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Family and Estate Details

Fortescue family, Earls Fortescue

GB/NNAF/F88479   (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/F3325)

Sources of authorityRoyal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Principal family and estate collections A-K, 1996, pp. 64-5.
Functions, occupations and activities
PlacesCastle Hill, Devon
Port Gaverne, Cornwall
Filleigh, Devon
Challacombe, Devon
Georgeham, Devon
High Bray, Devon
Lamerton, Devon
Weare Giffard, Devon
Ebrington, Gloucestershire
Hidecote, Gloucestershire
Stretton Magna, Leicestershire
Billingborough, Lincolnshire
Sempringham, Lincolnshire
Tattershall, Lincolnshire
Ashwick, Somerset
Norton St Philip, Somerset
Dunmore, County Waterford
Nymph Hall, County Waterford

The Fortescue family was settled in south Devon by the late 12th century, but the first major acquisitions of land were made in the time of Sir John Fortescue, Chief Justice of England (d. 1479). By marriage he acquired estates in Somerset (Norton St. Philip) and Wiltshire (sold in 1725); and in 1457 he purchased land at Ebrington (Gloucestershire) from the Corbet family. His son Martin Fortescue acquired by marriage (1454) the main group of north Devon estates based upon Weare Giffard and Filleigh (renamed Castle Hill in c.1740).

Between the 16th and the early 18th centuries additional lands were acquired, mainly through wardship or purchase, in south Devon (Lamerton, Tavistock etc.), on Exmoor (Challacombe, High Bray etc.) and on the north Devon coast (Georgeham, Mortehoe) as well as in Somerset (including the former estates of Bath Priory and the Guild of Holy Trinity and St John the Baptist, Shepton Mallet), Gloucestershire (Hidcote etc.) and Leicestershire.

The marriage in 1692 of Hugh Fortescue to Bridget Boscawen, granddaughter and co-heir of the 4th Earl of Lincoln, brought lands in Cornwall and Lincolnshire, including former Sidney family estates at Tattershall (Lincs) granted to Lord Clinton in 1574. In 1781, following the death without issue of the 2nd Lord Fortescue of Credan, the estates of that family, including the former Aland family estates in Co. Waterford, also passed to the Fortescues of Castle Hill. The 3rd Baron was created 1st Earl Fortescue in 1789.

Estates in 1883: 20,171 acres in Devon; 5,116 acres in Lincolnshire; 1,071 acres in Gloucestershire; 571 acres in Cornwall; 3,958 acres in Co. Waterford, worth a total of £28,673 a year.

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Historical Context

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