In the reign of Henry VI. the title was granted more widely. There were at one time ten duchesses in his court. The families to whom the dignity was granted in this reign were the Staffords, Beau champs, and De la Poles. In 1470, under the reign of Edward IV., George Nevil was made duke of Bedford, but he was soon deprived of the title, and Jasper Tudor was made duke of Bedford by his nephew king Henry VII. in the year of his accession.
King Henry VIII. created only two dukes, and both were persons nearly con nected with himself; one was his own illegitimate son, whom he made duke of Richmond, and the other was Charles Brandon, who had married the French queen, his sister, and who was made by him duke of Suffolk. King Edward VI. created three dukes; his uncle, Edward Seymour, the Protector, duke of Somerset (from whom the present duke of Somerset derives his descent, and, by reversal of an attainder, his dignity), Henry Grey, duke of Suffolk, and John Dudley, duke of Northumberland.
Queen Elizabeth found on her accession only one duke, Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, attainder or failure of male issue having extinguished the others. He was an ambitious nobleman, and aspiring to marry the queen of Scotland, Elizabeth became jealous of him : he was convicted of treason, beheaded, and his dignity ex tinguished in 1572 ; and from that time there was no duke in the English peer age except the sons of king James I., till 1623, when Ludovick Stuart, the king's near relative, was made duke of Rich mond, which honour soon expired. In 1627 George Villiers was created duke of Buckingham, and he and his son were the only dukes in England till the civil wars, when another of the Stuarts was made duke of Richmond, and the king's nephew, best known by the name of Prince Rupert, duke of Cumberland.
In the first year after the return of Charles II. from exile, he restored the Seymours to their rank of dukes of Somerset, and created Monk, the great instrument of his return, duke of Albe marle. In 1663 he began to introduce his illegitimate issue into the peerage under the title of duke, his son James being made in that year duke of Mon mouth. In 1664 he restored to the How ards the title of duke of Norfolk ; and in 1665 he created a Cavendish, who had held a high military command in the civil war, duke of Newcastle. In 1682 he created the marquis of Worcester duke of Beaufort. As for the rest the dignity was granted only to issue of the king or to their mothers. The only duke created by king James IL was the duke of Berwick, his natural son.
Of the families now existing, beside those who are descended from king Charles IL, only the Howards, the Seymours, and the Somersets date their dukedoms from before the Revolution. The existing dukedoms originally given by Charles H. to his sons are Grafton, Richmond, and St. Albans. To the duke of Rich mond Charles granted letters patent which entitled him to a tonnage duty on coal. In 1799 this duty was commuted for an annuity of 19,000/. a-year. The duke of
Grafton is still paid a pension of 58431. a-year out of the Excise revenue, and 3407/. out of the Post-office revenue. The duke of St. Albans is Hereditary Grand Falconer of England. Under king William and queen Anne several families which had previously enjoyed the title of earls were advanced to dukedoms, as Paulet duke of Bolton, Talbot duke of Shrewsbury, Osborne duke of Leeds, Rus sell duke of Bedford, Cavendish duke of Devonshire, Holies duke of Newcastle, Churchill duke of Marlborough, Sheffield duke of Buckinghamshire, Manners duke of Rutland, Montagu duke of Montagu, Douglas duke of Dover, Gray duke of Kent, Hamilton duke of Brandon ; besides members of the royal family and Mar shal Schomberg, who was made an Eng lish peer as duke of Schomberg. This great accession gave an entirely new cha racter to the dignity. King George I., besides the dukedoms in his own family, made Bertie duke of Ancaster, Pierrepoint duke of Kingston, Pelham duke of New castle, Bentinck duke of Portland, Whar ton duke of Wharton, Brydges duke of Chandos, Campbell duke of Greenwich, Montagu duke of Manchester, Sackville duke of Dorset, and Egerton duke of Bridgewater. George II. created no duke out of his own family, and the only addi (ion be can be said to have made to this branch of the peerage was by enlarging the limitation of the Pelham dukedom of Newcastle so as to comprehend the Clin t ms, by whom the dukedom is now pos sessed. From 1720 to 1766 there was no creation of an English duke except in thy royal house. In that year the repre sentative of the ancient house of Percy was made duke of Northumberland, and the title of duke of Montagu, which had •come extinct, was revived in the Bru deuels, the heirs. The same forbearance to confer this dignity existed during the remainder of the reign, and during the reign of George IV. no dukedom was created out of the royal house, till the eminent services of the duke of Wel lington marked him out as deserving the honour of the highest rank which the king has it in his power to confer. His dukedom was created in 1814, forty-seven years after the creation of a duke of Nor thumberland. The marquis of Buck ingham was advanced to the rank of duke of Buckingham and Chandos in 1822, so that for a hundred years, namely from 1720 to 1822, only four families were admitted to this honour.
• During the reign of William IV. two dukedoms were created, Gower duke of Sutherland, and Vane duke of Cleveland.
The whole number of dukes in the Eng lish peerage is at present twenty, exclu sive of the blood royal. There are seven Scottish dukes (Argyll, Atholl, Buccleuch, Hamilton, Lennox, Montrose, and Rox burghe), of whom one (Hamilton) is also an English duke. The only Irish duke is the duke of Leinster.
All the dukes of England have been created by letters patent in which the course of succession has been plainly pointed out. Generally the limitation is to the male heirs of the body.