v 6.30.00
28 Jan 2022
updated 28 Jan 2022

The Mosley and Mitford Connections

The Curzons, Mosleys and Mitfords were an infernal triangle in the politics of the first and second quarters of the twentieth century, and to a limited extent to the third quarter thereafter.

The Mosleys


The Mitfords

This connection was first (ca 2015) conceived some years ago, and left uncompleted in order to deal with what was then more up-date stuff. But if not now, then when?

Why anyway, you may well ask, am I dragging in the Mitford family – who have only a tenuous link (via “Gollum” Mosley) with the Curzons, who already are only tangential to the Howards and ipso facto the Kaulbacks, and thence my wife and ultimately myself. Is this simply self-aggrandisement on my part?

Well for one thing, the sturdy Tom Mitford was regularly solacing Tilly Losch throughout her ill-starred marriage to Edward James, a very significant figure in Howard family history, so the perspective can be much closer than one might think.

People are interested in family history for a good many praiseworthy reasons, but there are some baser motives too – we’re all hoping for a high-born ancestor or two (and practically everybody on the planet could discover several of those, as per that actor in EastEnders), and folk who were colourful characters or noteworthy for their deeds or misdeeds of whatever kind. There have been ever so many of all these in my own background, insignificant petit-bourgeois though I be, and I don’t actually need any more ticks on my T-shirt.

But I do like finding concealed, or at least unsuspected, connections between things, to support my admittedly woolly notion that the universe is simply one Big Idea rather that lots of scrappy little ideas unconnected with one another.

And – a very important point – there’s a whole lot more mainstream historical documentation of aristocratic families, and naval or military men, or clergymen, or university graduates, than there is for people of more modest backgrounds or attainments.

So carpers and cynics be blown to the vex’d Bermoothes, here we go with the Mitford family demographics of that era, almost immediately complicated by the fact that the lineage had died-out, and had to be recreated, as we shall see, but followed by several more untimely deaths or ‘sine proles’.

Please be aware that this is a WIP!

#IndividualSpouse / PartnerFamily
John Mitford
(d 1761, Exbury, Hants)

Philadelphia Reveley

daughter of Willey Reveley of Newton Underwood, Northumberland
William Mitford
(10 Feb 1744 –
10 Feb 1827)

John Mitford
(18 Aug 1748 –
16 Jan 1830)
John Mitford1,  2
(18 Aug 1748 –
16 Jan 1830)

1) knighted in 1793
2) became Baron Redesdale in Mar 1801
3) took additional name of Freeman in 1809 by royal licence on succeeding to estates of his relative Thomas Edwards Freeman

younger brother of historian William Mitford
(10 Feb 1744 –
10 Feb 1827)
Lady Frances Perceval
(m 1803)
(d Aug 1817)

sister of the assassinated prime minister, Spencer Perceval
John Thomas Mitford
(1805 –
John Thomas Mitford
(1805 –

2nd Baron of Redesdale

became 1st Earl of Redesdale in 1877
unmarried sp

As per Wikipedia “The Earl bequeathed his substantial estates to his first cousin twice removed, the diplomat, politician and writer Sir Algernon Freeman-Mitford, the great-grandson of historian William Mitford, who was the elder brother of the first Baron Redesdale.

The Redesdale title was revived when Algernon Freeman-Mitford was raised to the peerage as Baron Redesdale on 15 July 1902. He was succeeded by his second but eldest surviving son, David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale, who is chiefly remembered as the father of the famous Mitford sisters. His only son, the Hon. Thomas Freeman-Mitford, was killed in action in Burma in 1945.

Lord Redesdale was therefore succeeded by his younger brother, the third Baron. He was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1935. He died childless in 1962 when the title passed to his younger brother, the fourth Baron. He died in the following year, also childless, and was succeeded by his nephew, the fifth Baron. He was the son of the Hon. Ernest Rupert Bertram Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford, fifth son of the first Baron.

As of 2020, the title is held by the fifth Baron's son, the sixth Baron, who succeeded in 1991.”

Please click here for further clarification.

