Henry Davenport III

on Thursday, 07 May 2015. Posted in Davenport

Henry Davenport (1678-1731) was the son of Henry Davenport of Hallon, Shropshire. He inherited his father's estates following the death of his eldest brother Sharington. He married twice, firstly Mary Lucy Chardin who died in 1712, and secondly Barbara Ivory, the sister of John Ivory who had inherited Lacock from Sir John Talbot.

Henry Davenport III

Martha Davenport

on Tuesday, 24 March 2015. Posted in Davenport

Martha Davenport was born Martha Talbot in 1720, and was the third child and eldest daughter of John Ivory Talbot and Mary Mansel. She inherited a life interest in Lacock on the death of her brother John Talbot, and held it in trust until her death when it passed, on her brother’s wishes, to her third son William. Her eldest two sons were ill.

The South Sea Bubble and the Davenport Family Fortunes

on Thursday, 10 August 2017. Posted in Davenport

In common with many investors of the early 18th Century, Henry Davenport and a number of his relatives bought shares and annuities in the South Sea Company which spectacularly collapsed in 1720. Many previously wealthy people were brought to poverty although some others managed to cash-in their shares at just the right time and gained exceptional riches. A number of the gainers were politicians, company directors or traders with inside knowledge of what was really happening within a company which was basically a sham.


The South Sea Company coat of arms

The Trials and Tribulations of Peter Davenport (part 1)

on Friday, 23 October 2015. Posted in Davenport

From the late 17th century, the Talbot family of Lacock was closely related by a number of marriages to the Davenport family of Shropshire and Cheshire. Elizabeth, the daughter of Sharington Talbot, Lord of Lacock from 1646-1677, married a Henry Davenport, and their son, also Henry, married Barbara Ivory, the great grand-daughter of Sharington and the brother of John Ivory Talbot who inherited Lacock in 1714. The family connection was further strengthened when William Davenport, the son of Henry and Barbara, married Martha, the daughter of John Ivory Talbot.

Barbara's husband Henry Davenport (1678-1731) had become rich in the service of the East India Company and, on his return to England in 1714, continued a career in London. Henry's brother, Sharington Davenport was, from 1715, a Major-General in the Fourth Dragoon Guards, having previously served in the Life Guards. These, then, were two powerful and well-connected men within the Talbot-Davenport clan in the early 18th century. During this period, there appeared the figure of Peter Davenport, a man with an eye to the main chance who cultivated a connection with Henry and Sharington Davenport and exploited their common family name to his advantage in a most audacious and brash manner. The Lacock Archive includes a decade-long correspondence between Peter and the two influential Davenport brothers.

Henry Davenport III

Henry Davenport III

The Trials and Tribulations of Peter Davenport (part 2)

on Friday, 23 October 2015. Posted in Davenport


By late 1717, Peter Davenport had severe money troubles. He had lost his case at Chester Assizes to recover a portion of the substantial Davenport estate and had, with the other plaintiffs, been required to pay costs. In addition, he still was bearing the costs for the care of his aged brother. He was living in Macclesfield in relatively straightened circumstances for an officer and a gentleman but had successfully petitioned his Regimental Commander, General Sharington Davenport, to remain in England over the winter of 1717-18 'as the only Method I cou'd propose to my selfe to save money in some measure to make up the expense of my journey (from his regiment in Ireland) and my misfortune at the assizes' (1). However he was not without friends. His senior officer in Ireland, Colonel Hatton, had offered him the Captain Lieutenancy in the regiment, the Fourth Dragoon Guards1, a promotion to higher status with the potential for better remuneration. This preferment, though welcomed by Peter, was not without problems as the new commission had to be purchased, with the cost being offset by the sale of Peter's current lieutenancy. In late November 1717, Peter wrote to Sharington that Colonel Hatton 'very kindly Presses me to treat wth. Capt. Lister about the Capt. Lieutenancy and offers me very generously towards the Purchasing it' (2), but this assistance would be insufficient for the acquisition and he continued 'But as I can't without being the most unreasonable man on earth have the assurance to aske you Sr any farther favour therefore Humbly beg Leave to submit that affair entirely to your selfe'. The General's willingness to accommodate his namesake was revealed in a draft letter from him to Peter two months later in which he agreed to join with Col. Hatton and to contribute to the cost of the commission. Capt. Lister apparently was expecting £2000 but the General believed that he might be prepared to accept £1100 (3). At this time, commissions were often sold to the highest bidder and there may have been a premium for the Dragoon Guards but these were vast sums of money in 1717. Not all people were of this opinion, however, as in a letter of 14th April 1718, Peter records that Capt. Lister thinks the amount is a 'trifle' (4). By contrast it may be noted, in 1720 the prices for commissions in a Regiment of Foot, set by the King, were £450 for a Lieutenant-Captain and £300 for a Lieutenant (5)!

The Trials and Tribulations of Peter Davenport (part 3)

on Friday, 23 October 2015. Posted in Davenport

The extent of his dilemma and the degree of disfavour that Peter Davenport had generated is evidenced in a number of letters written during early 1719. On 14th January 1719, after a silence of several months, he finally wrote to General Davenport explaining his actions and trying to retrieve what honour he could, pleading 'this is the first time I ever Presumed to write to you since I was unavoidably abliged to Disoblige you and hope youl Pardon me for endeavouring to Put my case in a true Light' (1). Henry had clearly accused Peter of misleading his Colonel (Col. Hatton) as to the true reason for his request to leave Ireland for he speaks to the General of a 'Letter from your Brother Mr Davenport in wch. he charges me heavily wth. imposeing an untruth upon Coll. Hatton and writeing contrary to him so that I Designed, and Proceeds to say if I keep not my word wth. my wife Better than I have with you and him she will have a bad Bargain'. Peter admitted that 'I owne he (Hatton) has a Right to use me as he Pleases and Besides it seems to be true, nor am I goeing to Justify my selfe for coming wth. out having Directly your Leave for it, but as exactly as I can to tell you the whole matter, and first as to Coll. Hatton, I did not tell him I had your Leave, nor never having told him, that I was Marryed, cou'd not tell him upon wch. acct. I wanted to come over' (1). As if this deception was not enough, Peter then claimed that he had been encouraged to travel post-haste to England by Henry who had 'said that if there were a certainty of Mr Thornycroft being Reconciled I shou'd come but upon noe other, I took it for Granted by the answer I sent him that you wou'd imidiatly consent, tho' when I writ that Letter I had not the Least Thoughts of Coming before an answer to mine came' but having received a letter indicating 'that Mr Thornycroft was extremly uneasy that I did not come, the same Letter said there was nothing wanting to Perfect a Reconcilliation but my coming ..... [and] upon this I told Coll. Hatton, that I had Recd. an answer to my Letter that I writ to your Brother Davenport for his interest to get me Leave, and that he said, that if I cou'd make it appear I had exterordinary Buisiness you wou'd give me Leave this was as nere the matter as Possable I cou'd Bring it, he not knowing I was marryed' (1). With these half-truths ringing in his ears, Coll. Hatton approached the Irish authorities and Peter was granted leave to proceed to England forthwith.