The Greatheeds and descendants

Guys Cliffe House

Bertie Greatheed (1759-1826) of Guy’s Cliffe (in this parish) was the son of Samuel Greatheed MP and his wife Lady Mary, whose maiden name was Bertie, the daughter of the 2nd Duke of Ancaster. He was baptised at St Mary’s Church in Warwick. He was a dramatist and wrote a tragedy play called The Regent, which was staged at Drury Lane Theatre in 1788, but was withdrawn after 9 nights. He was supported in this endeavour by the actress Mrs Siddons, who had once been an attendant to his mother and was a frequent guest at Guy’s Cliffe; he dedicated the subsequent publication of the play to her.

Bertie Bertie Greatheed, by John Jackson (1821)

Bertie also composed the wording for the plaque on Gaveston’s Cross, which commemorates the execution place of Piers Gaveston in 1312 on Blacklow Hill (south of Leek Wootton) and was visible from the manor house at Guy’s Cliffe. The source of his wealth was plantations on St Kitts in the Caribbean. He is recorded as owning around 20 slaves in 1822 and there is speculation that primitive carvings in one of the stable buildings at Guy’s Cliffe may have been carved by slaves.

Bertie Greatheed was a prominent figure and landlord in Leek Wootton, Milverton and Warwick. He was heavily involved in the development of Leamington Spa (circa 1810), owning land that was developed on the west side of The Parade, encouraged investors in the development of the town and was a partner in the Pump Rooms. He died in 1826. He had adopted his mother’s surname, Bertie, into his surname and gives his name in his Will as Bertie Bertie Greatheed. His only son, also named Bertie had died in 1804 in Italy, but he had married in France and had a daughter, Anne Caroline, who was adopted by her grandparents and brought up in England as the heiress of Guy’s Cliffe.