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Posts Tagged ‘William Pitt the Younger’

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.

John Jeffreys Pratt 1st Marquess Camden
11 February 1759 – 8 October 1840

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John Jeffreys Pratt

John Jeffreys Pratt 1st Marquess Camden was born at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, the only son of Lord Chancellor Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden, and Elizabeth, daughter of Nicholas Jeffreys, of The Priory, Brecknockshire. He was baptised on the day Halley’s Comet appeared. He was educated at the University of Cambridge (Trinity College).

In 1780 Camden was elected Member of Parliament for Bath and obtained the position of Teller of the Exchequer the same year, a lucrative office which he kept until his death, although after 1812 he refused to receive the large income arising from it. He served under the Earl of Shelburne as Lord of the Admiralty between 1782 and 1783 and in the same post under William Pitt the Younger between 1783 and 1789, as well as a Lord of the Treasury between 1789 and 1792.

In 1793 he was sworn of the Privy Council. In 1794 he succeeded his father in the earldom, and the following year he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland by Pitt.

Disliked in Ireland as an opponent of Roman Catholic emancipation and as the exponent of an unpopular policy, Camden’s term of office was one of turbulence, culminating in the rebellion of 1798; his refusal to reprieve the United Irishman William Orr, convicted of treason on the word of one witness of dubious credit, aroused great public indignation.

Immediately after the suppression of the rising Camden resigned. In 1804 he became Secretary of State for War and the Colonies under Pitt, and in 1805 Lord President of the Council, an office he retained until 1806. He was again Lord President from 1807 to 1812, after which date he remained for some time in the cabinet without office. In 1812 he was created Earl of Brecknock and Marquess Camden.

Camden was also Lord Lieutenant of Kent between 1808 and 1840 and Chancellor of Cambridge University between 1834 and 1840. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1799 and elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1802.

Lord Camden married Frances, daughter of William Molesworth, in 1785. She died at Bayham Abbey, Sussex, in July 1829. Lord Camden survived her by eleven years and died at Seale, Surrey, on 8 October 1840, aged 81. He was succeeded by his only son, George.

The family owned and lived in a house located at 22 Arlington Street in St. James’s, a district of the City of Westminster in central London, which is adjoining the Ritz Hotel. In the year of his death, he sold the house to Major Henry Somerset, 7th Duke of Beaufort.

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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.

Thomas Erskine 1st Baron Erskine
10 January 1750 – 17 November 1823

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Thomas Erskine

Thomas Erskine 1st Baron Erskine was the third and youngest surviving son of Henry Erskine, 10th Earl of Buchan, and was born in a tenement at the head of South Grays Close on the High Street in Edinburgh. His older brothers were David (Lord Cardross and later the 11th Earl of Buchan) and Henry (later Lord Advocate of Scotland). His mother, Agnes Steuart, was the daughter of a solicitor general for Scotland and undertook much of her children’s education as the family, though noble, were not rich. The family moved to St Andrews, where they could live more cheaply, and Erskine attended the grammar school there. The family’s money having been spent on the education of his older brothers, Erskine, aged fourteen, reluctantly abandoned his formal education for the time being and went to sea as a midshipman. His family meanwhile moved to Bath to become members of the Methodist community headed by Selina, Countess of Huntingdon. One of Erskine’s sisters, Anne Agnes, was to become treasurer of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon’s charities.

