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The ducal arms.
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Immediate members of the ducal Family of Taunton in the Village Tales series. The main character sheet is here.

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The Family

    Charles, Duke of Taunton 

Charles, 11th Duke of Taunton ("Tempers" at school, for his courtesy title of Lord Templecombe in his father's lifetime; there's a reason it stuck). Local landed proprietor and source of much of the action in the series; patriarch of The Clan:

That Most High, Noble, and Potent Prince, the Right Honourable His Grace Charles Arthur Donald Ivor Waldemar Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet KG GCB GCVO KBE MiD TD PC JP DL, Duke of Taunton, Marquess of Templecombe, Earl Fitzwarren, Earl of Dilton, Viscount Malet, Baron Daubeny, Baron Chard, Baron Beechbourne, Baron Marden and Widham; Hereditary Keeper & Constable of S Aldhelm's Castle; Hereditary Ranger of Yarncombe Forest.
Education: Hawtreys (prep.); Eton; Christ Church (Oxon) (Blue, cricket) MA (Oxon). FRHistS; Fellow of All Souls. Late Major, the Intelligence Corps. Publications: Archbishop Laud and Honour (Duff Cooper Prize); Rose and Laurel; Sir John, God Save You: a life of Betjeman; Beating the Bounds: the Wiltshire and Dorset Clubmen in 1645 (Wolfson Prize); Steam in Sacrifice: Operation Herrick; forthcoming: Heart of Wessex: a cardiology patient's personal memoir; &c.
Black's

Described – by HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – as possessing a "refreshing lack of diplomacy."

Descended of William Malet, Companion of William the Conqueror at Hastings, and of James II's bastard, the 1st Earl of Fitzwarren of the current creation, afterward 1st Duke of Taunton. And knows it.

"Extraordinary, the number of people who know I've won the Wolfson Prize and the Duff Cooper, and are taken in for all that by the light comedy pose I affect. A reputation for eccentricity – you're aware, naturally, that that is the term reserved to the rich, the eminent, and the titled: poor people are simply mad, or sectionable – has its uses. You can, for one thing, say what you feel."

