BRYDGES, Henry, Mq. of Carnarvon (1708-71).
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Family and Education
b. 17 Jan. 1708, 6th but o. surv. s. of James Brydges, M.P., 1st Duke of Chandos, and bro. of John Brydges, Mq. of Carnavon. educ. Westminster; St. John’s, Camb. 1724; Grand Tour 1724-7. m. (1) 21 Dec. 1728, Lady Mary Bruce (d. 14 Aug. 1738) da. of Charles, 3rd Earl of Ailesbury, 1s. 1da.; (2) 25 Dec. 1744, Anne Jefferies (d. 12 Aug. 1759), ‘the innkeeper’s maid at Slough’,1 1da.; (3) 28 July 1767, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir John Major, 1st Bt., of Worlingworth, Suff., s.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Duke 9 Aug. 1744. K.B. 12 Jan. 1732.
Gent. of the bedchamber 1728-42 and groom of the stole 1742-51 to Frederick, Prince of Wales; master of freemasons 1738-9; clerk of the hanaper and ranger of Enfield Chase 1744; high steward, Winchester 1754-d.
After a few months at Cambridge Henry Brydges was sent abroad with a tutor to complete his education. On succeeding his elder brother as Lord Carnarvon in 1727, he was brought home for the impending general election, first visiting Hanover to solicit the new heir-apparent, Prince Frederick, to be made lord of his bedchamber, a post which he obtained when the Prince’s household was set up in 1728. Though well under age, he was brought into Parliament for Hereford at a cost of £2,500, including a payment of £700 to secure the withdrawal of a petition against him on the ground of nonage. By 1730 he had run into debt so seriously that his father warned him: ‘though, as you are in Parliament, your person is not liable to be seized, yet your estate is in your creditors’ power and in time they will have it sequestrated’.2
At the general election of 1734 Carnarvon was returned for Steyning, where his father was cultivating an interest. Hitherto he had supported the Government but in 1737 his post involved him in the Prince’s quarrel with the King, who described him as ‘a hot-headed, passionate, half-witted coxcomb, with no more sense than his master’.3 With most of the Prince’s servants, he followed Frederick into opposition, voting against the Government on the Spanish convention in 1739 and the place bill in 1740 but withdrawing on the motion for the dismissal of Walpole in February 1741.
In 1741 Carnarvon was returned as an opposition candidate for Bishop’s Castle on the interest of his first cousin, John Walcot, after an expensive contest, which plunged him further into debt. Though he had been promoted to groom of the stole to the Prince, at £1,200 a year, twice his previous salary, he wrote to Walcot, 1 Aug. 1742:
As to the affair at Bishop’s Castle, I confess it gives me a great deal of uneasiness that I have not been able to discharge the bills of my good friends, but to deal ingenuously with you, my being obliged to be at the whole expense myself has put me so much behind-hand that I fear I shall not be able to satisfy their demands till towards Michaelmas.
And again, 17 Feb. 1746, after succeeding to the dukedom:
The 200 pounds you mention is morally impossible for me to furnish at present. ... The sudden turn Lord Duke [his father] took in not bearing the expense of the election, though he was the means of my being a candidate, obliged me to borrow the money at exorbitant interest, ... Lord Duke contributing nothing towards it but £70.4
After Frederick’s death in 1751 Chandos, having lost his post of groom of the stole, appealed through his son, Lord Carnarvon, to the King for ‘a mark of favour’, professing deep contrition for having been ‘unfortunately obliged to obey the late Prince’s commands’ by opposing the King’s measures.
The late Duke, your petitioner’s grandfather [Carnarvon wrote], from the time of the accession of the Crown to your royal and illustrious House had spent sixty thousand pounds in elections, and never brought in a person who gave a vote against the ministry; and when he had impaired his estate by this, and his generosity to mankind etc. your Majesty was graciously pleased to give him a pension; nevertheless he died considerably in debt and a large part of the estate was sold to pay his and your petitioner’s father’s debts, and some of it was mortgaged for that purpose, which has not yet cleared itself and ... has put it out of my father’s power to live suitable to the rank your Majesty’s royal House has put my family on.5
The ‘mark of favour’, that is a pension, was not forthcoming from George II, but in the next reign Chandos renewed his appeal, this time with success.6 He died 28 Nov. 1771.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Romney R. Sedgwick
- 1. HMC Egmont Diary, iii. 307-8.
- 2. C.H.C. & M. Baker, James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos, 244, 248-50, 255.
- 3. Hervey, Mems. 817.
- 4. J.R. Burton, 'Two Elections for Bishop's Castle in the 18th Cent.' Shropshire Arch. Soc. Trans. (ser. 3), ix. 259-66.
- 5. Baker, 452.
- 6. Namier, Structure, 187, 256 n.1.