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Arthur Annesley, 1st Earl of Mountnorris

(b. 7 Aug 1744, Ireland – d. 4 Jul 1816, Ireland )

Gender: M

Arthur Annesley (1744-1816), 8th Viscount Valentia in the peerage of Ireland, married Lucy, daughter of George, 1st Lord Lyttelton. In 1765, on reaching the age of majority, he petitioned King George III for the right to take his seat in the House of Lords by virtue of the English titles held by his father; the king referred the issue to the Attorney-General, Sir William de Grey, who twice reported in the affirmative. However, the king then referred the matter to the House of Lords, who on 22nd April 1771 ruled by a narrow majority that the marriage of his parents was not valid, and the titles had become extinct on the death of his father in 1761; this was based on a suspicion of forgery in relation to the marriage certificate. Valentia subsequently applied to the Irish House of Lords, who after a 21-day hearing ruled that the marriage was indeed valid: this was based on the same documentary evidence and the same witness, Elizabeth Smalley, the wife of a shoemaker, who contradicted her previous statement that the handwriting on the marriage certificate was not authentic. The English ruling nevertheless continued to stand. By way of consolation, Valentia was created 1st Earl of Mountmorris in the peerage of Ireland on 3rd December 1793.