  • Badass Baritone: When speaking in a high head voice. Shakes the foundations as the Basso Profundo at the Village Concert.
  • Badass Boast: He gets plenty. The thing is, he's not speaking boastfully, and it's not a boast, just the truth.
    Giving his nephews The Talk (!) some years back: "… don't boast, take responsibility should you acquire it – and if you ever assault a partner, in any sense of the term "assault", pray that the coppers find you before I do, because there are some things I'd quite happily be gaoled for, and some murders I'd happily commit. Assumin', of course, I were caught, which, havin' a view towards m' training, is not really terribly likely."
  • Badass Mustache / Big Ol' Eyebrows: He's a bristly character, and his face betrays him. His eyebrows are described as entering a room before the rest of him charges in.
  • Benevolent Boss: To a considerable staff of OldRetainers.
  • Berserk Button: "Wet" Tories, bullies, the EU, trendy churchmanship … he has a panel of 'em.
  • Blue Blood: Well, obviously; and one of many in the series.
  • Brutal Honesty: A ducal trademark, to equals and superiors. (He's always Nice to the Waiter.)
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: In spades. Because it makes him happy. And staves off Rich Boredom.
  • Cool Uncle: To Rupert, James, and Hetty.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The duke is unabashedly an Oxbridge, Gentleman Snarker. Of course he's the Snark Knight.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: He gets bored easily, and accomplishes too much too quickly. His nephew James thinks it a pity there's no Empire these days, as (and Sher Mirza has to agree, reluctantly) being Viceroy of India might have kept the Duke almost fully occupied. This is why he doesn't wait on the call, but rings adventure up. Regularly.
  • Determinator: Has Strong Principles and an inability to give up. As he points out, he's been threatened by actual foreign governments and international terrorists, he's not about to yield on a planning application in an election year, no matter what pressures are put on him.
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: There is some question In-Universe whether His Grace is aware that there are pleasantries.
  • The Dreaded / Horrifying the Horror: Various In-Universe politicians, governments, foreign intelligence agencies, and terrorists go in dread of him. As do rival village cricket XIs.
  • Famed In-Story: To a select audience, and, to a lesser extent, to Fleet Street (he's good copy). But all the really good stories circulate only in Whitehall and the Special Forces Club.
  • Fiction 500: Averted. He's not yet quite as rich as the Grosvenors (dukes of Westminster). Not. Yet. He's working on it, though: for the sake of his heir.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: In his own insufferable fashion, he's a good man. He is also one of the few intellectuals in the peerage – as, In-Universe, noted and lampshaded by Tony Blair back when that PM was booting the hereditary peers out of the House of Lords.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Those not playing with a straight bat can expect the Duke, almost certainly joined by his old mucker the Nawab, to beat them silly with a cricket bat, a stump, and a copy of the Spirit and Laws of Cricket. And twenty bound volumes of Wisden. Usually metaphorically. Usually.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Of the Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe variety. Until his heart attack and triple bypass, whereupon his doctors impressed upon him that all smoking is Eeeeevil. (So he switched to 18th Century-style nasal snuff. He's a little pig-headed.)
  • Guile Hero: He'll stick at very little to accomplish good ends … by indirection and politicking. The Rector is concerned he's getting all a bit Magnificent Bastard. The Duke demurs:
    The Duke to the Rector, noting that he is sworn of the Privy Council and holds Her Majesty's Commission: "In keeping with that oath, providing close OPINT support to HM Forces' Combat Arms in the dangerous places of the world, I have done and lawfully done things you should disapprove and can scarce imagine. And I'd do every one of them again. […] Because I have my sworn duty. And […] I'll stick at nothing not explicitly illegal to do my duty."
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Viney and the Duke. The Duke and Sir Thomas Douty. And – having been at Eton together, and up at Oxford together, and captain and vice-captain, respectively, of the Eton, OUCC Authentics, and OUCC Blues 1st XIs in their day – the Duke and the Nawab. The Duke being the Duke, and everyone he knows being fairly witty and often deadpan s(n)arky, these relationships are also instances of Vitriolic Best Buds. Like an Old Married Couple, in the case of the Duke and the Nawab.
  • Hidden Depths: One might expect a duke to be a Gentleman and a Scholar, although not perhaps an intellectual. And a Blue Blood is commonly an Officer and a Gentleman. Finding one with odd enthusiasms for steam railways, the distinctly working-class Northern Soul and music hall, and some other ducal enthusiasms, is, however, startling.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: "Chips of blue agate" has been mentioned. Best not to anger him.
  • I Have Many Names: Well, the titles themselves are well into Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card! territory, though that's Truth in Television for the Honours System. But, as he remarks to Teddy Gates, people do acquire various bye-names over the years, some specific to one or another circle or group: at school, in sport, and so on. He has a good few, many of them actually printable.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Until his father inherited the dukedom and a hell of a lot of dosh.
