By the second marriage of his brother-in-law, Lord Townshend, with Dorothy Walpole, sister to the popular minister, Newcastle was brought into intimate relations with Sir Robert. His rent roll of £25,000 a year also added to his political importance.
Some splendid temporary commissions increased his desire to shine as a statesman. In the summer of 1718 he was one of the peers appointed to sign the treaty called the quadruple alliance, and during several years Newcastle was appointed one of the lords justices for the administration of the Government in the King's absence in Germany. At length his brother-in-law, Charles, Lord Townshend, in conjunction with Sir Robert Walpole, having succeeded in driving Lord Carteret from the office of a principal Secretary of State, and placed themselves, in fact, at the head of the ministry, named the Duke of Newcastle as his successor on his resignation of the post of Lord Chamberlain. His brother Henry had been for two years a subordinate, but rising, member of the administration, and by his advice and assistance Newcastle was mainly directed.
The Duke, though by no means deficient in flattery, seems always to have spoken frankly and boldly to the King on public affairs, and occasionally contradicted even his strongest inclinations, of which his constant opposition to the employment of Hanoverian troops and his lukewarmness as to the vigorous prosecution of the war, were striking proofs. At length the King determined, amidst the confusion caused by the rebellion of 1745, to employ Lord Bath and Cartaret (who had now succeeded to the title of Earl Granville) to form a new administration, of which the Pelhams had no sooner received information than they anticipated his plan by resignation, in which they were followed by perhaps the largest train of official friends that ever graced a ministry. Seldom was public regret more strongly excited than on this occasion. All classes united in showing respect and affection to the two brothers, and even the Duke of Cumberland expressed those sentiments without any reserve in a letter to the Duke. The King, however, persisted, though few of the new servants had accepted their appointments, when Lord Bath waited on his Majesty to express his doubts of the ministry having a majority in the House of Commons, and his wish to revoke his late acceptance of office. His Majesty immediately sent to the Duke and Mr. Pelham, wishing them to resume their offices. They requested and obtained proof of his inclination to replace them. All those who had been lately admitted were removed, and Newcastle and his brother returned in triumph, with their friends, to their official duties.
The greatest misfortune of his life happened to the Duke on March 6, 1754, when his brother, Mr. Pelham, died, who was a man inferior to none in plain, sound sense, and strict honesty.
He closed his political career as Lord Privy Seal in Lord Rockingham's administration. He died in 1768 at his house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Though lavish in the distribution of secret service money, there is no doubt that, considering the time in which he lived, he was an honest politician.1
Henry, ninth Earl of Lincoln and second Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne, was born April 20, 1720. In 1742 he was appointed gentleman of his Majesty's bedchamber; also Lord-Lieutenant of the county of Cambridge. In March, 1752, he was elected a Knight Companion of the most noble Order of the Garter. He succeeded to the title and estates of the family on the death of Thomas Pelham Holles, Duke of Newcastle, in 1768, when he prefixed Pelham to his surname of Clinton. His grace was sworn of the Privy Council, and on the same day made Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, also steward, keeper, and guardian of the Forest of Sherwood. He married on October 16, 1744, Catherine, eldest surviving daughter and co-heir of the Right Honourable Henry Pelham, brother to Thomas, Duke of Newcastle, and by her had issue, first, George, Lord Clinton, born November 26, 1745, who died August 19, 1752. Second, Henry Fiennes Pelham Clinton, born November 5, 1750, who died in France in 1778; having in May, 1775, married Lady Frances Seymour Conway, daughter of Francis, Earl of Hertford, by whom he left a daughter Catherine, born 1776, married in 1800 to Viscount Folkestone; she died in 1804 ; and a son, Henry, born December 23, 1777, who died an infant. Third, Thomas Pelham Clinton, born July 1, 1752 ; who, while a younger son, was captain in the first regiment of Foot Guards, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, also member of Parliament for Westminster, and afterwards succeeded his father as third Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne. Fourth, John Pelham Clinton, born 1755, died at Lisbon, aged twenty-seven.
