De Shaunde and Bourchier
The first Earl of Bath was Philibert de Shaunde or de Chandée so created by letters patent on the 6th January 1486 by king Henry VII. Little is actually known about Philibert. He appears to have held some status in Brittany, came into contact with Henry during his period of exile, and later acted as a recruiting agent and military commander for Henry's invasion force of 1485. Henry described Philibert as consanguineus noster, 'our blood relation' which is generally interpreted as meaning that Philibert was some relation of Henry's grandmother Catherine of Valois, although the precise relationship is not known. The earldom became extinct at his death at some unknown date prior to the year 1536.
The Bourchier family can trace their origins back to Robert Bourchier, the 1st Baron Bourchier who was Lord Chancellor in 1340 and fought in the French Wars of his time, most notably at the battle of Crecy. One of his descendants, William Bourchier married Anne, heiress of Thomas of Woodstock, fought at the battle of Agincourt and became captain of Dieppe and Earl of Eu. Three of this William's sons became peers, whilst a fourth Thomas Bourchier became Archbishop of Canterbury.
It is his second son William who interests us here, as he succeeded to the title of Baron FitzWarine in 1449 by right of his wife Thomasine, grand-daughter of Fulk FitzWarine, 6th Baron FitzWarine. It was this William's grandson John, the 3rd Baron of the Bourchier line, who later came to prominence during the reign of Henry VIII. John took the side of the king in his dispute with the papacy, and was one of the signatories of the letter of warning sent to the Pope Clement VII in 1530. He was rewarded for his support when he was created the Earl of Bath on the 9th July 1536.
The 1st Earl died shortly afterwards on the 30 April 1539 and was succeeded by his son also named John, who was one of the first to declare himself in favour of the accession of Mary I in 1553 and was a commissioner for the trial of Lady Jane Grey. He died on the 10 February 1561 and was succeeded by his grandson William who had been born posthumously in 1557. The 3rd Earl fought in the Netherlands in 1585 and was later Lord-Lieutenant of Devon between 1587 and 1614. At his death on the 12th July 1623, the title passed to his third and only surviving son Edward. The 4th Earl subsequently died without male issue on the 2nd March 1637 at the age of forty-seven. (His only son John having failed to reach his first birthday.) On his death, the Baronies of FitzWarine and Daubeney fell into abeyance between his three daughters, whilst the Bath earldom passed to a cousin.
Henry Bourchier, the 5th Earl was the the son of George Bourchier, the younger son of the 2nd Earl who in 1570 had gone to Ireland to seek his fortune. Henry supported the king during the English Civil War, became a Privy Counsellor in 1641, and was entrusted with the defence of Oxford in 1644. He married Rachael Fane, daughter of Francis Fane, 1st Earl of Westmorland, but the marriage produced no children and so on his death on the 16th August 1654, his titles became extinct.
The Granville or Grenvilles were a family of Norman origin, who later fancied themselves as descended from Rollo, the original Viking Conqueror of Normandy. Their founder was one Richard de Grenville or Granville who appears as an associate of Robert Fitz Hamon and may well have built Neath Abbey in Glamorganshire, and was granted Bideford in Devon by William II. The family later acquired Kilkhampton, in Cornwall in 1238, and acquired some importance and influence in the counties of Devon and Cornwall.
In the seventeenth century a John Granville fought for the royalists in the English Civil war, was wounded at the battle of Newbury and held the Scilly Isles for the king between 1649 and 1651. He afterwards accompanied Charles II into exile, and was later chosen by the king to negotiate the terms of his Restoration with Parliament. In return for this loyalty John was created Baron Granville, Viscount Granville of Lansdowne and Earl of Bath on the 20th April 1661. However, unlike his brother Denis Granville, who became a Jacobite, the 1st Earl later supported the Glorious Revolution in 1668 and was instrumental in bringing Cornwall and Devon around to the side of William and Mary.
His son Charles, the 2nd Earl had in his youth fought against the Turks at Vienna in 1683, and was created a count of the Holy Roman Empire on the 27th January 1684. He later suffered from depression, and having succeeded his father as 2nd Earl on the 22nd August 1701, shot himself at his home in St. James's, London less than two weeks later on the 4th September. He was succeeded by his only son, William who was only eight years old at the time. Unfortunately the 3rd Earl died from smallpox at the age of nineteen on the 17th May 1711 and was buried a week later at Westminster Abbey. He died unmarried, thus rendering his titles extinct.
The Pulteney family were originally minor gentry from Leicestershire until the time of one William Pulteney who attracted the patronage of Henry Guy, former secretary of the treasury, from whom he inherited a considerable estate in 1710. Becoming the member of parliament for Heydon in 1705 he soon made a name for himself in the House of Commons.
A prominent Whig, he served as secretary of war from 1714 to 1717 and later as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. A rival of Robert Walpole, William was disappointed when George II preferred Walpole as his chief minister. Together with such men as his cousin Daniel Pulteney and William Windham he afterwards formed an opposition faction known as 'The Patriots', who consistently criticised Walpole's policies, both in Parliament and in the pages of the Craftsman, a periodical more-or-less specifically established for that purpose. With the fall of Walpole in 1742 he declined to form a government, and instead supported the Earl of Willmington and was raised to the peerage as the Baron Heydon, Viscount Pulteney and Earl of Bath on the 14th July 1742. His influence declined after the death of Willmington in 1746 and the subsequent rise of William Pitt, and Pulteney retired to his estates and withdrew from politics. Since his only son William had died unmarried at Madrid on the 12th February 1763, his titles became extinct at his death on the 8th July 1764.
The dignity of Bath was later bestowed as a marquessate on the Thynne family in 1789, a title which continues to this day. (See Marquess of Bath.) Nothwithstanding this creation, the Pulteney family's link with this peerage title was to continue. William Pulteney left his fortune to Frances Pulteney, daughter of his cousin, Daniel Pulteney. Frances married a William Johnstone of Dumfries who afterwards adopted the surname of Johnstone-Pulteney in 1767. Reputedly the wealthiest commoner in the country thanks to this inheritance, William Johnstone-Pulteney apparently declined several offers of a peerage title during his lifetime, but his only daughter Henrietta Laura succumbed to temptation and was successively created Baroness Bath on the 26th July 1792, and Countess of Bath on the 26th October 1803. Although she married a General James Murray (who conveniently adopted the surname of Murray-Pulteney) she died without issue on the 14th July 1808 at age of forty-one rendering her titles extinct.
THE EARLS OF BATH
Creation of 1742
Creation of 1792 as Baroness Bath
- Henrietta Laura Pulteney, Baroness Bath
Creation of 1803 as Countess of Bath
- Shaunde - Earl of Bath
- Charles Arnold Baker The Companion to British History (Longcross Press, 1996)
- Stirnet Genealogy at
- The Peerages of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom at http://www.angeltowns.com/town/peerage/Peers.htm