Lord Bunbury

Lord Bunbury of Whittingham Hall

The coin flip between the 12th Earl of Derby -- who conceived of a one-mile run for three-year-olds at Epsom Downs in England and who would become the namesake of a famous American horse race -- and Sir Charles Bunbury, over whether to call the Epsom race the Derby Stakes or the Bunbury Stakes, had gone the other way? (Then perhaps the major event on the American horse racing calendar today would be known as the Kentucky Bunbury.)

Edward, twelfth Earl of Derby, was born September 12, 1752, and died October 21, 1834. He married first, Elizabeth, daughter of James, sixth Duke of Hamilton, who died in 1799, and secondly, the celebrated actress, Miss Farren, who died April 23, 1829.

From "TURF AND SPORT DIGEST" April 1936, "Great American Breeders of Early Days" by Salvator - subtitled "Some of the Men who Laid the Foundation of the Modern Horse". Among the great importers and breeders of this era, perhaps the most famous, and todays most frequently mentioned, was Colonel John Hoomes, of Bowling Green, in Caroline County, Virginia. Between the years 1792 and 1805 he imported not less than nineteen different English stallions and thirteen different English mares, whose influence upon the American thoroughbred breed was incalculable.

"One of the stallions was the immortal Diomed, winner of the first Epsom Derby ever run (1790) and the founder, in this country, of one of the greatest dynasties of race horses, sires and dams that the world has never seen. He also imported another Derby winner, Spread Eagle (1795); as well as such celebrated horses as Dare Devil, Bedford, Stirling, Seagull, Speculator, Dion, Dragon and Buzzard. The blood of these horses and numerous others of the Hoomes importations will be found in a network at or near the bases of a majority of the best horses we have today. (From the book: "COLONIAL CAROLINE, A HISTORY OF CAROLINE COUNTY, VIRGINIA" By T. E. Campbell, 1954. Page 417)

Lady Sarah Lennox (1745-1826) daughter of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond and Lady Sarah Cadogan Born 14 February 1745; Died August 1826; Affaire with Lord William Gordon; Died 1 May 1823

"The future King George III was supposed to have been in love with her as a young girl. However, at the King's wedding, she was one of the bridesmaids. Her family was of the opinion that there would be no peace till Lady Sarah was married herself. With a great effort of will she refused James Hay, 15th Earl of Erroll, "not without tears at seeing so great a man for an hour upon his knees; it really would have been much easier to say yes and get him off the floor again. He was known as the mighty Ajax, was an earl and a great bigwig in Scotland, but somehow too old for his age and pompous with it."

She was still only seventeen when she married Thomas Charles Bunbury, the future 6th Baronet. "Mr. Bunbury is a fortunate man," Henry Fox considered. "Not rich enough, but 'tis a match of her own making, and happiness don't depend on riches. Her least qualification is her transcendant beauty." Thomas Charles Bunbury was a member of Dr. Johnson's famous literary club, a fashionable figure on the Turf and regarded to be a bit of a fop. However, he concentrated on his horses, in 1780, he won the first Derby with his horse Diomede but by then he had lost Sarah. In late 1767 she fell in love with Lord William Gordon and became pregnant; her husband aware of the situation, acknowledged the child when it was born in December 1768 but made a sworn deposition that he had not slept with Sarah since January 1768. Six weeks after the baby was born, Lord William Gordon resigned his army commission and they eloped. However, they were bombarded with letters from concerned relatives, pointing out their folly, their wickedness, their inadequate finances. Sarah became contrite and melancholy; William began to regret his regiment. Bunbury started expensive divorce proceedings, based on her "criminal connection" with Lord William Gordon. It took until 1776 before the divorce was finalised. However, Lord William Gordon started to pursue heiresses. Lady Sarah then was provided with a home and an income by her family. After some time she met her ex-husband and he considered to marry her again but, five years after the divorce, she became the second wife of the Hon. George Napier and they parented eight children, their three eldest sons becoming well-known generals."

Lady Sarah Bunbury, writing to George Selwyn, in 1767, says:--`If you are now at Paris with poor C. [evidently Carlisle], who I dare say is now swearing at the French people, give my compliments to him. I call him poor C. because I hope he is only miserable at having been such a _PIGEON_ to Colonel Scott. I never can pity him for losing at play, and I think of it as little as I can, because I cannot bear to be obliged to abate the least of the good opinion I have always had of him.'

Oddly enough the writer had no better account to give of her own husband; she says, in the letter:--`Sir Charles games from morning till night, but he has never yet lost 100 pounsin one day.]

This Lady Sarah Bunbury was the wife of Sir Charles Bunbury, after having had a chance of being Queen of England, as the wife of George III., who was passionately in love with her, and would have married her had it not been for the constitutional opposition of his privy council. This charming and beautiful woman died in 1826, at the age of 82. She was probably the last surviving great-granddaughter of Charles II.

