Matchmaking and moneymaking in a patronage society: the first duke and duchess of Chandos, c. 1712–35



The focus of this article is on the contribution of an early eighteenth-century aristocratic marriage partnership to the family economy, and particularly to the non-co-resident, extended family. Through a study of the first duke and duchess of Chandos, the active involvement of a husband and wife in furthering the marriages of close kin is highlighted. By outlining the strategy and tactics adopted and discussing their motivation, the article challenges the view that kinship had seriously declined in importance by the early eighteenth century. The Brydgeses did more than broker marriages for close female relatives; they groomed the young women, helped build up and manage their portions using new and modern forms of making money such as investing in the stock market, and found them husbands. The marriages of these young women were a form of patronage. Motivation for this involvement included familial affection and responsibility but extended to increasing and consolidating the duke's socio-political influence through the patronage system and to limiting the potential drain on his estate. The duchess had a vested interest in this: it raised her status within family, connection, and society. The young women concerned, and their parents, were not always grateful for this patronage.