William’s parents, lady and lord Courtenay, had 13 daughters:
- Amelia 1777-1789
- Anne 1774-1835. Known as lady Valentia from 1793, and as lady Mountnorris from 1816.
- Caroline 1775-1851
- Charlotte 1764-1844
- Eleanor 1772-1789
- Elizabeth 1766-1815
- Frances 1763-18[??]. Known as lady Honywood from 1781, and later as lady Frances Honywood du Genevray. See: Isabella Courtenay and her niece; Lady Honywood’s Memorial.
- Harriet 1771-1836. Known as lady Carteret from 1826.
- Isabella 1765-1783. See: Isabella Courtenay and her niece.
- Louisa 1781-1823
- Lucy 1770-1821. Known as lady Lisburne from 1820.
- Matilda 1778-1848
- Sophia 1780-1845
In 1831, long after his death, their father was recognised by the UK’s House of Lords as earl of Devon de jure. His seven surviving daughters assumed the rank and title of earl’s daughters and became known as: lady Anne Mountnorris, lady Caroline Morland, lady Charlotte Giffard, lady Francis Honywood [du Genevray], lady Harriet Carteret, lady Matilda Locke, lady Sophia Foy.
All 13 sisters were alive at the same time for little more than one year, from Louisa’s birth in December 1781 to Isabella’s death in March 1783. The eldest, Frances, had married in December 1778 before Sophia’s birth and become a mother before Louisa was born.
- 1763 Frances
- 1764 Charlotte
- 1765 Isabella
- 1766 Elizabeth
- 1768 William
- 1770 Lucy
- 1771 Harriet
- 1772 Eleanor
- 1774 Anne
- 1775 Caroline
- 1777 Amelia
- 1778 Matilda
- 1780 Sophia
- 1781 Louisa
Of course William’s parents may have had other children outside of their marriage; his father has been named as a parent of Mary Ann Vane who it seems may have been born in 1784. It was not uncommon to name ‘illegitimate’ children in a will but none are mentioned in this case, nor does William himself seem to have acknowledged the existence of any half-siblings. For some reason William’s father did unseal his will in 1767 but then resealed it without making any alteration; perhaps he had considered adding some relevant codicil then changed his mind.
Four of the sisters became and remained widows: Caroline, Charlotte, Matilda and Sophia. Frances was also widowed but married for a second time. Three of the sisters did not marry: Amelia, Eleanor and Isabella.
- 1778 Frances married her cousin John Honywood (1757-1806). She later married Louis Léon comte du Genevray (see marginal note dated 9 June 1834 on last page of probate copy of her father’s will: lady Frances Honywood du Genevray.)
- 1788 Elizabeth married lord Charles Henry Somerset (1767-1831). The couple eloped on 22 May 1788 for a Gretna Green marriage in Scotland. They were then married by special licence with parental consent on 8 June 1788 at Hillingdon (Middlesex, England). After Elizabeth’s death (1815) lord Charles married lady Mary Poulett in 1821. In 1787 it was suggested that lord Charles and lord Paget, friends from schooldays together at Eton, enjoyed sexual activity with each other. In 1824 a placard appeared in Cape Town announcing that lord Charles had been detecting ‘buggering Dr Barry’. James Barry was the name of the persona adopted by Margaret Bulkeley in order to pursue medical studies in Edinburgh; Dr Barry arrived in Cape Town after Elizabeth’s death but was doctor to some of her daughters.
- 1788 Charlotte married Thomas Giffard (1764-1823) by special licence on 23 June 1788 at the Courtenay house in Grosvenor Square, London.
- 1790 Anne married George Annesley (1770-1844) on 3 September 1788 at Powderham. The couple separated after a few years and Anne’s later partner was John Gawler who changed his name to John Bellenden Ker (1764-1842).