Erskine went to sea as a midshipman in the Tartar, under captain Sir David Lindsay, who was a nephew of Lord Mansfield and a friend of the Erskine family. The Tartar set sail for the Caribbean, where Erskine was to spend the next four years, rising to the rank of acting lieutenant. When Erskine was eighteen he resigned from the Navy. His ship had been paid off, there were no commissions available, and he didn’t want to return to sea as a midshipman after having been an acting lieutenant. The 10th Earl of Buchan had recently died, and Erskine now had just enough money to buy a commission in the army, becoming an ensign in the 1st (Royal) Regiment of Foot. He was stationed first at Berwick and then on Jersey. On 29 March 1770 Erskine married Frances Moore at Gretna Green, against the wishes of her father, Daniel Moore who was member of parliament for Great Marlowe. Frances was the granddaughter of John Moore, who had been attorney general of Pennsylvania. Erskine’s regiment was then posted to Minorca, and Frances went with him. Before meeting Frances, Erskine had written about the qualities he was looking for in a bride: “Let then my ornament be far from the tinsel glare, let it be fair yet modest, let it rather delight than dazzle, rather shine like the mild beams of the morning than the blaze of the noon. I seek in my fair one a winning female softness both in person and mind”. Erskine appears to have found these qualities in Frances: she is described on her memorial in Hampstead Church as “the most faithful and affectionate of women”. The couple had four sons and four daughters.

While he was stationed in Jersey and Minorca, Erskine had on occasion preached sermons to his men, prompting one biographer to say that “a taste for oratory that ultimately would lead on to his true career originated in those soldier sermons”.

He also demonstrated his future skills as an advocate in a pamphlet entitled “Observations on the Prevailing Abuses in the British Army Arising from the Corruption of Civil Government with a Proposal toward Obtaining an Addition to Their Pay“.

Whilst on leave in London in 1772, the charming and well-connected young officer was able to mix in literary circles and met Dr Johnson. James Boswell, in his Life of Johnson, recalled meeting “a young officer in the regimentals of the Scots royal, who talked with a vivacity, fluency and precision so uncommon, that he attracted particular attention. He proved to be the Honorable Thomas Erskine, youngest brother to the Earl of Buchan, who has since risen into such brilliant reputation at the Bar in Westminster-hall”. Although Erskine was appointed a lieutenant in April 1773, he decided to leave the army and, with the encouragement of his family and Lord Mansfield, study for the Bar.

Erskine was admitted as a student of Lincoln’s Inn on 26 April 1775. He discovered that the period of study required before being called to the Bar could be reduced from five years to three for holders of a degree from Oxford or Cambridge universities. He therefore on 13 January 1776 entered himself as a gentleman commoner on the books of Trinity College, Cambridge where, as the son of an earl, he was entitled to gain a degree without sitting any examinations. He did however win the English declamation prize for an oration on the “glorious revolution” of 1688. At the same time, he was a pupil in the chambers of first Francis Buller and then George Wood. These were years of poverty for Erskine and his growing family: he installed Frances and the children in cheap lodgings in Kentish Town and survived on a gift of £300 from a relative, and the sale of his army commission. Jeremy Bentham, who knew Erskine at this time, described him as “so shabbily dressed as to be quite remarkable”.

In the summer of 1778 Erskine was awarded a degree and was called to the Bar on 3 July. While many newly qualified barristers, especially those without contacts to put briefs their way, took years to establish themselves, Erskine’s success was immediate and brilliant. His first case, that of Thomas Baillie, came to him by chance. The case involved the Greenwich Hospital for Seamen, of which Captain Baillie was lieutenant-governor. Baillie had uncovered abuses in the management of the hospital and, having failed to interest the directors and governors of the hospital or the lords of the Admiralty, he published a pamphlet and was then sued by the agents of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich who was first lord of the Admiralty and had been placing his agents in positions of authority in the hospital. Hearing of a newly qualified barrister who had himself been a seaman and was sympathetic to his cause, Baillie appointed Erskine to his team although he already had four counsel. Erskine was the most junior, but it was his brilliant speech that won the case and exonerated Baillie. Despite a warning from the judge, Erskine attacked Lord Sandwich calling him “the dark mover behind the scene of iniquity”. After his success in the Baillie case, Erskine had no shortage of work and a few months later was retained by Admiral Augustus Keppel in his court martial at Portsmouth. Keppel was acquitted and gave Erskine £1,000 in gratitude. For the first time in his life Erskine was financially secure.

