chapter  9
22 Pages

The Throckmortons Come of Age: Political and Social Alignments, 1826–1862

For half a century the Throckmorton family fortunes rested in the hands of a trio of childless brother baronets. When Sir John Courtenay died in 1819, the title passed to his younger brother George (1754-1826), resident at Weston Underwood, where he lived a quiet life necessitated by his fragile health. He died seven years later and his brother Charles (1757-1840) then inherited the title, which passed on his death to his nephew, Robert George Throckmorton (1800-62). These years saw the Throckmortons come of age, politically and socially, as they became more fully integrated into a new professional class in Georgian and Victorian England. This was a time when English Catholics also came of age in national life, as they gained the political emancipation for which Sir John had worked so tirelessly. These years are also significant for the family as they witnessed the gradual consolidation of Coughton Court and the abandonment of the house at Weston Underwood. The Throckmortons had always enjoyed the pursuits of country gentlefolk, but now these pastimes had to be subordinated to new responsibilities in the locality and nation. Both Charles and Robert Throckmorton succeeded to an inheritance foreseen by Sir John Courtenay. As members of the Catholic lay elite, they were able to take advantage of all the possibilities created for Catholics by the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act, and thus establish themselves in the centre of English political and social life. They were also among the last representatives of an enduring lay hegemony over the English Catholic Church before that body was subjected to the authority of bishops in 1850.