Mitford family

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The Mitford family is a minor aristocratic English family that traces its origins in Northumberland back to the time of the Norman conquest. The main family line had seats at Mitford Castle, Mitford Old Manor House and from 1828 the then-newly-built Mitford Hall. Several heads of the family served as High Sheriff of Northumberland. The junior line, with seats at Newton Park, Northumberland and Exbury House, Hampshire descends via the historian William Mitford to his great-great-great-granddaughters, the "Mitford sisters". The Mitford family was twice elevated to the British peerage, in 1802 and 1902, under the title Baron Redesdale.[1]

In the 20th century, the "Mitford sisters" — six daughters of David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale — became celebrated, and at times scandalous, figures caricatured, according to The Times journalist Ben Macintyre, as "Diana the Fascist, Jessica the Communist, Unity the Hitler-lover; Nancy the Novelist; Deborah the Duchess and Pamela the unobtrusive poultry connoisseur".[2]


Mitford sisters

In the 20th century the family achieved contemporary notoriety for their controversial and stylish lives as young people, and later for their very public political divisions between communism and fascism. The six daughters of the family were known collectively as the Mitford sisters. Nancy and Jessica became well-known writers and Deborah managed one of the most successful stately homes in England. Jessica and Deborah both married nephews-by-marriage of prime ministers Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan, respectively. Deborah and Diana married wealthy aristocrats. Unity and Diana were well known during the 1930s for being close to Adolf Hitler. In the early 1980s, Deborah also became politically active when she and her husband, the Duke of Devonshire, became leading lights in the newly formed political party, the Social Democratic Party.

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