20 December 2022
Latimer in Stony Stratford
hides the story of a banking
heir who claimed a title
I was writing last night about the architects who developed who designed some of the 1970s housing estates on the southern edges of Stony Stratford half a century ago, including Gally Hill, Fullers Slade and Latimer.
I was intrigued by the name of Latimer as a housing development.
Was it named after Latimer, a village on the border of Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire? This Latimer is near Amersham and Little Chalfont, and is part of the district of Chiltern in Buckinghamshire.
Or was it named after Hugh Latimer (1487-1555), who was the Bishop of Worcester during the Tudor Reformation and later chaplain to Edward VI? During the reign of Mary I, he was burned at the stake in 1555, becoming one of the three Oxford Martyrs of Anglicanism.
Instead, it seems Latimer was takes its name from the holders of the title of Lord Latimer. The title Baron Latimer or Latymer has existed four times in the English peerage, all associated with the descendants of the same mediaeval family, whose surname was Latimer (Latiner, ‘translator’), and in time the title of Lord Latimer was held by the Lords of the Manor of Calverton.
The first Baron Latimer also sat in the Parliament of 1290, and the title eventually passed to the Nevill of Neville and Willoughby families. In my search for the story of these local magnates, I found an interesting connection among my predecessors among the priests, vicars and rectors of Askeaton in the Diocese of Limerick, where I spent five years until I retired earlier this year (31 March 2022).
John Neville (1493-1543), 3rd Baron Latimer, was married three times. His first wife, Dorothy de Vere, was a sister of John de Vere, 14th Earl of Oxford, while his third wife, Catherine Parr (1512-1548), when she was widowed married Henry VIII as his sixth and last wife, becoming Queen of England. She outlived Henry VIII by 20 months; with four husbands, she is the most-married English queen.
When John de Vere inherited the title of Earl of Oxford, he also inherited Calverton Manor, and after his death in 1506 a legal ruling decreed that Calverton Manor should pass to his nephew, Catherine Parr’s stepson, John Neville (1520-1577), 4th Baron Latimer. However, this John Neville had no sons to inherit his title and estates.
The Calverton estate then descended to the Percy family, Earls of Northumberland. It was sold to Sir Thomas Bennet, a former Lord Mayor of London, in 1616, and then descended to the Cecil family, Earls of Salisbury.
On the other hand, the claims to the title of Lord Latimer or Lord Latymer descended in equal portions to the descendants of John Nevill’s four daughters, Catherine, Dorothy, Lucy and Elizabeth.
As time passed, the Latimer title and name seem to have been largely forgotten, and no-one used the title for almost 3½ centuries, from 1577 until 1911, when Francis Burdett Thomas Money-Coutts (1852-1923), a member of the prominent Liberal banking family, identified himself as the heir to one of these four sub-shares in 1911.
Money-Coutts made a legal claim to the Latimer title in 1911, and he was summoned to sit in the House of Lords in February 1913. Since then, he and his heirs have chosen to spell their title Latymer.
I first came across Lord Latymer and his father while I was researching my predecessors among the priests, rectors, vicars and curates of Askeaton for a lecture hosted by Askeaton Civic Trust almost three years ago [19 February 2020]. It is an exotic story of a vicar’s son who inherited one of the largest banking fortunes in Britain and who also managed, by sleight of hand, to wangle a seat in the House of Lords.
Francis Burdett Thomas Nevill Money-Coutts (1852-1923) was born plain Francis Money in London on 18 September 1852, the son of the Revd James Drummond Money (1800-1875), who was Vicar of Askeaton in 1830-1833.
The Revd James Drummond Money was born in Bombay, India, on 26 April 1805, a son of Sir William Taylor Money (1769-1834), an MP (1816-1826) who made his fortune in India and Java as a director of the East India Company and who died of cholera in Venice in 1834.
James was educated at Harrow and Trinity College Cambridge (BA, 1828; MA, 1868), and was ordained deacon (1828) and priest (1829). He was the curate (‘lecturer’) in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, for less than a year when he came to Co Limerick in 1830 and was presented as Vicar of Askeaton by Sir Matthew Blakiston (1783-1862).
