By and large, the hereditaries werent' all that wealthy - yes, I know, they often had a lot of land, but they didn't have much income from it. They also didn't receive a wage for attending parliament. Most of them had jobs of some sort, and a fair number even worked in industries relevant to the legislation they were scrutinising, or were hobbyists or passionately involved in some other way.
It wasn't perfect of course - you had your usual collection of imbeciles and wastrels that you'd expect in any hereditary system, but for the most part they only attended for as long as it took to get to the various bars and private dining rooms in Westminster Palace.
The end result was that the Lords tended to act as a brake on the profligate excesses of the executive and forced Parliament to pay attention to the detail of proposals before sending them for scrutiny, even after attempts to stuff it with appointed life peers. Naturally it had to go.
Nobody can legitimately argue that what we have now is in any way better than what we had before. I'd even go as far as to argue that very few alternatives would be better given they all rely on political patronage of some sort. An elected upper house, which has been proposed a few times, would probably be the worst solution of all. The only real alternative is to take the original principle of the Lords, which was essentially a sort of severely restricted jury service based on property and title, and generalise it to to the entire population. Appoint members to the Upper House by lot, have them attend for a fix period with suitable compensation. That way you can avoid the problem of appointed patsies, perpetual election campaigners and party-political ideologues (though you do potentially risk replacing it with a different set of ideologues) and instead you get a relatively reasonable cross-section of the population, with a higher chance that someone proposing or scrutinising legislation has some idea of what they're talking about.