The microfilm copy (MIC/238) is of 36 volumes containing mid-19th century copies of letters, 1759-1821, written to Lady Sarah Bunbury/Napier, née Lennox (1745-1826), daughter of the 2nd Duke of Richmond. Her principal correspondent is her sister, Lady Louisa Conolly, of Castletown, Co. Kildare, about Lady Sarah's numerous admirers in her youth, her fall from social grace in 1769 when she ran away from her first husband, Sir Charles Bunbury, 6th Bt, of Barton (whom she married in 1762 and who divorced her in 1776); the similar fall of their sister, Emily, Dowager Duchess of Leinster, who in 1774 married her children's tutor, William Ogilvie; and, generally, about social life and social events in exalted circles in both Great Britain and Ireland, with important incidental comment on the political events of the period, particularly on the constitutional settlement of 1782-1783. The correspondence tails off, in both quantity and interest, from c.1808, when Lady Sarah went almost completely blind.

There are three 'thematic' runs of correspondence, one about the efforts of Thomas Conolly, Lady Louisa's husband, to effect a reconciliation between the Earl-Bishop of Derry and his son, Frederick Hervey, later 5th Earl, and 1st Marquess, of Bristol, in the mid 1790s; the second concerning the efforts of members of the Leinster family to obtain a reprieve for Lord Edward Fitzgerald in 1798; and the third concerning Thomas Conolly's death in 1803 and the settlement of his affairs. Another group of letters of particular Northern Ireland interest are those of 1782 from Lady Louisa Conolly about the re-letting of the Limavady estate, Co. Londonderry, which her husband, Thomas Conolly, had inherited in the previous year.

The early 19th century correspondence relates mainly to Lady Sarah Bunbury's children by her second husband, Colonel the Hon. George Napier (whom she married in 1781 and who died in 1804), Comptroller of Army Accounts in Ireland, 1799-1804. One of their children, Emily Napier, married in 1830, as his second wife, General Sir Henry Bunbury, 7th Bt, nephew and successor of her mother's first husband, Sir Charles Bunbury, 6th Bt. This explains why these papers, in spite of Lady Sarah's divorce from Sir Charles in 1776, come to be in the Bunbury family archive. The copies were made in the 1860s by William Henry Bunbury (although they are in fact written in several hands).

Painting — Apr 12 1969. Good. $18. Ben Marshall painting of first English Derby owner Sir Charles Bunbury and trainer Mr. Cox cover; Free Handicaps for all horses with photos of top horses and races of 1968; owners and breeders and trainers of champions; Ben Marshall article with full page color prints of his work, 'Probabilities based on two parents' article, Max Hirsch dies article and pictorial; Pike defeats Reviewer in Gotham; Traffic Mark defeats King of the Castle in Arkansas Derby; Petrone wins San Juan Capistra no over Ft. Marcy; Ta Wee wins Prioress. Oversized issue.

Lord Bunbury's Horses

HIGHFLYER (GB) (b.c. 1774) x Herod (b.c. 1758 x Tartar) - Rachel x Blank - Regulus - Soreheels - Milbanke's Black Mare x Makeless - Darcy's Royal Mare x Blunderbuss - Grey Royal x Darcy's White Turk - Darcy's Yellow Turk - Sedbury Royal Mare. # 13. Bred by Sir Charles Bunbury and purchased by Lord Bolingbroke, he was named after the highflyer walnut trees in his paddock. He was then sold to Richard Tattersall who named his house Highflyer Hall in his honor. Undeafeated on the turf, he led the Sires List from 1785 to 1796, and in 1798. He died at Highflyer Hall in 1793.

HIGHLANDER Grey (gr.c. 1783) x Bourdeaux (gr.c. 1774 x Herod) - Tetotum x Matchem - Lady Bolingbroke x Squirrel - Cypron, Herod's dam x Blaze - Selima x Bethell's Arabian - Graham's Champion - Darley Arabian - Merlin. # 26. Bred by Mr. Douglas and imported into New York in 1794 by John Harriot. His dam Tetotum won the Oaks Stakes. Racing for Mr. Douglas at the Newmarket Craven Meeting of 1787, Highlander won a Sweepstakes of 100 guineas over the Ditch-in course, beating Mr. Vernon's Mufti, Lord Derby's Wren and Sir Charles Bunbury's Young Tityrus.

DIOMED (ch.c. 1777) x Florizel (b.c. 1768 x Herod) - sister to Juno x Spectator - Horatia x Blank. # 6-b. "Champions have been crowned on the Epsom Downs since 1780, when Sir Charles Bunbury's Diomed won the inaugural running of the Derby Stakes."

Call To The Derby Post: Horse Racing History, Part Three ...member named Sir Charles Bunbury and Lord Derby set the terms of...to say, Lord Derby won that coin toss, but it was Bunbury's horse...

Q: Why is Oaks Day called Oaks Day?
A: In 1779, Sir Charles Bunbury and the Earl of Derby created and named two horse races. The colts race took the Earl's name, hence Derby Day. And the fillies race was named after the Earl's ancestral home, "The Oaks".