Villiers, John (1677?-1723) (DNB00)

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VILLIERS, JOHN (1677?–1723), styling himself ‘Viscount Purbeck and Baron Villiers of Stoke,’ and after 1687 ‘third Earl of Buckingham,’ born about 1677, was grandson of Robert Danvers [q. v.], and only surviving son and heir of Robert Villiers (1656–1684), by the eccentric Margaret, only daughter of Ulick de Burgh, second earl of St. Albans, and widow of Viscount Muskerry (see Grammont's Memoirs, passim). Robert Villiers, alias Danvers, left England heavily in debt, and was killed in a duel at Liège, at the age of twenty-eight. He assumed the style of ‘Viscount Purbeck,’ despite the fact that his claim to succeed to the dignity had been disallowed by the House of Lords in 1678, on the ground of adulterine bastardy (see Collins, Claims concerning Baronies by Writ), his father, Robert Danvers, alias Villiers, alias Wright [see Danvers, Robert], being the illegitimate son of Frances, the wife of John Villiers, viscount Purbeck [q. v.], upon whose heirs male the reversion of the earldom of Buckingham was entailed by the patent of 1617.

John Villiers, who was educated at Eton, and who subsequently became the prey of gamesters and depraved women, did not make a formal claim to the earldom of Buckingham until April 1709, nor did the lords then take any notice of his appeal. In 1720 he petitioned the king with a like result. He died at Dancer's Hill, South Mimms, Middlesex, on 10 Aug. 1723, being buried there on 18 Aug. as ‘Lord Buckingham.’ He married, about 1700, Frances Moyser, who, like himself, seems to have led a dissolute life; by her he had two daughters, who followed their mother's example. His claims were adopted, but (save for a thin pamphlet issued in 1724 as ‘The Case of George Villiers’) not pressed in any way, by his first cousin, George Villiers (1690–1748), vicar of Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, and also by this clergyman's son, George Villiers, vicar of Frodsham, Cheshire, upon whose death, 24 June 1774, this claim to the earldom of Buckingham became extinct.

[Burke's Vicissitudes of Families, i. 74; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Courthope's Historic Peerage; Banks's Extinct Baronage, iii. 614; Burke's Patrician, ii. 96.]

T. S.