BEAUCLERK, Lord Sidney (1703-44).
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Family and Education
b. 27 Feb. 1703, 5th s. of Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St. Albans, and bro. of Charles Beauclerk, Earl of Burford, and Lords George, Henry, Vere and William Beauclerk. educ. Eton 1718; Trinity, Oxf 1721; M.A. 1727; D.C.L. 1733. m. 9 Dec. 1736, Mary, da. and (by 1736)1 h. of Thomas Norris, M.P., of Speke, Lancs., 1s.
Trustee and common councilman for Georgia 1739; vice-chamberlain of the Household Apr. 1740-July 1742; P.C. 1 May 1740.
Lord Sidney Beauclerk was regarded by his contemporaries as a fortune hunter; as early as 1727 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu describes him2 as ‘Nell Gwyn in person, with the sex altered’, paying court to the Duchess of Cleveland, aged 63:
Her children banished, age forgot
Lord Sidney is her care;
And, what is much a happier lot,
Has hopes to be her heir.
He was also said to have paid great court to the elderly Lady Betty Germain, but that the Duke of Dorset ‘dissuaded her, and she gave Lord Sidney £1,000 to be off’.3 In 1737, on the death of Sir Thomas Reeve, chief justice of the common pleas, he inherited estates at Clewer Brocas and Windsor under the will of Richard Topham, M.P., who died in 1730;4 but, though ‘the assiduous dry nurse of a wealthy judge’,5 he failed to obtain Sir Thomas’s private fortune. After unsuccessfully contesting Marlow at a by-election in 1732 on the interest of Edmund Waller, he joined his brother Lord Vere at Windsor in 1733 as a government supporter. In March 1739, having presented to Parliament the Georgia Society’s petition for a grant, he was elected at his own request to the common council of the Society, on which he was active till 1740, when his attendance fell off. Described by the 1st Lord Egmont as one of the ‘dead voters with’ and ‘creatures’ of Sir Robert Walpole, he lost his place on Walpole’s fall.6 Going into opposition, he voted against the Hanoverians in December 1742, threatened to have Henry Fox thrown out at Windsor in 1743,7 but soon returned to his old allegiance by voting for the Hanoverians in 1744. He died 23 Nov. 1744, leaving a son, Topham Beauclerk, the friend of Dr. Johnson.