Definately interested in information you have, also interested in the Wordsworth family, we have a Wadsworth connection which was changed to Wordsworth at some time.
Stapleford park has this information
Today Stapleford is regarded by many as one of the finest and most beautiful examples of an English stately home.
The Sherard family came to own Stapleford through the marriage of Agnes Hawberk to Robert Sherard in 1402. It remained in the family for a staggering 484 years. William Sherard, who restored the Old Wing with its archway, was knighted in 1622 and later became Baron of Letrim.
In 1719, the 3rd Lord Sherard was granted the title of Earl of Harborough by George I. He was a Member of Parliament and Lord Lieutenant of Rutland for many years. The family had a curiously broad range of careers, ranging from Philip who became a Major General and fighting against the French at the Battle of Briockmuhl in 1642 to Robert who entered Holy Orders.
In the wood to the left of the fairway, there are the ruins of an old cottage that was built by the 6th Earl in the 1820s for his mistress, Emma Sarah Love, where she lived for over twenty-five years. Her marriage to another man had failed on the very day of her wedding. He steadfastly refused to grant her a divorce, despite the Earl's best efforts, as he did not want her to re-marry making his "Emma a countess".
Eventually, the Earl married Eliza Temple of Stowe who took up residence in the Hall, whilst his mistress stayed in the cottage with its beautful water gardens. When he died in 1859, Lady Eliza immediately pulled it down, the best stones being re-used to build a new cottage for Emma Love in nearby Whissendine.
The 6th Earl, nicknamed "The Naughty Earl", was nothing if not a colourful character. Once, he found an unorthodox solution to the irritating problem of a public footpath passing close by his Cottage, mistress in residence. He is said to have bought some bears from a travelling circus and let them loose in the wood. He did, however, later build roads along the west and south of the park to allow the public to go round it.
When his new wife moved into the hall, locals were reluctant to visit to pay respects to the new countess and, in a fit of pique, he posted armed gamekeepers at all entrances to the park and prevented access, effectively making his new wife a prisoner.
Another extraordinary spell in the rich history of Stapleford was the "Battle of Saxby". The "Naughty Earl" was again involved, this time in a fierce dispute over a new railway that was planned to come through the Earl's land, Saxby and Stapleford, in particular. Its construction would spell disaster for the struggling Melton to Oakham Canal of which he was a shareholder so he used every trick open to him to halt its planning.
The "Battle" was actually a series of ugly brawls and armed confrontations between the Earl's men and canal employees on one side and the railway's surveyors on the other with up to 300 involved in each skirmish. The Earl himself was involved in fisticuffs with one of the railway solicitors and a number of men were imprisoned. Versions vary, but it is said that the Earl was found guilty on charges of assault, wrongful imprisonment and damaging a theodolite and was fined £8. No mention was made that he had rigged up two cannon from his yacht on a cart, ready to go on the offensive, which was probably just as well. The railway never entered Stapleford during his lifetime.
This is prime hunting country but attitudes of the owners have varied towards the sport. It was, perhaps, Lord John Gretton's greatest passion and he was Chairman of the Cottesmore Hunt for 27 years, only relinquishing his post shortly before his death.
The 6th Earl, however felt rather differently and banned the hunt from all of his lands, even going as far as putting dog spears in the foxes' coverts or lairs. These were designed to brutally stop the progress of the fox terriers and thus prevented illicit use of "his" foxes.
Robert Sherard (1861-1943)
Robert Harborough Sherard, was (according to Spartacus Schoolnet - Link --> [Link]) born in Melton Mowbray in 1861. He was the son of Rev. Bennet Sherard Kennedy and a great grandson of William Wordsworth. Born in London on 3 December 1861, he was the fourth of six children of Rev. Bennet Sherard Calcraft Kennedy, the illegitimate son of the sixth and last Earl of Harborough, and Jane Stanley Wordsworth, granddaughter of the poet. While a young man still under the influence of his much-traveled family, he was educated in Italy, Germany and Guernsey (where the Kennedys shared "Hauteville House"with Victor Hugo in the 1870s); he spent only part of a year at New College, Oxford. Sherard moved to Naples in 1881 after a terrible fight with his father, who cut him off from the expected family inheritance of Stapleford, the Harborough estate at Melton Mowbray. Sherard dropped the surname "Kennedy," and, moving to Paris in 1882, took up his writing career.
After being educated at Oxford University, Sherard became a professional journalist working for a wide variety of different newspapers and magazines. He was particularly interested in writing about working conditions and urban poverty. A series of articles in Pearson's Magazine, was eventually published as The White Slaves of England (1897). Sherard was also commissioned by the editor of The London Magazine to write several articles on child labour. These collected articles were published as The Child Slaves of Britain in 1905. Robert Sherard died in 1943.