  • Insufferable Genius: Partly subverted in that the Duke honestly doesn't realize why everyone else is acting so thick and pretending they can't keep up.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Has a heart attack in Evensong; by The Day Thou Gavest is writing a cardiology patient's personal memoir. Never let a crisis go to waste.
  • Love Hurts: He grew up an Impoverished Patrician ignored by debs. And is very cynical now about the interest they suddenly took in him once he had a courtesy title, a large current account at Coutts, and a dukedom to inherit. Has had Commitment Issues, and has worn Jade-Colored Glasses, ever since.
  • Meaningful Name: Well, meaningful title. As the Nawab points out to Sher and Noel, the first Duke was born during the Interregnum / Commonwealth, was created Earl Fitzwarren at the Restoration by his uncle Charles, and was advanced to a dukedom when James II succeeded to the Throne in 1685. He was promoted to the dukedom, pointedly, during the coup attempt of his bastard cousin the Duke of Monmouth, son of Charles II, who, claiming to be secretly legitimate and a sound Protestant, had himself proclaimed king by his followers. ... At Taunton.
  • Military Brat: He and his brother Lord Crispin both, the tenth duke having been a serving brigadier at the time of their births, before succeeding to the title. It shows.
  • The Napoleon: The Duke is vertically challenged, being described as precisely the height of Old Father Time on the weathervane at Lord's. Then again, he's not so much small, as he's concentrated. And his In-Universe Nickname is "Tempers." You might say … he's short with everyone.
  • Nephewism: Subverted. Rupert, James, and Hetty are at the Dower House with their mother, and the Duke is careful that none of them, himself included, oversteps the boundaries.
  • No Badass to His Valet / No Hero to His Valet: Averted: the Duke and Viney respect one another completely.
  • Non-Idle Rich: And a good thing, too. His demonic energy is exasperating, but the villages fear all the more his getting bored and finding something to meddle with.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Subverted. Technically, he's both; but he's a duke, and consequently insufferable at times: being a kindly gentleman is for the upper-middle classes, damn it all. There's a reason why the Duke of Edinburgh described him as having "a refreshing lack of diplomacy."
  • Older Than He Looks: It's a family trait, and, on a Truth in Television basis, what tends to happen to rich people.
  • Omniglot: The Duke (never mind his being educated to be – whether or it not it took – a Gentleman and a Scholar; there's a reason he was in Int Corps, and that reason is his being a Cunning Linguist to Omniglot levels).
  • Parental Substitute: To his brother's children.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Recreated the Victorian-era Woolfonts & Chickmarsh Railway (all steam – Steam Never Dies – and Cool Trains); and the Duke, at Wolfdown House, has added a scale model of it alongside his long-standing scale model of Brunel's Great Western. His Grace is a happy anorak, ta ever so.
  • Retired Badass: The Duke was an Int Corps officer in Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan, who "preferred doing close opint support to faffing about with maps at Brigade": and was decorated for it. He's not particularly retired, either, as when in Evensong he takes on Whitehall and wins.
  • Secret Keeper: As a Privy Counsellor; and as of Evensong as having inherited his brother's unexpurgated memoirs, which are full of scandal.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: In his case, at least.
  • Shout-Out: Ducally lampshaded. His Grace is forever complaining that "nobody reads [Classic Author X] nowadays, what in buggery is the country coming to?"….
  • Simple, yet Opulent: The Duke – having started (the title was in abeyance and the land and cash in trust until his father, The Brigadier, was middle-aged) as an Impoverished Patrician who could only dream of being Land Poor – is this in his personal style. When it comes to handing out dosh to others, though, he's very much the Eccentric Millionaire.
    • Although he dislikes headed writing-paper and thinks having his crest and coronet (very small) on the doors of his CoolCars is pushing it, he is a duke, and not only his BigFancyHouses, but the whole countryside, still bear the old-fashioned Sigil Spam of the days when the local proprietor's heraldry was on every milestone, bridge, signpost, and pub sign within his demesne.
  • Smart People Know Latin: And in the Duke's case, tend to drop it into casual conversation, not infrequently making bi- and trilingual puns with it. (And then wondering why no one gets them.)
  • Stealth Pun: The Duke is a master. For one, knowing that Sher has a cat named Eric, he manages to give him a Clumber puppy named Ernestine….
  • Too Clever by Half: Subverted … so far. He's always managed to pull it off. Just.
    • Although.... He managed to get the Woolfonts preserved in amber by playing schedules and designations and Ancient Monuments cards, and it now gets in his way; he got the Rector he wanted … who's not afraid to treat him like any other erring parishioner; he's made Rupert the perfect heir to him and Lord Mallerstang both, and recovered Mallerstang for him … and Rupert's heart is in Mallerstang, not the Woolfonts.... But he hasn't yet actually lost.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: His personal method of getting his way, particularly when his object is to do good for the villages, the country, or the Family estates. The Nawab calls him on it. Rather admiringly than otherwise.

