William Tollemache, Lord Huntingtower (1820–1872)

William Lionel Felix Tollemache, Lord Huntingtower (4 July 1820 – 21 December 1872), styled the Hon. William Lionel Felix Tollemache until 1840, was a controversial British nobleman, known for his financial entanglements and extramarital affairs.

William Tollemache
William Lionel Felix Tollemache

(1820-07-04)4 July 1820
Died21 December 1872(1872-12-21) (aged 52)
SpouseKatherine Elizabeth Camilla Burke
Partner(s)Elizabeth Acford
Emma Dibble
Children13, including William Tollemache, 9th Earl of Dysart
ParentLionel Tollemache, 8th Earl of Dysart

Biography edit

William was the child and heir apparent of Lionel Tollemache, 8th Earl of Dysart, and his wife Maria. He was described as, about 1861, a "tall, gaunt man, dark", about 5'10" or 6' in height.[1]

Huntingtower was educated at Eton, which he left at the age of seventeen. His father refused to grant him any allowance whatsoever, and he received from his family only a few hundred pounds from his grandmother in the next four years. Unfortunately, his status as the heir of a large estate allowed him to borrow immense sums, and he led so dissipated a life as to accumulate, by 1841, £220,000 of debt.[2] Among these debts was one of over £19,050 to a London diamond dealer, Dobson. Accordingly, he conveyed to Dobson, for a payment of just under £950, his interest in the family estates and eight life insurance policies, to be redeemable by paying his debt of £20,000.[3]

At the cost of £3,500, Huntingtower succeeded in having himself returned as a Member of Parliament for Andover in the election of 1841; but lacking two days of his majority at the time of the election, was replaced by Lord William Paget.[2]

Huntingtower attempted to make a living as a horse dealer and coach proprietor, but was declared bankrupt on 2 September 1842 and incarcerated in the Queen's Prison. Upon examination, the unfortunate Huntingtower was found to be unable to give an account of his assets, and quite unable to understand his accounts.[2] One of his creditors, George Samuel Ford, a bill discounter and solicitor, attempted to have the fiat annulled on the grounds that Huntingtower had never been a trader so could not be declared a bankrupt. He failed on a technicality.

In 1844, Lord Huntingtower molested or seduced Elizabeth Acford, a maid in the service of his mother, Lady Dysart, and subsequently took her as his mistress. After living together in Scotland, which Acford thought was sufficient to establish a marriage there, they returned and lived several years in England. Acford bore three of Huntingtower's children at this time:

  • Frances Elizabeth Acford (10 September 1845 – ?)
  • Elizabeth Frances Acford (21 November 1846 – ?)
  • Caroline Acford (14 January 1848 – ?)

Huntingtower and Acford fell out in early 1848, and he confiscated various letters from her. His financial troubles had resumed again. In October 1848, he deserted her. Acford, destitute, appealed to Lady Dysart for support, which she could only obtain in return for her silence; but eventually this, too, stopped, and Acford was forced upon the relief of the parish in 1850.[4]

On 26 September 1851, Huntingtower married his first cousin, Katherine Elizabeth Camilla Burke (d. 1896), the daughter of Sir Joseph Burke, 11th Baronet, at East Horrington church in Somerset. They had four children:

On 21 March 1881, the two surviving daughters, Agnes and Agatha, were granted a warrant of precedence as the daughters of an earl.[5]

In 1853, after the death of Dobson, Huntingtower's assignees in bankruptcy sued to overturn the mortgage on the estates and recover the policies, and were successful in having the transaction nullified by the Court of Chancery as a fraud upon Lord Huntingtower.[3] In this year, he was again confronted by his mistress, Elizabeth Acford, who had learned of his marriage to Katherine Burke. In the following year, he agreed to pay Acford an annuity of 60 pounds in return for the surrender of his remaining letters. Huntingtower now resumed relations with her, and she bore two more children by Huntingtower:[4]

  • Charles Frederick William Acford (4 April 1858 – 1858)
  • Albert Edwin Acford (15 February 1863 – ?)

In 1860, Huntingtower left Katherine, and subsequently took another mistress, Emma Dibble. He had four children by her:[1]

  • John Manners
  • Emma Teresa Manners
  • Magdalen Manners
  • Russell Joseph Manners

In 1865, Elizabeth sued him for the payment of her annuity, and Huntingtower successfully defended himself by claiming her to be his wife.[4][6]

Huntingtower died in 1872. His father died in 1878; and a lawsuit was initiated in 1881 by Elizabeth Acford, seeking to have her son, Albert, recognised as Earl of Dysart, rather than William, Huntingtower's son by Katherine Burke. After reviewing the evidence, the Committee for Privileges concluded that the evidence presented disproved Acford's allegations that she had been married to Lord Huntingtower, and confirmed the succession of William as Earl of Dysart.[4]

References edit

  1. ^ a b Parliament Lords, Proc (1880). 3 papers relating to claims to the earldom of Dysart. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Macintyre, James J. (1841). The Influence of Aristocracies on the Revolutions of Nations. Fisher, son & co. pp. 397–400. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
  3. ^ a b Langdale, Henry, Lord (1858). Reports of Cases in Chancery, Argued and Determined in the Rolls Court. Saunders and Benning. pp. 172–183. Retrieved 11 January 2008.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b c d Moak, Nathaniel Cleveland; John Thomas Cook (1884). Reports of Cases decided by the English Courts. William Gould. pp. 550–613. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  5. ^ "No. 24954". The London Gazette. 25 March 1881. p. 1360.
  6. ^ "LORD HUNTINGTOWER AND HIS TWO WIVES". The Sydney Morning Herald. Vol. LI, no. 8442. New South Wales, Australia. 13 June 1865. p. 3. Retrieved 9 May 2018 – via National Library of Australia.