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John Hervey, 7th Marquess of Bristol : biography

September 15, 1954 - January 10, 1999

Frederick William John Augustus Hervey, 7th Marquess of Bristol (15 September 1954 – 10 January 1999), also known as John Jermyn and John Hervey, was a British aristocrat and businessman, notable for his wealth, drug addiction, imprisonment on drugs charges, homosexuality and flamboyant lifestyle.


Lord Bristol was educated at Harrow School, where he began to be known for drug and alcohol use; the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography designates him a "wastrel". The 7th Marquess was described by his friend Jamie Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford, as a "complicated, reserved character, hiding behind a flamboyant personality".

He was frequently depicted in the British tabloids for his drug use, wild parties and homosexuality. He served two prison terms for drug offences.Bale, Joanna. , The Times, September 23, 2005. Accessed June 10, 2008. Bristol even piloted his helicopter — without radar — while snorting cocaine off the map he was using for navigation. The Marquess blamed some of his difficulties on what he called bad blood, that is, a "family disposition to depression." He inherited a million pounds when he was 16 years old, and another four million five years later. He amassed a personal fortune worth up to £35 million, but by the time of his death at 44, it had "all slipped through his fingers — every last penny", according to The Times. His estate was probated for £5000.

Final years and death

Lord Bristol sold the remaining lease on the ancestral home of Ickworth House back to the National Trust in 1998 in lieu of their evicting him for bad behaviour. He died of AIDS the following year at the age of 44. He was succeeded by his half-brother Frederick William Augustus Hervey, 8th Marquess of Bristol (born 19 October 1979). Another half-brother, Lord Nicholas Hervey, had committed suicide the previous year. His maternal half-brother, George Lambton, said he had no hard feelings about the disappearance of the money, although as a maternal half brother it wouldn't have affected him anyway


The Spectator describes the 7th Marquess as follows: Born with an inheritance which included millions of money, thousands of acres, and oodles of style at Ickworth, the family seat, this flamboyant homosexual, charming but empty of soul, allowed himself to sink into a brain-mincing addiction to heroin and cocaine. Before the end he could not pass two hours without a snort, was frequently in prison, and was reduced to penury.Masters, Brian. , The Spectator, May 12, 2001. Accessed June 10, 2008.


John was born five years into the marriage between Pauline Bolton, daughter of a Kent businessman, and Victor Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol;Berens, Jessica. , The Independent, January 12, 1999. Accessed April 13, 2009. he was their only child and his parents divorced when he was five years old.

His mother remarried, giving him Teddy Lambton, a Newmarket racehorse trainer, for a stepfather, and then a half-brother, George, who became a Conservative councillor.Kirby, Terry. , The Independent, September 23, 2005. Accessed April 13, 2009.

His father remarried, giving him a half-brother, Lord Nicholas Hervey, by his second marriage, to Lady Anne Juliet Dorothea Maud Wentworth Fitzwilliam (currently Lady Juliet Tadgell), only child of Peter Wentworth-FitzWilliam, 8th Earl FitzWilliam.

His father's final marriage was to his then private secretary, Yvonne Marie Sutton in 1974,Haden-Guest, Anthony. , The Observer, January 22, 2006. Accessed April 13, 2009. giving him three more half-siblings, the incumbent Frederick Hervey, 8th Marquess of Bristol, and media personalities Lady Victoria Hervey and Lady Isabella Hervey.

Due to a falling out with his father and a failed but lengthy lawsuit to obtain a portion of his estate, John Hervey did not have significant contact with these latter three siblings, although he became very close to his half brother Lord Frederick Hervey (now 8th Marquess of Bristol) in the last year of his life.

John's father, who had been jailed for jewel theft in his youth, was harsh to his oldest son, according to friends of the latter. "He treated his son and heir with indifference and contempt," said Anthony Haden-Guest. The Marquess of Blandford summed up the relationship: "Victor created the monster that John became." John was a ward of court for some part of his childhood.

In spite of a lifetime of homosexual relations, John married Francesca Fisher, then 20, just shy of his 30th birthday; it is not known whether they consummated their relationship. The marriage lasted for four years; they had no children.

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