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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Anthony Ashley-Cooper 7th Earl of Shaftesbury
28 April 1801 – 1 October 1885

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Anthony Ashley-Cooper

Anthony Ashley-Cooper 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, Lord Ashley, as he was styled until his father’s death in 1851, was educated at Manor House school in Chiswick (1812–1813), Harrow School (1813–1816) and Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained first class honours in classics in 1822, took his MA in 1832 and was appointed DCL in 1841.

Ashley’s early family life was loveless, a circumstance common among the British upper classes, and resembled in that respect the fictional childhood of Esther Summerson vividly narrated in the early chapters of Charles Dickens’s novel Bleak House. G.F.A Best in his biography Shaftesbury writes that: “Ashley grew up without any experience of parental love. He saw little of his parents, and when duty or necessity compelled them to take notice of him they were formal and frightening.”

This difficult childhood was softened by the affection he received from his housekeeper Maria Millis, and his sisters. Millis provided for Ashley a model of Christian love that would form the basis for much of his later social activism and philanthropic work, as Best explains: “What did touch him was the reality, and the homely practicality, of the love which her Christianity made her feel towards the unhappy child. She told him bible stories, she taught him a prayer.” Despite this powerful reprieve, school became another source of misery for the young Ashley, whose education at Manor House from 1808 to 1813 introduced a “more disgusting range of horrors”. Shaftesbury himself shuddered to recall those years, “The place was bad, wicked, filthy; and the treatment was starvation and cruelty.”

Ashley was elected as the Tory Member of Parliament for Woodstock (a pocket borough controlled by the Duke of Marlborough) in June 1826 and was a strong supporter of the Duke of Wellington. After George Canning replaced Lord Liverpool as Prime Minister, he offered Ashley a place in the new government, despite Ashley having been in the Commons for only five months. Ashley politely declined, writing in his diary that he believed that serving under Canning would be a betrayal of his allegiance to the Duke of Wellington and that he was not qualified for office. Before he had completed one year in the Commons, he had been appointed to three parliamentary committees and he received his fourth such appointment in June 1827, when he was appointed to the Select Committee On Pauper Lunatics in the County of Middlesex and on Lunatic Asylums.

In Lord Shaftesbury’s lifetime 1827, when Ashley was appointed to the Select Committee On Pauper Lunatics in the County of Middlesex and on Lunatic Asylums, the majority of lunatics in London were kept in madhouses owned by Dr Warburton. The Committee examined many witnesses concerning one of his madhouses in Bethnal Green, called the White House. Ashley visited this on the Committee’s behalf. The patients were chained up, slept naked on straw, and went to toilet in their beds. They were left chained from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning when they were cleared of the accumulated excrement. They were then washed down in freezing cold water and one towel was allotted to 160 people, with no soap. It was overcrowded and the meat provided was “that nasty thick hard muscle a dog could not eat”. The White House had been described as “a mere place for dying” rather than curing the insane and when the Committee asked Dr MacMichael whether he believed that “in the lunatic asylums in the neighbourhood of London any curative process is going on with regard to pauper patients”, he replied: “None at all”.

The Committee recommended that “legislative measures of a remedial character should be introduced at the earliest period at the next session”, and the establishment of a Board of Commissioners appointed by the Home Secretary possessing extensive powers of licensing, inspection and control. When in February 1828 Robert Gordon, Liberal MP for Cricklade, introduced a bill to put these recommendations into law, Ashley seconded this and delivered his maiden speech in support of the Bill. He wrote in his diary: “So, by God’s blessing, my first effort has been for the advance of human happiness. May I improve hourly! Fright almost deprived me of recollection but again thank Heaven, I did not sit down quite a presumptuous idiot”. Ashley was also involved in framing the County Lunatic Asylums (England) Act 1828 and the Madhouses Act 1828. Through these Acts fifteen commissioners were appointed for the London area and given extensive powers of licensing and inspection, one of the commissioners being Ashley.

In July 1845 Ashley sponsored two Lunacy Acts, ‘For the Regulation of lunatic Asylums’ and ‘For the better Care and Treatment of Lunatics in England and Wales’. They originated in the Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy which he had commended to Parliament the year before. These Acts consolidated and amended previous lunacy laws, providing better record keeping and more strict certification regulations to ensure patients against unwarranted detention. They also ordered, instead of merely permitting, the construction of country lunatic asylums with and establishing an ongoing Lunacy Commission with Ashley as its chairman. In support of these measures, Ashley gave a speech in which he claimed that although since 1828 there had been an improvement, more still needed to be done. He cited the case of a Welsh lunatic girl, Mary Jones, who had for more than a decade been locked in a tiny loft with one boarded-up window with little air and no light. The room was extremely filthy and was filled with an intolerable smell. She could only squat in a bent position in the room and this had caused her to become deformed.

