Ellesmere estate in Shropshire (purchased from the feoffees of the 6th Earl of Derby) and properties in Denbighshire and Flintshire. In 1598 he inherited Tatton (Cheshire) and Worsley (Lancashire) from his brother-in-law, Richard Brereton. (Tatton later passed to a younger son of the 2nd Earl of Bridgewater). In 1604 he was granted Ashridge (Hertfordshire), which became the nucleus of a large estate in Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire.
John Egerton (d. 1649) succeeded his father as 2nd Viscount Brackley and in the same year was created Earl of Bridgewater. He married c.1601 Frances, daughter and co-heir of 5th Earl of Derby (d. 1594) and purchased the Brackley estate in Northamptonshire (like Ellesmere a property that had passed to the Earls of Derby from the family of Strange). He also acquired property in Lincolnshire that had passed to the Earls of Derby through the marriage of the 4th Earl to a granddaughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. (These estates were alienated in the 18th century). The 4th Earl was created Duke of Bridgewater in 1720.
On the death of the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater in 1803 his Ashridge and Ellesmere estates passed to a cousin who succeeded as 7th Earl of Bridgewater (see Cust, Earls Brownlow), but the Brackley and Worsley estates, together with the canal property and Bridgewater House in London passed to his nephew Lord Gower, later 1st Duke of Sutherland, with remainder to his second son, Francis Leveson-Gower (later Egerton), who was created Earl of Ellesmere in 1846. The Bridgewater Canal was sold in 1887, and the Worsley estate, to the Bridgewater Estates Company, in 1923. The Stetchworth (Cambridgeshire) estate, near Newmarket, was acquired by the 3rd Earl of Ellesmere, and the Mertoun (Berwickshire) estate by the 4th Earl (as Viscount Brackley) in 1912. The 5th Earl succeeded a cousin as 6th Duke of Sutherland in 1963.
Estates in 1883: 10,080 acres in Lancashire; 2,839 acres in Northamptonshire; 303 acres in Cheshire; about 100 acres in Staffordshire; worth a total of £71,290 a year.
|Sources of authority:||Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Principal family and estate collections A-K, 1996, p. 54.|
|Name authority reference:||GB/NNAF/F86685 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/F10707 )|