Introducing the Dashwood Baronets
A baronet is the holder of a hereditary baronetcy awarded by the British Crown. A baronetcy is the only hereditary honour which is not a peerage. A baronet is styled "Sir" like a knight, but ranks above all knighthoods except for the Order of the Garter (and the Order of the Thistle in Scotland). Baron and baronet are both titles of nobility, but they are different. The rank of baron is the lowest in the peerage.
The term baronet has medieval origins and Edward III is known to have created eight English baronets in 1328. However, as a result of the Union of England and Scotland in 1707, all future baronetcies were styled as baronets of Great Britain. The first of these baronets was Sir Francis Dashwood, a merchant and an Alderman of London.
Sir Francis Dashwood, First Baronet
Francis was born in 1658. He was the son of Francis Dashwood, an alderman of the City of London, and Alice Sleigh. He was married four times. Francis was a successful London merchant importing silk and other luxury goods through the East India Company. He was knighted in 1702 and became the sole owner of the West Wycombe Estate in 1706 when he bought out his brother’s half share in the estate. Sir Francis was MP for Winchelsea between 1708 and 1712. He died on 4 November 1724 at Hanover Square in London.
Sir Francis Dashwood, Second Baronet
Sir Francis was born in December 1708 at Westminster. He was the son of Sir Francis, 1st Bt. and his second wife, Lady Mary Fane. Only 16 when he inherited his father’s estate, Sir Francis was sent on a Grand Tour of Europe which aroused in him a passion for classical Italian art and architecture (as well as an appetite for high living and extreme devotional practices of the Roman church).
Sir Francis co-founded the Dilettanti Society with the aim of promoting knowledge and understanding of classical art and taste in England. Sir Francis championed many of the society’s activities which led to shaping the vision of his famous development of West Wycombe Park in the neo-classical style. He married Sarah Ellys, a wealthy widow, and Sarah’s money funded many of Sir Francis’ developments at the park.
Sir Francis was MP for New Romney and Weymouth and he was named Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Bute ministry of 1762. In that year he entered the House of Lords as Lord Le Despencer and subsequently proved himself an excellent joint-Postmaster General – a post he held from 1766 until his death. At that time, Benjamin Franklin held a similar position in the Colonies. He became a close friend of Sir Francis and was a frequent visitor to West Wycombe.
Maybe as an escape from his political duties, Sir Francis found an outlet with the formation of the Hell-Fire Club (more properly known as the ‘Monks of Medmenham’). The society took the form of a mock religious order, the activities of which have been very much exaggerated but elaborate mock religious ceremonial, drinking and free love may well have played some part in their meetings. Sir Francis died on 11 December 1781, with no legitimate heir.
Sir John Dashwood-King, Third Baronet
Sir John was born on 4 August 1716. He was the son of Sir Francis, 1st Bt. and his third wife, Lady Mary King. Sir John was baptised with the name of John Dashwood but in 1742 his name was legally changed to John Dashwood-King by Act of Parliament. He graduated in 1753 with a Bachelor of Civil Law and was MP for Bishop's Castle between 1753 and 1756. In 1761 he married Sarah Moore a descendant of John Milton – the source of several Milton relics at West Wycombe Park – and they had three children. Sir John succeeded to the title of 3rd Baronet on 11 December 1781 but was over 60 when he inherited and he actually spent very little time at West Wycombe. He died on 6 December 1793.
Sir John Dashwood, Fourth Baronet
Sir John was born in 1765 the son of Sir John, 3rd Bt. and Sarah Moore. He married Mary Anne Broadhead on 29 August 1789 and they had five sons and two daughters. He succeeded to the title of 4th Baronet on 6 December 1793 and was MP for Wycombe between 1796 and 1831. Sir John, 4th Bt. is chiefly remembered as a keen huntsman and on his inheritance he established a pack of hounds at West Wycombe Park. Rumours of his wife’s affair with the Prince of Wales led to an unhappy marriage and he died alone in 1849 in lodgings in Baker Street, London.
Sir George Henry Dashwood, Fifth Baronet
Sir George was born in 1790. He was the son of Sir John, 4th Bt. and Mary Anne Broadhead. Unlike his father, Sir George loved West Wycombe into which he moved after his marriage to his cousin Elizabeth Broadhead in 1823. Sir George held the office of MP for Buckinghamshire between 1832 and 1835 and MP for Wycombe from 1837 to 1862.
He succeeded to the title of 5th Baronet on 22 October 1849 and shortly after embarked on a campaign of refurbishment of West Wycombe which had scarcely been touched since the death of Sir Francis, 2nd Bt. Sir George died in 1862 without issue, leaving his widow with a life tenancy on the house. She was to live at West Wycombe for a further 27 years.
