The Baron Howard de Walden is a title in the Peerage of England (the Walden in question being Saffron Walden in Essex), which being a title created by writ of summons in 1597 is therefore regarded as being heritable by and through females.

1. The Howards of Saffron Walden

Thomas Howard was the elder of the two sons of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk and his second wife Margaret Dudley, the daughter and heir of Thomas Audley, Baron Audley of Walden. This Thomas therefore became the effective heir of his maternal grandafther and following his mother's death on 10th January 1564 he inherited estate of Saffron Walden in Essex together with the house at Audley End.

The 4th Duke of Norfolk later got into a spot of trouble with Elizabeth I being attainted and executed for treason in 1572, an event which naturally cast a certain shadow over his family, since his descendants now found themselves similarly cast into legal limbo. The younger Thomas however managed to re-establish his credentials with Elizabeth; he was 'restored in blood' in December 1584, later captained the Golden Lion during the Spanish Armada, and led the Cadiz expedition of 1596. Having thus earned the favour of Queen Elizabeth he subsequently fell seriously ill in the autumn of 1597 and was expected to die at any minute. It was in the expectation of his imminent death that Elizabeth created him the Baron Howard de Walden on the 24th October 1597, with the title being awarded by writ, rather than by letters patent simply because it was a rush job. Thomas however survived and prospered, being later advanced to the status of the Earl of Suffolk by James I on the 21st July 1603.

The title of Baron Howard de Walden continued to be held by the Howard Earls of Suffolk until the death of the 3rd Earl on the 7th January 1689. The 3rd Earl's only son and heir James Howard died an infant in 1644, and thus he died without male issue leaving the earldom to pass to his nearest heir male (being his younger brother George Howard), whilst the title of Baron Howard de Walden fell into abeyance between his heirs general, being his two daughters Essex and Elizabeth.

2. The Griffins of Braybrooke

The elder Howard sister Essex married Edward Griffin, 1st Baron Griffin of Braybrooke. She died on or after the 31st January 1705 and had issue, although the legitimate male line ended with the death of Edward Griffin, 3rd Baron Griffin of Braybrooke in July 1742 leaving his two sisters as his co-heirs. The younger sister Anne Griffin married a William Whitwell of Oundle, and produced a son named John Griffin Whitwell; the elder sister Elizabeth Griffin was twice married and ended up as the Countess of Portsmouth, but both marriages proved childless.

It was however from her first marriage to one Henry Neville, later Henry Grey, that Elizabeth Griffin acquired the estates of the family of Neville of Billingbere. With no children to occupy her time she immersed herself in the management and expansion of her estates. In particular she was concious of her status as one of the co-heirs to the barony of Howard de Walden and annoyed that ownership of the Saffron Walden estate and the house at Audley End had been retained by the Howards and were now in the possession of Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Effingham. In 1747 she won a court case where she and her sister Anne were held to have inherited the estate of Saffron Walden, and although she failed to gain possession of Audley End itself, she later persuaded the Earl of Effingham to sell it to her in 1752 for £10,000, subsequently being responsible for rebuilding and restoring the rather dilapidated property.

Naturally Elizabeth Griffin became concerned with the disposition of her own property after her death (and it was very much her property; she ensured that it did not pass into the control of her second husband and there was never any question of it passing into the hands of the Wallop Earls of Portsmouth.) Very naturally her primary heir was her nephew John Griffin Whitwell. In 1749 she made over to him her share in the estate of Saffron Walden in consideration of which John obtained an Act of Parliament enabling him to assume the name and arms of Griffin, therby becoming John Griffin Griffin.

John Griffin enjoyed a succesful military career, becoming a general in 1778, and field marshal in 1796. He also succeeded in being elected as the Member of Parliament for Andover in 1749 thanks to the patronage of his uncle, John Wallop, 1st Earl of Portsmouth. As the member for Andover, he became one of the supporters of William Pitt the younger, and thanks to government influence the House of Lords Committee of Prviliges recommended that the abeyance be terminated in his favour, and so on the 3rd August 1784 he duly became the 4th Baron Howard de Walden.

The 4th Baron was twice married but died without issue at Saffron Walden on the 25th May 1797, at the age of seventy-eight, at which point the title Baron Howard de Walden fell into abeyance once more, although much of the property he'd inherited from his aunt and his mother passed into the hands of his cousin Richard Aldworth Neville (for which see Baron Braybrooke).

3. The Herveys of Ickworth

In the meantime the other Howard sister, Elizabeth married a Thomas Felton, 4th Baronet of Playford in Suffolk and produced a single surviving daughter named Elizabeth. This Elizabeth put forward her own claim to the Barony of Howard de Walden in 1691, but this was rejected thanks to a counter-claim raised by the Griffin coheirs. Elizabeth subsequently married (as his second wife) John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol in 1695, and was the mother of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Earls of Bristol, with the result that Elizabeth Howard's share of the claim on the title became vested in the Earls of Bristol.

As it happened John Griffin Griffin was not quite the last of the descendants of Essex Howard, as he left a sister named Mary. She married a William Parker who had also assumed the name of Griffin by royal licence of the 3rd June 1797. Mary might quite possibly have put forward her own claim to the title as heir to her brother, but in the event she died without issue on the 17th November 1799. Since she was the last of the descendants of Essex Howard, this had the effect of terminating the abeyance in favour of Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol, as the sole heir general of the 3rd Earl of Suffolk.