In 1781 Erskine had his first opportunity to address a jury when he defended Lord George Gordon who had been charged with high treason for instigating the anti-Catholic riots of 1780. Erskine’s defence not only achieved Gordon’s acquittal but also dealt a blow to the English legal doctrine of constructive treason. The case established Erskine as the country’s most successful barrister. By 1783, when he received a patent of precedence, he had earnt enough to pay off all his debts and accumulate £8–9,000. He could afford a country house, Evergreen Villa, in Hampstead as well as a house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

In 1783, when the Fox-North Coalition came into power, Erskine entered parliament as Whig member for Portsmouth. Erskine’s friend Charles James Fox had been eager to have such a brilliant lawyer join the ranks of Whig members, but Erskine’s speeches failed to make the impact in parliament that they did in court. Erskine lost his seat the following year in the general election, becoming one of “Fox’s martyrs” when Pitt’s party made large gains, although he would regain the seat in 1790.

The loss of his parliamentary seat enabled Erskine to concentrate on his legal practice. In 1786, when he was thirty-six years old and had been practising at the Bar for only eight years, he was able to write: “I continue highly successful in my profession, being now, I may say, as high as I can go at the Bar. The rest depends on politics, which at present are adverse.” Amongst his notable cases in 1780s was his successful defence of William Davies Shipley, dean of St Asaph (and son of Jonathan Shipley) who was tried in 1784 at Shrewsbury for seditious libel for publishing Principles of Government, in a Dialogue between a Gentleman and a Farmer, a tract by his brother-in-law Sir William Jones advancing radical views on the relationship between subjects and the state. Erskine’s defence anticipated the Libel Act 1792, which laid down the principle that it is for the jury (who previously had only decided the question of publication) and not the judge to decide whether or not a publication is a libel.

In 1789 he was counsel for John Stockdale, a bookseller, who was charged with seditious libel in publishing John Logan’s pamphlet in support of Warren Hastings, whose impeachment was then proceeding. Erskine’s speech, which resulted in the Stockdale’s acquittal, argued that a defendant should not be convicted if his composition, taken as a whole, did not go beyond a free and fair discussion, even if selected passages might be libellous. Henry Brougham considered this to be one of Erskine’s finest speeches: “It is justly regarded, by all English lawyers, as a consummate specimen of the art of addressing a jury”.

Three years later he would, against the advice of his friends, take on the defence of Thomas Paine who had been charged with seditious libel after the publication of the second part of his Rights of Man. Paine was tried in his absence; he was in France. Erskine argued for the right of a people to criticise, reform and change its government; he made the point that a free press produces security in the government. But in this case his arguments failed to convince the special jury, who returned a verdict of guilty without even retiring.

Erskine’s speech is also remembered for a passage on the duty of barristers to take on even unpopular cases:

“I will for ever, at all hazards, assert the dignity, independence, and integrity of the English Bar, without which impartial justice, the most valuable part of the English constitution, can have no existence. From the moment that any advocate can be permitted to say that he will or will not stand between the Crown and the subject arraigned in the court where he daily sits to practise, from that moment the liberties of England are at an end.”

Erskine’s decision to defend Paine cost him his position as attorney-general (legal advisor) to the Prince of Wales, to which he had been appointed in 1786.

In 1794 William Pitt’s government, fearful of a revolution, decided to take action against people who were campaigning for parliamentary reform. Habeas corpus was suspended and twelve members of radical societies were imprisoned and charged with a variety of offences amounting to high treason. Erskine and Vicary Gibbs were assigned as counsel to seven of them. They were not paid for their services, as it was considered unprofessional to take fees for defending people charged with high treason. The treason trials began on 28 October before Lord Chief Justice Eyre at the Old Bailey with the trial of Thomas Hardy, a shoemaker and secretary of the London Corresponding Society. After eight days of evidence and speeches, including Erskine’s seven-hour speech on the final day, and several hours deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Erskine was hailed as a hero by the crowds outside who unharnessed his horses (which he never saw again ) and pulled his carriage through the streets. Although it was usual in cases where several people were jointly charged with high treason to discharge the rest if the first was acquitted, the government persisted with the trials of John Horne Tooke and John Thelwall. They too, defended by Erskine and Vicary Gibbs, were acquitted and it was only then that the prosecution was halted. A disappointed government had to scrap a further 800 warrants of arrest.