In early 1858 a Select Committee was appointed over concerns that sane persons were detained in lunatic asylums. Lord Shaftesbury (as Ashley had become upon his father’s death in 1851) was the chief witness and opposed the suggestion that the certification of insanity be made more difficult and that early treatment of insanity was essential if there was to be any prospect of a cure. He claimed that only one or two people in his time dealing with lunacy had been detained in an asylum without sufficient grounds and that commissioners should be granted more not fewer powers. The Committee’s Report endorsed all of Shaftesbury’s recommendations except for one: that a magistrate’s signature on a certificate of lunacy be made compulsory. This was not put into law chiefly due to Shaftesbury’s opposition to it. The Report also agreed with Shaftesbury that unwarranted detentions were “extremely rare”.

In July 1877 Shaftesbury gave evidence before the Select Committee on the Lunacy Laws, which had been appointed in February over concerns that it was too easy for sane persons to be detained in asylums. Shaftesbury feared that because of his advanced age he would be taken over by forgetfulness whilst given evidence and was greatly stressed in the months leading up to his giving evidence: “Shall fifty years of toil, anxiety and prayer, crowned by marvellous and unlooked-for success, bring me in the end only sorrow and disgrace?” When “the hour of trial” arrived Shaftesbury defended the Lunacy Commission and claimed he was now the only person alive who could speak with personal knowledge of the state of care of lunatics before the Lunacy Commission was established in 1828. It had been “a state of things such as would pass all belief”. In the Committee’s Report, the members of the Committee agreed with Shaftesbury’s evidence on all points.

In 1884 the husband of Mrs Georgina Weldon tried to have her detained in a lunatic asylum because she believed that her pug dog had a soul and that the spirit of her dead mother had entered into her pet rabbit. She commenced legal action against Shaftesbury and other lunacy commissioners although they failed. In May Shaftesbury spoke in the Lords against a motion declaring the lunacy laws unsatisfactory but the motion passed Parliament. The Lord Chancellor Selborne supported a Lunacy Law Amendment Bill and Shaftesbury wanted to resign from the Lunacy Commission as he believed he was honour bound not to oppose a Bill supported by the Lord Chancellor. However Selborne implored him not to resign so Shaftesbury refrained. However, when the Bill was introduced and it contained the provision which made it compulsory for a certificate of lunacy to be signed by a magistrate or a judge, he resigned. The government fell, however, and the Bill was withdrawn and Shaftesbury resumed his chairmanship of the Lunacy Commission.

Shaftesbury’s work in improving the care of the insane remains one of his most important, though less well known, of his achievements. He wrote: “Beyond the circle of my own Commissioners and the lunatics that I visit, not a soul, in great or small life, not even my associates in my works of philanthropy, has any notion of the years of toil and care that, under God, I have bestowed on this melancholy and awful question”.

In March 1833 Ashley introduced the Ten Hours Act 1833 into the Commons, which provided that children working in the cotton and woollen industries must be aged nine or above; no person under the age of eighteen was to work more than ten hours a day or eight hours on a Saturday; and no one under twenty-five was to work nights. However the Whig government, by a majority of 145, amended this to substitute “thirteen” in place of “eighteen” and the Act as it passed ensured that no child under thirteen worked more than nine hours, insisted they should go to school, and appointed inspectors to enforce the law.

In June 1836 another Ten Hours act was introduced into the Commons and although Ashley considered this Bill ill-timed, he supported it. In July one member of the Lancashire committees set up to support the Bill wrote that: “If there was one man in England more devoted to the interests of the factory people than another, it was Lord Ashley. They might always rely on him as a ready, steadfast and willing friend”. In July 1837 he accused the government of ignoring the breaches of the 1833 Act and moved the resolution that the House regretted the regulation of the working hours of children had. been found to be unsatisfactory. It was lost by fifteen votes.

The text of A Narrative of the Experience and Sufferings of William Dodd a Factory Cripple was sent to Lord Astley and with his support was published in 1840. Astley employed William Dodd at 45 shillings a week and he wrote “The Factory System: Illustrated” to describe the conditions of working children in textile manufacture. This was published in 1842. These books were attacked by John Bright in parliament who said that he had evidence that the books described Dodd’s mistreatment but were in fact driven by Dodd’s ingratitude as a disgruntled employee. Ashley sacked Dodd who emigrated to America.

