A Surfeit of Magnificence: The Trials & Tribulations of Sir Thomas Champneys of Orchardleigh (Paperback)

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Sir Thomas Swymmer Mostyn-Champneys was born in Frome, Somerset in 1769 the last in a line of aristocrats who claimed origins back to William of Normandy. A series of bad judgements resulted in Thomas being born into a third generation of bankruptcy and despite marrying a very rich widow he was never able to extricate himself from this. Regardless of an ever-decreasing amount of funds he spent lavishly on masquerade balls, pageants and building projects - but most of all on litigation.

He became involved in a serious legal dispute over the right to appoint the sexton of the local church, he won the case at great expense and published a long and a surreal poem ridiculing his opponents. A segment of this poem contains a description of some original manuscripts that he believed to have been written by William Shakespeare and describes a night Shakespeare spent in Frome where he was 'tricked by the natives.'

The book details numerous and often humorous court cases as well as his imprisonment for debt, extravagant building projects and his time as a popular magistrate At one point he was kidnapped from an inn at knifepoint by bailiffs and thrown into the debtor's prison spending many years imprisoned in London and Ilchester.

When not entertaining lavishly he spent much of his time in dispute with local worthies one of whom, a local solicitor, spread rumours about him engaging in homosexual relations which involved a court case for slander which Champneys won - and produced another book as a result.

In 1832 he stood in the local election which resulted in three days of rioting and the local militia firing on the crowd. He lost despite being popular with the working people who were not enfranchised.

His debts became so large that his mansion, at Orchardleigh was raided by bailiffs on many occasions and the contents sent off to auction until eventually the estate was purchased by a relative and he was allowed to stay there with his wife until his death in 1839.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781914407062
ISBN-10: 1914407067
Publisher: Hobnob Press
Publication Date: July 3rd, 2021
Pages: 188
Language: English