BROMLEY, Henry (1705-55), of Horseheath Hall, Cambs.
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Family and Education
b. 20 Aug. 1705, 1st s. of John Bromley. educ. Eton 1718; Clare, Camb. 1724. m. 18 Mar. 1728, Frances, da. of Thomas Wyndham of Trent, Som. 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1718; cr. Baron Montfort 7 May 1741.
Ld. lt. Cambs. 1730-42; high steward, Cambridge 1741-d.
Henry Bromley was a minor when his father died, appointing as one of his guardians Samuel Shepheard,1 with whom he was returned for the county in 1727, when he also stood unsuccessfully for Cambridge. Three years later he was made lord lieutenant of the county, where he became the chief Whig election manager.2 His first reported speech was made on 27 Feb. 1730 in the Dunkirk debate, when he was put up by Walpole to sidetrack an opposition motion by seconding an alternative motion, which he did in a ‘well worded’ and ‘studied speech’, i.e. learnt by heart. In 1731, no doubt on account of his West Indian interests, he was one of the Members ordered by the House to draw up a bill for encouraging the sugar colonies, the genesis of the Molasses Act, 1733. He spoke on the Address in 1732, moved the address on the Princess Royal’s marriage in 1733 in another ‘studied’ speech, moved the Address in 1740, and in 1741 warmly opposed the proposal that Walpole should leave the House while the motion for his dismissal was being debated. He is described as a ‘useful speaker for the Court’.
In May 1741 Bromley was made a peer. He is said to have owed his peerage
to a request the Countess of Yarmouth made his Majesty to give her £30,000. The King, who likes not to part with such sums for his pleasures, replied, he could not give it her. Upon this she fell into a passion of tears and said he did not love her, she was miserable and would not go with him to Hanover. The King, struck with this, said if she could find some other way to get it, he should like it: to which she answered, would he give her the making of some Lords? He replied, yes, if they were men without objection, and she should consult Sir Robert Walpole upon it. Accordingly, Sir Robert was made acquainted with his Majesty’s pleasure, who sent for Mr. Fox and Mr. Bromley, and opening the matter to them, bid them wait on the Countess, and with her they settled the sum: but how much they paid he did not know.3
After his elevation to the Lords he continued to manage the Cambridgeshire elections, on which he was reputed to have spent £100,000 out of his own pocket in supporting the government interest in the county and the Cambridge corporation. He also squandered vast sums on Horseheath and gambling, in which he was supposed to be ‘the sharpest genius of his time’. At the end of 1754, having come to the end of his resources, he applied to Newcastle for some employment - the governorship of Virginia, the fox hounds, or the first commissionership of trade - pressing for an immediate reply. ‘I gave him the proper answers on every one’, Newcastle wrote in his account of the interview, ‘and asked him why he was so pressing - he did not want it. He answered '"that is not so, you don't know". He was very reasonable but seemed dejected.' Next morning, 1 Jan. 1755, he sent for his lawyer, executed his will, inquired whether it would hold good even if he were to shoot himself, and on being told that it would went into the next room and blew his brains out. He left debts of £30,000, with an estate out of repair and in a very ruinous condition.4