The women of Sudbury Hall

A portrait of Margaret Onley first wife of George Vernon © NTPL 63551

A portrait of Margaret Onley first wife of George Vernon

The wives of the Vernon family have left their legacy at Sudbury. Through marriage, these women brought wealth, connections or improved social standing to the family.

George's wives

George Vernon made the first advantageous marriage which provided him with the funds to build the hall which is seen today. In 1660, he married Margaret Onley, with whom he had nine children with at least six daughters and one son surviving her.

Just one year after Margaret died, George married Dorothea Shirley who through her titled parents provided a higher social standing to the family. They married in 1676 and had celebrations at nearby Staunton Harold Church (also National Trust); they had two daughters before she died in childbirth in 1680.

When George was 44, he married the 18 year old Catherine Vernon, whose family were successful merchants from London. It was their son Henry who inherited Sudbury.

The future women Sudbury

Henry followed in his fathers footsteps and also married well. His first wife, Anne Pigot, was heiress to property in Shropshire and Cheshire. It was their son who became the 1st Lord in 1762.

Through his first wife, George 2nd Lord, inherited substantial land in Wales, but it was his second wife, Georgiana Fauquier, who was considered a formidable woman; her painting hangs in the drawing room.

Finally, the trend continued, as to bolster the family fortunes the 7th Lord married an American heiress, Frances Lawrence, whose wealth enabled the building of a new stable block and coach house.