HERBERT, Henry Arthur (c.1703-72), of Oakley Park, Mont.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



19 Nov. 1724 - 1727
1727 - 21 Dec. 1743

Family and Education

b. c.1703, 1st s. of Francis Herbert of Oakley Park and bro. of Richard Herbert. m. 30 Mar. 1751, Barbara, da. and h. of Lord Edward Herbert, bro. of William, 3rd Mq. of Powis, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1719. cr. Baron Herbert of Chirbury 21 Dec. 1743; Baron Powis of Powis Castle, Visct. Ludlow and Earl of Powis 27 May 1748; Baron Herbert of Chirbury and Ludlow with sp. rem. to bro. Richard and cos. Francis Herbert 16 Oct. 1749.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. Salop 1734-61, 1764-d.; treasurer to Prince of Wales 1737-8; col. of a regt. which he raised in 1745; maj.-gen. 1755; lt.-gen. 1759; gen. 1772; recorder, Ludlow 1745, Shrewsbury 1749-d.; comptroller of the Household May-Nov. 1761; P.C. 25 June 1761; ld. lt. Mont. 1761-d.; treasurer of the Household 1761-5.


On coming of age Herbert, ‘a commoner of a great estate’,1 found himself a temporary seat at Bletchingley. In 1727 he transferred to Ludlow in his native county, Shropshire, establishing complete control over that borough, for which he thenceforth nominated both Members. At the same election he also converted Montgomery into a pocket borough. Appointed lord lieutenant of Shropshire on the death of the last Earl of Bradford in 1734, he became the acknowledged head of the Shropshire Whigs in the Commons, acting as intermediary between them and Walpole, who was said never to have refused any favour he asked. His first reported speech was made at the opening of the 1734 Parliament, proposing Onslow’s re-election as Speaker. He spoke against a place bill, 22 Apr. 1735, acting consistently with the Government except in 1737, when he not only spoke and voted for increasing the Prince of Wales’s allowance, but used his influence to persuade three other government supporters to vote the same way.2 Though he made it clear that on other matters he would continue to support the Government, he was rewarded by the Prince with a place in his household, which he resigned when Frederick went into opposition next year.3 On 11 May 1737 he introduced a bill making it necessary for actions under the anti-bribery Act of 1729 to be brought within two years of the alleged offence, thus in effect, as it was said, legalizing all the bribery and corruption at the last general election, which passed into law.

During the election campaign of 1740-1 Herbert, at Walpole’s request, tried to gain control of Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire, but was unsuccessful.4 At the opening of the new Parliament, he was chosen to move the Address. After Walpole’s fall he was included in the court list for the secret committee set up to inquire into Walpole’s conduct, but was not elected. In the list of ministerial Members to be invited to the Cockpit meeting before the opening of the next session in December 1742, all the Shropshire borough Members, except the Whitmores, are marked with his name (i.e. to be invited through him), as well as John White, M.P. Retford, and John Harris, M.P. Barnstaple,5 his brother-in-law. ‘I have all the reason in the world to be satisfied with his services’, Pelham wrote of him in 1743 when Herbert was to be created Lord Herbert of Chirbury, a title which had become extinct in 1738. In 1748 his distant cousin, the last Marquess of Powis, a Roman Catholic and Jacobite duke, died, leaving his estates to Herbert, who promptly wrote to Newcastle:

As the late Marquis of Powis by giving me his estate, has done so much for a Protestant family, I should be very sorry to find that his Majesty with the interposition of my friends, should not be prevailed upon to honour me with his approbation of it by granting me his titles. ...
P.S. - Let me add further that my disappointment in the point above mentioned, would make a very unfavourable impression upon the minds of those in the country that are the friends of the Government and are my friends; and have expressed very greatly their joy and satisfaction with my good fortune; to which they hope for the addition of the title.6

Created Earl of Powis, he continued to lead the Shropshire Whigs till the next reign.

He died 11 Sept. 1772.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. Hervey, Mems. 805.
  • 2. HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 352-3; Dodington Diary, 450; Harley Diary.
  • 3. Hervey, Mems. 851.
  • 4. To Sir R. Walpole, 9 Sept. 1740, Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss.
  • 5. Add. 32699, ff. 467-8.
  • 6. Namier, Structure, 279, 298.