In 1842 Ashley wrote twice to the Prime Minister, Robert Peel, to urge the government to support a new Factory Act. Peel wrote in reply that he would not support one and Ashley wrote to the Short Time Committees of Chesire, Lancashire and Yorkshire who desired a Ten Hours Act:
Though painfully disappointed, I am not disheartened, nor am I at a loss either what course to take, or what advice to give. I shall persevere unto my last hour, and so must you; we must exhaust every legitimate means that the Constitution afford, in petitions to Parliament, in public meetings, and in friendly conferences with your employers; but you must infringe no law, and offend no proprieties; we must all work together as sensible men, who will one day give an account of their motives and actions; if this course is approved, no consideration shall detach me from your cause; if not, you must elect another advocate. I know that, in resolving on this step, I exclude myself altogether from the tenure of office; I rejoice in the sacrifice, happy to devote the remainder of my days, be they many or be they few, as God in His wisdom shall determine, to an effort, however laborious, to ameliorate your moral and social condition.

In March 1844 Ashley moved an amendment to a Factory Bill limiting the working hours of adolescents to ten hours after Sir James Graham had introduced a Bill aiming to limit their working hours to twelve hours. Ashley’s amendment was passed by eight votes, the first time the Commons had approved of the Ten Hour principle. However, in a later vote his amendment was defeated by seven votes and the Bill was withdrawn. Later that month Graham introduced another Bill which again would limit the employment of adolescents to twelve hours. Ashley supported this Bill except that he wanted ten hours not twelve as the limit. In May he moved an amendment to limit the hours worked to ten hours but this was lost by 138 votes.

In 1846, whilst he was out of Parliament, Ashley strongly supported John Fielden’s Ten Hours Bill, which was lost by ten votes. In January 1847 Fielden reintroduced his Bill and it finally passed through Parliament to become the Ten Hours Act.

Ashley introduced the Mines and Collieries Act 1842 in Parliament to outlaw the employment of women and children underground in coal mines. He made a speech in support of the Act and the Prince Consort wrote to him afterwards, sending him the “best wishes for your total success”. At the end of his speech, his opponent on the Ten Hours issue, Cobden, walked over to Ashley and said: “You know how opposed I have been to your views; but I don’t think I have ever been put into such a frame of mind in the whole course of my life as I have been by your speech”.

Ashley was a strong supporter of prohibiting the employment of boys as chimney sweeps. Many climbing boys were illegitimate who had been sold by their parents. They suffered from scorched and lacerated skin, their eyes and throats filled with soot, with the danger of suffocation and their occupational disease—cancer of the scrotum. In 1840 a Bill was introduced into the Commons outlawing the employment of boys as chimney sweeps, and strongly supported by Ashley. Despite being enforced in London, elsewhere the Act did not stop the employment of child chimney sweeps and this led to the foundation of the Climbing-Boys’ Society with Ashley as its chairman. In 1851, 1853 and 1855 Shaftesbury introduced Bills into Parliament to deal with the ongoing use of boy chimney sweeps but these were all defeated. He succeeded in passing the Chimney Sweepers Regulation Act 1864 but like its predecessors it remained ineffectual. Shaftesbury finally persuaded Parliament to pass the Chimney Sweepers Act 1875 which ensured the annual licensing of chimney sweeps and the enforcement of the law by the police. This finally eradicated the employment of boys as chimney sweeps.

After Shaftesbury discovered that a boy chimney sweep was living behind his house in Brock Street, London, he rescued the child and sent him to “the Union School at Norwood Hill, where, under God’s blessing and special merciful grace, he will be trained in the knowledge and love and faith of our common Saviour”.

In 1844 Ashley became president of the Ragged School Union that promoted ragged schools. These schools were for poor children and sprang up from volunteers. Ashley wrote that “If the Ragged School system were to fail I should not die in the course of nature, I should die of a broken heart”.

Shaftesbury was a leading figure within 19th-century evangelical Anglicanism. Shaftesbury was President of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) from 1851 until his death in 1885. He wrote, of the Bible Society, “Of all Societies this is nearest to my heart… Bible Society has always been a watchword in our house.” He was also president of the Evangelical Alliance for some time.

