Charlie, the Earl of Devon, elected to the House of Lords
4th July, 2018
Yesterday (4th July 2018) Charles Peregrine Courtenay, 19th Earl of Devon and owner of Powderham Castle, stood for election into the House of Lords and won by 7 votes. You can read his candidature statement below.
Earl of Devon Candidature Speech
My Lords, thank you for your consideration as I describe the historic and personal reasons for my being here today.
I inherited the earldom of Devon upon the death of my father, Hugh, in august 2015. He was a cross-bench peer, who enjoyed the distinction of being the last hereditary to take his seat by right in 1999. I sat on the steps of the throne as he made his maiden speech in the debate on the future of the hereditary peerage. I was never prouder of him. He spoke of his duty and of how our family has championed Devon in this house for centuries.
This is the historic reason for my candidacy. My predecessors were actively involved in negotiations over England’s place in Europe at Crecy, Poitiers, and at Agincourt; therefore, if nothing else, given parliament’s current focus on Europe, the Earldom of Devon offers historical context.
But it is principally in my personal capacity that I offer my services. Having studied theology and art history at Cambridge, I was called to the bar by the Inner Temple in 1999 and began practice as a Chancery Barrister at Maitland Chambers, Lincoln’s Inn, where I remain a door tenant.
I headed west to California in 2003, after meeting a talented actress – AJ Langer – in Las Vegas. We married in 2004; I then passed the California bar exam, and joined the Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins. There I became an intellectual property and technology litigator – representing clients in disputes over software and ownership of patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc. At home, I learned to surf and appreciate American culture, and helped raise our two children.
In 2014, with my father ailing, we moved to London where I took on the IP Litigation practice in Latham’s fast-growing London office.
AJ and I also took on management of my family’s business in Devon – an 800-year-old social enterprise centred around Powderham castle. We moved to Devon in the summer of 2015, shortly before my father died, when I took 18 months’ professional leave to handle probate and to work with AJ on a business structure that allows us to maintain strong management, while pursuing our professional interests. We achieved that, and for the past 14 months, I have worked at Latham in London three days each week, while business at Powderham has flourished under AJ’s determined leadership.
If elected to take a seat in your Lordships’ house:
- I will champion the interests of Devon and its regional, rural, and maritime economies.
- I offer my skills as a lawyer and advocate with a global outlook and experience.
- As owner of a sustainable family S.M.E., I will be sensitive to the impact of legislation on small businesses.
- As custodian of ancient land and buildings, I will monitor the impact of development, and yet
- As an expert in IP and technology, I will support the needs of the modern economy.
- As father to two children in local state schools, I will support key public services.
- As someone of no political affiliation, occupying a role created long before modern political parties, I will be determinedly independent
I relish the opportunity to work hard and to serve for years within your Lordships’ ranks.