Cust, Edward (DNB00)

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CUST, Sir EDWARD (1794–1878), general and military historian, sixth son of Brownlow Cust, first lord Brownlow, and brother of John Cust, first earl Brownlow, was born at 30 Hill Street, Berkeley Square, London, on 17 March 1794. He was educated at Eton, gazetted a cornet in the 16th light dragoons on 15 March 1810, and was present at the battle of Fuentes de Onoro. He was promoted lieutenant into the 14th light dragoons on 27 Dec. 1810, and served with that regiment at the sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, and in the battles of Salamanca, Vittoria, the Pyrenees, the Nivelle, and the Nive, and only left the army in the field on promotion to the rank of captain in his old regiment, the 16th light dragoons, in December 1813. He was decorated with the war medal and seven clasps. He was placed on half-pay in 1814, recalled to service in 1815, and did not see active service again. He became major in 1821, was raised to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1826, to that of colonel in 1841, major-general in 1851, lieutenant-general in 1859, colonel of his old regiment, the 16th light dragoons, in the same year, and general in 1866. In 1816 Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg (afterwards king of the Belgians), who was then honorary colonel of the 16th light dragoons, appointed Cust as his equerry. This position he held for many years, and became master of the household to the king, retaining a position of confidence up to the king's death. From him he received the grand cross of the order of Leopold of Belgium, and in 1831, when Prince Leopold was made king of the Belgians, he was made knight commander of the Guelphic order of Hanover. In 1818 he was elected tory M.P. for Grantham, for which place he sat till 1826, when he was elected for Lostwithiel, which place he represented until the suppression of that borough by the Reform Bill of 1832. During this period he took an active part in criticising the public architectural works of the time, and succeeded in securing a system for the competition of public buildings, under which he was named a commissioner for rebuilding the Houses of Parliament, and for selecting the design of the Wellington monument. In 1845 he was appointed assistant-master of the ceremonies to her majesty, and in 1847 master of the ceremonies. He enjoyed the personal friendship of her majesty for many years, and only resigned his post from ill-health in February 1876, when he was created a baronet in reward for his services. Cust dabbled in literature, and wrote military histories, which were at one time considered of standard value, viz. ‘Annals of the Wars of the Eighteenth Century,’ and ‘Lives of the Warriors of the Thirty Years' War.’ For these works he received in 1869 the gold medal of the Austrian empire from the emperor of Austria. He also wrote ‘Noctes Dominicæ, or Sunday Night Readings,’ published in 1848, and ‘Family Readings—the New Testament harmonised and explained,’ published in 1850. For these works the honorary degree of D.C.L. was conferred upon him in 1853 by the university of Oxford. He was senior magistrate for the hundred of Wirral, and rendered long service in that capacity. He died in Jermyn Street on 14 Jan. 1878, in his eighty-fourth year, being one of the last surviving officers who had served in the Peninsular war, and was buried at Belton, near Grantham. He married on 11 Jan. 1821, at Marylebone Church, Mary Anne, only child of Lewis William Boode, of Amsterdam and Peover Hall, Cheshire, and heiress of her mother, Margaret Dannett, of Leasowe Castle, Birkenhead, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Dannett, rector of Liverpool. This lady was bedchamber-woman to H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent, the mother of Queen Victoria. She wrote a book on ‘Cats,’ being a great fancier of these animals, and died on 10 July 1882, aged 82. By her Cust left one son, Leopold, who succeeded him, and to whom the king of the Belgians was godfather, and four daughters.

[Burke's Peerage and Baronetage; Hart's Army List; Men of the Time; obituaries in daily papers, January 1878; private information.]