Port Eliot: Marriage Connections — 18th Century

Browne Willis and Katherine Eliot (1707)
WILLIS of Bletchley & Whaddon Hall, Cornwall
Katherine Eliot was the only child of Daniel & Katherine (Fleming) Eliot, who were both deceased at the time of her marriage on 16 Dec 1707 at Somerford Keynes, Wiltshire. She and Browne Willis had ten children (five boys and five girls) before her death on 14 Oct 1724. Katherine was originally to have married her cousin and heir to the Port Eliot estate, Edward Eliot, but (for reasons unknown) the cousins went on to marry other people. The eccentric Browne Willis remained faithful to her memory and went on to become a renowned antiquarian, historian, collector of antiquities, and author. (It's thanks to Browne Willis that we know where the ancient Eliot church vault is located.)

Edward Eliot and Susanna Coryton (1711)
CORYTON of West Newton Ferrers, Cornwall
LITTLETON of Pillaton Hall, Staffordshire
BIDDULPH of Westcombe, Kent
Edward Eliot was the oldest son of William and Anne Eliot. He inherited the Port Eliot estate from his distant cousin, Daniel Eliot, in 1702. Originally, Daniel's will stipulated that the inheritance of the estate hinged on a marriage between his only daughter, Katherine, and Edward Eliot. This plan was apparently discarded before Daniel's death, however, and Edward Eliot married Susanna Coryton (daughter of Sir William Coryton) on 6 Jun 1711. Sadly, this marriage only lasted two and a half years and there were no children. Susanna was buried at St. Germans on 5 Jan 1714. In her marriage settlement, Susanna received £4,500 and certain properties in Devon and Cornwall. If she were to survive Edward Eliot, Susanna was to have a jointure of £450 per annum and a larger sum to be divided between any living children. She preceded her husband in death, without having had any children.

Edward Eliot and Elizabeth Craggs (1718)
CRAGGS of Wyserley, Durham
RICHARDS of Westminster
NEWSHAM (or NEWSAM) of Chadshunt, Warwickshire
KNIGHT of Gosfield Hall, Essex
NUGENT, Earls of
TREFUSIS of Cornwall
COTTON of Maddingly Hall, Baronet
Four years after the death of his first wife (Susanna), Edward Eliot married Elizabeth Craggs. She was the youngest daughter of James Craggs the Elder, therefore her marriage settlement was, presumably, quite substantial. Edward and Elizabeth were married on 24 Apr 1718. Three years later, Elizabeth became a co-heir to her father's enormous estate.

This marriage was the first connection of the Eliot family to the Craggs. This connection proved very beneficial to the Eliots, since they eventually inherited the entire Craggs estate. Elizabeth had two sisters, all co-heirs of James Craggs the Elder. The estates of the three women were left to husbands and sons, but all those men died unmarried or without issue, and the estates reverted to Edward Eliot, nephew of Elizabeth Craggs. The final portion of the Craggs estate came to the Eliots on the death of Robert Nugent (husband of Anne Craggs) in 1788.

As a marriage settlement, Elizabeth received £6000 with the yearly sum of £500 raised as an annuity.

Rev. Samuel Trewbody and Elizabeth Eliot (1719)
TREWBODY of Lanlivery and of Boscondle, Cornwall
CARLYON of Tregrehan, Cornwall
TREVANION of Plymouth, Devon
Elizabeth Eliot was the daughter of William and Anne Eliot. She married Rev. Samuel Trewbody, the Rector of Jacobstowe (and later Rector of St. Germans), at St. German's on 07 Nov 1719. They were blessed with two children, a son and a daughter. Elizabeth died in August 1726 and was buried in the Eliot vault at St. German's Church on the last day of the month. Samuel remained a close friend of his brother-in-law, Richard Eliot. In 1729, Samuel would marry again. This time his bride was Elizabeth Trevanion, daughter of Samuel's brother-in-law Sir Nicholas Trevanion. Samuel died in January 1768 and was buried at St. Austell in Cornwall.

Captain Sir Nicholas Trevanion and Katherine Eliot (1721)
TREVANION of Plymouth, Devon
LITTLETON of Pillaton Hall, Stafford
Katherine Eliot was the daughter of William and Anne Eliot. She married Sir Nicholas Trevanion at St. German's on 13 Oct 1721, and they lived at Molenick in St. Germans, Cornwall. Nicholas had been married twice before but would outlive Katherine who died in August 1728. Nicholas died on 16 Nov 1737 at Plymouth in Devon. They did not have any children.