Notable amongst the later cases of Erskine’s career was that of James Hadfield, a former soldier who had fired a shot at the king in Drury Lane Theatre. The shot missed and Hadfield was charged with treason. Erskine called a large number of witnesses who testified to Hadfield’s sometimes bizarre behaviour, a surgeon who testified to the nature of the head injuries that Hadfield had sustained in battle, and a doctor, Alexander Crichton, who gave evidence that Hadfield was insane. Erskine argued that, although Hadfield could appear rational, he was in the grip of a delusion and could not control his actions. He summed up: “I must convince you, not only that the unhappy prisoner was a lunatic, within my own definition of lunacy, but that the act in question was the immediate unqualified offspring of the disease”. The judge, Lord Kenyon, was convinced by Erskine’s evidence and argument and stopped the trial, acquitted Hadfield and ordered him to be detained. The trial led to two acts of parliament: the Criminal Lunatics Act 1800 which provided for the detention of people who were acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity, and the Treason Act 1800.

In 1806 Erskine was offered the Lord Chancellorship in the Ministry of All the Talents formed by Lord Grenville and Charles Fox on the death of William Pitt. Fox’s original plan had been to offer Erskine the chief judgeship of the Common Pleas or the King’s Bench when one of the holders was elevated to Lord Chancellor. But both Lord Ellenborough, chief justice of the King’s Bench and Sir James Mansfield, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, declined the chancellorship. Erskine was therefore appointed although he had no experience in Chancery. He was created a peer to become Lord Chancellor. The Prince of Wales, who had inherited the Duchy of Cornwall, chose Erskine’s title, Baron Erskine of Restormel Castle, while the motto, “trial by jury” was Erskine’s own. Frances Erskine did not live to enjoy the title of Lady Erskine; she died a few weeks before her husband took the seals of office.

Although Erskine lacked experience in equity, only one of the judgements he made during his brief tenure as Lord Chancellor was appealed against and that, concerning Peter Thellusson’s will, was upheld. His handling of the impeachment of Lord Melville was generally admired. Along with Lords Grenville, Spencer and Ellenborough, Erskine was commissioned by the king to enquire into the morals of his daughter-in-law Caroline of Brunswick in what became known as the “delicate investigation”.

Erskine was Lord Chancellor for only fourteen months, having to give up the seals of office when the ministry of all the talents resigned over a disagreement with the king concerning the question of Catholic Emancipation. The king gave Erskine a week to finish pending cases, and Erskine took advantage of this to appoint one of his sons-in-law, Edward Morris, as master of Chancery.

As ex-chancellor, Erskine was not permitted to return to the Bar. He was awarded a pension of £4000 a year and remained a member of the House of Lords. He was only 57 when the ministry of all the talents fell, and hoped that he might return to office when the Prince of Wales became regent. In the event, however, the regent retained the ministry of Spencer Perceval and the Whigs would not be in power again until 1830, seven years after Erskine’s death. Erskine largely retired from public life, rarely speaking in the House of Lords. In 1818 he married for the second time. His bride was a former apprentice bonnet-maker, Sarah Buck, with whom he had already had two children. The couple travelled to Gretna Green for the marriage, with an angry adult son in hot pursuit. It was a tempestuous relationship, and the marriage ended in separation a few years later. In spite of his generous pension and the enormous sums he had earnt at the Bar, Erskine experienced financial difficulties in his later years, having to sell his villa in Hampstead and move to a house in Pimlico. He also bought an estate in Sussex, but his agricultural efforts were not a great success. He wrote a political romance, Armata, which ran to several editions.

