William Lygon, 8th Earl Beauchamp

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William Lygon, 8th Earl Beauchamp

Birthdate: (75)
Death: January 3, 1979 (75)
Malvern, England
Immediate Family:

Son of William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp and Lettice Mary Elizabeth Lygon, Countess Beauchamp
Husband of Else Schiwe, Countess Beauchamp
Brother of Lettice Cotterell; Mary Lygon; Dorothy Heber-Percy; Hugh Patrick Lygon; Richard Edward Lygon and 1 other

Managed by: Ric Dickinson
Last Updated:

About William Lygon, 8th Earl Beauchamp


William Lygon, 8th Earl Beauchamp (3 July 1903 – 3 January 1979) was a politician in the United Kingdom.

He was the eldest son of the controversial William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp, sometime leader of the Liberals in the House of Lords. Standing as a Liberal, he was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for East Norfolk at the 1929 general election. At the 1931 general election, when the Liberal Party split over participation in Ramsay MacDonald's National Government, he stood and was elected in the interest of the breakaway Liberal National grouping (known as National Liberal after 1948), which aligned itself with the National Government even after the official Liberals (called "Samuelites" after their leader Herbert Samuel) crossed the floor into opposition in 1932, and eventually (in 1968) merged with the Conservative Party. Lygon, known while an MP by his courtesy title, Viscount Elmley, retained his seat as a Liberal National in the 1935 general election. He succeeded to the peerage as the 8th Earl Beauchamp on his father's death in 1938. On his own death without male issue in 1979, his peerages became extinct. He is sometimes said to be the model for the character of Lord Brideshead ("Bridey"), eldest son of the Marquess of Marchmain, in Evelyn Waugh's novel 'Brideshead Revisited', presumably because his father is often cited as the model for "Bridey"'s father Lord Marchmain.


On 16 June 1936, Beauchamp married Else Schiwe (1895–1989), daughter of Viggo Schiwe (a Danish character actor of distinction) and former wife of Peter Christian Blicher Dornonville de la Cour (d.1924). By this marriage, Beauchamp had no issue of his own but did have a stepdaughter, Agnete Regitze Dornonville de la Cour (born 1916, died 2010).


At one time Lygon lived in the disused Winterton Lighthouse in Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk, a village in his parliamentary constituency; after succeeding his father as the 8th Earl Beauchamp in 1938, he and Countess Beauchamp made their home at Madresfield Court, Worcestershire, the ancestral seat of the Earls Beauchamp.

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William Lygon, 8th Earl Beauchamp's Timeline

July 3, 1903
January 3, 1979
Age 75