- 1797 Harriet married lord George Thynne (1770-1838)
- 1798 Lucy married John Vaughan (1769-1831)
- 1800 Matilda married her cousin John Locke (-1837)
- 1804 Sophia married a widower, Nathaniel Foy (1773-1817)
- 1805 Louisa married her brother-in-law lord Robert Edward Henry Somerset (1776-1842). In 1808 lady Bessborough reported from Dublin that the king’s lord-lieutenant, the duke of Richmond, ‘makes desperate love’ to Louisa who was in Ireland with her husband.
- 1812 Caroline married Charles Morland (1773-1828)
Not long before Sophia’s marriage, one visitor to Powderham caught ‘a transient view of the three sister Sylphs of the castle; the first, like St. Cecilia, was playing on her harp: the second, like Ariel, singing to the divine harmony of the chords; and the third, like Penelope, employed in adorning the web of the loom.’
CHILDREN (William’s nieces and nephews)
Nine of the ten married sisters had children – more than 50 between them. If Harriet had any children, they died before her husband’s death in 1838.
William was probably a godfather to some of these children, among them perhaps: Matilda’s son Charles Courtenay Locke; Caroline’s son William Courtenay Morland; Anne’s sons William Annesley and Francis John Courtenay; Elizabeth’s children Georgiana Somerset and Villiers Henry Plantagenet Somerset; Lucy’s son John Wilmot Courtenay Vaughan. Although Georgiana Somerset is the only one to be mentioned in William’s English will, four of his nephews were presented to Courtenay livings: William Annesley (North Bovey); Francis John Courtenay (North Bovey); Charles Courtenay Locke (Newcastle); Villiers Henry Plantagenet Somerset (Honiton)
In the family groups below, the children are listed alphabetically. The family name of a niece’s husband is given in italic with the date of their marriage. As well as many omissions, there may be many errors here.
- Annesley (Anne’s children before her separation from her husband; although they were given his family name, and he acknowledged George Arthur as his son and heir, Anne’s husband believed that John Gawler>Bellenden Ker was probably the father of both children): George Arthur (1793-1841); William (1796-1830). In his will, William Annesley acknowledges the five Courtenay siblings below as his mother’s children; his older half-brother Charles Henry Bellenden Ker attested to William’s handwriting before the will was proved in 1831.
- Courtenay (Anne’s children with John Bellenden Ker after her separation from her husband): Caroline (1807-81; >Harrison); Emma (1816-66); Francis John (1801-59); Frederick Eardley Bellenden (1804-36); Henrietta (1810-87; >Sayers 1838). In its notice of this last marriage, the Gentleman’s Magazine of February 1839 did not mention Henrietta’s mother or her Courtenay surname, identifying her as ‘second dau. of John Bellenden, esq. niece of the late Earl of Devon.’
- Foy (Sophia’s children): Edward (1805-78); Sophia Elizabeth (?-1857; >Poulden 1834).
- Giffard (Charlotte’s children): Anna Barbara (?-1834; >Whitmore); Barbara Denise (?-1841; >Childe 1839); Caroline Mallett (?-1841; >Mytton 1821); Charles Robert (?-?); Charlotte (?-?; >Simpson ?); Francis John (?-1836); Louisa Paulina Charlotte (?-?; >Boughey 1832); Lucy Harriet (?-?); Robert Edward (?-1836); Sophia Elizabeth (?-?; >Wrottesley ?); Thomas William (1789-1861); Walter Peter (1796-?).
- Honywood (Frances’s children): a stillborn son (1782); Annabella Christiana (1785-1814; >Knatchbull 1806); Caroline Anne (1787-?; >Temple 1807); Charlotte Dorothea (1784-1811; >Cooper 1805); Eliza Augusta (?-?); Frances Elizabeth (1781-1854; >Surtees 1802); Isabella (1786-?); John Courtenay (1807-32); Louisa Catherine (?-1822; >Quartly 1820).