Causes which Erskine took up in his retirement were animal rights, Greek independence, and the defence of Queen Caroline. He had always been an animal lover; amongst his favourite animals were a Newfoundland dog called Toss who used to accompany him to chambers, a macaw, a goose and two leeches. He introduced a bill in the House of Lords for the prevention of cruelty to animals, arguing that humanity’s dominion over them was given by God as a moral trust. It was the first time he had proposed a change in the law. The bill was accepted in the Lords but opposed in the Commons; William Windham arguing that a law against cruelty to animals was incompatible with fox-hunting and horse racing. Eventually the bill was introduced in the Commons and passed as statute 3 Geo 4 c71. When Caroline was being prosecuted for divorce Erskine spoke against the Bill of Pains and Penalties and, when the government dropped the bill, expressed his approval: “My Lords, I am an old man, and my life, whether it has been for good or evil, has been passed under the sacred rule of Law. In this moment I feel my strength renovated by that rule being restored”. He was invited to a public dinner in Edinburgh in February 1820, and made his first trip to Scotland since he had left it on the Tartar over fifty years before.

In 1823 Erskine set out by sea on another visit to Scotland with one of his sons, hoping to see his brother the Earl of Buchan. But he became ill with a chest infection on the journey and was put ashore at Scarborough. He managed to travel to the home of his brother Henry’s widow in Almondell in West Lothian, where they were joined by the earl. He died at Almondell on 17 November 1823 and was buried in the family burial-place at Uphall in Linlithgowshire. His widow survived him by over thirty years. She, as reports in the Times revealed, was reduced to poverty and had to rely on a small charitable allowance to survive. Even these meagre payments were withheld by Erskine’s executors when she tried to prevent them sending her son Hampden away to school, and she had to appeal to the lord mayor of London. She died in 1856.

Erskine’s first marriage produced four sons and four daughters:

  • David Montagu Erskine (1776–1855) was a member of parliament and diplomat;
  • Henry David (1786–1859) was Dean of Ripon;
  • Thomas (1788–1864) became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas;
  • Esmé Steuart (1789–1817) fought at the Battle of Waterloo where he lost an arm (his widow Eliza married Admiral James Norton, who also lost an arm in action).
  • Frances (d. 1859) married Samuel Holland, Precentor of Chichester and Rector of Poynings, Sussex (a grandson of Frances and Samuel was Thomas Erskine Holland the jurist);
  • Elizabeth (d, 1800) married her cousin Captain (later Sir) David Erskine, the illegitimate son of the 11th Earl of Buchan;
  • Mary (d. 1804) married lawyer Edward Morris.

With his second wife Erskine had one legitimate son, Hampden (b. 1821) and two children, Agnes and Erskine, born before the marriage.

Erskine’s eldest brother the 11th Earl of Buchan had no legitimate sons and was succeeded by a nephew, the son of Erskine’s brother Henry. When all Henry’s descendants in the direct male line died out in 1960 the seventh Baron Erskine (Donald Cardross Flower Erskine, Erskine’s great-great-greatgrandson) became the sixteenth Earl of Buchan.

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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.

Paul Benfield
1742–1810

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Chepauk Palace built by Benfield

Paul Benfield was an English East India Company employee and trader, financier and politician. He is now known as a target for the rhetoric of Edmund Burke, and for his spectacular bankruptcy.

Benfield went out to India as a civil servant of the East India Company in 1764, on a modest salary. He reportedly amassed a fortune of over £500,000. At Madras he entered into partnership with local Indian bankers. He made money partly by trade, partly by loans at high rates of interest, and partly by contracts. He had extensive money transactions with the Nawáb of the Carnatic, and he entered into and completed contracts with the government for the construction of fortifications for the town of Madras and for Fort St. George.

One of Benfield’s major loans was made for the purpose of enabling the Nawáb, who, with the aid of the English, had recently invaded and conquered the Mahratta state of Tanjore, to satisfy some claims of the Dutch at Tranquebar on territories of the Rajah of Tanjore. Benfield was then charged with having helped malcontents in the Madras council, in conflict with George Pigot, 1st Baron Pigot. He was ordered by the Company’s court of directors in 1777 to return to England. He resigned the Company’s service, and on reaching London in 1779 demanded an investigation into his conduct.