Algernon Bertram (Barty) Freeman-Mitford
1st Baron Redesdale

(of the second creation)
(24 Feb 1837 –
17 Aug 1916)


diplomat and libertine

putative father of Sir Henry Hozier’s nominal offspring, including Clemmie who subsequently married Winston Churchill, and Nellie who subsequently married Col Bertram Romilly, of impeccable Huguenot descent.

authority on Japanese customs and literature of earlier times
Lady Clementina Gertrude Helen Ogilvy
(19 Jun 1854 –
30 Apr 1932)
(m 31 Dec 1874)

daughter of David Ogilvy, 10th Earl of Airlie
Frances Mitford
(1875 –

Clement Bertram Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford
(14 Dec 1876 –
13 May 1915 KIA),
the eldest son, killed in action in the Battle of Loos


David Freeman-Mitford
(13 Mar 1878 –
17 Mar 1958),
who succeeded his father in the barony and was the father of the prominent Mitford sisters

Iris Freeman-Mitford
(1878 –

Bertram Freeman-Mitford
(1880 –
1962), who succeeded David as the 3rd Baron Redesdale in 1958

John Freeman-Mitford
(1885 –
1963), who succeeded Bertram as the 4th Baron Redesdale in 1962

Joan Freeman-Mitford
(1887 –

Ernest Freeman-Mitford
(1895 –
1939), father of Clement Freeman-Mitford, 5th Baron Redesdale

Daphne Freeman-Mitford
(1895 –
David Bertram Ogilvy (Farve) Freeman-Mitford
2nd Baron Redesdale
(13 Mar 1878 –
17 Mar 1958)


Portrait with young family

first three daughters given first names only
Sydney (Muv) Gibson-Bowles
(10 May 1880, Exbury –
25 May 1963, Inch Kenneth)
(m 6 Feb 1904)


by no means outstandingly attractive and notoriously vague
Nancy (Naunce) Mitford
(28 Nov 1904 –
30 Jun 1973)

Pamela (Woman) Mitford
(25 Nov 1907 –
12 Apr 1994)

Maj Thomas (Tom, Tud) David Freeman-Mitford
(2 Jan 1909 –
30 Mar 1945 KIA)

Diana (Honks) Mitford
(17 Jun 1910 –
11 Aug 2003)

Unity Valkyrie (Boud, Bobo) Mitford
(8 Aug 1914 –
26 or 28 May 1948)

Jessica (Decca) Lucy Mitford
(11 Sep 1917 –
22 Jul 1996)

Deborah (Debo) Vivien Mitford
(31 Mar 1920 –
24 Sep 2014)
Nancy Mitford
(28 Nov 1904 –
30 Jun 1973)


novelist, U and non-U
Hon Peter Murray Rennell Rodd
(16 Apr 1904 –
17 Jul 1968)
(m 4 Dec 1933)

Lt Col Gaston Palewski
(20 Mar 1901 –
3 Sep 1984)

mover and shaker

Pamela Mitford
(25 Nov 1907 –
12 Apr 1994)


ruralist, sapphist
W/Cdr Professor Derek Ainslie Jackson
(23 Jun 1906 –
20 Feb 1982)
(m 29 Dec 1936)

physicist, WW2 RAF navigator, equestrian, bisexual libertine
Maj Thomas David (Tom, Tud) Freeman-Mitford
(2 Jan 1909 –
30 Mar 1945 KIA)



regular lover of Tilly Losch(!) during her marriage to Edward James
Diana Mitford
(17 Jun 1910 –
11 Aug 2003)



chummy with Wallis Simpson
Bryan Walter Guinness
2nd Baron Moyne
(27 Oct 1905 –
6 Jul 1992)
(m 30 Jan 1929)

a ‘Bright Young Thing’, barrister
Jonathan Bryan Guinness
3rd Baron Moyne
(b 16 Mar 1930)

Desmond Walter Guinness
(8 Sep 1931 –
20 Aug 2020)
Sir Oswald Ernald (Tom) Mosley
6th baronet
(16 Nov 1896 –
3 Dec 1980)
(m 6 Oct 1936)

his second marriage
Oswald Alexander Mosley
(1938 –

Max Mosley
(13 Apr 1940 –
23 May 2021)
Unity Valkyrie Mitford
(8 Aug 1914 –
26 or 28 May 1948)


Nazi enthusiast, semi-invalid after failed attempt at suicide in 1939
Jessica Lucy Mitford
(11 Sep 1917 –
22 Jul 1996)


writer (eg The American Way of Death)
Esmond Marcus David Romilly
(10 Jun 1918 –
30 Nov 1941)
(m 18 May 1937)

Robert Edward Treuhaft
(8 Aug 1912 –
11 Nov 2001)
(m 8 Jun 1943)
Benjamin Treuhaft

Nicholas Treuhaft
Deborah Vivien Mitford
(31 Mar 1920 –
24 Sep 2014)


Duchess of Devonshire, châtelaine of Chatsworth House
Andrew Robert Buxton Cavendish
11th Duke of Devonshire
(2 Jan 1920 –
3 May 2004)
(m 19 Apr 1941)

