The aristocrat on benefits

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Earl of Cadigan

The Earl of Cardigan's family could never have thought that one day the holder of that historic title would be living on Jobseekers' Allowance, and facing being thrown out of the family estate.

So what's happening, and how does this compare to the financial troubles of some notable British aristocrats?


The Daily Mail reported that the Earl is embroiled in a legal battle with the trustees of his estate - who he appointed four years ago when he went to live in the US.

A report in The Times claimed that not only had the trustees refused to allow him any money - which forced him to live on benefits. Now, they are selling his ancestral home, Tottenham House in Wiltshire.

The estate is 49% owned by the Earl, and 51% owned by his son, Thomas Viscount Savernake. The property is a 100 room house, which has been owned by the family for 1,000 years. The Earl has not lived in it for some time, as it has fallen into disrepair. Instead he lives on a run down cottage in the grounds,

The trustees are said to have found a buyer, but the sale could be held up by legal action.

We will have to wait to see how this develops in the courts. However, he is not the only aristocrat to have hit the headlines with money problems. Here are five of the most unexpected.

Aristocrats with money problems

1. King Edward II spent a small fortune in the 14th century on battles. He kicked off the Hundred Years' war against France, which put the whole country in debt.

2. The second Duke of Buckingham and Chandos managed to upset 19th century society twice. The first was time was when he obtained a divorce - although he had to arrange for an Act of Parliament in order to do so. The second was when he was declared bankrupt - owing £1 million - and had to sell the contents of his ancestral home at Stowe.

3. Viscount St Davids, meanwhile, despite being a polo playing friend of Jodie Kidd has been declared bankrupt twice, and had a £3.6 million West Sussex mansion repossessed in 2011.

4. Sir Charles and Lady Wolseley were forced to leave their ancestral home for a rented barn conversion in 2008. They had struggled for 12 years after the 11th baronet was made bankrupt with debts of £2.5 million. He inherited the house at the age of ten, and it had been in the family since 975 when it was said to have been given to them as a reward for clearing the area of wolves.

5. The Dukes of Manchester have not been masters of their finances either. The 8th was declared bankrupt, as was the 9th. The 12th was convicted of fraud in 1996, and the current Duke (the 13th) has been found guilty of a number of things including bigamy and cheque fraud.

The famous faces of bankruptcy

The famous faces of bankruptcy