Many visitors ask why the head of the Stonor family is the 7th Baron Camoys, a title created by writ of Summons of Parliament, following the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 where Thomas de Camoys commanded the left wing of the English army. The barony fell into abeyance on the death of the second Baron Camoys in 1426 between the 2nd Baron’s sisters and their descendents. That abeyance ended in 1839, when following Catholic Emancipation, ten years earlier, Thomas Stonor lay claim to the title because he was a direct descendent of Mary Biddulph who had married his great grandfather, another Thomas Stonor in 1732. Mary Biddulph was the co-heiress of the baronies of Camoys and Vaux.
By the time of the Reformation the Stonor family was already very well established by its long lineage stretching back to the 12th century, by way of large landed estates, carefully selected marriages, the wool trade, high legal office, and attendance at Court. However, their participation in public life virtually ceased for 250 years because of the penal laws designed to destroy Catholicism. The Stonor family somehow maintained its Catholic faith throughout these difficult times and were never involved in plots to remove their monarch, and from the early 18th century were actively involved in steps to achieve Catholic Emancipation. The understandable desire for the family to participate in public life again was very strong. Following the Reform Act, Thomas Stonor was elected as one of the MP’s for Oxford in 1832.
Aware of his descent from Mary Biddulph he then claimed the Barony of Camoys at the Privileges Committee and that title was called out of abeyance in his favour in 1839. He was a Lord in Waiting to Queen Victoria from 1846-1852, 1853-1858, 1859-1866 and 1868-1874. Queen Victoria, like her son, Edward VII was very sympathetic to Catholics.