Shaftesbury was also a student of Edward Bickersteth and together they became prominent advocates of Christian Zionism in Britain. Shaftesbury was an early proponent of the Restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land, providing the first proposal by a major politician to resettle Jews in Palestine. The conquest of Greater Syria in 1831 by Muhammad Ali of Egypt changed the conditions under which European power politics operated in the Near East. As a consequence of that shift, Shaftesbury was able to help persuade Foreign Minister Palmerston to send a British consul to Jerusalem in 1838. A committed Christian and a loyal Englishman, Shaftesbury argued for a Jewish return because of what he saw as the political and economic advantages to England and because he believed that it was God’s will. In January 1839, Shaftesbury published an article in the Quarterly Review, which although initially commenting on the 1838 Letters on Egypt, Edom and the Holy Land (1838) by Lord Lindsay, provided the first proposal by a major politician to resettle Jews in Palestine:

The soil and climate of Palestine are singularly adapted to the growth of produce required for the exigencies of Great Britain; the finest cotton may be obtained in almost unlimited abundance; silk and madder are the staple of the country, and olive oil is now, as it ever was, the very fatness of the land. Capital and skill are alone required: the presence of a British officer, and the increased security of property which his presence will confer, may invite them from these islands to the cultivation of Palestine; and the Jews’, who will betake themselves to agriculture in no other land, having found, in the English consul, a mediator between their people and the Pacha, will probably return in yet greater numbers, and become once more the husbandmen of Judaea and Galilee.

The lead-up to the Crimean War (1854), like the military expansionism of Muhammad Ali two decades earlier, signalled an opening for realignments in the Near East. In July 1853, Shaftesbury wrote to Prime Minister Aberdeen that Greater Syria was “a country without a nation” in need of “a nation without a country… Is there such a thing? To be sure there is, the ancient and rightful lords of the soil, the Jews!” In his diary that year he wrote “these vast and fertile regions will soon be without a ruler, without a known and acknowledged power to claim dominion. The territory must be assigned to some one or other… There is a country without a nation; and God now in his wisdom and mercy, directs us to a nation without a country.” This is commonly cited as an early use of the phrase, “A land without a people for a people without a land” by which Shaftesbury was echoing another British proponent of the restoration of the Jews to Israel, (Dr Alexander Keith.)

Shaftesbury served as the first president of the Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade – a lobbying group opposed to the Anglo-Asian opium trade. The Society was formed by Quaker businessmen in 1874, and Shaftesbury was president from 1880 until his death. The Society’s efforts eventually led to the creation of the investigative Royal Commission on Opium.

The Shaftesbury Memorial in Piccadilly Circus, London, erected in 1893, was designed to commemorate his philanthropic works. The Memorial is crowned by Alfred Gilbert’s aluminium statue of Anteros as a nude, butterfly-winged archer. This is officially titled The Angel of Christian Charity, but has become popularly, if mistakenly, known as Eros. It appears on the masthead of the Evening Standard.

Lord Shaftesbury is honoured together with William Wilberforce on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church on 30 July. Lord Shaftesbury was a member of the Canterbury Association, as were two of Wilberforce’s sons, Samuel and Robert. Lord Ashley joined on 27 March 1848.

Lord Shaftesbury, then Lord Ashley, married Lady Emily Caroline Catherine Frances Cowper (died 15 October 1872), daughter of Peter Cowper, 5th Earl Cowper and Emily Lamb, Countess Cowper; Emily is likely in fact to have been the natural daughter of Lord Palmerston (later her official stepfather), on 10 June 1830. This marriage, which proved a happy and fruitful one, produced ten children, as cited in “The Seventh Earl” by Grace Irwin. It also provided invaluable political connections for Ashley; his wife’s maternal uncle was Lord Melbourne and her stepfather (and supposed biological father) Lord Palmerston, both Prime Ministers.

The children, who mostly suffered various degrees of ill-health, were:

  1. Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 8th Earl of Shaftesbury (27 June 1831 – 13 April 1886), ancestor of all subsequent earls. He proved to be a disappointing heir apparent, constantly running up debts with his extravagant wife Harriet, born Lady Harriet Chichester.
  2. Hon. (Anthony) Francis Henry Ashley-Cooper, second son (b. 13 March 1833 – 13 May 1849
  3. Hon. (Anthony) Maurice William Ashley-Cooper, third son (22 July 1835 – 19 August 1855), died aged 20, after several years of illness.
  4. Rt. Hon. Evelyn Melbourne Ashley (24 July 1836 – 15 November 1907), married 1stly 28 July 1866 Sybella Charlotte Farquhar (ca. 1846 – 31 August 1886), daughter of Sir Walter Rockcliffe Farquhar, 3rd Bt. by his wife Lady Mary Octavia Somerset, a daughter of the Duke of Beaufort and had one son Wilfred William Ashley, and one daughter. His granddaughter was Hon. Edwina Ashley, later Lady Mountbatten (1901–1960), whose two daughters Patricia, Countess Mountbatten of Burma (b. 1924) and Lady Pamela Hicks (b. 1929) are still living as of 2013. Evelyn Ashley left several other descendants via his daughter and Edwina’s younger sister. Evelyn Ashley married 2ndly 30 June 1891 Lady Alice Elizabeth Cole (4 February 1853 – 25 August 1931), daughter of William Willoughby Cole, 3rd Earl of Enniskillen by his 1st wife Jane Casamajor, no issue. The Rt Hon Evelyn Melbourne Ashley died 15 November 1907.
  5. Lady Victoria Elizabeth Ashley, later Lady Templemore (23 September 1837 – 15 February 1927), married 8 January 1873 (aged 35) St George’s, Hanover Square, London Harry Chichester, 2nd Baron Templemore (4 June 1821 – 10 June 1906), son of Arthur Chichester, 1st Baron Templemore and Lady Augusta Paget, and had issue.
  6. Hon (Anthony) Lionel George Ashley-Cooper (b. 7 September 1838 – 1914). He md 12 December 1868 Frances Elizabeth Leigh “Fanny (d. 12 August 1875), daughter of Capel Hanbury Leigh; apparently had no issue.
  7. Lady Mary Charlotte Ashley-Cooper, second daughter (25 July 1842 – 3 September 1861.
  8. Lady Constance Emily Ashley-Cooper, third daughter, or “Conty” (29 November 1845 – 16 December 1872 or 1871 of lung disease)
  9. Lady Edith Florence Ashley-Cooper, fourth daughter (1 February 1847 – 25 November 1913)
  10. Hon. (Anthony) Cecil Ashley-Cooper, sixth son and tenth and youngest child (8 August 1849 – 23 September 1932); apparently died unmarried.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir George Staunton 2nd Baronet
26 May 1781 – 10 August 1859

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George Staunton

Sir George Staunton 2nd Baronet was born at Milford House near Salisbury, he was the son of Sir George Leonard Staunton, first baronet, diplomatist and Orientalist. In 1792, at the age of 12, he accompanied his father, who had been appointed secretary to Lord Macartney’s mission to China, to the Far East (1792–1794). Prior to the trip the young George Staunton had begun to learn Chinese alongside Sir John Barrow, 1st Baronet and for the duration was therefore given the role of Page to Lord Macartney. During the mission his Chinese proved good enough to engage in diplomatic banter and he received a personal gift from the Qianlong Emperor. In 1797 he spent two terms at Trinity College, Cambridge.

In 1798 was appointed a writer in the British East India Company’s factory at Canton (Guangzhou), and subsequently its chief. During this time his knowledge of Chinese increased. In 1805 he translated a work of Dr George Pearson into Chinese, thereby introducing vaccination into China. Five years later he published a translation of a significant part of the Chinese legal code.

In April 1803 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1816 Staunton proceeded as second commissioner on a special mission to Beijing with Lord Amherst and Sir Henry Ellis. During the mission he landed in Hong Kong in July, 1816. He walked from the shore of Hong Kong to Hong Kong Village via Wong Chuk Hang. After the trip, Wong Chuk Hang was named Staunton Creek and the valley where Hong Kong Village was located was named Staunton Valley. Staunton Creek later became a cesspool of mud and rotting sampans and was eventually cleared to create Wong Chuk Hang Nullah with the residents housed in Wong Chuk Hang Estate. Hong Kong Village was most likely Wong Chuk Hang Lo Wai; only Wong Chuk Hang San Wai still exists at the bottom of Shouson Hill. After the ceding of Hong Kong from China to Great Britain, Staunton Street in Central was named after him.

The embassy was unsuccessful and shortly after it departed back to Britain Staunton decided to leave China permanently.

George Staunton had been looking for a country home for some years before his permanent return from China and in 1818 put in a bid for Newstead Abbey but was outbid by Thomas Wildman. In 1820 he purchased the Leigh estate in Hampshire which included what was to become Staunton Country Park. He lived there for part of each year and made substantial alterations to the buildings and the landscape.

Three years later he was heavily involved with the founding of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Their Sir George Staunton prize is awarded annually.

