Explore the History of the Lansdowne Family

The Fitzmaurices, of Norman origin, settled in Ireland in the Twelfth century. In 1692, the marriage of Thomas Fitzmaurice and Anne Petty, the only daughter of the scientist and philosopher, Sir William Petty (1623-1687) transformed the family fortunes.

In 1751 their son, John Fitzmaurice (1706-1761) legally changed his name to Petty. He was created 1st Earl of Shelburne in 1753.

1st Marquess

William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne (1737-1805) .

William was a soldier and Whig politician. He was Prime Minister from 1782-83 and created 1st Marquess of Lansdowne in 1784.

William created the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne for negotiating peace with America at the end of the War of Independence. He was married twice and father to three children. He was a passionate collector of antiquities and works of art.

2nd Marquess

John Henry Petty, 2nd Marquess of Lansdowne (1765-1809).

John was a politician and traveler.  He was a Whig Member of Parliament for Wycombe from 1786-1802.

Suffering from ill health and the burden of debts inherited from his father he survived his father by only four years. He was forced to sell most of his father’s collection of antiquities and art.

3rd Marquess

Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne (1780-1863)

Henry was a politician, philanthropist and patron to the arts. Until he succeeded his half-brother as 3rd Marquess in 1809, Henry was Whig Member of Parliament for Calne and then for the University of Cambridge.

In a career of over fifty years in politics he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and was three times Lord President of the Council. He made many improvements to Bowood and like his father built-up an outstanding collection of art and antiquities.

He was born Henry Petty but in 1818 legally changed the family name to Petty-Fitzmaurice after the death of his cousin Francis Thomas Fitzmaurice without issue.

4th Marquess

Henry Thomas Petty-Fitzmaurice, 4th Marquess of Lansdowne (1816-1866).

Henry was the second son of the 3rd Marquess. He succeeded to the title after the death of his elder brother the Earl of Kerry in 1836.

Like his father he was a Whig politician. He was a Whig Member of Parliament for Calne for 20 years and an Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1856-58. He was also Chairman of the Great Western Railway.

His wife was Emily de Flahaut, granddaughter of Prince Talleyrand and daughter of the Comte de Flahaut, who was Napoleon Bonaparte’s Aide-de-Camp.

5th Marquess

Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne (1845-1927).

Henry was a politician and an Imperial statesman. He spent over 50 years in politics in Britain and abroad. He served as Governor-General of Canada, Viceroy of India, Secretary of State for War, Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Lords.

Even with these demands he also took a keen interest in local politics in Wiltshire where he was Lord Lieutenant and President of the Wiltshire Territorial Association.

6th Marquess

Henry William Edmund Petty-Fitzmaurice, 6th Marquess of Lansdowne (1872-1936).

Henry was a soldier, politician and writer.  He served as a soldier in the Boer War and in the First World War, reaching the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

He was a Unionist Member of Parliament for West Derbyshire from 1908-1918 and a member of the Senate of the Irish Free State from 1922-29.

7th Marquess

Charles Hope Petty-Fitzmaurice, 7th Marquess of Lansdowne (1917-1944).

Charles was a solider and was killed in action on 30 August 1944 aged twenty-seven fighting in Italy during the Second World War.

8th Marquis

George John Charles Mercer Nairne Petty-Fitzmaurice, 8th Marquis of Lansdowne (1912-1999).

George was a soldier and Conservative politician.  He was the only son of Lord Charles Mercer Nairne, second son of the 5th Marquess and first cousin of the 7th Marquess.

After fighting in the Second World War he followed a career in politics becoming Minister of State for Colonial Affairs and for Commonwealth Relations. In 1955 he took the difficult decision to demolish the Big House at Bowood ensuring that the family could continue to live there.

9th Marquis

Charles Maurice Petty-Fitzmaurice, 9th Marquis of Lansdowne (b. 1941) is a businessman and peer.

Since 1964 Charles has served in local government at parish, district and county levels.

He was President of the Historic Houses Association from 1988-93 and served as Vice Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire from 2012-16.

In 2001 he was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order after retiring as a member of the Prince’s Council of the Duchy of Cornwall.

11th Earl of Kerry

Simon Petty-Fitzmaurice, 11th Earl of Kerry (b.1970)

Simon was born in London and grew up at Bowood.

He was educated at Eton College and Jesus College, Cambridge. He is a business owner and historian. He serves on various local and regional boards and committees and devotes much of his time to managing the estate.