Richard Eliot and Harriot Craggs (1726)
CRAGGS of Wyserley, Durham
RICHARDS of Westminster
SANTLOW of Godshill, Isle of Wight
NEWSHAM (or NEWSAM) of Chadshunt, Warwickshire
KNIGHT of Gosfield Hall, Essex
NUGENT, Earls of
TREFUSIS of Cornwall
COTTON of Maddingly Hall, Baronet
Richard Eliot was the younger brother of Edward Eliot (above). His chosen bride, nineteen years his junior, was young Harriot Craggs. She was the natural daughter of James Craggs the Younger, making her the niece of Richard's sister-in-law. That their marriage was arranged seems evident by their ages and family relationship. They were married at Lincoln's Inn Chapel in London on 10 Mar 1726. Richard was thirty-two years old. Harriot was thirteen years and one month. Love followed in this union, but it was obviously another beneficial connection for a family with a large estate.

No marriage settlement is known to survive between Richard Eliot and Harriot Craggs, but there is no doubt that the young bride possessed a "substantial fortune". At this time, I have not been able to discover the actual amount of Harriot's fortune. Still surviving at Port Eliot is Harriot's gesso and gilt wedding chest, showing the arms of Eliot and Craggs together on the lid.

Captain John Hamilton and Harriot Craggs Eliot (1749)
ABERCORN, Earls of (Ireland)
Unlike most of the other Eliot marriages, this union was beneficial through the groom's fortune. Harriot was left with five minor-aged children after Richard Eliot's death in 1748. Her oldest son had just reached his majority, inheriting Port Eliot and the family estate, but the family was in financial difficulties throughout the latter half of the 18th Century. Captain John Hamilton was the second son of the 7th Earl of Abercorn and a successful officer in the Royal Navy. He was also a very close family friend of the Eliots, even being part of the Eliot Family Group portrait painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1746. Hamilton had spent much of his time at Port Eliot and was a great support to the family during the sorrow following Richard's death. Hamilton made "an offer of himself and fortune" to Harriot in October 1749, and the couple married on 20 Nov 1749 in Berkshire.

Naturally, there was no marriage settlement for John and Harriot. Hamilton raised the young Eliots as a loving and caring step-father, and his love appears to have been equally returned by the Eliot children. John and Harriot had two children of their own. Their son, John James, became the 9th Earl of Abercorn, and it is from his line that the current Duke of Abercorn descends.

Hugh Bonfoy and Anne Eliot (1751)
BONFOY of Abbott's Ripton, Huntingdonshire
ELY, Earls of
This marriage appears to have been arranged by Anne's mother and step-father, Harriot and John Hamilton. Captain Bonfoy was a friend of Captain John Hamilton, and it was with his approval that the couple were first introduced in the Summer of 1751. They were married at Godalming on 29 Nov 1751. They had one daughter before Hugh Bonfoy's death in 1762, and Anne never remarried.

Pendock Neale and Harriot Eliot (1753)
NEALE of Tollerton Hall, Nottinghamshire
PENDOCK of Tollerton Hall, Nottinghamshire
BARRY of Roclaveston Manor, Nottinghamshire
They were married in Berkshire on 3 Apr 1753. Neale's estate, Ince Castle, was just eight miles away from Port Eliot. The Neales had no children, and it seems from family notes that the relationship was a strained one at best. While "Mrs. Neale" would be mentioned many times in the various Eliot family letters, Mr. Neale is only mentioned once as "that wretch Neale". Harriot's marital issues seem to be referenced in her grandmother's will from 1769, when Hester Booth left a quarter of her estate to her granddaughter, Harriot Neale, "for her own sole and separate use and benefit notwithstanding her Coverture." Harriot seems to have spent a lot of time in the company of her younger sister, Elizabeth, whose home was at Eastnor Castle. The sisters are actually buried together in Hertfordshire. Pendock Neale was buried in Nottinghamshire.

Edward Eliot and Catherine Elliston (1756)
ELLISTON of London and Essex
GIBBON of London
PORTEN of Putney, Kent
Edward inherited Port Eliot and a growing estate just four months after reaching his majority. The estate was struggling monetarily, and this would be a battle that Edward fought his entire life. At least three years before his marriage, Edward was already on friendly terms with the family of Edward Gibbon (later the famed historian), and it was through Eliot's suggestion that the young Gibbon was sent to study at Lausanne. In 1753, Edward Gibbon (the father of the historian) advised Eliot to marry the young Catherine Elliston. She was Gibbon's niece and an orphan. She was also the sole heiress of her father, Captain Edward Elliston. How long Edward and Catherine courted is unknown, but they were married in London on 22 Sep 1756, less than two months after Catherine came of age. Catherine's mother was the granddaughter of Edward Gibbon (grandfather of the historian) who had been found guilty in the South Sea Bubble scandal.

At the time of her marriage, Catherine was possessed of more than £60,000 and a manor called "Ruspar" in Old Shoreham, Sussex. This estate was later sold by Edward Eliot.

Click here to see the Original Marriage Record.