Robert Sherard is known today mostly as a friend of Oscar Wilde. He wrote the first biographies: Oscar Wilde: The Story of an Unhappy Friendship (1902), The Life of Oscar Wilde (1906), and The Real Oscar Wilde (1917), and was an especially close friend of his in 1883 in Paris and in London in 1895 during and after Wilde's three trials. Although Wilde once described Sherard as "that bravest and most chivalrous of all beings," Sherard lost this esteem, and his many appearances in the modern biographies of Wilde by Hesketh Pearson, Montgomery Hyde, and Richard Ellmann leave mainly the impression that he was either a madman or simply a besotted fool. There is more to Sherard than this:
In March 1883 he met Wilde, who had gone to Paris after his North American lecture tour ended in December, 1882. They became close friends. Sherard's blond, athletic good looks and aristocratic connections were attractive to Wilde. Sherard published his first novel, A Bartered Honour (1883) and his only volume of poetry, Whispers (1884), which he dedicated to Wilde when their friendship was most intense; and Wilde wrote some effusive love letters to the handsome but heterosexual Sherard, who did not realize their implications despite his own sexual adventures. Sherard never understood Wilde's homosexuality, which infuriated Wilde and led to the breakup of their friendship after Wilde's release from prison in 1897.
Sherard lived in France from 1883 to 1895; England from 1895 to 1900; and France again from 1901 to 1906. He supported himself mostly from journalism. While in Paris (1883-1895), Sherard contributed excellent interviews and vignettes of Parisian political, social, and artistic life to two New York newspapers - the World, and Morning Journal - and the London Pall Mall Gazette, Daily Graphic and Westminster Gazette. Later in the 1890s he wrote for magazines like McClure's, The Idler, The Bookman, and Pearson's. Although Sherard claims that at the height of his career he earned £1,000 a year, he more often was desperately poor and even wrote for trade journals.
Although most of his income was earned from journalism, he was a prolific writer of novels, biographies, social exposes, and reminiscences of his life in France. Sherard's thirty-three published books include fourteen novels, mostly undistinguished mystery-thrillers; however, After the Fault (1906), based on the failure of his marriage (1887-1906) to Marthe Lipska, is mature and powerful and affords an insight into Sherard's old-fashioned spirit of noblesse oblige and self-sacrifice. The biographies, besides those on Wilde, are Emile Zola (1893), Alphonse Daudet (1894), and Guy de Maupassant (1926). Sherard was an avid seeker of friendships with authors, and in France became quite friendly with Zola, Mallarme, Pierre Louys, and especially Alphonse Daudet.
He specialised in championing controversial authors, such as Zola and Wilde, and in living dangerously, as he did when conducting social investigations in England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1895 to 1901, which resulted in his books The White Slaves of England (l897), The Cry of the Poor (1901), The Closed Door (1902), and The Child Slaves of Britain (1905). Sherard went "undercover" in pursuing his investigations, living with the poor and sharing their hardships and way of life. He showed considerable pluck and tenacity; not merely a "muckraker," but passionate, loyal and sympathetic, Sherard displayed his charity when a destitute and dying Ernest Dowson lived with him for six weeks in Catford and died i his home in February 1900.
The social investigation books were written after Sherard had moved from Paris to London in 1895; he gave up his career in Paris in 1895, he said, to be by Wilde's side during the three trials in April--May of that year. Certainly, Sherard was a loyal friend and busied himself trying to get Wilde to flee England after the second trial, and afterwards faithfully visiting him in prison during his two-year sentence. Sherard was in such an emotional state at the turn in Wilde's fortunes that Alphonse Daudet, visiting in London at the time and a good friend, became worried about him. In order to divert his mind he suggested that they collaborate on a book.
It eventually appeared in English, under Daudet's name, as My First Voyage: My First Lie (1901). After the death of Wilde in 1900, Sherard lived in St. Malo for a while and was so sick that he expected to die. That was when he wrote the emotional first biography of Wilde, The Story of an Unhappy Friendship. However, after his recovery he wrote his books of reminiscences of his career in France, the most successful of which, Twenty Years in Paris (1905), was selected by the Times Book Club.
After his divorce from Marthe Lipska in 1906, he married the wealthy American widow Irene Osgood in 1908. Violent, alcoholic and syphilitic, he was a difficult man to live with. After his second marriage ended in divorce in 1915, he struggled with poverty and ill-health the rest of his life. The slough in his career lasted until 1926 when he published The Life and Evil Fate of Guy de Maupassant, a book that led to his being honored by France in 1929 as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
In 1928 he married Alice Muriel Fiddian and lived in Corsica, writing the vituperative Vindex pamphlets, for the purpose of "whipping hyenas away from [Wilde'sl grave," which were collected in Oscar Wilde Twice Defended (1934) and Bernard Shaw, Frank Harris and Oscar Wilde (1937). The latter work elicited a fearful personal rebuke from Bernard Shaw in his introduction to the revised edition of Harris's life of Wilde (1938). Sherard died in London on 30 January 1943, and left his widow £50.
Sherard spoke French, Italian, and German and was an intelligent, emotional, idealistic man. Many of his journalistic pieces, although overwritten and passionate, were fine achievements in their day, and in his prime he was a much respected journalist. However, he was a wild man in his personal life, much given to the "mud honey" of the gutter, as Frank Harris termed it, and he caused much grief to his wives, his friends and himself --K.H.F. O'Brien .
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