    Lady Crispin 

Lady Crispin Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet ("Connie;" "Consternation;" "The Mums"):

Lady Crispin Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet, née the Hon. Constance Ivy Diana de Clifforde. Daughter & only child of Baron Mallerstang and Swarthfell (Rodger Alban Percival Thomas de Clifforde) & his baroness Pamela Mary Penelope (née Portingale-Vypont), daughter of the Earl of Wigan. Married (Widow of, as of halfway through Evensong) Lord Crispin Leonard George Valentine Gilbert Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet, second son of the 10th Duke ofTaunton and brother to Charles, 11th Duke of Taunton. Mother of Rupert Charles Edward Donald; James Denzil Valentine Gilbert; Henrietta Maria Flora Anne.
Black's

Redheaded, temperamental, much-tried, and Utterly Humorless.

"I don't at all object to anyone's doing their hobby professionally so long as they do it because it is their hobby. I object strenuously to anything which might tend to require that they do it because they want the money. I've been poor; so for that matter has Charles, in his way. But Charles had only to wait for the abeyance to be resolved in his father's favour, and all the accumulated treasures in trust to be dispensed; I had to marry his brother. Oh, yes, he was dazzling, and my head was turned – the little fool that I was – but the fact remains that I should have had in any case to marry someone like Crispin to escape imminent actual, not merely aristocratic, poverty. Someone of our sort who, professionally or not, with or without remuneration, follows his hobby, is one thing. If he follows it to the neglect of his proper duties to his family, so that the next generation must follow their hobbies solely for pay, or, worse, work in uncongenial surroundings out of economic necessity, he wants to be shot."

  • Awful Wedded Life: Her marriage to Lord Crispin has not been a barrel of laughs. To put it mildly.
  • Berserk Button: Her husband, mostly.
  • British Stuffiness: Her brother-in-law the Duke is too aristocratically grand for this; she is not.
  • Death Glare: Mistress of the "look of operatic betrayal which had not been out of place at La Scala."
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: She's now a widow. Two of her three children are up at uni and the third is not that far behind. She's bored stiff being substitute chatelaine at Wolfdown and living in the Dower House. She's very much looking, and is dreading a life of Rich Boredom.
  • Determined Widow: As of the midpoint of Evensong – and she makes no bones about its being a relief.
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: She's always happy to do so. She married into a Frightfully Plain-Speaking Family and fits right in.
  • Fiery Redhead: Beneath miles of glacial ice. The Duke has compared her to an Icelandic volcano. An active one, coming out of dormancy.
  • Grande Dame: Is finally, to her satisfaction, old enough to be one.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Grew up as one, as per her quote above.
  • Iron Lady: Case-hardened, in reaction to old slights. (Love Hurts.)
  • Mama Bear: One reason she has never forgiven Crispin for having done a bunk.
  • My Beloved Smother: Averted. Forcibly. By her children, who will not play that game.
  • No Badass to His Valet / No Hero to His Valet: She is on terms of transparent honesty with her lady's-maid, who is a Great Comfort to Her and before whom she can let the not-quite-queenly mask slip.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Diligent in doing good works and playing Lady Bountiful. Sometimes overbearingly. Also breeds and raises dogs, quite successfully.
  • No Sense of Humor: And proud of it. On the other hand, she's been through a lot: a rotter of a husband, a wit and Insufferable Genius for a brother-in-law, and three children who take after their uncle in too many ways.
  • Proper Lady: Aging into Grande Dame.
  • Shipper on Deck: Has Decided Views on her children's marital prospects. And is so tired of acting as substitute chatelaine at Wolfdown that she is practically begging Professor the Baroness Lacy to marry the Duke.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: When absolutely necessary and if there is no other alternative, she will work with her brother-in-law on matters of Family and community interest.
  • Unwanted Spouse: To Crispin, and very much vice versa.

