The Marquis of Brotherton, after spending most of his life in Italy, returned to England, bringing with him an Italian woman whom he said was his wife, and a small child whom he asserted was his heir Lord Popenjoy. The Dowager Marchioness with her three daughters and son Lord George Germain were summarily ordered out of the family estate Manor Cross, so that it could be made ready for the Marquis' use.
Lord George had married Mary Lovelace daughter of the Dean of Brotherton Cathedral, and at the Dean's instigation made inquiry in Italy as to the legitimacy of the child. The resulting information did not prove conclusive, but soon after the child's mother returned to Italy with him, where he died, making the question an academic one. In a short while the Marquis also died and the title went to Lord George, whose newborn son became the real Lord Popenjoy.
"Is He Popenjoy? will survive for the Dean of Brotherton - a Trollope dignitary of the first water; for his gay, loving, whimsical daughter; for her husband Lord George Germain, with his excessive sense of duty and inadequate sense of humour; for her aristocratic sisters-in-law, shrouding in illnature and good works the emptiness of their lives and purses; for the feminist lecturer Baroness Banmann; for the society siren and society matchmaker; and for the ill-tempered, dissolute marquis, on the legitimacy of whose son turns the whole mechanism of the story." - Sadleir