The arms are those of Wyndham quartering Hopton for Sir George O'Brien (Wyndham), 3rd Earl of Egremont, who was born in 1751 and married Elizabethe Ayliffe, who had been his mistress for many years, at Petworth in 1801 and died there in 1837.
The Hopton quartering which is adopted on these dinner plates is explained by the 17th century marriage of John Windham and Catherine, daughter of Robert Hopton and sister and co-heir to Ralph, Lord Hopton. Their son, Sir William Windham, who was created a baronet in 1661 was the great-great-grandfather of the 3rd Earl of Egremont.
The 3rd Earl succeeded his father at the age of twelve, in 1763, and in 1767 matriculated at Christ Chruch, Oxford. Although he decided not to embark on an active political career, on such occasions that he did participate in politics, his views were normally forcefully and rhetorically expressed. Initially, his inclination was towards the Whig Party, but in later life he tended more towards Tory policies, remaining particularly intransigent on the question of Catholic emancipation.
Undoubtedly, Egremont's greatest legacy was in the field of artistic patronage. Turner, Constable, Flaxman, Benjamin Robert Heydon and Charles Robert Leslie, were amongst those to benefit from his encouragement, and all testified to the importance of peaceful atmosphere of Petworth for their work. His philanthropy is further shown by his funding of public works in Sussex and his vast charitable expenditure. It is estimated that over a period of sixty years he donated some 2,000,000 pounds sterling to various charitable causes. Not without reason did Charles Greville think Burke's panegyric applicable to Egremont "Delighting to reign in the dispensation of happiness".
The style of his private life, however, did not meet with quite such universal approbation and he proved especially elusive to the efforts of various interested parties to effect a suitable match for him. Concerning a proposed marriage between him and Lady Mary Somerset in 1794 which came to nothing, Mrs. Delany wrote to Bernard Granville "He is a pretty man, has a vast fortune, and is very generous, and is not addicted to the vices of his times". On the other hand when Horace Walpole failed to negotiate a marriage between Egremont and Lady Charlotte Maria Waldegrave in 1780, he saw fit to describe his Lordship as "A most worthless young fellow". By his future wife he had six illegitimate children, and only one subsequent to their marriage, which died in infancy.
On his death, at the age of eighty-six, Egremont was succeeded by his nephew, George Francis Wyndham, with whom, in 1845, the peerage became extinct. It is a measure of the length of the 3rd Earl's life that he was sponsored at his baptism in 1752 by George II and died some months after the accession of Queen Victoria.
The same arms appear on the magnificent Egremont dinner service by Paul Storr, 1806 - 1807, comprising some 150 dishes and plates, 12 sauce-tureens and 22 vegetable and entree dishes, sold Christie's, London, by The Executors of the late Lord Egremont, 21 March 1979, lot 36, and again by Christie's, New York, 10 January 1991, lot 54, on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines through the Presidential Commission on Good Government.