The dignity of Carnarvon has been awarded to three different families during the past four centuries. Firstly to the Dormer family in 1628 whose title became extinct in 1709, secondly to the Barons Chandos to whom it was merely a stepping stone on their way to a dukedom, and finally to a junior branch of the Herbert family.


The Dormers were an old Buckinghamshire family and Robert Dormer, the 2nd Baron Dormer was created Viscount Ascot in the county of Hertford and Earl of Carnarvon by Charles II in 1628 when only eighteen years of age. A prominent royalist Robert Dormer was killed at the first battle of Newbury on the 20th September 1643.

Robert had previously married Anna Sophia Herbert, a daughter of Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke and their son Charles Dormer duly became the 2nd Earl on his father's death in 1643. The 2nd Earl died in 1709 without male issue (his only daughter and heiress Elizabeth Dormer having married Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl Of Chesterfield) and thus the title became extinct.


The Brydges were a wealthy family holding land in the counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Radnorshire and Worcestershire, one of whom, a James Brydges, 9th Baron Chandos became the Member of Parliament for Hereford and was placed in charge of the financing of the Duke of Marlborough's participation in the Spanish War of Succession after which he was strangely rather better off than he was before. When George I ascended the throne in 1714 he was awarded the titles of the Viscount Wilton and Earl of Carnarvon and five years later in 1719 was eleveated even higher when he was made Marquess of Carnarvon and Duke of Chandos. It is therefore as Dukes of Chandos that he and his successors were generally known, although 'Marquess of Carnarvon' was used as a courtesy title by the eldest son of the Duke.

James Brydges the 3rd Marquess and grandson of the first, was the last of his line and so on his death in 1789, the titles of Earl and Marquess of Carnarvon became extinct.


Henry Herbert was a grandson of Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke (and 5th Earl of Montgomery), who became Member of Parliament for Wilton and later Master of the Horse. He appears to have distinguished himself during the Gordon Riots, was created a baron in 1780 when he took the title of Baron Porchester and was subsequently made Earl of Carnarvon in 1793, establishing the family seat at Highclere Castle which he had inherited.

After the death of the 1st Earl in 1811 the succession passed to his son, Henry George Herbert who became 2nd Earl, and then to his son Henry John George Herbert the 3rd Earl in 1833. In 1849 Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert became the 4th Earl of Carnarvon and had an active political career, serving as Colonial Secretary between 1866 and 1867 when was responsible for the British North America Act, (which created the confederation of Canada) and later as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

Curiously the 4th Earl provided the novelist Evelyn Waugh with both his wives. As Evelyn Waugh first married Evelyn Gardner who was Henry Herbert's grand-daughter via a daughter of his first marriage and secondly Laura Herbert, who was Henry Herbert's daughter by his second marriage. (It was this second marriage between Evelyn Waugh and Laura Herbert that produced the noted journalist and wit Auberon Waugh.) It is also worth noting that the 4th Earl's younger son Aubrey Herbert became an MP and was once apparently a candidate for the throne of Albania.

The most famous Earl of Carnarvon of all was of course, the 5th Earl who was the 'Lord Carnarvon' that funded Howard Carter's excavations in Egypt and credited as the co-discoverer of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. The 5th earl supposedly died on the 5th April 1923 as a result of Tutankhamun's curse.

Henry George Alfred Marius Herbert, the 6th Earl who succeeded in 1923 was more interested in horses than Egyptology and established a stud at Highclere and was described as "an engagingly rakish countryman". The 7th Earl, Henry George Reginald Molyneux Herbert who succeeded his father to the title in 1987, similarly followed a career as an owner and breeder of horses, acted as the Queen's racing manager and also played an important part in the administration of racing. It was the 7th Earl who was responsible for the opening of Highclere Castle to the public in 1989 after he had earlier discovered a hoard of some three hundred Egyptian antiquities hidden away by his grandfather.

The current Earl of Carnarvon, the 8th of the Herbert line is George Herbert who succeeded on the death of his father, the 7th Earl on the 11th September 2001.

(including the Marquesses of Carnarvon)



Created Marquess of Carnarvon in 1719



  • The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for CARNARVON, EARLDOM OF
  • Robert Domer at
  • A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain at
  • BARONS - Lord Dormer
  • Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2003.
  • The obituary of the 7th Earl of Carnarvon (Filed: 13/09/2001) from

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