The Petworth family tree
There are three families associated with Petworth – the Percys (Earls of Northumberland), the Seymours (Dukes of Somerset) and the Wyndhams (Earls of Egremont / Lords Leconfield). Download the family tree and learn more, through the generations to present day.
The Percy family
The Percy family were for many years one of the most powerful families in England. They were devout Catholics living mainly in the north, where they commanded the loyalty of many like-minded Catholics. This became particularly significant during the Protestant Reformation under Edward VI and Elizabeth I, when the 7th Earl of Northumberland firmly allied himself with the Catholics.
Sister of the 10th Earl of Northumberland, Lucy Percy, Countess of Carlisle, mischievously served both Royalists and Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. She famously pawned her pearl necklace to raise money for the royalist cause but was imprisoned in the Tower of London as a result.
The family line passed neatly to the 11th Earl of Northumberland, but after the 11th Earl died in 1670, there was no male heir. Instead, the wealth and estates were inherited by the 11th Earl’s only daughter Elizabeth Percy, who could not inherit the title because she was female.
The most complicated inheritance split came after the death in 1750 of Algernon, 7th Duke of Somerset, who also had no male heir. In preparation for this, two further titles were given to Algernon in 1749, with remainders to different families:
1. The title 1st Earl of Northumberland was created – a new creation of the old Percy title with remainder to Hugh Smithson, husband of Algernon’s daughter Elizabeth. Hugh Smithson, as part of the deal, changed his surname to Percy. Half of the Percy estates were inherited by this branch of the family, primarily in the north of England. Hugh Percy was later elevated to Duke of Northumberland, and the present line of the Dukes of Northumberland continues to reside at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.
2. The title 1st Earl of Egremont was created with a remainder to the descendants of Algernon’s brother-in-law Sir William Wyndham, who married Lady Katherine Seymour, Algernon’s sister. This settlement included Petworth and many estates in Sussex, Cumbria and Yorkshire. By the time of Algernon’s death in 1750, Sir William and Lady Katherine were dead, so the title was inherited by their son Charles Wyndham, who became the 2nd Earl of Egremont.
Despite fathering a large progeny of illegitimate children, the 3rd Earl did not produce a legitimate male heir. When he died in 1837, his eldest illegitimate son George Wyndham was able to inherit the majority of the estates, but because of his illegitimacy, could not inherit the title.
For the next 20 years, George was known simply as Colonel George Wyndham. In 1859, Queen Victoria bestowed a brand new title of Baron Leconfield on Colonel George, so the family continued to be known as Lords Leconfield.
In 1963, John Wyndham, the current Lord Egremont’s father, retired as Harold Macmillan’s private secretary. As Macmillan held John Wyndham in high esteem, he asked for the title Egremont to be restored to the family, so he effectively held two titles – Lord Leconfield from the 1859 creation, and Lord Egremont from the 1963 creation.
The current Lord and Lady Egremont continue a tradition of unbroken occupancy at Petworth House today.