Page:The Ancestor Number 1.djvu/218

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THE ANCESTOR THE GROSVENOR MYTH A SINGULAR glamour of romance has long surrounded the early history of the Grosvenors. Even the sober his- torian of Cheshire, though with misgiving, puts off for once his attitude of criticism to introduce, with a profound rever- ence, a family veritably dating from the Conquest.-^ Peerage writers such as Lodge and Burke are here in their element. Foster errs in the opposite direction, ignoring the earlier descent. Collins, improving upon the narrative in Wotton's BaronetagCy writes ^ : — This noble family is descended from a long train, in the male line, of illus- trious ancestors, who flourished in Normandy, with great dignity and grandeur, from the time of its first erection into a sovereign dukedom, a.d. 912, to the Conquest of England, in the year 1066 ; having been always ranked among the foremost there, either for nobleness of blood or power ; and having had the government of many castles and strong holds in that duchy, and likewise the possession of the honourable and powerful office of Le Grovenour ; it is certain, that from that place of high trust they took their surname . . . The patriarch of this ancient house was an uncle of Rollo, the famous Dane . . . with more to the same purpose. Now the family is of undoubted antiquity and distinction. By a long series of fortunate marriages, from the heiress of Pulford to the famous ' milkmaid ' of Ebury,^ it has risen in wealth and consequence, and has attained in recent times the highest rank in the peerage. The late Duke of Westminster held a position in society and at court such as no mere wealth or peerage dignity could command. But it is a far cry from Queen Victoria to Rollo the famous Dane. If marriages brought the Grosvenors wealth, a divorce seems to have served as their stepping stone to honours. They have at any rate no claim to be reckoned, like Nevill or Howard, among our ancient nobility. The last head of the family was the first ^ Ormerod, ed. Helsby, Allostock, iii. 143. 2 Collins, ed. Bridges (18 12), v. 239 ; Wotton (ed. 1741), i. 497. * Ex infor. Dom. Rob. Grosvenor, Bar.' One regrets especially to see old fables dished up once more in the Dictionary of National Biography. 3 This is of course but a nickname. For the pedigree of Miss Davies see Middlesex and Herts Notes and Queries (1896), ii. 189. 4