Between 1818 and 1852 he was MP for several English constituencies, finally for Portsmouth. He latter described himself as being during his early years in parliament a liberal Tory who looked to George Canning for leadership. He was a member of the East India Committee, and in 1823, in conjunction with Henry Thomas Colebrooke founded the Royal Asiatic Society.

From 1829 until 1856 he was a member of the Society of Dilettanti.

He had never married and the baronetcy became extinct on his death (in London). He left his Irish estate, Clydagh House, to his eldest cousin George Staunton Lynch (who took the additional surname of Staunton) and Leigh Park and his London house (17, Devonshire Street, Marylebone) to George Staunton Lynch’s younger brother, Captain Henry Cormick Lynch.

His publications include translations of Great Qing Legal Code, known as the Fundamental Laws of China (1810) and of the Narrative of the Chinese Embassy to the Khan of the Tourgouth Tartars (1821); Miscellaneous Notices Relating to China and our Commercial Intercourse with that Country (1822); Notes of Proceedings and Occurrences during the British Embassy to Peking (1824); Observations on our Chinese Commerce (1850). For the Hakluyt Society he edited Juan González de Mendoza’s History of the Great and Mighty Kingdom of China.

  • Mendoza, Juan González de (1970). Staunton, Sir George Thomas, ed. The History of the Great and Mighty Kingdom of China and the Situation Thereof, Volume 1. Compiled by Juan González de Mendoza, Sir George Thomas Staunton Contributor Sir George Thomas Staunton (reprint ed.). B. Franklin.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Lieutenant-Colonel Augustus Frederick Ellis
17 September 1800 – 16 August 1841

Lieutenant-Colonel Augustus Frederick Ellis was the son of Charles Ellis, 1st Baron Seaford and Elizabeth Catherine Caroline Hervey. He was educated at Eton College between 1811 and 1814, and commissioned into the 9th Regiment of Light Dragoons in 1817. On 4 October 1821 Ellis purchased a captaincy in the 76th Regiment of Foot.

He stood for the Seaford constituency, a seat controlled by his father, in the 1826 general election. He was returned as the Member of Parliament alongside fellow Tory John Fitzgerald. Ellis vacated the seat to allow George Canning to hold the seat for four months in 1827, before resuming it. He rarely attended the House of Commons and focused on his military career, being promoted to lieutenant-colonel in the 60th Royal Rifles in December 1828. Ellis voted for Catholic emancipation in March 1829.

He died in Jamaica in August 1841 while in the command of the 2nd Battalion of his regiment. He had married Mary Frances Thurlow Cunynghame, daughter of Colonel Sir David Cunynghame of Milncraig, 5th Baronet and Maria Thurlow, on 25 June 1828. Their son was Sir Arthur Ellis.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Henry Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck 4th Duke of Portland
24 June 1768 – 27 March 1854

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William Henry Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck 4th Duke of Portland

William Henry Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck 4th Duke of Portland was the eldest son of Prime Minister William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland and Lady Dorothy, daughter of William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire and Charlotte Boyle, Baroness Clifford. He was the elder brother of Lord William Bentinck and Lord Charles Bentinck.

He was educated first in Ealing under the tutelage of Samuel Goodenough graduating in 1774, followed by Westminster School (1783). He attended Christ Church, Oxford for two years but did not take a degree. The third Duke, who spared no expense for his heir, sent him to The Hague in 1786 for experience working with the crown’s envoy, Sir James Harris. He returned in 1789.

He later received an honorary Doctor of Civil Law from Oxford in 1793. He also served as a Family Trustee of the British Museum; in 1810, he loaned the famed Portland Vase to the museum.

 

Portland was Member of Parliament for Petersfield between 1790 and 1791 and for Buckinghamshire between 1791 and 1809.

He served under his father as a Lord of the Treasury between March and September 1807. He remained out of office until April 1827 when he was appointed Lord Privy Seal by his brother-in-law George Canning. He was sworn of the Privy Council the same year. When Lord Goderich became Prime Minister in August 1827, Portland became Lord President of the Council, an office he retained until the government fell in January 1828. Over time the Duke became less of a staunch Conservative, softening to some of the more liberal stances of Canning.

Portland also held the honorary post of Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex between 1794 and 1841.

