A Brief History

The Tortworth Estate has been the ancestral home of the Ducie family for some 350 years. The first mention of the family's residence at Tortworth was when the property was conveyed to Sir Robert Ducie, Bt., in 1620. He was an Alderman and Sheriff of London and eventually Lord Mayor in 1631, descended from the ancient family of Ducies of Staffordshire. His son, Richard, succeeded in 1637 and history tells us that his adherence to the Royal cause and the active part he took against Cromwell led to him being taken prisoner whilst serving as High Sheriff of Gloucestershire. Apparently, he got off with a fine of £846. 14s. 0d! In 1660 he died unmarried and the Estates passed to his brother William, who was made a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Charles II and created Viscount Down in the Kindom of Ireland. He also died childless and so the Manor passed to a relation, Matthew Ducie Moreton, descended from the family of Moretons, also of Staffordshire. This remains the family name until this date.

In 1720, Matthew was created Lord Ducie, Baron of Moreton. He left a son, also names Matthew, who become 1st Baron Ducie, and who in 1763 was created Baron Ducie of Tortworth. When he died in 1770, the Barony was passed to his nephew, Thomas Reynolds, who became 2nd Baron Ducie of Tortworth. He died in 1785 and the Estates and title passed to his brother, Francis Reynolds, who became 3rd Baron Ducie. His son, Thomas, 4th Baron Ducie, was also created Earl of Ducie in 1837. He married the daughter of the First Earl of Carnarvon and was in due course succeeded by his son, Henry George Francis in 1840. The 2nd Earl died in 1853 and was succeeded by his son, Henry John, who achieved much and lived to a great age. He was in his time Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Captain of the Yeoman of the Guard and Lord Warden of The Stannaries. He died in 1921.

Unfortunately, his son, Lord Moreton, had pre-deceased him and so the title passed to his brother, Berkeley Basil, who had been farming in Australia since 1855, but who had also held a number of Government posts there. He died in 1924 and was succeeded by his son, Capel Henry Berkeley, 5th Earl of Ducie. He also had been farming in Australia for many years, and during his earldom was resident partly at Tortworth and partly in Australia. He died in Australia in 1952 and as he had no issue, the title passed to his nephew, Basil Howard Moreton, the 6th Earl of Ducie. He, too, had been farming in Queensland but, upon inheriting the title and the Estate, returned to Tortworth and became actively engaged in its management. The 6th Earl died in 1991 and was succeeded by his son, David Moreton, the 7th Earl of Ducie, who farms actively on the Estate and is Chairman of the Estate Company, which is owned by the three brothers. His two younger brothers, the Hon Douglas Moreton and the Hon. Robert Moreton, who are both tenants on the Estate and the Hon. Robert Moreton is also Company Secretary.

Originally, the family owned other estates but, over the years, there has been a reduction in the Estate holdings. The Estate consists of approximately 4000 acres and the freeholds of a number of leasehold properties in Manchester. There are 15 farms on the Tortworth Estate, together with about 60 residential cottages in the villages of Tortworth, Cromhall, and Falfield. There are one or two unusual properties owned, such as Cromhall Village Hall and Tortworth School. The policy has been to maintain the Estate on traditional lines and this is achieved with a team of 14 employees consisting of administrative staff, building maintenance staff, in-hand farm staff and woodland staff.