WILLIAM LYGON, Seventh Earl Beauchamp, (d. 1967); In the years before the trial of Oscar Wilde, English aristocrats involved in homosexual scandals went into voluntary exile on the Continent until the heat died down at home. In the years immediately following the trial, public exposure was ruinous.
The Seventh Earl Beauchamp is included here not because his situation was any better or worse than that of other “disgraced” men of his age, but because his case prompted one of the most famous lines in Gay history.
Evelyn Waugh’s great novel Brideshead Revisited is said to have been inspired partly by Evelyn’s friendship with Lord Beauchamp of the Lygon family.
The gay Lord Beauchamp became a government minister under Prime Minister Asquith. Lord Beauchamp is supposed to have been the model for Sebastian’s father Lord Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited. Lord Beauchamp, who had numerous Gay affairs with servants, socialites and local lads, was close to King George V’s sons Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and George, Duke of Kent. In hearing that the young Beauchamp was homosexual, King George V remarked, “I thought they shot themselves.” Unfortunately, so did far too many young people growing up Gay.