Renegade Nell: Who is the ‘Earl of Poynton’? Is the character inspired by a real Jacobite?

Renegade Nell: Who is the Earl of Poynton? Is the character inspired by a real Jacobite?

Renegade Nell is a British show on Disney+ about a man named Robert Hennessey, who is also known as the Earl of Poynton. He supports James Francis Edward Stuart, who wants to be king of Great Britain. That person is one of Anne’s valued friends, but he really works against her.

He gets Lord Godolphin to believe that he is working with the Jacobites when he is not. With Sofia Wilmot’s help, he also tries to catch Nell Jackson in sneaky ways. Sofia wants to keep her brother Thomas and their house, Broadwater Hall, safe. Anne is really queen, but Poynton doesn’t care about her!

Renegade Nell (2024) 1
Jake Dunn in Renegade Nell (2024)

Is the character ‘Earl of Poynton’ fiction or non-fiction?

The Earl of Poynton is a made-up character by Sally Wainwright and her team. It wasn’t until 1707 that an earl from Poynton worked closely with Queen Anne.

There were important people giving the late queen advice in 1705, when Nell Jackson went back to live with her family in Tottenham. They were the Duke of Newcastle, the Earl of Peterborough, Lord Cholmondeley, Thomas Erle, and William Cowper. They never tried to take the queen hostage or make James Francis Edward Stuart king of Great Britain. And there’s no proof that anyone close to Queen Anne knew anything about “dark magic.”

Renegade Nell (2024) 2
Adrian Lester in Renegade Nell (2024)

Anne was a queen in real life, and the Jacobites were a threat, but Sally made up Poynton in her head. The series is more fun and interesting because it’s not just another story about British kings because of the made-up world and characters.

In an interview with Radio Times, Louisa Harland, who plays Nell, said that the show’s mix of history and fiction is very enjoyable. It lets them make a new world while still staying true to some historical facts.

People like Poynton used to be like important people during the reign of Queen Anne. At that time, the British government was worried about people who might side with the Jacobites, a group that was against the government.

John Churchill, who was king during Anne’s rule and was known as the 1st Duke of Marlborough, was famous and wealthy. But some people said he was a backer of the Jacobite cause. Because of these claims, he was locked up in the Tower of London for a while. Like Poynton, Anne had a lot of faith in Churchill. A lot of writers even say he was Anne’s favorite person.

Renegade Nell (2024) 3
Jake Dunn in Renegade Nell (2024)

John Murray was another guy like this. He went on to become the 1st Duke of Atholl. Just like Murray did in real life, Anne treats Poynton extra well on the show. In 1702, Anne made him a Privy Councillor, the same job as Poynton. He was placed in charge of the Privy Seal of Scotland the following year. In 1703, Murray was also given the title of Duke of Atholl. He lost his job, though, because he became involved in a plan against Queen Anne. He was very critical of the government, the Hanoverian rule, and the Union because of this. In fact, three of his children backed the Jacobites during the rising of 1715, when James Edward Stuart tried to take the throne. Even though Churchill and Murray are thought to have been Jacobites, there isn’t strong proof to say they were.

References: