Salvation and tragedy: 1798-1881

Portrait of Anna Maria Hunt from Lanhydrock, Cornwall

In 1804 Anna Maria Hunt (1771-1861) married Charles Bagenal Agar, the youngest son of John Agar, 1st Viscount Clifden. It is through this marriage that the Clifden title re-appears later in the lineage of the Lanhydrock family.

Ahead of her time

Anna Maria was a woman ahead of her time. Although she didn’t use Lanhydrock as her main home (she lived next door to her mother in Mayfair), she took a keen interest in her Cornish estates.

She gradually improved Lanhydrock house, installing blinds to protect the pictures and stoves to combat the damp.

Over the years she was regarded as a ‘conscientious and charitable landlord’. She was always generous towards the miners during the periodic slumps in the tin industry, as well as being benevolent towards her own tenants and staff.

Personal tragedy

The years following her marriage were tinged with personal tragedy. Her eldest son Charles (b1806) dies in 1810; Charles Agar dies of typhoid in 1811 and her youngest son Edward (b1811) dies in 1818.

She remained a widow for the next 50 years, determined to make Lanhydrock a suitable home and provide an income for her sole surviving son, Thomas James.

Lanhydrock at the time Thomas James inherited it
An early drawing of Lanhydrock house
Lanhydrock at the time Thomas James inherited it

‘The poor man’s friend’

Thomas James Agar (1808-82) took the Robartes name by deed and warrant in 1822. When he came of age in 1829 he began to take some responsibility for the estate.

In 1839 he married Juliana Pole-Carew (1812-81) of Antony House, thus uniting two great Cornish families. The couple only had one child, Thomas Charles Agar-Robartes (1844-1930).

Thomas James continued his mother’s welfare works for the miners in building and maintaining the Miners’ Infirmary in Redruth and endowing several buildings to Cornish board schools. He was the Liberal MP for Bodmin between 1847 and 1868 and was considered in Cornwall to be ‘the poor man’s friend’.

Destruction and death

Continuing his mother’s estate improvements, Thomas James commissioned the celebrated architect George Gilbert Scott to repair the decaying Lanhydrock house.

Sadly, disaster struck in 1881 when a fire destroyed the newly refurbished interiors of the south and west wings. Although both Thomas James and Juliana escaped the fire, Juliana died a few days later from smoke inhalation and shock, and Thomas James (then Lord Robartes) died the following year, reputedly from a broken heart.