The Gentry is a history of England told through its families. This website contains family trees, a few maps and many images illustrating some of the background to the twelve families who carry the story of England in the book.

Read a sample chapter about Sir John Oglander, the 17th-century squire of Nunwell in the Isle of Wight, his life and family, his dreams and ambitions and the tragedies that struck him....

1840s–1910s The Hugheses, Denbighshire and London

The Hugheses

No family in the British Isles travelled such a steep track to riches as the Hugheses of Kinmel. From the discovery of the untold amounts of copper in the hill they owned, or half-owned, in Anglesey, by 1815 they had acquired 85,000 acres of North Wales, which had cost them something like £496,000. A title—Lord Dinorben—then came their way, but the first Lord Dinorben’s only son was ‘incapacitated, by imbecility of mind, from the exercise of the privileges of his rank.’ Dinorben was faced with the prospect of his nephew, Hugh Robert Hughes, born in 1827, inheriting everything he had.

 Dinorben didn’t like him. They were opposed politically, the older man more liberal, the nephew, who would come to revel in his initials HRH, was by instinct a deep Tory, increasingly interested by genealogy and heraldry, three generations away from the raw money-making phase in Anglesey.

 The story of the following sixty years at Kinmel is of HRH relentlessly denying the memory of an uncle who had wanted to exclude him; of a vastly rich Victorian squire who spent the bulk of his life enraged; and of a sharp-eyed, peaky-nosed man trying to establish a position in the world which would expunge the memory of having once been the grasping nephew and the anxious inheritor. He had money but he wanted dignity.