I’m up to the chapter on the Gaunt House, and I’m thoroughly confused. Is Lord Steyne the same man as Lord Gaunt? Or are they relatives? What gives? (First they start talking about Lady Gaunt, and such, but then they mention that it is no wonder her husband, Lord Steyne didn’t spend much time with her after their marriage.)
It’s a little confusing because they’re referring to two different Lord Gaunts within a few paragraphs of each other.
As I understand it, “Lord Gaunt” is the title of the first-born son and heir to Lord Steyne. In the paragraph where Thackery writes of “Lady Mary Caerlyon [who] was … married–sold, it was said–to Lord Gaunt, then at Paris,” the Lord Gaunt he’s referring to is the present Lord Steyne, whose father was presumably still alive and titled Lord Steyne at the time of this marriage. After his father died, that Gaunt would become the Maquis and assume his father’s title. Lady Mary becomes the Marchioness who’s described as so miserable thereafter.
The Lord Gaunt who’s mentioned a few paragraphs down as marrying Lady Blanche Thistlewood (who then becomes Lady Gaunt), is Lady Mary’s and Lord Steyne’s son. This couple has no children.
George Gaunt is the younger son. After the elder son and his wife Blanche fail to produce children:
“…the Lord George Gaunt was desired to return from Vienna, where he was engaged in waltzing and diplomacy, and to contract a matrimonial alliance with the Honourable Joan, only daughter of John Johnes… from which union sprang several sons and daughters, whose doings do not appertain to this story.”
It is George who goes mad. The elder son, whose first name I don’t believe we ever see (or at least I can’t find it by looking quickly over the chapter on Gaunt House), doesn’t do much but pile up debts.
My understanding of how these titles go: “Lord Gaunt” is the title of the eldest son of the Marquis of Steyne. Gaunt is also the family name. Younger sons, like George, and any other hypothetical sons or daughters would be called Lord or Lady Firstname.