The Earl of Chesterfield
The arms are those of Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield, succeeding to the title on the death of his grandfather, who died a parliamentarian prisoner in 1656. The family was intimately tied to the English and Dutch courts and the royalist cause. After his father’s premature death, his mother Katherine (née Wotton) moved to the Netherlands, having married the Dutch diplomat, Jan de Kherkhove, Lord of Heenvliet, advisor and close associate of the Stadtholder, Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange. De Kherkhove was in charge of the marriage negotiations of Frederick Henry’s son William to Mary Stuart, eldest daughter of Charles I.
This took place in 1641, and in the following year the eleven-year-old princess moved to the Netherlands, with Heenvliet appointed by Charles I as head of her household and Katherine as her governess. Philip Stanhope and his sister Catherine were brought up in the Netherlands, with the latter becoming a favourite maid of honour to the princess. The family was thus intimately connected to the court on both sides of the North Sea. Heenvliet became a naturalised Englishman in August 1660 and Katherine, was created Countess of Chesterfield in her own right, by Charles II on the day that he landed in England on his return from the Netherlands.
Philip Stanhope was first married in 1652 to Lady Anne Percy daughter of 10th Earl of Northumberland who died of the smallpox in 1654. It is reported that Oliver Cromwell tried to `entice him into marriage’ with one of his daughters and the banns had been `thrice asked in St. Martin’s church’ between Stanhope and a daughter of Lord Fairfax commander of the Parliamentary forces, before the wedding was called off.1 He had a famous affair with Barbara Villiers, (Lady Castlemaine), Charles II’s mistress.
Her first child Lady Anne, legitimized by the king, was thought by Lord Dartmouth to resemble Philip Stanhope `very much both in face and person’.2 Despite `being much hated by the king because he had been much beloved by Lady Castlemaine’ (memoirs of Count Grammont), Chesterfield joined Charles II in the Netherlands and returned with him to England, at the Restoration in 1660. Shortly afterwards he married Lady Elizabeth Butler, daughter of Ist Duke of Ormond, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland under Charles I and companion of Charles II in exile.
Chesterfield was appointed Lord Chamberlain to the Queen, Catherine of Braganza in 1662 at the age of 28, but soon left court for Bretby Hall in Derbyshire, as the King’s brother, the Duke of York, later James II had become `smitten in love with my lady Chesterfield’ (Samuel Pepys, 3 November 1662). A daughter Elizabeth was born in 1663, with suggestions made at the time that her father was in fact James Stuart.
Lady Chesterfield died of `spotted fever’ in 1665 and Lord Chestefield became married for the third time in 1669 to Lady Elizabeth Dormer daughter and coheir of Charles Dormer 2nd Earl of Carnarvon, with whom there were two sons Charles and Philip, the latter becoming the 3rd Earl.
Chesterfield remained intermittently involved in the political life of the nation, appearing ambivalent about the succession crisis of the 1680s. Out of fear of another republic he voted against the bill of 1680 excluding the Catholic James II from the throne, but eventually turned against James II, as one of the nobles supporting William III in the `Glorious Revolution’ of 1688. He never fully supported William III, voting against declaring him and Mary king and queen and considering that William should be accorded allegiance as de Facto monarch only.3 He took up arms to defend princess Anne at the time of the invasion of 1688, but was one of the first to refuse her 'purpose to have an association to kill all the papists in the country, lest the prince of Orange should be killed by them’.4
Pierre Harache (1639-1712)
In England, Pierre Harache is called Senior, the Elder, or the First. He was, however, the fourth of that name in a large family of Protestant goldsmiths in Rouen. Little is known about his life in France before he fled to London and he was always thought to have left directly from Rouen for England. Evidence of a trial held in Paris proves that he was in fact working in the French capital as a journeyman when he was accused of having retained some silver pieces that he was charged to restore.5 He is then recorded on the Calendar of Treasury Books, 20 October 1681, because he arrived in England with '113 ounces of new white plate and 125 ounces of old plate’, without having to pay the import duty tax.6 This privilege was usually for diplomatic missionaries only and proves that Pierre Harache was expected in England, most likely by patrons who he had met in France. Barbara Palmer (1640-1709) for instance, 1st Duchess of Cleveland, royal mistress to King Charles II and mistress of the Earl of Chesterfield for a time, spent four years in Paris between 1676 and 1680,7 where she became the mistress of Ralph Montagu (1638-1709), the Ambassador of England and collector of French silver.8
This patronage from the highest English aristocracy would explain how Pierre Harache, freshly disembarking from France in June 1682, became the first huguenot free of the Goldsmiths’ Company a month later.9 Pierre Harache was also working for the Duchess of Cleveland in London and provided her with silver plates in 1684.10
By 1700, Pierre Harache was probably the most eminent Huguenot silversmith in London. He became liveryman of the Goldsmiths’ company in 1687 and moved from Great Suffolk Street to King Street, near Golden Square, Soho, where he owned two houses.11 He received sumptuous commissions, notably a ewer almost identical to the present pair, and its basin, 1697, with the arms of William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire.12 John Churchill, (1650-1722), 1st Duke of Marlborough, was also one of Harache’s patrons, and commissioned for his European campaigns during the War of the Spanish Succession (1700-1702) a wine fountain and wine cistern, the latter weighing 2000 oz.