    Lord Crispin, the Duke's brother 

Lord Crispin Leonard George Valentine Gilbert Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet ("Spin"), Master of Dilton:

Education: Hawtreys (prep.); Eton; Christ Church (Oxon) (Blue, cricket) MA (Oxon). Recreations: Cricket. Address: Generally abroad.
Black's

Black Sheep younger brother of and heir presumptive to Charles, Duke of Taunton. Estranged from his wife and children and something of a Remittance Man until he returns at the midpoint of Evensong to die at home.

"I left my wife and children. I sponged off the family estates. I did more women than I can count, a few rent-boys when I chose, and – not coincidentally – more drugs and alk than I can actually credit. Better an absent father – and it was the children I most cared about, not Connie – with Charles supplying my deficiencies, than me, as a father, hanging about and splashing them with my muck. … I was a scholar, once."

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    Rupert, Master of Dilton since Crispin's death 

Rupert Charles Edward Donald Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet ("Rupe"), Master of Dilton:

Rupert Charles Edward Donald Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet, as of halfway through Evensong, heir presumptive to the dukedom of Taunton (and thus, in the Scots peerage, Master of Dilton); and, through his mother Lady Crispin, heir presumptive to the barony of Mallerstang and Swarthfell; educated Eton; reading Maths and Philosophy (and playing cricket) as a pupil of Christ Church, Oxon.

Cool, handsome, intelligent, idealistic, humble, and A Friend to All … unless he's at the crease. Looks like a rower; is a cricketer.

"Philosophy answers the question, Is it right and just to destroy so deliberately ugly a building note ; Maths, with a bit of help from Engineering and Chemistry, quite usefully tells one how to do so."

  • Big Brother Instinct: In spades, and particularly as to his sister. He commonly feels Jamie to be competent to stand on his own as an equal.
  • Big Brother Mentor: To James, a trifle, in telling him what to expect as a fresher; and to Hetty as a matter of course.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: In support of Jamie, who takes the lead, in having a frank deathbed discussion with Lord Crispin, and solo in calling out Lady Crispin for obtrusive sulks at Crispin's funeral.
    Rupert, icily: "You have every right and every reason to have had, and to have now, your evident – your painfully evident – opinion of your late husband. He was, however, my father, and Jamie's, and Hetty's; and, of course, brother to Uncle Charles. You shall not traduce that with this self-indulgence any longer, or any longer and further shame your children and embarrass Uncle or the Family by your evident disdain and your evident sulks. Is that understood?"
    Lady Crispin, outraged: "I am your mother –"
    Rupert: "Then act it – and act your age."
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: A substantial part of one, though maturing into the Hunk now.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It's a family trait.
  • The Dutiful Son: There are no undutiful siblings; but he's this in contrast to his Disappeared Dad.
  • Heteronormative Crusader / Moral Guardian: Averted, although for about ninety seconds, Sher Mirza mistakenly thinks he might be. Rupert consciously refuses to pass judgement on orientations. What he expects, after living with the fallout from Crispin, is that people who undertake obligations fulfill them. See My Sister Is Off-Limits!.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Tends to be the way Rupert approaches life, along with being The Philosopher.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: A mild case. Puppy-love with Mark Grampound is one thing; but Jamie's contemporary, the Ambiguously Bi Carruthers Minor, is "to stay away from Hetty, then, we don't want another situation such as Father's."
  • Promotion to Parent: In lieu of Crispin, Lady Crispin notwithstanding, and especially on estate and Family matters, as he is the next heir after Crispin to the dukedom.
  • The Reliable One: Averted only insofar as all three of the siblings are pretty well-adjusted. Is reliable and dutiful, all the same, and it shows in stark contrast to his father Lord Crispin.
  • Shared Family Quirks: They were raised by the only intellectual duke in the UK. It shows, and is lampshaded (they can code-switch readily, but among themselves speak like young dons; they have a gift for being elsewhere when something stupid is starting; Rupert has strategy but no real sense of how rotten people can be, while James has the cynicism of an elderly historian; and so on).
  • Sibling Team: With Jamie, particularly at Eton and then up at Oxford. Formidable when sharing family tendencies:
    Rupert had strategy but no real comprehension of how people interacted upon lower planes, whilst James understood human motives all too well and all too cynically, yet had (for all his cynicism) no gift for grand strategy. (Rupert played excellent chess. James played positively murderous poker.) […] Were anyone so foolish as to conclude, in consequence, that neither Rupe nor Jamie wanted to be watched warily by anyone ill-disposed towards their uncle and his aims, they were on a hiding to nothing, all the same: for any such fool had clean forgot the most important consideration, which was that the brothers Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet were hunting in couple, and, they between them supplying one another's deficiencies, comprised a deadly formidable force.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: To his father and grandfather, but only after Crispin's face settles into the lines of death. And he does have a certain Stuart air to him. Justified in that the family keep intermarrying with a subset of other peers and gentry families.
  • The Un-Favourite: He and James both are, in that Lady Crispin is dubious of all three of her children (as too like their father's family and especially too like the Duke), but Hetty is at least a ''girl'' – and the youngest. It doesn't appear to faze Rupert or James.