Lady Emma Cavendish
(b 26 Mar 1943)

Peregrine Cavendish
12th Duke of Devonshire
(b 27 Apr 1944)

Lady Sophia Cavendish
(b 18 Mar 1957)

War Memorials Archive Blog

The Mitford Men

This is a blog by Project Officer Frances Casey

The Mitford name is most famously associated with the six extraordinary daughters of David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale (1878-1958). They were Nancy, the author of witty tales of family life; Pamela, whose love of farm life led John Betjeman to refer to her as the ‘Rural Mitford’; Diana the beauty and wife of the heir to the Guinness family, whom she later divorced in favour of Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists; Unity whose torn love between Hitler and her country led her to shoot herself at the outbreak of the Second World War; Decca the communist, who tried to donate her share of the family’s remote Scottish island, Inch Kenneth, to the Communist Party; and Deborah (Debo), the only surviving child and current Duchess of Devonshire. It would be understandable to assume that the stories of the male members of the family could not compare, but the family’s war memorials tell us an equally interesting story of the Mitford men.

Pew to Maj C Freeman Mitford (ukniwm 31692) and tablet to Major T Mitford (ukniwm 31693), ukniwm
In St Marys Church in the Oxfordshire village of Swinbrook, memorials to the Mitford family are mounted on the walls and, on closer inspection, the family pews can be found.

One of the pews was donated by David Freeman Mitford from his winnings on the Grand National in 1918 and was used by the family during services. The other is an ornately carved oak pew, dedicated to David’s elder brother Major Clement Freeman Mitford, who died in Flanders, aged 38, on 13th May 1915. This pew also remembers David and Clement’s father, Lord Redesdale (1837-1916), whose last year was overshadowed by the loss of his eldest son.

David’s daughter, Pamela, remembers her father crying openly when he heard of the death of his brother (The Mitford Girls, Mary S Lovell, 2001, pg35). As well as dedicating the pew, David organised an expedition to retrieve Clement’s battlefield cross from Belgium, now mounted in St Mary’s Church, Batsford, the family estate in the Cotswolds. On behalf of his father, David also erected commemorative wrought iron gates at the entrance to Vlamertinghe, the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery where Clement is buried. Clement’s death was to dramatically change the course of family history. He died before the birth of his only child, Clementine, in October 1915. As a girl, Clementine could not inherit the male Redesdale title. This was to pass to David, whose daughters would then become the titled ‘hons and debs’ of literary fame.

Swinbrook Cross, ukniwm 31691
On the wall above the pew dedicated to Clement hangs an oval tablet in memory of ‘a very perfect son and brother’, Major Thomas David Freeman Mitford, who died aged 36. Tom Mitford was David’s only son. According to Mary S Lovell, he was adored and teased in equal measure by his sisters, who would delight in making him ‘blither’ (giggle) during sermons in Swinbrook Church (Lovell, 2001, pg50).

The tablet records how Tom ‘died in Burma on Good Friday 30th March 1945 of wounds received in action on the previous Saturday’. Devastated by the death of their son, David and his wife Sydney placed another tablet to Tom in Holy Trinity Church, Horsley, their estate in Northumberland. The tablets to Tom and the pew to Clement bear the Mitford motto ‘God Careth for Us’.

As well as the family memorials, David ensured that both Mitford men were remembered for their community role and had their names included on the Roll of Honour inside Swinbrook church and on the cross in the churchyard. Sydney, Nancy, Unity and Diana are all buried in Swinbrook churchyard.

About Us

IWM (Imperial War Museums) is compiling a record of all UK war memorials to promote their appreciation, use and preservation. We hold information about over 65,000 UK war memorials, including details of their location, design and history. Search our database online.

Bibliography re the Mitfords et al.

by Selina Hastings
pub Vintage

NANCY MITFORD, The Biography
by Laura Thompson
pub Review (Headline Book Publishing)

Novel by Nancy Mitford
pub Hamish Hamilton, and Penguin Books

Novel by Nancy Mitford
pub Hamish Hamilton, and Penguin Books

(An Autobiography)
by Jessica Mitford
pub Victor Gollancz

(Memoirs of the youngest Mitford sister)
by Deborah Devonshire
pub John Murray

Letters between Sisters
Edited by Charlotte Mosley
pub HarperCollins

Pen Portraits by Diana Mosley
pub Sidgwick Jackson

The Lives of the Curzon Sisters
by Anne de Courcy
pub Weidenfeld & Nicolson