AskDefine | Define tantamount

Dictionary Definition

tantamount adj : being essentially equal to something; "it was as good as gold"; "a wish that was equivalent to a command"; "his statement was tantamount to an admission of guilt" [syn: equivalent, tantamount(p)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From etyl xno tant amunter.


  • /ˈtæn.təˌmaʊnt/, /"t

Extensive Definition

The Richleighs of Tantamount is a British children’s book written by British historical book author Barbara Willard. It was originally published in Willard’s native homeland in 1966 by the publishers, Constable, before being published in the US by Harcourt, Brace & World in June 1967. C. Walter Hodges drew the line illustrations and painted the cover portrait for the original edition.


  1. To Be a Richleigh...
  2. Toy Sunday
  3. The Travellers
  4. The Arrival
  5. Tantamount
  6. Strangers on the Shore
  7. The Castaways
  8. Nancy and Dick
  9. The Wonderful Day
  10. Wreckers' Castle
  11. The Grand Idea
  12. Pursuit
  13. Home from the Sea
  14. An End...
  15. ...or a Beginning


The book tells the story of four young siblings—Edwin, Angeline, Sebastian and Maud—who live together in a London mansion in a Victorian-era society (circa the 1870s), along with their wealthy parents. These four children have been longing all their lives for their maiden visit to a place which for ages none of their kind has visited: a castle on England’s Cornish coast, built by their great-great-great-grandfather, called Tantamount. From time to time, the children question of its mysterious past whenever they look at the gigantic painting of the castle that dominates a wall in the drawing room.
Their lives are changed one fateful, unforgettable July when their recovering father announces of their first-time trip to the castle, first by train and then by carriage. Only when they arrive at the site do the four realize that it was built all in the name of vain and later neglect. Despite related risks, they, as family members, decide to stay. Because of this, a friendship with two local children emerges, from whom the foursome starts to learn of the secret that caused people to suffer before this monstrosity of a castle.


The Richleigh four

  • Edwin Richleigh, 16: the eldest and most educated of the siblings, and heir to the family’s fortune.
  • Angeline Richleigh, 14: rebellious but innocent in appearance.
  • Sebastian Richleigh, 11: the big question-asker who always remembers the answers better than his older brother.
  • Maud Richleigh, 8: treated by everyone except older Angeline as the baby of the family; she is the prettiest among the four.

Their parents

  • Major Sir Rautboy Richleigh (pronounced Raw-bee), England’s third richest man.
  • Lady Daisy, his wife, heiress and earl’s daughter.

Inside the London house

  • Mr. Gaunt, Edwin’s English tutor.
  • Miss Venus, the governess; teacher of Angeline, Sebastian and Maud.
  • Old Nurse and New Nurse, the caretakers responsible for the house’s upkeep. They both make their first appearances when the book begins.
  • Lance, the pageboy, “ready to answer the door if need be”. He also appears at the start of the book.

Mentioned by the family

  • Lady Augusta, Queen Victoria’s cousin, who lives across the square near which the Richleighs live.
  • Uncle Charles, Sir Rautboy’s stern, serious, long-faced brother, whom the four children all dread.

At Tantamount and vicinity

  • Mr. Devine, an agent from Exeter who takes to the castle’s upkeep and reports on its conditions annually.
  • Mrs. Pengelly, a visitor from England’s southern region who assists in helping the four children and company upon their arrival at Tantamount.
  • (Mr.) Pengelly, her husband.
  • Betsy Pengelly, the Pengellys' daughter.
  • Nancy Treloar and her brother Dick Treloar, two local children whom the Richleighs discover during the first day of their visit.
  • Kate Treloar, their aunt, who lives miles away from Tantamount at a place called Penwellow.
  • Mr. John Pascoe, a kind man who owns a farm called Treligger.
  • Mrs. Pascoe, his sour and unjust wife.
  • William Treloar, Nancy and Dick's father.


  • Wif, short for What would you do if—?, the Richleigh children’s favourite game.
  • Toy Sunday, a toy-distribution spree occurring twice yearly; only one of them, the last Sunday in May, is mentioned in the book.
  • Councils of Tantamount: Edwin holds meetings for three of them at various times during the siblings’ visit to the ruined castle.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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