Charles Cocks and Elizabeth Eliot (1759)
COCKS of Castleditch, Eastnor, Herefordshire
EVESHAM, Baron of
SOMERS-COCKS, Earl Sommers
POLE-CAREW of Antony, Cornwall
RATTRAY of Atherston
WINCHESTER, Marquess of
CAMPBELL of Gartsford, Scotland, Baronet
Elizabeth Eliot married Charles Cocks, Esq., of Castleditch and Member for Rygate. Their wedding took place on 8 Aug 1759 in London. They were married by consent of the bride's mother, Mrs. Harriot Hamilton, who witnessed the marriage along with the Eliot's friend and attorney, Samuel Salt. Six children were born to Charles and Elizabeth Cocks before her early death in 1771. Charles would later become Lord Somers, Baron of Evesham. Their oldest son, John, would become the 1st Earl Somers and build the manor Eastnor Castle.

The Eliot family finances were still struggling at this time, so Elizabeth Eliot was appointed £500 by her mother as a marriage settlement. The settlement was agreed upon the day before the wedding.

Click here to see the Original Marriage Record.

Edward James Eliot and Harriot Pitt (1785)
PITT of Boconnock, Cornwall
CHATHAM, Earls of
GRENVILLE of Buckinghamshire
TEMPLE, Countess of
WYNDHAM of Orchard, Somerset, Baronet
SOMERSET, Dukes of
STANHOPE, Earls of
TAYLOR of Sevenoaks, Kent
SYDNEY of St. Leonards, Viscount
Far from being an arranged marriage, Edward James Eliot met Lady Harriot, presumably, in Downing Street. Eliot was the best friend of her brother, William Pitt the Younger, and he visited Downing Street on a regular basis for political and social matters. Harriot stayed in London with her brother for extended periods, and the two met regularly. News of their attachment was circulating in London papers by the beginning of 1785, and it was in April of that year that Edward James wrote to his father at Port Eliot to announce their engagement. Edward Eliot was not pleased by his son's news. He had hoped that his son and heir would choose a bride with a substantial income, though he had no objections to Harriot herself. He requested that the couple wait until the death of Lord Nugent (being the third husband of Anne Craggs and uncle to Edward Eliot), at which time substantial properties would pass to the Eliot family. Edward Eliot was worried that his son would need financial support, which was not possible, after the marriage. Edward James met with his father, hoping to convince him that the financial issues were groundless, but to no avail. Edward James and Harriot were married William Pitt's house at Putney on 24 Sep 1785. Happily, the family issues were resolved, since the Eliots disapproval of the match came merely from monetary considerations. Within two months of the marriage, Lord and Lady Eliot were writing letters full of praise for their new daughter-in-law. Sadly, this marriage lasted only one year and a day. Harriot gave birth to a healthy daughter on 20 Sep 1786, but she died five days later as a result of Childbed Fever. Edward James never remarried, and he died eleven years after his wife, the result of a broken heart, in the opinion of his friends.

The Pitts had no money to settle on Harriot, so William Pitt settled the post of King's Remembrancer of the Exchequer on Edward James Eliot. The post came with a salary of £1,500 per annum. Eliot would occupy the post until his death. A record also survives of a payment made by William to his sister of £268, the money being given for her wedding expenses.

Click here to see the Original Marriage Record.

John Eliot and Caroline Yorke (1790)
COCKS of Herefordshire
SOMERS-COCKS, Earl Sommers
RATTRAY of Atherston
WINCHESTER, Marquess of
CAMPBELL of Gartsford, Scotland, Baronet
John Eliot (later 1st Earl of St. Germans) married the daughter of Lord Chancellor Charles Yorke on 30 Dec 1762. The wedding took place St. George's, Hanover Square, in London. The witnesses were Lord Eliot (father of the groom) and Philip, 3rd Earl of Haardwicke (half-brother of the bride). No children were born to this union, but the tie between the Eliots and the Yorkes would be a bond that would last a century or more.

According to newspaper reports, Caroline Yorke's Marriage Settlement amounted to about £30,000.

Click here to see the Original Marriage Record.

William Eliot and Georgiana Leveson-Gower (1797)
STAFFORD, Marquess of
GOWER, Earls of
BEDFORD, Dukes of
GALLOWAY, Earls of
CARLISLE, Earls of
HARROWBY, Earls of
BEAUFORT, Dukes of
William Eliot was the youngest son of Edward, 1st Lord Eliot. He was also said to be his father's favorite. William courted Georgiana, daughter of the Marquess of Stafford, for some time before their marriage. Her father was a staunch supporter of William Pitt and held the office of Lord Privy Seal, so it can be presumed that the couple met through the political connection of the two families. They were married at the parish church in Trentham, Staffordshire, on 30 Nov 1797. They had four children, one son and three daughters, but Georgiana suffered from tuberculosis and died just eight and a half years after their marriage.

Judging from the financial status of Georgiana's father and brother, it is no doubt that her Marriage Settlement was quite substantial.