The real-life Downton! Agony for Baron's eight daughters as his estate goes to a distant cousin they barely knowEarl of Balfour is first hereditary peer to make a formal appeal to government to change the law stopping daughters inheriting titles
Daily Mail Reporter
16:51 GMT, 20 January 2013
20:27 GMT, 20 January 2013
Caroline, Countess of Derby is one of Baron Braybrooke's daughters
In television's Downton Abbey a storyline revealed the Earl of Grantham's agony that none of his three children could inherit the title because they were girls.
Now the eight daughters of the real-life 10th Baron Braybrooke are facing the same dilemma when their father dies.
Under the law, they cannot take over the title nor the the family's estate and it will go to a distant cousin they barely know because peerages can only be passed to male heirs.
Richard Neville, 35, a fourth cousin once removed, will take over the Jacobean-style Audley End House, the 6,000-acre family seat near Saffron Walden in Essex.
Neville is a single businessman who is a shareholder in The
Handbook.com, an events and venue website. He has met the tenth Baron,
and some of his daughters, but declined to talk about the situation.
The baron's eldest daughter, Amanda Murray is currently managing the estate because her 80-year-old father is too frail.
She has reduced her involvement in her own interior design business to help out, but faces the anguish of leaving when the title, granted in 1788, passes to Mr Neville.
She said: ‘I’m one of eight daughters and in
these days of supposed equality why am I not allowed to inherit my
father’s title because I am not a boy’
But now there is hope for her and her sisters after the Earl of Balfour became the first hereditary peer to appeal to the government to change the law stopping daughters from inheriting titles.
The descendant of the Edwardian prime minister, who has four daughters and no sons, is understood to have the backing of other hereditary peers.
He has written to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude pleading a compromise proposal that would prevent titles being split from their family seats but falls short of total equality of the sexes.
Part of his letter is quoted in the Sunday Times. It says: 'In future, hereditary peerages need to… pass to a daughter if there is no son.
'Since this is a precedent which
causes few problems or arguments, it is hard to see why it cannot be
copied for all hereditaries with the minimum of legislative complication
and of opposition from interested parties.'
Balfour, the 5th Earl, believes the peerage laws could wreck some of the nation's greatest landed
estates and raise tourism issues if a peer was forced to move out of the ancestral home.
has the support of the 16th Earl of Westmorland, who reportedly warned
that if the government did not act the courts would intervene.
Real life dilemma: Baron Braybrooke (pictured centre with his wife, right, and one of his daughters, Amanda Murray second from left) will leave his estate to a distant cousin they barely know
A friend of the
Braybrookes, Lord Ronaldshay, 47, has four daughters and no sons and his 14-year-old nephew,
Milo, will inherit the title and estate instead of his eldest daughter,
who is also 14.
He said that he was worried about how to look after his daughters financially if the bulk of his estate went to his nephew.
He added that the nation's estates might suffer if daughters were given completely equal rights to inherit, however.
Stately home: The Jacobean-style Audley End House which is owned by the 10th Baron Braybrooke who has eight daughters
And, tourism would also be affected if a peer were forced to move out of the ancestral home.
He said: 'Blenheim equals the Duke of
Marlborough or Duchess of Marlborough in her own right. The two go
together — it was a gift from the nation.'
Ms Murray, 50, meanwhile told the paper that her father tried to get the title passed to her 20-year-old son – his first grandchild.
Powerless: In Downton Abbey, the Earl of Grantham's daughters (pictured) cannot inherit the estate because they are girls
Heir: The character of Matthew Crawley (pictured) was set to inherit Downton Abbey, even though he is a distant cousin