Lewis Bayly was a Welshman of obscure origins, whose date and place of birth are uncertain, but he was most likely born around the year 1570 somewhere in the Carmarthenshire area. He studied at Oxford University, entered the Church, served as Chaplain to Henry, Prince of Wales, and later as tutor to Charles (both sons of James I) before becoming the Bishop of Bangor.
Most importantly he took for his second wife one Anna Bagenal the daughter of a Henry Bagenal of Castle Newry in Ireland. By this means Lewis Bayly's grandson Edward Bayly inherited the Plas Newydd estate in Anglesey together with some estates in Ireland, thereby becoming a landed gentleman and obtained the title of baronet in 1730 in recognition thereof.
His eldest son, Nicholas Bayly, the 2nd Baronet, married a Caroline Paget, daughter of Thomas Paget, Governor of Minorca, and grandson of William Paget, 5th Baron Paget of Beaudesert. As luck would have it when Henry Paget the 8th Baron, died in 1769 the Pagets had run out of male heirs and the family estates in Staffordshire and elsewhere, together with the title devolved on Nicholas's eldest son Henry Bayly through his mother Caroline.
Henry Bayly thus became the 9th Baron Paget and owner of Cannock Chase, Burton Abbey and Beaudesert in Staffordshire and therefore took the name and arms of Paget to reflect his new status in society. He was doubly fortunate in that not only was he now a substantial landowner but also found that his Plas Newydd estate in Anglesey, perched on one side of Parys mountain, was the site of a significant source of copper at a time when the British Navy had just discovered the virtues of copper-plating the hulls of its warships.
The acquisition of wealth naturally drove Henry Bayly further up the social scale and having been appointed as Lord Lieutenant of Anglesey in 1782 Henry was subsequently created Earl of Uxbridge in May 1784, reviving the title previously held by the original Pagets but which had become extinct on the death of the 8th Baron.
The New Pagets
Henry Paget as he had now become had a number of sons who rose to prominence at the turn of the eighteenth century. There was Arthur Paget who became an eminent diplomat, Edward Paget who served in the army under John Moore and Arthur Wellesley, Charles Paget who went into the Navy and rose to the rank of vice-admiral;all of whom were eclipsed by his eldest son Henry William Paget.
With the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars, Henry William known in his youth as Lord Paget, raised a regiment of infantry from his Staffordshire estates, served in Flanders and became a cavalry officer of some distinction, being promoted to Major-General in 1802 and Lieutenant-General six years later.
Unfortunately after 1809 his military career came to something of a stop as a result of his 'liaison' with Charlotte Wellesley, the wife of Henry Wellesley. As Henry's older brother was Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington) and commander-in-chief of the British Army this made life somewhat embarrassing for all concerned. The Wellesleys duly obtained a divorce as did Henry, leaving him free to marry Charlotte (whilst the former Mrs Paget remarried the Duke of Argyll.) Henry retired from the army into politics and with his father's death in May of 1812, took his seat in the House of Lords as the 2nd Earl of Uxbridge.
However in 1815 Napoleon Bonaparte made his great escape from Elba and in the resulting emergency such matters were put to one side. Henry returned to active service and commanded the cavalry at the battle of Waterloo leading the great cavalry charge against D'Erlon's corps d'armee. Although Henry had his leg blown off (and was thus known as 'one-leg' thereafter) he was regarded as a great hero, second only to Wellington himself, and was created Marquess of Anglesey on the 4th July 1815 in recognition of his contribution to the defeat of Bonaparte.
He thereafter twice served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and died in 1854 leaving behing an impressive number of offspring, having fathered a total of six sons and eight daughters by his two wives. He was succeeded by his eldest son Henry who led a comparatively quiet life and was described by Vicary Gibbs as "a keen sportsman, devoting his time to shooting, coursing, racing and cricket; in morals he resembled his father". (Gibbs regarded the 1st Marquess' morals as highly suspect.) The 2nd Marquess died in 1869 and was succeded by his eldest son Henry William George Paget, 3rd Marquess who died without issue in 1880 and was succeeded by his younger brother Henry Paget.
Neither the 3rd or 4th Marquesses were notable for anything in particular, but Henry Cyril who succeeded his father as the 5th Marquess in 1898 was a far more interesting character. Known as 'The Dancing Marquess' as a result of his passion for the stage. He soon converted the family chapel at Plas Newydd into a theatre and financed a series of extravagant theatrical productions which toured across Britain and the Continent. In this manner the 5th Marquess blew his entire fortune in just four years. In 1904 he was declared bankrupt with debts of £544,000, and died in the following year aged just twenty-nine.
The 5th Marquess had no issue and was succeeded by his cousin Charles Henry a descendant of a younger son of the 2nd Marquess, who quietly converted the theatre back into a chapel and proceeded to remove much of the evidence that Henry Cyril Paget had ever existed.
His son George Charles Paget is the current and 7th Marquess of Anglesey. He served in the Royal Horse Guards during the Second World War and later became a military historian and author of a biography of his illustrious great-great grandfather the 1st Marquess entitled One-Leg and the definitive History of the British Cavalry, 1816-1919 which begins with the immortal words `The cavalry is dead', before meticulously describing its death throes in a total of eight volumes.
The 7th Marquess continues to live at the family home of Plas Newydd, although ownership has since passed to the National Trust allowing the general public access to the famous mural painted by Rex Whistler in the dining room.
The dignity of Anglesey had previously existed as an earldom which was held firstly by the Villiers family and then by that of Annesley between the years 1623 and 1761. (See Earl of Anglesey).
THE MARQUESSES OF ANGLESEY
- The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for ANGLESEY
- Simon Mcauslane Henry Cyril Paget From The Idler
(Which has a nice picture of the 'Dancing Marquess'.)
- Bayly Genealogy at http://www.stirnet.com/HTML/genie/british/bb4ae/bayly1.html
- A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain at www.thepeerage.com