Portland married Henrietta, eldest daughter and heiress of Major-General John Scott of Fife and his wife Margaret (née Dundas), in London on 4 August 1795. At the time of his marriage he obtained Royal Licence to take the name and arms of Scott in addition to that of Cavendish-Bentinck. They were parents of nine children:

  • (William) Henry, Marquess of Titchfield (22 October 1796 – 5 March 1824)
  • Lady Margaret Harriet (21 April 1798 – 9 April 1882)
  • Lady Caroline (6 July 1799 – 23 January 1828)
  • (William) John, Marquess of Titchfield, later 5th Duke of Portland (12 September 1800 – 6 December 1879)
  • (William) George Frederick (27 February 1802 – 21 September 1848)
  • Lord Henry William Bentinck (9 June 1804 – 31 December 1870)
  • Lady Charlotte (14 Jan 1806 – 30 September 1889); married John Evelyn Denison, 1st Viscount Ossington
  • Lady Lucy Joan (27 August 1807 – 29 July 1899); married Charles Ellis, 6th Baron Howard de Walden
  • Lady Mary (8 July 1809 – 20 July 1874); married Sir William Topham

The Duchess of Portland died 24 April 1844. Nearly 10 years later, Portland died at the family seat of Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, in March 1854, aged 85. Two of their sons predeceased their parents; their eldest dying of a brain lesion and their third son dying of a heart attack.

The duke expressed a desire to be buried in the open churchyard in Bolsover, Derbyshire, near the other family seat at Bolsover Castle. However he was instead interred in the ancient Cavendish vault, that had previously been unopened for 138 years.

He was succeeded in the dukedom by his second but eldest surviving son, William.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Parker 1st Earl of Morley
3 May 1772 – 14 March 1840

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John Parker

John Parker 1st Earl of Morley was the only son of John Parker, 1st Baron Boringdon, and his second wife the Honourable Theresa Robinson, daughter of Thomas Robinson, 1st Baron Grantham. His mother died when he was three years old and his father when he was fifteen. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford.

Morley took his seat in the House of Lords on his 21st birthday in 1793. He was an active member of the House of Lords, initially supporting government policies until the death of William Pitt the Younger in 1806. After Pitt’s death he supported George Canning, with whom he corresponded on political matters for many years. In 1815, he was created Viscount Boringdon, of North Molton in the County of Devon, and Earl of Morley, in the County of Devon. After Canning’s death in 1827 he began to support the Whigs, and voted for the Great Reform Act of 1832. Apart from his involvement in national politics, Morley was also a great benefactor to public works in his home county of Devon and was a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Lord Morley married, firstly, Lady Augusta Fane, second daughter of John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland, in 1804. They had one son, who died young, and were divorced in 1809.

He married, secondly, Frances Talbot, daughter of Thomas Talbot, in 1809. They had one son and one daughter. Lord Morley died at his seat of Saltram House in March 1840, aged 67, and was succeeded in his titles by his only son Edmund. Lady Morley died in 1857.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Henry Richard Vassall-Fox 3rd Baron Holland
21 November 1773 – 22 October 1840

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Henry Vassall-Fox

Henry Vassall-Fox 3rd Baron Holland was born at Winterslow House, Wiltshire, the son of Stephen Fox, 2nd Baron Holland and Lady Mary, daughter of John FitzPatrick, 1st Earl of Upper Ossory and Lady Evelyn, daughter of John Leveson-Gower, 1st Earl Gower. His paternal grandparents were Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, and Lady Caroline Lennox, the eldest of the famous Lennox Sisters and a great-granddaughter (through an illegitimate line) of King Charles II.

He succeeded in the barony in December 1774, aged one, on the early death of his father, while his mother died shortly before his fifth birthday. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he became the friend of George Canning and John Hookham Frere. Lord Holland’s uncle was the great Whig orator Charles James Fox, and he remained steadily loyal to the Whig party.

On a visit to Paris in 1791 Holland became acquainted with Lafayette and Talleyrand. He took his seat in the House of Lords on 5 October 1796. According to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica he for a while “almost … constituted the Whig party in the upper house.” He was appointed to negotiate a treaty with American envoys James Monroe and William Pinkney, was admitted to the Privy Council on 27 August 1806, and on the 15th of October entered the Ministry of All the Talents led by Lord Grenville as Lord Privy Seal, retiring with the rest of his colleagues in March 1807.

Holland led the opposition to the Regency bill in 1811, and he attacked the orders in council and other strong measures of the government taken to counteract Napoleon’s Berlin decrees. He denounced the treaty of 1813 with Sweden which bound Britain to consent to the forcible union of Norway, and he resisted the bill of 1816 for confining Napoleon in Saint Helena. He was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster between 1830 and 1834 and 1835 and 1840 in the cabinets of Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne, and he was still in office when he died in October 1840.

