OSBORNE, Peregrine, Visct. Osborne of Dunblane [S] (1659-1729), of Albury, Herts.
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Family and Education
bap. 29 Sept. 1659, 3rd but o. surv. s. of Sir Thomas Osborne, 2nd Bt., and bro. of Edward Osborne, Visct. Latimer. educ. privately; travelled abroad (France) 1671. m. 25 Apr. 1682 (with £100,000), Bridget, da. and h. of Sir Thomas Hyde, 2nd Bt. of Albury, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da.; 1s. illegit. cr. Visct. Osborne of Dunblane [S] 5 Dec. 1674; styled Earl of Danby 20 Apr. 1689; summ. to the Lords in his father’s barony as Lord Osborne 3 Mar. 1690; styled Mq. of Carmarthen 4 May 1694; suc. fa. as 2nd Duke of Leeds 26 July 1712.
Freeman, Portsmouth 1677, Poole 1679, York 1688; commr. for assessment, Berwick-upon-Tweed 1679-80, Yorks. (W. Riding) and York 1689-90, Herts. 1690; j.p. (W. Riding) by 1690-d.; col. of militia ft. (E. and W. Ridings) by 1696-?1714; ld. lt. (E. Riding) 1713-14.1
Capt. Earl of Feversham’s Ft. 1685; col. of dgns. 1690, 1 Marines 1690; capt. RN 1690, rear-adm. 1697, adm. 1703.
In 1673-4 Osborne’s father obtained for him two reversions, to the office of clerk of the patents in the court of Chancery, and to the very lucrative post of auditor of the Exchequer after Sir Robert Howard. After receiving a Scottish peerage he was generally known as Lord Dunblane. He was successful for Berwick in 1677 while under age with the support of the Duke of Newcastle (Henry Cavendish) but was appointed to no committees in the Cavalier Parliament. In that year he went to France in the train of Ralph Montagu, but his father recalled him in January 1678 to vote in the House. He was naturally classed as ‘thrice vile’ by Shaftesbury, and noted as a member of the court party in both lists of 1678. When his father was impeached on Montagu’s evidence on 19 Dec. he launched a counter-attack:
Montagu in his discourse in France has given the nation great discommendations. I have heard him say the House of Commons had a company of loggerheads and boobies in it. For what my father is accused of, if proved, I would not spare him nor pardon him more than the greatest rascal that had done me the most injury.
He was successful for Corfe Castle, where his father was cultivating an interest, in February 1679. Classed as ‘vile’ by Shaftesbury, he was unseated on petition before the division on the exlusion bill. He was a member of the ‘Loyal Club’ founded at the time of the Popish Plot to support the Government.2
Since 1674 Dunblane’s father had been endeavouring to marry him to Bridget Hyde, a very great heiress. However, at the age of 12 she went through a form of marriage with John Emerton, her late father’s bailiff. For years Danby had tried to get an annulment, but in July 1680 the court of delegates, consisting of many of Danby’s enemies, upheld the marriage with Emerton. At last on 12 July 1682 Dunblane took Briget Hyde to Whitehall ‘where she declared that noble lord her husband, alleging she never had any other and said she was married to him at Marylebone ... 25 Apr. last’. Danby then had to buy Emerton off (20,000 guineas was the price reported) and the judge delegates annulled her first marriage. In June 1685 Dunblane took part in the battle of Sedgemoor, where he was slightly wounded. Within four years, Dunblane had swallowed up his wife’s fortune and accumulated besides £9,989 worth of debts. Outlawed on his creditors’ petition, he fled to the Continent in October 1686. His father smoothed over his financial difficulties, and managed to get him back to England in January 1687; but he promptly received permission to go abroad again, though Danby reported that the King had
said with some heat: ‘Provided it be not into Holland, for I will suffer nobody to go thither’. My son answering he had no design of anything but to see a country he had not seen, the King answered, ‘Perhaps so, but he had relations who had other designs there.’
Dunblane’s hobby of yachting then proved useful, and he secretly carried messages backwards and forwards between Danby and William until the Revolution. Returned for York at the election held on James’s writ in December 1688 and again in 1689, he was appointed to no committees in the Convention. His father obtained for him a warrant for the office of postmaster general, but it was withdrawn. He voted to agree with the Lords on 6 Feb., but recanted on the following day:
I ask pardon for my mistake the other day in my vote that the throne was not vacant. I have a great obligation to the Prince, and have shown my duty to him. You cannot do too much for him.
Lord Danby, as he became in April, fitted out a privateer for himself in the summer, so much to his father’s alarm that he obtained a warrant from Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch) to arrest him for treason. Members immediately objected to the arrest of one of their number without previous notification to the House as a breach of privilege, but Danby asked them to drop the case as they had matters of greater importance on their hands. He was spoken of as a candidate for Hertfordshire and for York in 1690, but he withdrew in both places. On 3 Mar. he was summoned to the Lords in his father’s barony as Lord Osborne of Kiveton.3
Danby’s career for the next five years was mainly naval. Because of his recklessness and generosity he was very popular with seamen, and he behaved with great gallantry in the unsuccessful attack on Brest in 1690. As Marquess of Carmarthen he also distinguished himself at Cameret Bay in 1694. In the following year, however, he made an error of judgment by mistaking a number of merchant ships for the Brest fleet, and, thinking himself outnumbered, returned to Milford, allowing valuable East Indian privateers he was meant to convoy to fall into the hands of the French. He succeeded his father as Duke of Leeds in 1712, but most of his father’s estates went to his own son, later 3rd Duke, on whom he became financially dependent. During the Fifteen, he supported the restoration of the Old Pretender, declaring of the Revolution of 1688-9: ‘I can take God to witness that I had not a thought when I engaged in it (and I am sure my father neither) that the Prince of Orange’s landing would end in deposing the King.’ He remained in exile until 1723 when he obtained a pardon. He died on 25 June 1729 and was buried at Aldbury. The next member of the family to enter the House of Commons was Francis Godolphin Osborne, who sat briefly for Eye and Helston as a government supporter in 1774-5 before succeeding to the dukedom.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Eg. 1626, ff. 55, 56; 3385B, f. 20; Add. 28050, f. 46; 29674, f. 160; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 362; Poole archives B17.
- 2. Browning, Danby, i. 137, 138, 357-8; ii. 305; Eg. 330, ff. 63, 87; Grey, vi. 355.
- 3. HMC Rutland, ii. 75; Browning, i. 138-41, 455-6, 466, 476-7; ii. 160-1; Add. 28050, ff. 46, 48; 28051, ff. 219, 229; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Leeds mss DD5; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxxviii. 86; Grey, ix. 73, 356-9.
- 4. Browning, i. 512, 524-5; Luttrell, ii. 186; HMC Stuart, i. 409; ii. 419-20; Eg. 3385, ff. 1-2, 9-10, 23-25.