Henry, 6th Earl of Gainsborough was born in 1743 and died, unmarried, on 8 April 1798 at which point the Earldom became extinct and the estates passed to his nephew, Gerard Noel Edwards. The title was re-instated with Charles Noel, 1st Earl of Gainsborough in 1841. Baptist Noel, 4th Earl of Gainsborough married Elizabeth, daughter of William Chapman, in 1728 and had nine children. Baptist Noel died in 1750 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Baptist, who became the 5th Earl of Gainsborough and who died whilst still a minor on his travels in Geneva on 27 May 1759 and the title passed to his brother Henry Noel. Thomas Noel was Henry's stepfather and grandson of the 3rd Viscount Campden.
During the second half of the 18th Century, fox hunting became more organised and sophisticated as horses and dogs were bred specifically for this purpose. The selective breeding of hounds was intended to produce large even packs, not only with a good speed but also with keen noses for the scent. During this period, the prototypes of the modern foxhound were developed. Leicestershire became the centre of hunting for several reason primarily the undulating grassland which was owned by a few aristocratic families. The fields which were drained and hedged for the purpose of livestock provided the perfect landscape for the pursuit of the fox. This was combined with tenacious and enthusiastic Masters such as Hugo Meynell who lived in the area. Thus by the 1780s Melton Mowbray and the surrounding area, which included Exton Park the seat of the Gainsboroughs, had become the centre of fox hunting.