James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos

James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos

James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos PC (6 January 16739 August 1744) was the first of fourteen children by Sir James Brydges, 3rd Baronet of Wilton Castle, Sheriff of Herefordshire, 8th Lord Chandos; and Elizabeth Barnard. Three days after his father's death on 16 October 1714, he was created Viscount Wilton and Earl of Carnarvon; he became Duke of Chandos in 1719. He was a Member of Parliament for Hereford from 1698 to 1714.

Marriages and children

"First marriage"

On 2 February 1695, Brydges married Mary Lake, daughter of Sir Thomas Lake, of Cannons and Rebecca Langham. They had two children who survived childhood. She died on 15 September 1712.

# John Brydges, Marquess of Carnarvon (15 January 17038 April 1727)
# Henry Brydges, 2nd Duke of Chandos (1 February 170828 November 1771)

"Second marriage"

After Mary's death, he married Cassandra Willoughby on 4 August 1713. She was the daughter of Francis Willoughby and Emma Barnard. They had no children. She died 18 July 1735.

"Third marriage"

On 18 April 1736, the Duke married Lydia Catherine Van Hatten, the daughter of John Van Hatten and Lydia Davall. They had no children.


During the War of the Spanish Succession, Brydges was paymaster-general of the forces abroad, and in this capacity he amassed great wealth. In 1719 he was created Marquess of Carnarvon and Duke of Chandos.

The Duke is chiefly remembered on account of his connections with Georg Frideric Handel, for whom he acted as a major patron, and with Alexander Pope, seen as having slandered Chandos in one of his poems.

Brydges built a magnificent house "at vast expense" [Colvin, p. 403, quoting Soane MSS] at Cannons, an older house near Edgware in Middlesex. There Brydges ran through several architects prominent in the English Baroque. He began in 1713 with William Talman, whom he dismissed in favour of John James in 1714; James had partly executed his designs before James Gibbs succeeded him in 1715. Howard Colvin (ref) concludes that the south and east elevations, as well as the chapel, were the designs of Gibbs. Brydges dismissed Gibbs in 1719, and completed the house under the supervision of John Price [Price published elevations of the house with his own name as architect, "Built Anno 1720" (Colvin, sub. Price)] and, in 1723–25, Edward Shepherd. Cannons was demolished in 1747. On its site, now incorporated in Greater London, is Canons Park.

Brydges is said to have contemplated the construction of a private road across his own lands between this place and his never completed house in Cavendish Square, London, probably also designed by Gibbs. [Two houses built by Chandos's surveyor Edward Shepherd, eventually occupied the site (Colvin).]

Chandos, who was Lord Lieutenant of the counties of Hereford and Radnor, and Chancellor of the University of St Andrews (where he established the "Chandos Chair of Medicine and Anatomy" in 1721). He also became involved in the efforts to create a home for foundlings in London that would alleviate the problem of child abandonment in the capital. The charity, called the Foundling Hospital, received its royal charter in 1739, on which the Duke is listed as a governor. [Nichols and Wray, on pp. 345–353, list all governors named in the charter.]

Handel and Pope

The young composer Georg Frideric Handel was employed by Chandos for over two years, 1717–18, and lived at Cannons, where he composed his oratorio "Esther" and his pastoral "Acis and Galatea". Handel composed the "Chandos Anthems" for his patron while he was still Lord Chandos; they were first performed at the parish church of St Lawrence, Whitchurch, with the composer playing the organ of 1716 which has survived there to the present day.

Alexander Pope, who in his "Moral Essays" (Epistle to the Earl of Burlington) was alleged to have described Cannons under the guise of Timon's Villa, referred to the Duke in the line, "Thus gracious Chandos is belov'd at sight"; but Jonathan Swift, less complimentary, called him a great complier with every court. The poet was caricatured by Hogarth for his supposed servility to Chandos. Pope published a denial of his alleged satire of the Duke's estate, in which he said that the estate of the poem "differs in every particular from" Chandos's. According to Pope biographer Maynard Mack, Chandos thereafter assured Pope by letter that he believed him, i.e. that the Epistle to Burlington was not intended as a satire of his estate. The malice, indeed, was on the part not of Pope, but of the insinuators and slanderers, the hack writers whom Pope had ridiculed as dunces in his Dunciad; Mack calls the affair a "falsehood of considerable damage to [Pope's] character".

After his death

He was succeeded by his son, Henry Brydges, 2nd Duke of Chandos, who found the estate so encumbered by debt that a demolition sale of Cannons was held in 1747, which dispersed furnishings and structural elements, with the result that elements of Cannons survive in several English country houses, notably Lord Foley's house at Great Witley, and its chapel (completed in 1735—ceiling paintings by Bellucci and stained glass after designs by Francesco Sleter). The pulpit and other fittings from Chandos's chapel were reinstalled in the parish church at Fawley, Buckinghamshire, by John Freeman of Fawley Court.



* Howard Colvin, 1995 (3rd ed.). "A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840" (Yale University Press)
* R.H. Nichols and F.A. Wray, "The History of the Foundling Hospital" (London: Oxford University Press, 1935)
* Johnson, Joan. "Excellent Cassandra: The Life and Times of the Duchess of Chandos." Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, Gloucester, England 1981.

External links

* [http://www.baroquemusic.org/chandos.html The Rise and Fall of Henry James Bridges, First Duke of Chandos, for whom Handel composed the Chandos Anthems] , an excellent illustrated article
* [http://www.baroquecds.com/378Web.html Six Chandos Anthems] , program notes to a 2-CD recording.
* [http://www.dukesofbuckingham.org.uk/people/family/brydges/dukes_of_chandos.htm#1stChandos The Dukes of Chandos]

Further reading

* Joan Johnson, 1989. "Princely Chandos: James Brydges 1674-1744"
* C.H. and M.I. Collins Baker, 1949. "The Life and Circumstances of James Brydges,: First Duke of Chandos, Patron of the Liberal Arts" (Oxford University: Clarendon Press). Still the standard work on Chandos and Cannons
* (Henry St. John, Lord Bolingbroke) 1935. "Letters of Henry St. John to James Brydges" (Harvard University Press)
* John Robert Robinson , "The princely Chandos, a memoir of James Brydges, paymaster-general to the forces abroad during the most brilliant part of the Duke of Marlborough's military ... afterwards the first Duke of Chandos"


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