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The De La Warr Link


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The De La Warr family is of very distinguished lineage and their family tree can be traced back to Alfred the Great. Annie West seemed convinced of a link between her West family and the De La Warr's and spent a considerable amount of time trying to prove the connection. In recognition of Annie's efforts I present here what evidence seems to exist.

Historical Background
The history of the De La Warr and the West families is less than straightforward. The earliest La Warr recorded is John La Warr who was granted a lordship during the reign of King John (1199 - 1216). He was succeeded by various La Warr's, including another John La Warr who fought with the Black Prince at the Battle of Crecy.

Sir Thomas West is the earliest recorded of the West line and also fought at Crecy. He was knighted in 1326 and married the daughter of Sir John de Cantelupe. His son, another Sir Thomas, married the heiress of Thomas, 5th Baron De La Warr and at this point the families merged into one - the West family taking the title Baron De La Warr. The eldest son assumed the title and the remaining children had the surname of West. The West arms were quartered with those of the De La Warr family.

The title fell into abeyance in 1554 but was resurrected in 1572 when William West became the 1st Baron De La Warr. In 1761 the then current baron, John West, was created an earl .

In 1813, George John West, who was son of the 4th Earl De La Warr, married Lady Elizabeth Sackville, heiress of the Duke of Dorset, and in 1843 was given royal licence to use the surname Sackville-West. The Earl De La Warr title and the Sackville-West name are still in use today.

The present Earl De La Warr's coat of arms reflects the West, De La Warr, Cantalupe and Sackville families and has the motto 'Jour De Ma Vie' which is a reference to Sir Roger De La Warr's achievement in taking the King of France prisoner at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356.

The 'Evidence'

What's in a name?

From about 1855 certain members of my West family started using the name Sackville as a forename. Charles Edward West named the son from his second marriage Auguste Benjamin Sackville. Arthur Robert West called his youngest son Arthur Charles Sackville. This was followed by his cousin, Henry James West, who was Annie West's father, naming his 2 youngest children Charlotte Mary Eugenie Sackville and Arthur Sackville. From 1884 onwards, Frederick West named his 4 sons Lionel Sackville, Frederic Sackville, John Preston Sackville and Mortimer Sackville. Not to be outdone, in 1905 Eugenie Thompson, a great grand-daughter of Charles Augustus West, named her twins Audrie De La Warr and Gwendolyn De La Warr. Audrie maintained the 'tradition' with her daughter.

Meanwhile, over in America, Arthur Sackville West's son, Arthur Jack (born 1891), simply slipped a hyphen in his name and suddenly became Arthur Jack Sackville-West. This double-barrelled name is still in use by his descendants today.

Family Silver

The West coat of arms was also used on family silver and writing paper. A letter from Henry James West to one of his children in 1895 says:

''I will speak to Hubert when I see him as to him making a deed dividing the silver among you four in the event of his death without children, letting it ultimately go to those having children so as to keep it in the family. The articles are crested with the

West crest and motto - griffin's head in coronet and 'Jour De Ma Vie'

Pitcairn crest and motto - rising sun and 'Plena Refulget'

Dalbiac crest and motto - dove with olive branch and 'Pax Et Armor'

The West silver is very old and so is the Dalbiac. The Pitcairn was partly presentation plate to your great grandfather Sir James Pitcairn.'

Lady Maitland's letter to Sampson Perry - 29th October 1788

The background to this letter is that in 1788 Sampson Perry was very angry with his daughter Charlotte for eloping to Gretna Green with Charles Augustus West and refused to see the couple on their return. Charlotte took Charles to visit Lady Maitland, a family friend with whom she exchanged many letters, and asked her to act as an intermediary with her father in order to bring about a reconciliation. Lady Maitland later wrote to Sampson Perry about the meeting. The 2nd page of the letter begins:

'While Vesta (Lady M's daughter) held Mr W. in conversation, Mrs W. and myself had as much private talk as we could snatch. I was glad to find he was a gentleman allied to one of the greatest & oldest family's in England the Delawarr's - I imagin'd it from the seal on her letter, and search'd the Book of Heraldry. The crest answer'd & the arms I afterwards found the same as on the seal of a very polite letter rec'd from him in her illness. Yet on my asking him to the former of these , he said he was distant in relationship, his father & Ld De La Warr cousins, but that they did not quarter arms - she s'd he was Page Of Honour to the King, consequently will have a commission in the Guards.'

See a scanned image of this section of the actual letter

Charles Augustus West's Appointment

In 1782 Charles Augustus West was appointed Page of Honour to George III. According to the book, Sketches of the Royal Household, this appointment was 'anxiously sort after by the members of the aristocracy, for their sons'. It would appear unlikely that Charles Augustus would have obtained the position without aristocratic connections.

The Statement by Charlotte Saunders West

Charlotte Saunders West (1796 - 1886) was the daughter of Charles Augustus West. She wrote in one of her books 'Captain James West (her grandfather) was the youngest son of John West of Thame , Oxfordshire and grandson of John West, who married twice, first a sister of his cousin Lord De La Warr , second a daughter of Sir James Lambert Bt. who had issue.'

Unfortunately I can find no evidence that these marriages took place.


There is certainly plenty of circumstantial evidence to suggest that a link exists between my West family and the De La Warr family and, in turn, the Sackville-West's. It is possible that Annie West never found the necessary genealogical records because of illegitamacy. But without these records and the name of the missing link, the case must remain 'unproven'.