Sir John Richard Dashwood, Sixth Baronet
Sir John was born in 1792 and was the younger brother of Sir George, 5th Bt. but he never actually lived at West Wycombe and he died in 1863, the year after he inherited the title of 6th Baronet.
Sir Edwin Hare Dashwood, Seventh Baronet
Sir Edwin was born in 1825 and was the nephew of Sir George, 5th Bt. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1848 and in 1852 married Roberta Henrietta Abercomby. He inherited as 7th Baronet in 1863 but was unable to move into West Wycombe house as it was still occupied by the Dowager Lady Elizabeth. He died in 1882.
Sir Edwin Abercromby Dashwood, Eighth Baronet
Sir Edwin was born on 28 October 1854. He was the son of Sir Edwin, 7th Bt. and Roberta Abercomby. He succeeded to the title of the 8th Baronet on 8 May 1882. He married Florence Norton on 24 August 1889 and they had one child, Florence Emily Dashwood. Sir Edwin lived in New Zealand until the death of the Dowager LadyDashwood in 1889. On moving to West Wycombe he found the estate in a very parlous state and to pay Lady Dashwood's executors Sir Edwin mortgaged the estate but he died suddenly, shortly afterward, in 1893.
Sir Robert John Dashwood, Ninth Baronet
Sir Robert was born on 3 June 1859. He was the son of Sir Edwin, 7th Bt. and Roberta Abercomby. He married Clara Adelaide Ida Conyers Lindsay on 25 July 1893 and succeeded to the title of 9th Baronet on 7 April 1893. He held the offices of Member of the Buckinghamshire County Council and Justice of the Peace for Buckinghamshire. Sir Robert was the younger brother of Sir Edwin, 8th Bt. He continually struggled with the mortgage, debts and court cases emanating from the Dowage Lady Dashwood's legacy and died suddenly, like his brother, in 1908 aged 49.
Sir John Lindsay Dashwood, Tenth Baronet
Sir John was born on 25 April 1896. He was the son of Sir Robert, 9th Bt. and Clara Lindsay. He was educate at Wellington College and Magdalen College, Oxford. Sir John succeeded to the title of 10th Baronet when he was just 13. He fought in the First World War and gained the rank of Acting Major in the Tank Corps and Flight Lieutenant in the No. 902 (Middlesex) Balloon Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force.
In 1919 Sir John returned from the war to a very much neglected West Wycombe which continued to be crippled by the 8th Baronet's mortgage and debts. He decided to sell the estate but the sale was cancelled though much of the contents of the house were sold. Sir John married Helen Moira Eaton on 20 December 1922 and it was largely due to her determination that the house was kept and made habitable.
In 1929, Sir John sold the entire village of West Wycombe to the Royal Society of Arts which handed it over to the National Trust in 1934. In 1925, he gave West Wycombe hill (excluding the mausoleum) to the National Trust and in September 1943 West Wycombe Park was accepted by the National Trust on the condition that the family could remain living in the house. Sir John died on 9 July 1966 aged 70.
Sir Francis John Vernon Hereward Dashwood, Eleventh Baronet
Sir Francis was born on 7 August 1925. He was the son of Sir John, 10th Bt. and Helen Eaton. Sir Francis was educated at Eton College and graduated from Christ Church College, Oxford in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts and in 1953 with a Master of Arts. He graduated from Harvard Business School and was a successful business man, fluent in Russian. He held the offices of Member of the Buckinghamshire County Council between 1951 and 1952 and High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1976.
Sir Francis succeeded to the title of 11th Baronet on 9 July 1966, but prior to the death of his father he had already restored the Hell-Fire Caves as a tourist attraction and been instrumental is introducing an number of improvements to West Wycombe House. In 1957, he married Victoria de Rutzen and the couple dedicated themselves to restoring the house and park according to the designs and vision of Sir Francis, 2nd Bt.. Victoria died in 1976 and the following year Sir Francis married Marcella Scarafia an Italian film actress, and the work of restoring the estate continued. In 1987, Sir Francis published a family history and autobiography "The Dashwoods of West Wycombe". He died on 9 March 2000 aged 74.
Sir Edward John Francis Dashwood, Twelfth Baronet
Sir Edward was born on 25 September 1964. He is the son of Sir Francis, 11th Bt. and Victoria de Rutzen. He married Lucinda Nell Miesegaes and they have three children. Sir Edward was educated at Eton College and graduated from Reading University with a Bachelor of Science degree. He is registered as a Professional Associate of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. He succeeded to the title of 12th Baronet on 9 March 2000.