Harache was also an important figure of the Huguenot community in London as the records of the French churches prove. Not only was he godfather to many children in the various French churches of Soho and the one in Threadneedle street,13 but was also asked to repair the church silver. There is one occasion in December 1691 when he offered to replace the gold chalice which had been stolen from his premises. The church authorities replied that knowing his innocence and being an important figure of the community, it was not appropriate for him to pay and the church itself would pay to have a new one made.14 In 1704-1705, he was elder of the Church in Swallow Street. He died at the age of 73, having trained a new generation of skilled silversmiths, including Simon Pantin.
Background of the 2nd Earl of Chesterfield’s Plate
Among the few surviving pieces of plate known to have been in the collection of the 2nd Earl of Chesterfield are some very remarkable objects. In his review of the Restoration silver in ‘The Age of Charles II’ exhibition, Charles Oman remarked that Chesterfield and his circle lived at a time and in a manner marked by an excess of luxury. In a paragraph including details of two of Chesterfield’s pieces, Oman continues:
‘When the extravagant use of silver during this period is mentioned, it is easy to interpret this as meaning that a lot of people were using more silver than heretofore. Though this is true it is necessary also to realize that extravagance also took the form of ordering very large pieces. The [fountain] must be the largest extant piece of solid silver as it stands 4 ft 5 in. high (135 cm.)’15
The fountain was made by John Cockus (otherwise Cooqus or Coque). His mark is also found on a pair of silver andirons from the 2nd Earl of Chesterfield’s silver fireplace furniture, of which the silver tongs, unmarked, also survive. On 5 April 1661 Cockus is recorded as a ‘Silversmith in Ordinary to His Matie for chastwork [i.e. chased work] within His maties Closett and Bedchamber, and also the Closett and Bedchamber of the Queen’ in place of Christian van Vianen.16 Cockus, who was also responsible for the silver bed ordered by Charles II for Nell Gwyn, worked continuously in London until his death in 1697.
In his will, signed on 17 December 1713 and proved on 21 January 1715, the 2nd Earl of Chesterfield bequeathed these sumptuous items, together with the present Pierre Harache ewers and an unknown amount of other plate, to his son, Lord Philip Stanhope (1673-1726), who succeeded as the 3rd Earl, and his descendants:
‘And I doe also give and devise to my said son the Lord Stanhope all my Plate whatsoever and all my household goods Household stuffe furniture utensils and Goods whatsoever at or in or reputed to be belonging to my house at Bretby [...] Except my Great Silver Urn [fountain] and Cisterne and all my Pictures and China and the fine Lynnon which came from Bellsize House17 near Hamstead [sic] all which Excepted Plate and Goods I will and desire my said son the Lord Stanhope the same shall goe along as Heire Loomes with my said Capitall house at Bretby.’18
Bretby Hall was built between about 1630 and 1639 by the Earl of Chesterfield’s grandfather, the 1st Earl. The latter, who outlived his son and heir presumptive by 22 years, died in 1656 and upon the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 the estate duly passed to his grandson. It was only after the 2nd Earl’s third marriage in 1669, however, that he devoted his time to improving Bretby Hall and its gardens and waterworks.