The 4th Earl of Bristol was seventy-five by the time he succeeded as the 5th Baron Howard de Walden, and died a few years later on the 8th July 1803. With his death the earldom passed to his second but eldest surviving son, the barony however followed a different path. Although the 4th Earl's eldest son John Augustus Hervey had indeed predeceased him on the 10th January 1796, he left an only child, a daughter named Elizabeth Catherine Caroline Hervey. This Elizabeth had earlier married one Charles Rose Ellis, but had died of consumption at Nice on the 21st January 1803. She did however leave a son named Charles Augustus Ellis, born 5th June 1799, who therefore succeeded his maternal great-grandfather as the 6th Baron Howard de Walden on the 8th July 1803 at the tender age of four. His claim to the barony was recognised in Feb 1807, and he later took his seat in the House of Lords once he'd reached the age of majority in 1820.

4. The Ellis family of Jamaica

The Ellis family were originally from the Wrexham area of Wales, but had made their money in Jamaica, being represented at the beginning of the nineteenth century by the aforementioned Charles Rose Ellis. Charles was later created the Baron Seaford in 1826, although thanks to the sequence of events noted above, his eldest son had some time previously become the 6th Baron Howard de Walden. The younger Charles also of course subsequently became the 2nd Baron Seaford following his father's death on the 1st July 1845, but like his successors preferred to be known by the older and thus more prestigious title of Howard de Walden.

The 6th Baron was briefly the under-secretary of state for Foreign Affairs, but spent most of his life as a diplomat, serving as the minister at Stockholm from 1832 to 1833 and then at Lisbon between the years 1833 and 1846 when he helping negotiate the treaties which ended the Portuguese slave trade. (Somewhat ironically given that much of the family wealth derived from owning slaves.) He later moved from Lisbon to Brussels in 1846 where he remained until his death on the 29th August 1868. He married Lucy Joan Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, the youngest of the four daughters of the 4th Duke of Portland, who subsequently became a valuable heiress following the death of her brother the 5th and last Duke of Portland.

The 6th Baron was succeeded by his son Frederick George, a Major in the 4th Light Dragoons who later died on the 3rd November 1899. He was followed as the 8th Baron by his son Thomas Evelyn, who saw service in both the Boer War of 1899–1900 and World War I, and ended up as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Tank Corps. It was Thomas who decided to adopt the name of Scott-Ellis by royal licence on the 21st April 1917, in recognition of his inheritance of the Scott estates via the Bentinck family. The 9th Baron later died on the 5th November 1946, when he was succeeded by his eldest son John Osmael.

A steward for the Jockey Club, the 10th Baron was also director of the family company Howard de Walden Estates Ltd, as well as a number of insurance companies such as Alliance Assurance and Sun Alliance and London Insurance, and later died on the 9th July 1999, leaving no sons but four daughters as his immediate heirs. At this point it is worth reminding ourselves that John Osmael Scott-Ellis was the 5th Baron Seaford as well as the 9th Baron Howard de Walden, and note that the circumstances now caused his two baronial titles to diverge. The Seaford title (being limited to the male line) passed to a cousin named Colin Humphrey Felton Ellis, whilst the Barony of Howard de Walden fell into abeyance once more between his four daughters.

5. The Czernins of Marylebone

Given that there were four daughters who each now had a share of the title it might well have taken some time for one single heir to have emerged. However the modern practice appears to be to terminate an abeyance in favour of the eldest of the coheirs and thus on the 25th June 2004 the abeyance was indeed terminated in favour of the eldest daughter, Mary.

Mary Hazel Caridwen is therefore the present and 10th Baroness Howard de Walden and bears the surname of Czernin, having married Joseph Czernin, the only son of Count Franz Joseph Czernin. Her eldest son and heir apparent to the title is Peter Joseph Czernin who is engaged in the motion picture business. Having played a small part in Kicking and Screaming (1995) he has since emerged as a film producer with a number of production credits for such works as Happy Campers (2001) and the Gladiatress (2004) and most recently Wind Chill (2007).


The Saffron Walden estates and the house at Audley End, which Elizabeth Griffin had earlier spent some effort in recovering and passing on to her chosen heir, afterwards fell into the hands of the Barons Braybrooke. The de Walden family wealth is therefore largely based on the Ellis's West Indian fortune augmented by later additions from the odd heiress along the way. The family property company Howard de Walden Estates Ltd, which owns amongst other things owns ninenty-two acres of prime real estate in the Marylebone district of London including the area around Harley Street. In 2004 Estates Gazette estimated that the property assets of the Howard de Walden Family were worth £1.3 billion, whilst the family appear in the 2007 Sunday Times Rich List at number 31 worth £1.5 billion.

In February 2007 the estate company announced its intention to seek to persuade its medical tenants to abandon so-called "lifestyle procedures" to become a centre of medical excellence. This led to headlines such as 'Harley St bans abortion clinics' and 'Woman who has banned abortions on Harley Street' with claims being made that these changes were inspired by the current Baroness de Walden, who is a Roman Catholic.


THE BARONS HOWARD DE WALDEN

HOWARD

Title in abeyance from 1689 until 1784

GRIFFIN (WHITEWELL)

Title in abeyance from 1797 until 1799

HERVEY

ELLIS/SCOTT-ELLIS

Title in abeyance from 1999 until 2004

CZERNIN


SOURCES

  • George Edward Cokayne, Vicary Gibbs, et al, The Complete Peerage (St Catherine's Press, 1910-1959)
  • The entries for SEAFORD OF SEAFORD, SUFFOLK and BERKSHIRE, BRISTOL from Burke's Peerage and Baronetage 107th Edition
  • The entries for Howard, Thomas, first earl of Suffolk; Howard, James, third earl of Suffolk; Griffin, Elizabeth, Griffin; John Griffin, fourth Baron Howard de Walden; Ellis, Charles Augustus, sixth Baron Howard de Walden; from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • The London Gazette 14 July 2004 http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk
  • Sunday Times Rich List 2007 http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/specials/rich_list/rich_list_search/
  • Peter Joseph Czernin http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0194446/

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