Benfield made no attempt to conceal his loans to the Nawáb, stating that though they had been extensive, they had not been of a clandestine nature, and that they were well known to the governor, to the council, and indeed to the whole settlement. He alleged that he had enjoyed commercial confidence, argued that by his loans he had prevented war, and had promoted the interests of the Company. He was subsequently restored to the service and permitted to return to Madras: the court of directors resolving that his conduct, in relation to the loan to satisfy the claims of the Dutch, was beneficial.

During his stay in England in 1780, Benfield was elected to Parliament as member for Cricklade, spending freely to do so. At the same time William Burke was working for the Rajah of Tanjore. When Benfield brought an action for bribery against his opponent, S. Petrie, which was tried at Salisbury 12 March 1782, Petrie was defended by Richard Burke Jr. and William Pitt the Younger. Petrie was acquitted, and published an account of the trial with a letter giving his history of the case in 1782. It was said in the case that Benfield returned eight or nine members to parliament; this assertion is not now given credence.

Benfield finally returned to England, via France, in 1793. He established a mercantile firm in London, called Boyd, Benfield, & Co., with Walter Boyd. He entered Parliament again, for Malmesbury (1790), and then by buying into the seat of Shaftesbury. Boyd engaged in speculations which turned out badly, and Benfield’s fortune collapsed rapidly. He died in Paris in poverty in 1810.

In 1793 Benfield married Mary Frances Swinburne, of Hamsterley, Durham, eldest daughter of Henry Swinburne. The marriage settlement was lavish. They had a son and at least two daughters; their elder daughter Henrietta Sophia was married to Robert Berkeley, of Spetchley, while their younger daughter Caroline Martha was married in 1824 to Grantley Berkeley. Through these marriages, their descendants married into several aristocratic families such as the Feildings (earls of Denbigh & Desmond), and landed families.

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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 George Stopford 3rd Earl of Courtown
15 August 1765 – 15 June 1835

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James George Stopford

James George Stopford 3rd Earl of Courtown was known as Viscount Stopford from 1770 to 1810, was an Anglo-Irish peer and Tory politician.

Courtown was the eldest son of James Stopford, 2nd Earl of Courtown, and his wife Mary (née Powys). Educated at Eton College, he served with the Coldstream Guards and achieved the rank of Captain.

In 1790, he was elected to the House of Commons for Great Bedwyn, a seat he held until 1796 and again from 1806 to 1807. He also represented Lanark from 1796 to 1802, Dumfries from 1803 to 1806 and Marlborough from 1807 to 1810. In 1793, he succeeded his father as Treasurer of the Household in the government of William Pitt the Younger, a post he held until 1806 (from 1801 to 1804 under the Premiership of Henry Addington), and again from 1807 to 1812 under the Duke of Portland and Spencer Perceval.

Courtown succeeded his father in the earldom 1810 and held office in the House of Lords as Captain of the Honourable Band of Gentlemen Pensioners under the Earl of Liverpool between 1812 and 1827 and as Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard under Sir Robert Peel in 1835. He was admitted to the Privy Council in 1793 and made a Knight of the Order of St Patrick in 1821.

Lord Courtown married Lady Mary, daughter of Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch and Lady Elizabeth Montagu, in 1791. They had five sons and one daughter. The two eldest sons died as infants. Their fifth and youngest son the Hon. Sir Montagu Stopford (1798–1864) was a Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy and the grandfather of General Sir Montagu George North Stopford. Lady Courtown died in April 1823, aged 53. Lord Courtown survived her by twelve years and died in June 1835, aged 69. He was succeeded in the earldom by his third but eldest surviving son James.

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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.

Joseph Nollekens
11 August 1737 – 23 April 1823

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Joseph Nollekens

Joseph Nollekens was born on 11 August 1737 at 28 Dean Street, Soho, London, the son of the Flemish painter Josef Frans Nollekens (1702–1748) who had moved from Antwerp to London in 1733. He studied first under another Flemish immigrant in London, the sculptor Peter Scheemakers, before studying and working as an antiques dealer, restorer and copier in Rome from 1760 or 1762. The sculptures he made in Rome included a marble of Timocles Before Alexander, for which he was awarded fifty guineas by the Society of Arts, and busts of Laurence Sterne and David Garrick, who were visiting the city.