- Locke (Matilda’s children): Charles Courtenay (1804-48); Matilda Harriet Elizabeth (1802-77; >de Rouss Koestriz 1835); another son (army major; ?-?); another daughter (Caroline; ?-?). After the death of his first wife in 1843, Charles Courtenay Locke married his cousin Blanche Somerset, one of his aunt Louisa’s daughters.
- Morland (Caroline’s children): Caroline Anne (1820-41); William Courtenay (1818-63 or later).
- Somerset (Elizabeth’s children; after her death in 1815, lord Charles married lady Mary Poulett and they had several children together): a stillborn son (1801); Caroline Isabella (1797-1800); Charles Henry (1800-35); Charlotte (1799-?; >Cornwall 1822); Elizabeth (1790-?; >Wyndham 1812); Georgiana (1793-1856; >Glover 1833); Henry (1794-?); Villiers Henry Plantagenet (1803-55).
- Somerset (Louisa’s children): Augustus Charles Stapleton (1821-?); Blanche (1811-79; >Locke 1845); Edward Arthur (1817-?); Frances Caroline (1808-?); Georgiana Emily (1819-?; >Lawley 1852); Louisa Isabella (1807-?); Matilda Elizabeth (1815-1905); Robert Henry (1806-07).
- Vaughan (Lucy’s children): Ernest Augustus (1800-73); George Lawrence (1802-79); John Shalto (03-?); John Wilmot Courtenay (1799-1818); Lucy Harriet (1809-67); William Malet (07-?).
For Frances Elizabeth Honywood who married Aubone Surtees, see: Isabella Courtenay and her niece.
Their father’s will provided a maintenance allowance for each daughter until her eighteenth birthday or the day of her marriage, whichever came first. On that day she was to receive her ‘portion’: £6,000 for each daughter.
None of the sisters gained from William’s wills and only Sophia is mentioned: his English will provided for the continued payment of an annuity which she had been receiving since her husband died in 1817.
DEATHS (and wills)
Their mother lady Courtenay died in 1781, and their father lord Courtenay in 1788. Frances seems to have been alive at the time of William’s death but so far I have found no record of the date or place of her death.
- 1783 Isabella at Grosvenor Square, London in England
- 1789 Amelia
- 1789 Eleanor at Powderham-castle.
- 1815 Elizabeth at Cape Town in South Africa
- 1821 Lucy at château de l’Épine, Picardie in France
- 1823 Louisa at Over Norton, Oxfordshire in England
- 1835 Anne at Southampton, Hampshire in England
- 1835 William at Place Vendôme, Paris in France
- 1836 Harriet
- 1844 Charlotte at Chillington, Staffordshire in England. For her will, see Charlotte Giffard.
- 1845 Sophia at Chillington, Staffordshire in England [buried Plumstead, Kent 16 January 1845]
- 1848 Matilda at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Île-de-France in France
- 1851 Caroline at Hayes, Kent in England
- 18?? Frances
For information about the wills left by William’s sisters and brothers-in-law, with transcripts of a few of the shorter wills, visit the pages Wills of other people 1: lists and Wills of other people 2: transcripts.
For death notices and obituaries, visit William’s obituaries with notices of other deaths.
John Preston Neale: Ford House, 1818. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neale(1818)_p1.216_-_Ford_House,_Devonshire.jpg
John Swete recorded in his journal for 1793: “of late years it hath been alternatively inhabited, by Sir John Honeywood and Lord Charles Somerset, who married Sisters of the present Lord Courtenay.”
- 2018 June 26: first published online.
- 2021 April 8: entries under Marriages for Elizabeth and Louisa expanded.
- 2021 April 9: more information added to Children.
- 2021 July 23: more information added to Children (Henrietta Courtenay).
- 2022 June 21: more information added to Sisters (Eleanor).
- 2022 June 26: more information added to Marriages (‘a transient view’).
- 2022 November 14: paragraph added on possibility of other children born outside the marriage between William’s parents.