His grace died February 22, 1794, and was succeeded by his grandson, Thomas, third Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne, who was a Major-General in the army and Colonel of the seventeenth regiment of Light Dragoons. He married Lady Anna Maria Stanhope, sister to the Earl of Harrington, by whom he had, first, Henry Pelham ; second, Thomas, who died of a malignant fever at Gibraltar in 1804. His grace died on May 17, 1795.
Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham Clinton, the elder son of Thomas, the third Duke of Newcastle, by Lady Anna Maria Stanhope, was born on January 30, 1785, and succeeded to the titles and estates on May 17, 1795, when he was ten years of age. He was educated at Eton. His mother, the Dowager Duchess, married in 1800 Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Crawford, G.C.B. In 1803 the young Duke quitted Eton and, joining his mother and step-father, took occasion of the brief peace of Amiens to make a continental tour, but they were, unfortunately, on the renewal of hostilities, detained prisoners in France. There the young Duke passed four years of comparative inaction. On his return to England in 1807, he entered life with many personal advantages, and with a considerable fortune much augmented by the accumulation of a minority of ten years. He had great political weight, which arose from the command of six seats in the House of Commons—two for Boroughbridge, two for Aldborough, one for East Retford, and one for Newark. His wealth and influence were still further augmented by a matrimonial alliance with a great heiress, whose landed estates produced £12,000 a year, and a further fortune of £190,000. This lady, who had only completed her eighteenth year, was Georgiana Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Millar Mundy, Esq., of Shipley, in Derbyshire; by Georgiana, dowager Lady Middleton. The marriage took place at Lambeth Palace on July 18, 1807.
The Duke was violently opposed to all the constitutional changes that occurred during the second quarter of the nineteenth century, whether these changes concerned the claims of the Protestant dissenters, Catholic emancipation, or Parliamentary reform. On various occasions he laid himself open to the bitterest assaults of popular indignation. The storm roared at its height when he uttered in Parliament his famous question, "Shall I not do as I will with mine own?"
It is somewhat remarkable that two of the most strenuous and outspoken politicians whose names were familiar in the mouths of all who took an interest in the stirring events of the early years of the nineteenth century (but whose ideas of what was for the public good were as widely at variance as the poles asunder), are both descended from the Clinton family—the fourth Duke of Newcastle, a bigoted Tory who disdained to make the slightest concession to the popular outcry for reform, and Sir Francis Burdett, the extreme Radical.2
At the same time when the Duke's mansion, Nottingham Castle, was destroyed by the mob, the Duke found it necessary to fortify Clumber. The windows of his grace's town house in Portman Square were also broken by the London rabble.
In committee on the Reform Bill he avowed his decided hostility to the proposed measure in every shape. It was calculated to produce revolution, and therefore he opposed it. He strongly denounced the suggested creation of new peers to secure the passing of the bill. On one occasion the Duke rose and declared that he would take no further share in the proceedings, and shortly afterwards left the House. He maintained this resolution until the Reform Bill had become the law of the land, and the line of conduct which he had marked out for himself with conscientious firmness. One of the most remarkable instances of his reappearance in politics was during the contested election for South Nottinghamshire in 1846, when he disowned the opinions expressed by his son, the Earl of Lincoln.
In resisting the appointment to the magistracy, in 1839, of two gentlemen nominated by the Government, whose political and religious principles he disapproved, the Duke wrote a very offensive letter to the Lord Chancellor ; and on his refusing to withdraw it, he received a letter from Lord John Russell informing him that the Queen had no further occasion for his services as Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire.3
The Duke had eight sons, and six daughters, of whom Henry Pelham, Earl of Lincoln, his successor, was the third. He died in 1851, and was buried at Markham Clinton.
The Duke's opinions on politics never changed. He said in 1837: "On looking back to the past I can honestly assert that I repent of nothing that I have done."
Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham Clinton, fifth Duke of Newcastle, was the eldest surviving son of the fourth Duke, born in May, 1811. He was entered at Eton as Earl of Lincoln in 1826. From there he proceeded to Oxford, where he took the degree of B.A., in 1832 ; and was created D.C.L. in 1863. He sat in Parliament as member for South Notts from 1832 to 1846, and as a member of Sir Robert Peel's Government, was appointed a Lord of the Treasury ; from 1841 to 1846 he was First Commissioner of Woods and Forests. His political opinions at this time underwent a great change, as did Peel's, which gave offence both to his father and to his constituents.
During the administration of Lord John Russell he took little part in political affairs ; and in 1851 was removed, by the death of his father, to the House of Lords. When Lord Aberdeen took office the Duke became Colonial Secretary ; but, on the breaking out of the Russian War in 1854, he became War Minister.
The Duke worked night and day to bring his department into proper working order, and, though fault was found on all hands with his administration, it has since been acknowledged that, though his efforts were not crowned with success, yet he did all that was possible in the condition in which he was working. In February, 1855, he resigned office and went to the Crimea and the Black Sea to witness for himself the state of the army. When the second coalition Government was formed Newcastle was in June, 1859, appointed Secretary for the Colonies. In 1860 he accompanied the Prince of Wales to the United States and Canada. In the same year he was elected a Knight of the Garter.
Failing health, partly caused by the anxiety of mind which he endured during the Crimean War, caused him to resign the office of Colonial Secretary in April, 1864, and he died rather suddenly at Clumber Park on the 18th of October, 1864.
In an estimate of the Duke's character, Mr. Gladstone wrote: " I could say a great deal about Newcastle. He was a high and strong character, very true, very noble, and I think intelligible, which (as you know), I think is rare in politicians. My relations with him will be kept up, in one sense by having to act, and I fear act much, as his executor and trustee, with De Tabley, an excellent colleague, who discharged the same duty for the Duke of Hamilton and for Canning."4
He married, in 1832, Lady Susan Harriet Catherine, only daughter of the Duke of Hamilton, by whom he had four sons and a daughter. This marriage was dissolved in 1850. Henry Pelham Alexander Pelham-Clinton, the sixth Duke, was born January 25, 1834. He was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford. In 1856 he was attached to Earl Granville's special embassy to Russia. He married in 1861, Henrietta Adela, only daughter of Henry Thomas Hope, of Deepdene, Surrey, and had issue.
1 In the account given of this Duke in the Memoirs of the Members of
the Kit-cat Club, his devotion to the Whig interest is said to
have been unbounded ; appearing at one time as a leader of the Mughouse
party, or at another prepared to drown a country in wine, in support
of a candidate on his own side of the question in politics. Of his grace
it might truly be said:—
"Twas George and Liberty that crowned the cup,
And zeal for that great house that eat him up,"
for he literally expended a princely fortune in their cause. In the Duke's portrait which is given in the Memoirs of the club, he is represented with a flask of wine in one hand, from which he is about to pour into a glass vessel in the other.
As in the case of Pitt, the public supposed him to have amassed vast treasure in his official capacity ; but on his death it appeared that so far from adding to, he had greatly diminished, his patrimony, being said to have become £300,000 poorer for his zeal for the House of Hanover.
2 Sir Francis Burdett is descended from Sir Thomas Clinton, who was seated at Amington in Warwickshire in 1386. Sir Thomas is believed to have lost his life while serving under John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, in the Spanish war before 1389. He left by his wife Joan, daughter and co-heir of Sir Hugh Meynell, of Langley Meynell in Derbyshire, a daughter named Anne, married to Sir Robert Francis of Formark, in Derbyshire ; whence is descended Sir Francis Burdett, who was born in 1770. During the early days of the French Revolution Sir Francis resided in Paris, where he heard the debates in the National Assembly, and had the good sense to see that amid all the excesses committed by newly liberated slaves, and the unfit persons who first directed their actions, a great and beneficial change had taken place. He returned to England in 1793, and three years afterwards entered Parliament as member for Boroughbridge, in the Newcastle interest, and Sir Francis Burdett was recognised as one of the principal leaders of the party of progress.