On his return to London in 1770 he set up as a maker of busts and monuments at 9, Mortimer Street, where he built up a large practice. Although he preferred working on mythological subjects, it was through his portrait busts that he became famous and one of the most fashionable portrait sculptors in Britain.

He enjoyed the patronage of king George III and went on to sculpt a number of British political figures, including George III himself, William Pitt the Younger, Charles James Fox, the Duke of Bedford and Charles Watson-Wentworth. He also made busts of figures from the arts such as Benjamin West. Most of his subjects were represented in classical costume.

‘Faith’, a sculpture commissioned by Henry Howard, following the death of his wife Maria in 1788 in childbirth at Corby Castle, is said to be Nollekens finest work. The sculpture can be seen in the Howard Chapel at the Parish Church of Wetheral, Cumbria.

Although he took great care over the modelling of the details of his sculptures, the marble versions were normally made by assistants, such as Sebastian Gahagan who carved Nollekens’ statue of William Pitt for the Senate House at Cambridge, and L. Alexander Goblet. Some subjects were produced in large numbers: more than 70 replicas of Nollekens’ bust of Pitt are known.

Nollekens became an associate of the Royal Academy in 1771 and a full academician the following year.

He died in London in 1823, having made a considerable fortune from his work; he left around £200,000 in his will. He is buried in Paddington Parish Church with a monument by William Behnes.

A biography Nollekens and his Times by his executor John Thomas Smith was published in 1828, portraying him as a grotesque miser. It has been described as “perhaps the most candid biography ever published in the English language”.

No. 44 Mortimer Street in Fitzrovia stands on the site of the house where Nollekens died and has a blue plaque commemorating him.

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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.

Field Marshal John Griffin Griffin 4th Baron Howard de Walden, 1st Baron Braybrooke
13 March 1719 – 25 May 1797

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John Griffin

Field Marshal John Griffin Griffin 4th Baron Howard de Walden was born the son of William Whitwell and Anne Whitwell (née Griffin, sister and sole heir of Edward Griffin, 3rd Baron Griffin of Braybrooke and granddaughter of James Howard, 3rd Earl of Suffolk and Baron Howard de Walden), Whitwell was educated at Winchester College and commissioned as an ensign in the 3rd regiment of Foot Guards and lieutenant in the Army in 1739. He served with the Pragmatic Army in the Netherlands and Germany during the War of the Austrian Succession and was promoted to captain in his regiment and lieutenant colonel in the Army in March 1744.

Whitwell’s aunt Elizabeth, Countess of Portsmouth agreed to leave him her interest in Audley End House if he changed his surname to Griffin: he did so in 1749, by Act of Parliament, becoming John Griffin Griffin. He became Member of Parliament for Andover in November 1749. Promoted to colonel on 29 May 1756 he became first major of his regiment on 9 May 1758. Promoted to major-general on 12 September 1759, he became colonel of the 50th Regiment of Foot in October 1759 and colonel of the 33rd Regiment of Foot in May 1760.

Griffin commanded a brigade of at least four battalions at the Battle of Corbach in July 1760 during the Seven Years’ War. At Corbach, following the arrival of French reinforcements from Frankenberg, the allied army was forced to withdraw. He also commanded a brigade at the Battle of Warburg later that month where the allied army were more successful. He was present and wounded at the Battle of Kloster Kampen in October 1760.

Griffin was appointed Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath on 11 April 1761 and inherited Audley End House outright when his aunt died in 1762. Promoted to lieutenant-general on 26 March 1765, he became colonel of the 1st Troop, Horse Grenadier Guards in March 1766 and was promoted to full general on 14 April 1778. During the political crisis in the early 1780s at the end of the American Revolutionary War he was generally a supporter of William Pitt the Younger.