The Chesterfield family silver was considerably augmented by the 2nd Earl’s grandson, Philip Dormer Stanhope (1694-1773), who succeeded to the title as 4th Earl in 1726. Already a prominent politician, he became one of Prime Minister Robert Walpole’s keenest opponents in the House of Lords. Chesterfield’s rise was swift; within months of George II’s accession in 1727 he was nominated Lord of the Bedchamber and a Privy Councillor and then was sent to the Hague as English ambassador. Although a pair of Paul de Lamerie silver soup tureens, London, 1736, are thought to have left the Chesterfield collection in the late 1790s,19 much of it appears to have passed to the 5th Earl, who succeeded to the title in 1773.
When the 5th Earl of Chesterfield died at Bretby at the age of 59 on 29 August 1815 he left three small children: Lady Georgiana Stanhope (1803-1824), who later married a grandson of the Earl of Delawar, Lady Elizabeth Stanhope, who died unmarried, and his only son, George (1805-1866) who succeeded to the title as 6th Earl. The 5th Earl’s will, dated 13 April 1814, aroused public interest because it made no mention of his son, who was five years old at the time.20 The guardians of the 6th Earl were obliged on his behalf to take the matter to Chancery. The case, Chesterfield v. Thynne, was resolved in 1817. The surviving papers generated by this action make clear that the Chesterfield plate was in two parts: one the property of the late 5th Earl, the other considered heirlooms under the provisions of the 4th Earl’s will, dated 4 June 1772 and proved in April 1773. There can be no doubt that all the Chesterfield silver heirlooms, including this present pair of Pierre Harache ewers, passed to the 6th Earl and from him in 1866 to his son, George, 7th Earl of Chesterfield. The latter died unmarried at the age of 40 at Bretby Hall on 1 December 1871. While the title passed to a distant cousin, he bequeathed the bulk of his estate to his only sister, Evelyn (1834-1875), who in 1861 became the first wife of Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon, whose family seat is Highclere Castle.21
The Highclere Castle sale at Sotheby's included plate from the 2nd Earl of Chesterfield and the Ambassadorial plate of the 4th Earl of Chesterfield.
1 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
2 Wikipedia, Anne Lennard, Countess of Sussex.
3 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
4 Complete Peerage, 1913, vol. III, p. 181.
5 National archives, Z1B 517.
6 Information provided by Julian Cousins, in The Calendar of Treasury Books, 1681-1685, National Archives of Great Britain.
7 As she lost the favours as royal mistress and then her position as the Lady of the Bedchamber for being Catholic, she was advised by the King to live quietly and cause no scandal, in which case he "cared not whom she loved".
8 An exhibition to celebrate the extraordinary French legacy of the Huguenot artwork preserved in the collection of Ralph Montagu at Boughton House, August 2015.
9 On 26 June 1682 he is recorded on the denization list with his wife Anne and became free of the Goldsmiths' Company on 21 July 1682.
10 The plates needed to be returned as they were not of the appropriate standard. Goldsmiths’ Company, Court Book, vol. 9., date 1684.
11 One might be for his workshop. Fire Insurance Policies, Hand in Hand records, Ms 8674, vol. 6, insurance policies 13974 and 13975, Guildhall Library.
12 Now at the British Museum, inv. no. 1969,0705.28.a
13 see The Huguenot Quarto Series, published by the Huguenot Society, vols. 16, 28, 29 and 37.
14 The Huguenot Quarto Series, vol. 37.
15 The exhibition was at London’s Royal Academy, which opened in December 1960. ‘Restoration Silver at the Royal Academy,’ The Burlington Magazine, February 1961, 44.
16 Major-General H.D.W. Sitwell, ‘The Jewel House and the Royal Goldsmiths,’ Journal of the Royal Archaeological Institute, London, 1960, p. 151.
17 Belize House was the estate given to Chesterfield’s wife Katherine by her last husband
18 National Archives PROB 11/544/129.
19 One was sold by the Drury-Lowe family at Sotheby’s London, 2 July 1992, lot 186; the other is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, inv. no. 49.7.99a-d
20 National Archives PROB 11/544/129
21 In 1912 The Complete Peerage (vol. III, p. 186) noted that ‘To this lady and to her descendants, Bretby and other estates of the Stanhopes passed, which, considering that they had been inherited as heirs male by this cadet line, to the exclusion of the heirs general of the 1st Earl, some 60 years previously, seems somewhat hard on the inheritors in and after 1871 of this ancient Earldom, who are the heirs male of the 1st Earl, whereas the present owners of the estates are neither the heirs male, nor heirs general of the 1st Earl.’
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