What brought a young man like this to Askeaton in west Limerick? He was then only 25, newly-ordained and with little parish experience. The answer is probably provided by his marriage on 10 October 1832 to Charlotte Noel, daughter of Canon Gerard Thomas Noel (1782-1851), Vicar of Romsey Abbey, Hampshire, and a famous evangelical hymnwriter.
Charlotte was his first wife, and she was a first cousin of Charles Noel, Earl of Gainsborough … I have told the sad and romantic stories of his daughters’ marriages in ‘Four Victorian weddings and a funeral’ (in Marriage and the Irish: A miscellany, ed Salvador Ryan, Wordwell: Dublin, 2019, pp 163-165). Charlotte was also a granddaughter of Sir Lucius O’Brien (1731-1795) of Dromoland Castle, Co Clare, and a first cousin of William Smith O’Brien (1803-1864) of Cahermoyle, Co Limerick.
This explains why Charlotte and James moved to Co Limerick in the 1830s. But they stayed in Askeaton for a very short time. They returned to England in 1833, where he became the Rector of Blatherwyck in Northamptonshire, where the O’Brien family also had a home. He then became Rector of Sternfield, Suffolk (1834-1861) in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury. Charlotte and James were the parents of nine children, but most of them died in infancy and she died in 1848.
The Revd James Money married his second wife, Clara Maria Money-Coutts, originally Clara Maria Burdett, at Chelsea on 28 April 1850. Clara was one of the three daughters of the wealthy banker Sir Francis Burdett (1770-1844) and his wife Sophia, a daughter of the banker Thomas Coutts. Clara’s sister was the Victorian philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts, who eventually inherited the Coutts banking fortune.
James Money and his second wife Clara were the parents of Francis Burdett Thomas Nevill Money-Coutts (1852-1923), who was born Francis Money in London on 18 September 1852; and the Revd Walter Baptist Money (1849-1924), who played cricket for Kent and Surrey and who was ordained in the Diocese of Lichfield.
The Revd James Money died in 1875 and Clara died in 1899. Their son, Francis Money, was educated at Eton and Trinity College Cambridge (BA 1875; MA and LLM 1878). He was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1873 and was called to the bar in 1879. But, although he was both a barrister and solicitor, he spent most of his life as a poet, librettist and writer. He is now remembered chiefly as a patron and collaborator of the Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz.
In 1875, Francis Money, as he was then named, married Edith Ellen Churchill. In 1881, his aunt Angela Burdett married a foreigner – an American who was 40 years her junior. The marriage violated the terms of the will of her father, Sir Francis Burdett, who had made her the sole heir of the Coutts banking fortune.
Seeing an opportunity, Clara and her son adopted the name Coutts under the terms of the will, so that he became Francis Burdett Thomas Nevill Money-Coutts on 20 September 1880. Mother and son then contested Angela’s claims. A settlement was reached, and Angela received two-fifths of the income until her death in 1906, when Francis then became the sole beneficiary.
At one point, Francis was considered for a partnership in the family bank, but this idea was abandoned as he was thought too unstable in temperament for such a position.
Adopting the pen name of ‘Mountjoy,’ he wrote and published at least 23 works between 1896 and 1923. Many of these were collections of poems. He also worked for the publisher John Lane in London, writing prefaces for, and editing, collections of poems by other authors, including the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson and the 17th century mystic, theologian and bishop Jeremy Taylor.
In 1912, by a genealogical sleight of hand, Francis became the 5th Baron Latymer through his mother’s family, when the title was called out of abeyance. The title was thought to have been extinct for 335 since the death of John Nevill in 1577. Francis petitioned for the title in 1911, and by resolution of the House of Lords on 15 July 1912 he was declared to be co-heir to the Barony of Latymer. He was summoned to sit in the House of Lords on 11 February 1913.
Francis changed his name again in 1914 to Francis Burdett Thomas Coutts-Nevill. He died in London on 8 June 1923.
When Latimer was developed in Stony Stratford in the mid-1970s, the title was held by his grandson, Thomas Burdett Money-Coutts (1901-1987), 7th Baron Latymer, a director of Coutts and Company and chair of the London Committee of the Ottoman Bank.