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Nobility in Distress.

Many instances of English persons of title undergoing privations might be cited, especially from colonial annals. It was but the other day that we read of the termination of the curiously-chequered career of the late Earl of Seafield. Durthe period when he bore the courtesy title of Viscounts Reidhaven ho was successively an auctioneer's clerk, a storeman at a salary of thirty shillings per week, and a bailiff m the town of Oamaru, New Zealand. From the same colony, about the samp, time, came the news of the sentencing at | Auckland to fourteen days' hard labour, for stealing roses, of a venerable but somewhat dilapidated gentleman bearing the name of Sir Charles Burdett, Bart, This owner of an ancient title—the seventh baronet of his line—is described m the pages of Dod and Debrett as *' residing abroad," and has been about the colonies for years, often with shoeless feet and a battered hat, picking up a precarious subsistence by skipping bark from trees, cooking for jbushmen, and doing odd jobs about squatters' stations. There was a time when he held her Majesty's commission m the army. Diving into past history there are hundreds of the stories of the decay and degradation of noble be met with. Titles; andj estates were t> such an extent m the keeping of kings m the olden time that they were of very* uncertain tenure. The most shallow pretexts often served both for the creation and the destruction of dignities ; while wars and political conflicts made serious havoc m our aristocratic ranks. The Wars of the Roses wrought, great changes m this respect When the long struggle between the rival houses was over, many nobles were reduced to such i> condition of poyei'ty ,£hat nq' qommon. beggar was m a, worse plight. Sir Bernard Burke refers to the case of the Duke of Exeter, who followed m the train of the Duke of .Burgundy under an assumed name. He was barefoot and bare legged and had to beg his bread from door ibo" dqqr. For one who had married King Edward's sister, and been one of the leading nobjes p,f the House of Lancaster, this was a terrible degradation, ihut when his identity whs discovered he had a small pension allowed him for his subsistence. Confiscations and sequestrations w.ere cmnmqn roads from }y%h jx>. Jcny estate. J<W ancipnt houses but suffered one time qr another m this way!' causa with which they had sided was lost, this was the ordinary punishment meted out by the victors. Even the House of Percy, whose record is more generally unbroken than that of the majority of our great families, fell upon evil days when Elizabeth went to her rest, and the Scottish .Tanies reigned m liey stead. Tfc ivas j^, teinpfceci to charge the ninth": liarl of Northumberland with complicity m the Gunpowder P.lot, and on that breaking down he was examined as to his connection wj'th pht> intrigues o| the R< m^n Catholic party, but again cleared himself. Nevertheless, James sent him to the Tower, sentenced him to be kept ithoro until he paid a iine of £30,000, and clePfiyftd him of all pecuniary means. The pinch of poverty, however;' dii-lf n'qt' qftpfi huh much during bin fifteen years 1' incarceration m the Tower, for while there he took to the study of astrology and alchemy, smoked furiously, and when he went forth into the world again it was with the added title of the Wizard Earl.

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Bibliographic details

Nobility in Distress., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2497, 21 August 1890

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Nobility in Distress. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2497, 21 August 1890