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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF
GEORGE GORDON BYRON was born in Holles Street, London, Jan. 22, 1788.
On his mother's side he was descended from James I. through his daughter Annabella, married to the second Earl of Huntley.
On his father's side he claimed to be of Norman blood. He wrote Count d'Orsay: My name and family are both Norman.” William the Conqueror had in his train two de Buruns: Sir Erneis and Sir Rodulphus or Ralph, who had grants of land in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Nottinghamshire.
Making allowance for gaps in the record, which is faulty for several hundred years and during several consecutive generations, it is not hard to believe Byron's assertion that his family were knightly from the time of the Corqueror, and noble from that of Charles the First. The name was common though not distinguished in English history. At Calais, at Cressy, and at Bosworth, Byrons fought, bled, and died. Definite ancestry begins with Sir John, familiarly known as “Sir John the Little with the Great Beard,” who at the dissolution of the monasteries received from Henry VIII. the church and priory of Newstead.
The poet had no great reason for pride in this ancestor. His only son, John Byron, was illegitimate, and received Newstead, not by inheritance, but by deed of gift. James I. made the new owner of the abbey a Knight of the Bath. The Earl of Shrewsbury advised him to cut down the enormous expenses of the establishment which his father had carried on by means of borrowed money.
It was probably this man's grandson who for his services at Newbury in 1643 was created Baron of Rochdale by Charles I. The first Lord Byron died without male issue. The Barony went to the eldest of his six brothers, who, having begotten ten children and repurchased“ part of the ancient inheritance," died at the age of seventythree. His oldest son, the third Lord, married a daughter of Viscount Chaworth and wrote execrable doggerel.
The fourth Lord was interested in the fine arts, and painted landscapes, several of which were reproduced in etchings. Of his sons, one, Richard Byron, took “holy orders,” and is known to art as having copied Rembrandt's “ Three Trees” so cleverly that it was bought as an original. John Byron, the poet's grandfather, became an admiral, and wrote a spirited but somewhat dubious account of his luckless adventures, while the eldest inherited the title, married Frances, second daughter of the fourth Baron Berkeley, and from his fierce murderous duel with his cousin Chaworth and his irregular life was known as the “wicked Lord.”
In order to spite his son who married for love against his will, the fifth Lord Byron, who has been described as
a morose husband, tyrannical father, hard landlord, and harsh master,”' made an illegal sale of his Rochdale prop