EDGCUMBE, Richard, Visct. Valletort (1764-1839), of Mount Edgcumbe, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



13 Feb. 1786 - 1790
1790 - Mar. 1791
7 Mar. 1791 - 4 Feb. 1795

Family and Education

b. 13 Sept. 1764, o.s. of George Edgcumbe, 1st Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, by Emma, da. of Most Rev. John Gilbert, DD, abp. of York. educ. Harrow 1774-80; Christ Church, Oxf. 1781; Grand Tour 1783-5. m. 21 Feb. 1789, Lady Sophia Hobart, da. and coh. of John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, 3s. 2da. Styled Visct. Valletort 1789-95; suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Mount Edgcumbe 4 Feb. 1795.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. and v.-adm. Cornw. 1795-d.; capt. of gent. pens. Mar. 1808-12; PC 9 Mar. 1808.


Viscount Valletort, described by Fanny Burney in 1789 as ‘a most neat little beau’,1 was involved in a double return for the family borough of Fowey in 1790. He came in instead for the other family borough of Lostwithiel, until in March 1791 his election at Fowey was confirmed; he then resumed that seat. He supported Pitt’s administration until he succeeded to the title. In January 1790 he had moved the address, but no further intervention in debate is known. He was listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in April 1791. Sir John Morshead heard a report in October 1791 that he was ‘soon to have a place under government that would vacate his seat’,2 but it was not so. He applied to Pitt on 5 June 1804 to succeed Lord Aylesford as Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard,3 but had to wait until the Portland administration appointed him. He was courted by successive governments for his borough interest.

He was a well-known amateur of the Italian Opera in England, on which he wrote Reminiscences,4 though an unfriendly journalist called him ‘a mere fribble, exhibiting little above the calibre of an opera connoisseur, with something of the mimic’.5 He was an enthusiast for amateur theatricals and his prologue for a performance at Strawberry Hill in 1800 is in the British Library; the score of his opera Zenobia (1801) does not survive. His wife was known as one of ‘Pharaoh’s daughters’ from her keeping a faro table. He died 26 Sept. 1839.6

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Diary of Madame d’Arblay ed. Dobson, v. 59.
  • 2. Prince of Wales Corresp. ii. 631.
  • 3. PRO 30/8/161, f. 267.
  • 4. Musical Reminiscences of an old Amateur: chiefly respecting the Italian Opera in England (1823, 4th edn. 1834).
  • 5. Redding, Fifty Years’ Recollections, 2nd ed. (1858), i. 175.
  • 6. Gent. Mag. (1839), ii. 540; DNB.