Holland’s protests against the measures of the Tory ministers were collected and published, as the Opinions of Lord Holland (1841), by Dr Moylan of Lincoln’s Inn. Lord Holland’s Foreign Reminiscences (1850) contain much amusing gossip from the Revolutionary and Napoleonic era. His Memoirs of the Whig Party (1852) is an important contemporary authority. He also published a small work on Lope de Vega (1806).

After visiting Paris in 1791 Holland again went abroad to travel in France and Italy in 1793. At Florence he met Elizabeth Vassall, at that time Lady Webster, wife of Sir Godfrey Webster, 4th Baronet. She and her husband obtained a divorce, and she married Holland on 6 July 1797, becoming Elizabeth Fox, Baroness Holland. An illegitimate son, Charles Richard Fox, was born to them. He later rose to become a General in the British Army.

They had three more children: the Hon. Stephen Fox (d. 1800), Henry Edward Fox, 4th Baron Holland, and Hon. Mary Elizabeth Fox, married to Thomas Powys, 3rd Baron Lilford. In 1800 he was authorized to take the name of Vassall, and after 1807 he signed himself Vassall Holland, though the name was no part of his title. Lord Holland died in October 1840, aged 66, and was succeeded in his titles by his eldest and only surviving legitimate son, Henry. Lady Holland died in November 1845.

Vassall ward in the London Borough of Lambeth is named after Henry Richard Vassall-Fox who was responsible for the first building development in the area in the 1820s. Roads in the area such as Lord Holland Lane or Foxley Square commemorate this connection.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

James Abercromby 1st Baron Dunfermline
7 November 1776 – 17 April 1858

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James Abercromby

James Abercromby 1st Baron Dunfermline was the third son of General Sir Ralph Abercromby, who fell at the Battle of Alexandria, and Mary, 1st Baroness Abercromby, daughter of John Menzies of Fernton, Perthshire. He was the younger brother of George Abercromby, 2nd Baron Abercromby and Sir John Abercromby and the elder brother of Alexander Abercromby. He attended the Royal High School, Edinburgh, and was called to the English Bar, Lincoln’s Inn, in 1801. He became a commissioner of bankruptcy and later appointed steward of the Duke of Devonshire’s estates.

Abercromby sat as Whig Member of Parliament for Midhurst between 1807 and 1812 and for Calne between 1812 and 1830. He brought forwards two motions for bills to change the representation for Edinburgh in parliament. He received great support but no change was made until the Reform Act 1832. In 1827 he sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Judge-Advocate-General by George Canning, a post he held until 1828, the last months under the premiership of Lord Goderich.

In 1830 Abercromby was made Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer in Scotland, a position he retained until 1832, when the office was abolished. He received a pension of £2,000 a year. In 1832 returned to the House of Commons as one of two members for Edinburgh, whose representation had now been increased from one to two members. In July 1834 he entered Lord Melbourne’s cabinet as Master of the Mint, but only held the post until November of the same year, when the Whigs lost power.

Abercromby was considered for the speakership of the House of Commons by his party in 1833, but Edward Littleton was eventually chosen instead (he was defeated by Charles Manners-Sutton). However, in 1835 he was chosen as the Whig candidate. Due to an evenly balanced House of Commons the election rendered great interest and was fiercely contested. On 19 February 1835 Abercromby was elected, defeating Manners-Sutton by 316 votes to 306. The Dictionary of National Biography writes that “As speaker Abercromby acted with great impartiality while he possessed sufficient decision to quell any serious tendency to disorder.” During his tenure a number of reforms for the introduction of private bills were made. In spite of failing health Abercromby continued as speaker until 1839. On his retirement he was raised to the peerage as Baron Dunfermline, of Dunfermline in the County of Fife.

After his retirement Abercromby continued to take an interest in public affairs, specifically those involving the city of Edinburgh. He was one of the originators of the United Industrial School for the support and training of destitute children. In 1841 he was elected as Dean of Faculty at the University of Glasgow.He also wrote a biography of his father, published posthumously in 1861.

Lord Dunfermline married Mary Anne, daughter of Egerton Leigh, of West Hall, in High Legh, on 14 June 1802. He died at Collinton House, Midlothian, in April 1858, aged 81, and was buried at Grange cemetery, Edinburgh. He was succeeded in the barony by his son, Sir Ralph Abercromby, KCB, who was Secretary of Legation at Berlin and served as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Sardinia between 1840 and 1851 and to The Hague between 1851 and 1858. Lady Dunfermline died in August 1874.

He was the nephew of Robert Bruce, Lord Kennet.

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