CHETWYND, Walter II (1678-1736), of Ingestre, Staffs.
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Family and Education
bap. 3 June 1678, 1st s. of John Chetwynd*, and bro. of John† and William Richard Chetwynd†. educ. Westminster c.1692–6; Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 28 May 1696, aged 18. m. 27 May 1703 (with £6,000), Mary, da. and coh. of John Berkeley*, Visct. Fitzhardinge [I], maid of honour to Queen Mary, s.p. suc. fa. 1702; cr. Visct. Chetwynd of Bearhaven [I] 29 June 1717.1
Master of buckhounds (jt.) to Prince George of Denmark 1705–9, master (sole) to Queen Anne 1709–by June 1711; ranger of St. James’s Park 1714–27.2
High steward, Stafford 1717–d.3
Little is known about Chetwynd’s early life, apart from the circumstances of his education. However, the future bishop of Bristol, George Smalridge, did not entertain high hopes for him in 1697:
Mr Chetwynd will take London in his way to Oxford. His long absence from this place, and the fondness after country sports which he brings with him when he comes, will hinder him from making that improvement here which were to be wished, for his own reputation, and the benefit of his country.
Nevertheless, Smalridge expected him to play a significant role in county affairs, and Chetwynd encountered no difficulties in succeeding his father as Member for Stafford at a by-election in December 1702. Shortly after his entry into Parliament he made a favourable marriage to the daughter and coheiress of the treasurer of the chamber to Queen Anne, Lord Fitzhardinge. It was an advantageous match financially, as his wife’s dowry was augmented by the Queen, and politically because of her father’s association with the court. These contacts were likely to prove highly valuable to anyone embarking on a political career: Fitzhardinge had been in the service of Queen Anne since 1685, was a kinsman of Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†) and was well known to the Marlboroughs.4
Chetwynd’s political stance at the start of his career in the Commons is difficult to determine because of the paucity of evidence. His father had been a Tory, locked in a local battle in the 1690s with the Foley family at Stafford, but the party allegiance of the formerly Whiggish Foleys was now changing. When Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) drew up a forecast of likely supporters over his handling of the Scotch Plot in March 1704, his list contained Chetwynd’s name. However, Chetwynd’s other activities during the session give little indication of his political predilections. On 14 Jan. 1704 he acted as a teller for committing the wines duty bill, but on 9 Feb. following was given leave for three weeks. In the following session his stance on the Tack was probably indicative of his general attitude to the ministry. On a forecast dated 30 Oct. 1704, he was listed as a probable opponent of the measure. Robert Harley* was taking no chances either, for on his lobbying list Fitzhardinge was deputed to ensure that Chetwynd voted with the Court. However, the ministry was not totally sure of his reliability for on 27 Nov., the day before the crucial division, Godolphin wrote a reassuring letter to the Duchess of Marlborough, ‘I believe you may be very sure of Mr Chetwynd for the reasons you have given. He is very desirous of a place, and his friends too, knowing to mistake the road to it.’ Not surprisingly, therefore, he did not vote for the Tack on the 28th. On 22 Dec. he was given leave of absence for a month. He had returned to the Commons by 12 Mar. 1705 when he acted as a teller against agreeing with a Lords’ amendment to a bill for remedying abuses by revenue collectors, which sought to remove a clause relating to Devon and Exeter.5
Chetwynd was returned for Stafford in the election of 1705. Shortly before the new Parliament sat he received his reward for supporting the ministry when he was made joint master of the buckhounds. On one analysis of the 1705 Parliament he was classed as ‘Low Church’, probably owing to his vote on the Tack. He voted for the Court candidate in the contest for the Speakership on 25 Oct. 1705 and, indeed, seemed to relish the parliamentary duty of a placeman. His enthusiastic support for the ministry was noted by Lord Halifax (Charles Montagu*) in an account to the Duchess of Marlborough of the Whig defeat in the Amersham election case which ended: ‘I must not forget to commend Mr Chetwynd and Mr Craggs [James I] who are always right and attend.’ For the remainder of the Parliament, Chetwynd seems to have kept a low profile, undertaking no committee work of importance, nor acting as a teller. That he continued to follow the ministerial line is vouchsafed by his appearance on a list of Members supporting the Court on 18 Feb. 1706 over the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill.6
Returned unopposed in 1708, Chetwynd was classified as a Whig on an analysis of the new House. In this Parliament he was more active than before. On 20 Jan. 1709 he told against a motion to adjourn the Abingdon election case, which led directly to the vote to unseat (Sir) Simon Harcourt I. He voted with the Whigs in 1709 in favour of the bill to naturalize the Palatines. He also acted as a teller on quite minor legislative matters, as on 31 Mar. 1709 when he told against bringing up a petition against a clause in the Earl of Clanricarde’s estate bill. The death of Prince George eventually saw him appointed as sole master of the buckhounds. This necessitated a by-election at which he was returned unopposed in November 1709. He acted as a teller on 25 Jan. 1710 for a resolution that the town clerk of Beaumaris be taken into custody for contempt over refusing to obey an order of the committee of elections. He also voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.
Given his own record of support for the Whig ministry, and Sacheverell’s triumphant tour through Staffordshire, Chetwynd faced a difficult task in securing re-election in 1710. He was eventually returned amid accusations of malpractice by the mayor of Stafford, and was classed as a Whig on the ‘Hanover list’. But he had little time to play an important role in the new Parliament, being unseated on 25 Jan. 1711. The petition was decided at the bar, although it was noted that Robert Harley had voted for a reference to committee (as had one of the Foleys), thus angering the Tories. On the other hand, Thomas Foley III, the second Member for Stafford, was reported to be greatly satisfied by the outcome. Harley’s support for Chetwynd possibly recognized his natural inclination to the Court, although in May 1711 Arthur Maynwaring* was surprised that Harley had not been more enthusiastic about sponsoring Chetwynd as a candidate at the New Windsor by-election. Shortly afterwards, in June 1711, Chetwynd lost his place. He was not out of the Commons for long, being returned once more for Stafford in January 1712 at a by-election caused by Thomas Foley III’s elevation to the peerage. On 19 Feb. 1712 he showed his opposition to the more extreme Tories, and his continued commitment to the Marlborough circle, by telling against the motion to expel Adam de Cardonnel. Later, on 20 Mar., he acted as a teller against Hon. Philip Bertie* in the Boston election, a non-partisan case which centred on the electioneering of Bertie’s brother, Lord Lindsey (Robert Bertie†). After the recess Chetwynd revealed his greater concern for office than party, soliciting Harley (now Lord Oxford) for his old office, since his successor had been promoted. ‘I am encouraged to do it because I am not conscious to myself of ever being guilty of any action that at any time could displease her Majesty or any now in the administration.’ In the following session, on 21 May 1713, he told in favour of setting the malt tax in Scotland at 6d. per bushel, a measure which embarrassed the Court. His vote might therefore have stemmed from his resentment at failure to regain office. Then on 18 June he voted against the French commerce bill, being noted on one division list as ‘very whimsical’.