The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

The Extraordinary (Cornwallis) West Family

of Newlands Manor


It is remarkable that for a time an extraordinary family lived near the small but pleasant seaside town of Milford on Sea. A family that became involved with Royalty throughout Europe but also scandal, upheaval in World War I and financial disaster.

This sumary of the Cornwallis-West story is in 5 parts:

1. A Chronological Sequence of Events

2. A brief Family Tree

3. Brief extracts from a book about Winston Churchill

4. Photographs of Milford on Sea including Newlands Manor

5. A Bibliography

1. Chronological Sequence of Events

Perhaps the easiest (and quickest!) way to present this story is to summarise events in chronological sequence:

Captain John Whitby

John Whitby was well-regarded as a naval officer by Admirals Nelson and Cornwallis. Nelson had long been a friend of and junior to Cornwallis who also commanded Captain Whitby.

After the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Lord Nelson, it was Captain Whitby who broke the news to Lady Hamilton.

In 1802, John Whitby married Mary Ann Theresa Symonds and in 1803 he took his wife to stay at Newlands.

Admiral Cornwallis treated the young Whitbys as the children he would never have.

Admiral Sir William Cornwallis

Admiral Cornwallis had a distinguished Naval career and in 1803 was made Commander in Chief of the Channel Fleet.

He acquired the Newlands estate of 60 acres in Milford by lease in 1800. He later purchased the property, and retired from the Navy in 1806.

In 1802 to 1803 Admiral Cornwallis commenced the rebuilding of Newlands Manor following a fire in the original house.

Mrs Whitby supervised the construction of Newlands and its gardens.

After the death of his naval collegue Captain Whitby in 1806, Admiral Cornwallis looked after the widow Mary Anna Theresa Whitby (age 22) and her daughter.

In turn for over 15 years, she looked after Admiral Cornwallis in his declining years

Mary Anna Theresa Whitby

On Sir William Cornwallis' death in 1819, Mrs Whitby (eventually in 1823) inherited the Cornwallis fortune (which included the Manors of Milford Barnes and Milford Montague) in trust for her daughter Theresa John Cornwallis Whitby.

In 1829 Mrs Whitby acquired the Manor of Milford Baddesley bringing the estate to 1400 acres in Milford and 500 in Hordle.

Theresa John Cornwallis Whitby

In 1827/1837 Mrs Whitby's daughter married Frederick Richard West who owned Ruthin Castle in North Wales.

They lived at Arnewood until Mrs Whitby died in 1850 and they moved into Newlands.

They had 3 daughters and 2 sons.

Frederick West died in 1862.

After Mrs West's death in 1886, Newlands passed to her son Colonel William West who changed his name to Cornwallis-West.

Colonel William Cornwallis-West

William West was born in Florence, a temporary home of his parents who were enthusiastic about Italian art.

He too pursued art in Italy in the 1860s but on the death of his elder brother took up residence in Wales to administer the family estate of 10,000 acres.

In 1871 he married Mary Adelaide Eupatoria FitzPatrick (the granddaughter of the second Marquis of Headfort) against his mother's wishes.

In his book, Patsy, Tim Coates describes her scandalous affairs and ambitious schemes for husbands for her two daughters.

In the late 1880s, William Cornwallis-West created Milford as a seaside resort Milford-on-Sea and developed Hordle Cliff with new roads named after family and friends, e.g. Cornwallis Road, De la Warr Road, Headfort Road, West Road, Whitby Road, Westminster Road and Pless Road.

Life at Newlands

Members of Europe's Royal Families and many other distinguished guests came to Newlands including the Prince of Wales (later Edward (VII) and the German Kaiser.

The Ruthin estate heavily subsidised Newlands and after the sales of Ruthin lands, Newlands fell into neglect.

Major George Frederick Myddleton Cornwallis-West

He first married the Lady Randolph Churchill (mother of Winston) and secondly Mrs Patrick Campbell. His third wife was Mrs Georgette Hirsch.

During his first marriage, he lived extravagently and went bankruot in 1913. After Colonel Cornwallis-West's death in 1917, he sold the Ruthin estate in 1919 and Newlands in 1920.

2. Brief Family Tree (also see Notes below)

1. Eighth Baron West and Second Earl de la Warr

2. son Frederick West
who married (1798)
Maria Myddleton, owner of Ruthin Castle

3. son Frederick Richard West
who married (1837)
Theresa John Cornwallis Whitby

4. son Colonel William Cornwallis-West
born c 1835 Florence
who married
Mary (Patsy) Adelaide Thomasina Eupatoria FitzPatrick


Re 1. above

the Earl de la Warr, Governor of Virginia who gave the neighbouring territory Delaware its name.

Re 2. above

Theresa Whitby's parents were Captain John Whitby and Mary Ann Teresa Symonds

Theresa Whitby was "adopted" by Admiral Sir William Cornwallis

Re 3. above

It appears that our Victorian lady met Mrs West in 1883 and perhaps Mrs West and one of her daughters in 1886.