Pitt arranged for the Barony of Howard de Walden to be called out of abeyance in Griffin’s favour, so elevating him to the House of Lords, on 3 August 1784 and for Griffin to be appointed Lord Lieutenant of Essex in November 1784. Griffin became colonel of the 4th Dragoons in March 1788, was additionally created 1st Baron Braybrooke on 30 August 1788 and was promoted to field marshal on 30 July 1796. He died at his home, Audley End House, on 25 May 1797 and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin church at Saffron Walden.

In 1749 he married Anna Maria Schutz and in 1765 he married Catherine Clayton; there were no children from either marriage.

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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 Herbert Croft 5th Baronet
1 November 1751 – 26 April 1816

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Herbert Croft

Sir Herbert Croft 5th Baronet was born at Dunster Park, Berkshire, son of the son of Herbert Croft and Elizabeth Young. He matriculated at University College, Oxford, in March 1771, and was subsequently entered at Lincoln’s Inn. He was called to the bar, but in 1782 returned to Oxford with a view to preparing for holy orders. In 1786 he received the vicarage of Prittlewell, Essex, but he remained at Oxford for some years accumulating materials for a proposed English dictionary. Croft spent years on this project and he also took on preparation work made by Joseph Priestley. However, despite compiling thousands of entries not found in other dictionaries, the project was finally abandoned because of a failure to find sufficient subscribers. He was twice married, and on the day after his second wedding day he was imprisoned at Exeter for debt.

He then retired to Hamburg, and two years later his library was sold. He had succeeded in 1797 to the baronetcy, but not to the estates, of a distant cousin, Sir John Croft, 4th Baronet. He returned to England in 1800, but went abroad once more in 1802. He lived near Amiens at a house owned by Lady Mary Hamilton, the daughter of Alexander Leslie, 5th Earl of Leven. Later he removed to Paris, where he died on 26 April 1816.

In some of his numerous literary enterprises he had the help of Charles Nodier. Croft wrote the Life of Edward Young inserted in Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets.

In 1780 he published Love and Madness, a Story too true, in a series of letters between Parties whose names could perhaps be mentioned were they less known or less lamented. This book, which passed through seven editions, narrates the passion of the soldier-turned-clergyman James Hackman for Martha Ray, mistress of the earl of Sandwich, who was shot by her lover as she was leaving Covent Garden in 1779 (see the Case and Memoirs of the late Rev. Mr James Hackman, 1779).

Love and Madness has permanent interest because Croft inserted, among other miscellaneous matter, information about Thomas Chatterton gained from letters which he obtained from the poet’s sister, Mrs Newton, under false pretences, and used without payment. Robert Southey, when about to publish an edition of Chatterton’s works for the benefit of his family, published (November 1799) details of Croft’s proceedings in the Monthly To this attack Croft wrote a reply addressed to John Nichols in the Gentleman’s Magazine, and afterwards printed separately as Chatterton and Love and Madness … (1800).

This tract evades the main accusation, and contains much abuse of Southey. Croft, however, supplied the material for the exhaustive account of Chatterton in Andrew Kippis’s Biographia Britannica (vol. iv., 1789).

In 1788 he addressed a letter to William Pitt on the subject of a new dictionary. He criticized Samuel Johnson’s efforts, and in 1790 he claimed to have collected 11,000 words used by excellent authorities but omitted by Johnson. Two years later he issued proposals for a revised edition of Johnson’s Dictionary, but subscribers were lacking and his 200 vols. of manuscript remained unused. Croft was a good scholar and linguist, and the author of some curious books in French.

Charles Nodier was working as a secretary to the elderly Croft and his platonic friend, the novelist Lady Mary Hamilton in France. During this time Nodier translated Hamilton’s book Munster Village and helped her write La famille du duc de Popoli or The Duc de Popoli which was published in 1810.

The Love Letters of Mr H. and Miss R. 1775–1779 were edited from Croft’s book by Mr Gilbert Burgess. See also John Nichols’s Illustrations … (1828), v. 202–218.

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