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Summary Chapter 1


The Chuzzlewits claim they are directly descended from Adam and Eve. They were involved in the agricultural side of the family. They are very proud of their ancient line, even though it has produced several villains. With a family that has such a long ancestry, this is to be expected. Often, villainy was a way to win back ruined fortunes. The Chuzzlewits were involved in the bloodiest events in history, but they always came home to their family afterwards.

The notable ancestors are mentioned. One received property from William the Conqueror. Another Chuzzlewit was involved in The Gunpowder Plot with Fawkes. His father had moved to Spain and married a Spanish woman. This lady became known in the family as “The Matchmaker.” The family also has a lantern they claimed was carried by the ancestor involved in The Gunpowder Plot. Diggory Chuzzlewit was known to dine all the time with Duke Humphrey. A previous relative had attained great wealth, but Diggory Chuzzlewit gave nearly everything away—including his brother’s possessions—to a man he called his uncle. The parentage of Toby Chuzzlewit was unknown, except that his father’s birth was low and mean. Supposedly, his father had told him his origins. When asked about it on his deathbed, Toby had replied that his grandfather’s name was “Lord No Zoo.” It is assumed that he had misheard the name, that he had forgotten it, or he had mispronounced it.

In later times, the Chuzzlewits were less successful, having invested in coal at a time that it was going down in stock. However, the family always took pride in their chiseled features—which is expected of a family of old lineage. All of this, as far as they were concerned, proved their ancient origins and that Chuzzlewits had been important at some time in history.

Two points at the closing of the chapter are made, which has bearing on the future story. One, men are known to play odd tricks. Two, some men are exceptional in looking after themselves.  

Charles Dickens