    James Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet 

James Denzil Valentine Gilbert Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet ("Jamie"):

Second son of Lord and Lady Crispin. Another Old Etonian; now up at Oriel reading History. Fair and flaxen but no "flannelled fool at the wicket"; the one who looks like a cricketer, but is a rower. Inherited his uncle's historian's cynicism. He and his brother have been described, by the head of Jamie's own college, as the perfect Oxford undergraduates … of 1913.

"The thing is, we – the Family, I mean, currently headed by poor old Uncle – don't own all this; it damned well owns us."


    Hetty Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet 

Henrietta Maria Flora Anne Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet ("Hetty"):

Daughter and youngest child of Lord and Lady Crispin, and Only Niece (cue indulgence) of Charles, Duke of Taunton. Still at school (Cheltenham Ladies'). Superficially, appears interested only in boys, BoyBands, and horses. Including towards the end of Evensong, Epona, and horse-cults, and archaeology.

"Of course [Professor Farnaby the archaeologist] doesn't [mind answering my questions]: he's a scholar, he lives to impart knowledge."


  • All Girls Like Ponies: Well, she does. Being the Duke's niece, she doesn't get toys related to horseflesh as gifts. She gets shares in National Hunt runners, and free range at the local racing stud.
    • Which is crafty of the Duke, and still more of Professor the Baroness Lacy, who, dangling horse-cults and Epona and chalk horses before her, are making an archaeologist of her.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Very much the youngest … and knows it, and to an extent trades on it.
  • Everyone's Baby Sister: And remarkably unspoiled all the same.
  • Fangirl: She keeps a weather eye on the In-Universe Woolfonts fandom, is a rabid (and Ziam-shipping) Directioner, sees the local Village Concert party (Fr Paddick, Sher Mirza, The Breener, Edmond, and Teddy, with a ducal basso added) as avatars of her said favorite Boy Band with a decade or so added, and (to her mother's horror) writes Fanfic. (The duke, like Hetty's English mistress at school, is simply happy she reads and writes, full stop.)
  • Hidden Depths: Likes to be seen as interested only in boys, BoyBands, and horses. In fact, is mildly interested in literature and increasingly drawn to archaeology. (Mere history bores her: lampshaded by her uncle's reflection that growing up among heritage and treasures makes them commonplace. "Sometimes, a Vermeer [...] may spark the nascent artist or art historian. When they are effectively one's nursery wallpaper, however, they haven't that bolt from the blue effect very often.")
  • I Have Brothers: She may like BoyBands and ponies, but she's not averse to mucking-out and yomping the countryside; and in fact finds her some of the intellectual interests held by her brothers a bit … etiolated. It's also a Big Event when she agrees to go into the kitchens with Cook to learn something domestic.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: It's doubtful she's been called "Henrietta Maria" rather than "Hetty" more than half a dozen times since she was carried away from the font.
  • Preppy Name: Subverted and lampshaded. It's (obviously) a nod to the Stuart descent, and, as mentioned of all three siblings by Poppy van Meteren and India Charlton, Sloaney names are the province of their own upper-middle and lower-upper classes: "the real, old crusted tawny aristos don't hand out 'Poppy' or 'India' at the font, it's all 'Emma' or 'Viola' or 'Violet' or 'Margaret' even now."
  • Puppy Love: With Mark, Lord Grampound, heir to Lord Treskilling.
  • Shipper on Deck: She doesn't merely ship, she supports and lobbies for, a marriage between her ducal uncle and Lady Lacy; as a Fangirl, she has her In-Universe ships; and, accepting that Sher Mirza and Noel Paddick are an Anchored Ship, she writes In-Universe, Roman à Clef Fanfic in which their Captains Ersatz are free to weigh anchor and sail into the sunset and have a bang. (Her uncle, when this is called to his attention, suggests it's a bit discourteous, and, if she must do it, to get the historical setting right.)

