Marquess loses out in the country’s most exclusive election

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THE Marquess of Abergavenny has missed out on his chance to sit on the gilded red benches in The House of Lords after failing to win election by his peers last month.

Christopher Nevill, whose 3,000 acre Eridge Park estate stretches across the Wealden countryside just south of Tunbridge Wells, threw his ermine into the ring after a vacancy became available in the Upper House following the death of Lord Lyell in January.

The old Harrovian, who became the Sixth Marquess of Abergavenny following the death of his uncle Lieutenant Colonel John Nevill in 2000, is one of around 800 members of the nobility entitled to sit in The Lords.

However, since Tony Blair’s reform of the house at the turn of the century, only 92 places are now automatically reserved for those with a hereditary title, meaning competition for a place can be fierce.

In a strange twist, these peers are the only people elected to the House of Lords, albeit with a tiny electorate consisting exclusively of those currently already in the house.

On March 21 a by-election took place in which the Marquess, stood as a Conservative against 27 other Lords of the realm, the majority of whom also stood under the Tory banner.

In a short manifesto, Lord Nevill explained why he should be chosen to become a member of the legislature.

He said: “The second son of a second son, I forged a career in shipbuilding, broking and finance in Hamburg, Marseilles, the City and Wall Street.

“I offer my hands-on experience of urban regeneration; rural diversification (expanding the Eridge Estate from three residential tenants into a home for 100 businesses, 400 jobs and apprentices); insights from two terms as a district councillor; experience with charities (employment, care for disabled ex-service members and the elderly).”

But he was unable to secure enough support in the alternative vote system, making it to round 23 out of 25 and winning 38 votes in total.

He was beaten by the 2nd Earl of Stockton who took 62 votes; the 5th Baron Bethell (108 votes) and the eventual winner with 143 votes, the Sevenoaks based-peer 4th Baron Colgrain.


Who is The Marquess of Abergavenny?

The title Marquessate of Abergavenny was created 150 years ago, however, this branch of the Nevill family have an illustrious lineage, having first been ennobled in 1450 when Sir Edward Nevill – himself a son Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland – was made Baron Bergavenny.

In 1784, the 17th Baron Bergavenny, George Nevill, was made 1st Earl of Abergavenny and the family climbed the social hierarchy yet again in 1876 when Queen Victoria made William Nevill the first Marquess of Abergavenny.

Christopher Nevill is the 6th Marquess of Abergavenny and also carries the titles the10th Earl of Abergavenny and 6th Earl of Lewes.

Born in 1955 and Educated at Harrow, the Marquess is a former stockbroker who now runs the 3,000 acre family estate, which includes The Lower Pantiles and the Corn Exchange and several notable buildings such as the folly Saxonbury Tower. The original family seat, Eridge Castle, was replaced by a Neo-Georgian mansion in the 1930s.

The election on March 21 was not the first contested by the Marquess, who also ran in November and September in 2015, February 2013, July 2011 and June 2010.


The noble pecking order

(in descending order)

  • Duke or Dutchess
  • Marquess or Marchioness
  • Earl or Countess
  • Viscount or Viscountess
  • Baron or Baroness

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