The Wests had 4 other children:

the eldest son
- on whose death William Cornwallis-West had to look after Newlands

Georgina West
- the eldest daughter born circa 1831/2(?) Hordle
- who was the second wife of Warren Peacocke who was the owner of Efford Park
- in 1881 she was a widow living at West Street in Southwick

Theresa S E West born circa 1830/1 (?) Arnewood House
- living at Newlands in 1881 (per Census)

Florence West born circa 1833/4 Florence
- living at The Villins, Milford in 1881

Re 4. above

Mary FitzPatrick was the granddaughter of the second Marquis of Headford and called the "Irish Savage" by Mrs West who was against the marriage.

The couple had 3 children and were living at The Hermitage Old Windsor (with daughter Constance) in 1881:

Mary (Daisy) T O Cornwallis-West born 28.6.1873 Ruthin
who married
Hans Heinrich of Pless, later the Third Prince of Pless
(the quality of her lineage helped her when the Prince considered marriage)
- World War I put the marriage under strain and though Daisy stayed abroad and provided care in the War, the couple divorced in 1923 (?)

George F M Cornwallis-West born circa 1874/5 Ruthin
who married
1. The widow Lady Randolph Churchill (Jennie)
2. Mrs Patrick Campbell
3. Mrs Georgette Hirsch

It appears that his grandson Winston Churchill had little to do with George Cornwallis-West. There are a number of references to his mother and stepfather in a book about Winston Churchill. (see Section 3 below)

Constance (Shelagh) Edwina Cornwallis-West born circa 1876/7 Ruthin
who married
Hugh, Duke of Westminster

Mary and George were living with their Aunt, Georgeiana(?) Peacocke in Southwick in 1881.

3. Brief extracts from a book about Winston Churchill

In his book: The Age of Churchill: Heritage and Adventure 1874-1911, Peter de Mendelssohn, there are brief references to the Cornwallis-West family:

page 99 - The London celebrations reached their climax with the great Fancy Dress Ball at Devonshire House on 2 July 1897.....But there was only one Cleopatra, revealed as the beautiful Daisy Pless, who was with her strikingly handsome brother George Cornwallis-West, and there was only one Empress Theodora of Byzantium (Lady Randolph Churchill) easily recognisable because of the famous Marlborough jewels. The young Lieutenant (Winston Churchill?) accompanied the Empress.....

page 158 - The Churchill family were fully represented in the Boer War...Lady Randolph Churchill had come out to South Africa herself....looking out for a young Lieutenant in the Scots Guards (George Frederick Myddelton Cornwallis-West)...

page 164 - Churchill decided to resume his "full civilian status" and hurry home....he reached London in time to attend the wedding of Lady Randolph and George Cornwallis-West on 28 July 1900...

page 170 - Jennie Jerome's second marriage lasted for thirteeen years and was dissolved in 1913...George Cornwallis-West, in the year following his separation from Lady Randolph married the famous actress Stella Patrick Campbell: she was nine years older than he. In her correspondence with Bernard Shaw he is frequently referred to as the "Gold Pheasant". Shaw thought nothing of the marriage and it broke up in 1921...Stella Patrick died in 1940, the year in which George Cornwallis-West married a third time; he died in 1951. Nowhere does Churchill mention this whole bizarre part of his world with as much as a single word.(But see Footnote).

page 349 - Lady Randolph, was living at Salisbury Hall, a delightful little Tudor mansion with moat and rose-garden near St Albans, which had once been Nell Gwynn's retreat. He (Winston) visited her often bringing Lloyd George....

page 352/3 - The wedding (Winston's) on Saturday 12 September 1908...the register was signed "Jennie Cornwallis-West"....

page 461 - The following night (Saturday 7 May 1910) (after Edward VII had died) Margot Asquith dined at "Mrs George West's"...

page 518 - (In 1911) Mrs Cornwallis-West was not to be outdone by Lady Londonderry or Lady Charles Beresford. At Earls Court she organised a famous tournament of knights in armour where the Duke of Marlborough was unhorsed in the tilting-yard...

4. Photographs of Milford on Sea

In the attached portfolio of photographs:

Calling Book Photographs

are photo's of:

Newlands Manor

All Saints Church, Milford on Sea where Captain Whitby and Admiral William Cornwallis are buried

Memorials, in the church, to Admiral Sir William Cornwallis and Mary Anna Theresa Whitby

The simple gravestone, in the churchyard, of Mary Cornwallis-West (the scheming "Patsy": Mary Adelaide Virginia Eupatoria FitzPatrick "the Irish savage")

5. A Bibliography

Country House History
by Blake Pinnell

Daisy Princess of Pless 1873-1943
by W. John Koch

Patsy: The Story of Mary Cornwallis-West
by Tim Coates

The Age of Churchill: Heritage and Adventure 1874-1911
by Peter De Mendelssohn

The Making of Mrs Whitby
by Mary Trehearne (from an Occasional Magazine of Milford on Sea
Historical Record Society)

A Chronology of Milford and Keyhaven: Domesday to Millennium
compiled by Roy Rees as a Milford Millennium Project


On 1 December 2011, the subject of Frederick West and his descendants cropped up in an edition of the series: Heir Hunters broadcast by BBC2. I have summarised the content of the programme:

Heir Hunters 1 December 2011

Colin Bower
1 January 2012

Final Report

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