    The Tenth Duke 

The late Brigadier the 10th Duke of Taunton, James Rupert Gilbert Henry Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet:

Father to Charles and Lord Crispin.

"Lord Crispin's father, a much-travelled brigadier regularly called upon to liaise with or serve as military attaché to the UK's NATO allies, was not a lenient man, although he was not intolerant of minor follies....''
From a really nasty obit for Crispin


  • The Brigadier: Every last bit of one.
  • Cultured Warrior: By all accounts; and he married a bluestocking.
  • Grow Old with Me: He and his Duchess were clearly a case, sometimes to the near exclusion of their sons. Although, if Her Grace was determined to go abroad to all of His Grace's foreign postings, and with money tight, leaving the boys with relations when home from school did make sense. Especially if the posting involved nearby shooting wars.
    • Sadly, or perhaps mercifully, she predeceased him; and he never knew, owing to Alzheimer's.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Nothing but his Army pay and a small allowance from the Family trusts until the abeyance was called out in his favor.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Charles inherited a good deal of his character from his father.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Inevitably. Though he had no patience for lead-swinging sorts, even if they had served in HM Forces (e.g., Snook the sexton).
  • The Patriarch: Particularly after succeeding to the dukedom, which put him at the head of The Clan.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: In war and peace, for his men, his tenants, and his sons.
  • Retired Badass: After leaving the Army and before waxing senile. His meteoric promotions in Korea clearly say, badass.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: Suffered from Alzheimer's disease in his last years. As Charles was serving in the field, Crispin was dragged back to manage things. Untying the resulting cock-ups is a well-lampshaded plot point throughout the series, driving plenty of plots.

    The Tenth Duke's Duchess, Frances 

The late Duchess of Taunton, Frances Margaret Anne Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet, née Daubeny:

Mother to Charles and Lord Crispin. Part of a West of England and Cotswolds branch of the Daubenys, primarily ecclesiastical and academic, her near relations included a Bishop of Omagh (Church of Ireland) and the Dean of Clent.

"... a woman of taste who had taken one look at the 1960s and '70s and recoiled in horror. (That her elder son's godfather had been Sir John Betjeman, and one of her own friends, Alec Clifton-Taylor, had been no accident at all.) [She'd] regarded ... the books in a room, and a few canvases, as the only important furnishings, and was willing to put up with anything so long as there were tea trays, biscuit tins, and plenty to read....''


  • Apron Matron: Of the upper-class variety, as Crispin and Charles will attest.
  • Brainy Brunette: A cultivated and formidably intelligent lady, and remembered as damned attractive.
  • Cool Old Lady: In her later years, if the Wolfdown House servants can be trusted.
  • Proper Lady: Also fondly recalled as such by the Staff, particularly Mrs V.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: She always went to foreign postings with her husband, regardless of danger; and at home, her Death Glare remains well-remembered by both her sons (although Crispin refuses to believe Charles was ever on the receiving end of one).
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