The Lytteltons had been established in Worcestershire for several centuries, when in 1564 Sir John, knighted at Kenilworth by Elizabeth I, bought the Hagley Estate. Through his maternal descent from John of Gaunt the family are entitled to quarter the Royal Arms with their own. Sir John's grandson died in the Tower in 1601 for his part in the Essex Rebellion and his widow Meriel was the first to make Hagley her principal home. Their son, Thomas, was created a baronet in 1618 and was responsible for raising the Royalist forces in Worcestershire; indeed his son Charles fled into exile with Charles II. Sir Charles's son, Thomas married Christian Temple of Stowe, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne, and through her the Cobham title finally came to the Lytteltons. Their son, George, 1st Baron Lyttelton, (before embarking on the building of his new house) was private secretary to Frederick, Prince of Wales, (eldest son of George II) and later became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1754.
Thomas, only son of George, was a fine scholar, orator and, before his father's death, Member of Parliament. Known to the family as Naughty Tom, he is reputed to have gambled Hagley against the picture of The Misers. He spent much of his time at Arley Castle at Upper Arley with his sister Lucy (Lady Valentia) but lived in Epsom where he died without issue in his late thirties. The title was recreated for his uncle, William Henry, Lord Westcote, who among his many appointments was Governor of Jamaica and South Carolina. His second son, William Henry, married Lady Sarah Spencer who, widowed young, rose to become governess to Queen Victoria's children. Her son, George, married Mary Glynne at the same ceremony in 1839 as her sister, Catherine, married William Gladstone.
Lord Lyttelton was partly responsible for the founding of the
Canterbury settlement in New Zealand. His family of fifteen children
(twelve by Mary Glynne and three by Sybella Clive) themselves became
famous as cricketers, statesmen, soldiers and bishops.