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Cecil Talbot: An Extraordinary Woman

Cecil Talbot is one of the extraordinary women who feature within the story of St Nicholas.


Cecil Talbot was the daughter of Charles Mathew of Castell y Mynach, Glamorganshire.  Her mother was Cecil Jenkins the daughter of David Jenkins of Hensol.  

Importantly she was the great-granddaughter of David Jenkins (1582–1663) who had been a judge known as a staunch Royalist during the Civil War. He had been captured and sent to the Tower of London.  After the restoration of the monarchy under King Charles II, he was liberated in 1656.  This estate in 1652 had been valued at £1,500 per annum.  

Cecil was the heiress to the Jenkins and Matthews estates and she had just turned 16 in the summer of 1708 when she married the 23-year-old Eton and Oxford-educated Charles Talbot who was studying law.  

In the 12 years, they were married, Cecil and Charles had 5 sons.  

Two of the children had been born before Charles was called to the bar in 1711.   Their second son, William, was born in 1710 and would survive to become their heir.

It is probable that the Talbots had settled in Sutton as a convenient family home for Charles' work in the courts while their main family estates were in Glamorganshire.

In 1717 Charles was appointed solicitor general to the prince of Wales. In the March of 1720, Charles began his political career when he was elected to parliament for the Welsh constituency of Tregony.

But in the June of that same year, Cecil fell ill and died and chose to be buried in Sutton.  She was 28 years old.

The epitaph that Charles caused to be written praises her.

'She had a quick apprehension ready wit and solid judgement / Improved by usefull […] knowledge.
With a sweetness of temper scarce ever to be ruffled
How mild beneficent she was to her domesticks
How anxiously tender of her children and rationally instructive
How invariably zealous in her just concerne
for the honour & interests of her Country, 
of her Family, and of her Friends, 
How dear, how reciprocally affectionate & faithfull
to her (alas! now lonely) Spouse, 
All her acquaintance know, these lines are meant
to witness to posterity: 
After a short life, led under a constant and deep sence
Of the excellence of Virtue, She is gone to God in peace. 
Go Thou, and beg of him to give Thee grace, 
in what Thou may'st to imitate the bright example.'

Charles never remarried and threw himself into his career.

After Cecil's death, Charles gained the estates in Glamorganshire but the family also maintained a link to Sutton.

Charles career developed.  He became Solicitor General in 1726.  

Charles is remembered as one of the authors of the Yorke–Talbot slavery opinion, as a crown law officer in 1729. The opinion was sought to determinate the legality of slavery: Talbot and Philip Yorke opined that it was legal. 

"We are of opinion, that a slave coming from the West-Indies to Great-Britain or Ireland, with or without his master, doth not become free, and that his master's property or right in him is not thereby determined or varied; and that baptism doth not bestow freedom on him, or make any alteration in his temporal condition in these kingdoms. We are also of opinion, that his master may legally compel him to return again to the plantations."

In 1733 he was made lord chancellor and raised to the peerage with the title of Lord Talbot, Baron of Hensol, in the County of Glamorgan.


Cecil Talbot second son, William (1710–1782) who inherited his father title and the family estates in Glamorgan. 

He was Lord High Steward at King George III's coronation and became a member of the Privy Council in 1761. He served from then until his death as Lord Steward of the Household. He was created Earl Talbot on 29 March 1761.

He was buried with his mother in Sutton and his monument is in the church.