Between 1807 and 1835 he sat for Westminster, distinguishing himself by a chivalrous opposition to whatever was prejudicial to liberty and the common weal.
At a casual glance it appears strange that this ultra Radical should be assisted to a seat in Parliament by such an extreme Tory as the fourth Duke, but it must be remembered that when Burdett was elected for Borough-bridge the young Duke was only eleven years of age.
He spent an untold sum of money in contesting Middlesex, and in the litigation by which it was followed. When Burdett was first elected for Westminster, at the head of the poll, in 1807, after a contest of fifteen days, it was the first triumph of the Parliamentary reformers, and he was carried through the streets in a triumphal car.
By his outspoken conduct he made himself obnoxious to the ministry then in power, and was committed to the Tower and fined £2,000 for his animadversions on the Peterloo affair. On the fourth day after the warrant for his committal was issued, Burdett's house was forcibly entered, and the prisoner conducted by twenty horse guards, and three hundred light dragoons, followed by two hundred more horse guards, in the midst of which was the coach containing the prisoner. There was no resistance, no efforts at rescue, and if the apprehension had been done by constables there would have been no irritation ; but the English blood rose when the horse guards slashed the air with their swords to intimidate the people who were doing nothing but huzza, as the prisoner drove past in his carriage. Then missiles and stones began to fly. Opposite Trinity House the cavalry ran, swords in hand, upon the multitude, and fired their carbines and horse pistols indiscriminately among the helpless throng, causing great loss of life and wounding many of the lookers-on.
3 It was to the above-named Duke that Mr. Gladstone was indebted for his first introduction to the House of Commons. It came as the result of a famous anti-reform speech made by the young politician at the Oxford Union. The Duke, in 1832, through his son, Lord Lincoln, informed the future statesman that the influence he had in the borough of Newark was at his disposal if he wished to enter Parliament.
The offer was gratefully accepted, and during the time of his candidature Mr. Gladstone gives an account of his first visit to his grace at Clumber. In a letter to his father, he says :—
“The duke received me with the greatest kindness, and conversed with such ease and familiarity of manner as speedily to dispel a certain degree of awe which I had previously entertained and to throw me perhaps more off my guard than I ought to have been in company with a man of his age and rank. . . . The utmost regularity and subordination appears to prevail in the family, and no doubt it is in many respects a good specimen of the old English style. He is apparently a most affectionate father, but still the sons and daughters are under a certain degree of restraint in his presence, ... a man, be his station of life what it may, more entirely divested of personal pride and arrogance, more single-minded and disinterested in his opinions, or more courageous and resolute in determination to adhere to them as the dictates of his own conscience, I cannot conceive.”—Life of Gladstone, by John Morley, vol. i. p. 95.
4 Of the fifth Duke, Mr. Gladstone wrote on the day of his death : "So that brave heart has at last ceased to beat. Certainly in him more than in any one I have known was exhibited the character of our life as a dispensation of pain. This must ever be a mystery, for we cannot see the working out of the purposes of God. Yet in his case I have always thought some glimpse of them seemed to be permitted. It is well to be permitted also to believe that he is now at rest for ever, and that the cloud is at length removed from his destiny."
A year after the Duke's death Mr. Gladstone wrote from Clumber: "It is a time and a place to feel if one could feel. He died in the room where we have been sitting before and after dinner, where, thirty-two years ago, a stripling, I came over from Newark in fear and trembling, to see the duke, his father, where in a stiff horse-shoe semicircle they sat round the fire in evenings ; where the rigour melted away in Lady Lincoln's time, when she and her mother sang so beautifully at the pianoforte in the same place where it now stands. The house is full of local memories." —Life of Gladstone, by John Morley.