HENLEY, Robert (c.1708-72), of the Grange, nr. Alresford, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. c.1708, 2nd s. of Anthony Henley, M.P., and yr. bro. of Anthony Henley. educ. Westminster 1720; St. John’s, Oxf. 1724; fellow of All Souls 1727; I. Temple 1729, called 1732. m. 19 Nov. 1743, Jane, da. of Sir John Huband, 2nd Bt., of Ipsley, Warws., sis. and coh. of Sir John Huband, 3rd Bt., 3s. 5da. suc. bro. 1748. Kntd. 29 Oct. 1756; cr. Baron Henley 27 Mar. 1760; Earl of Northington 19 May 1764.
K.C. 1751; recorder, Bath 1751; solicitor-gen. 1751-4, attorney-gen. 1754-6, to the Prince of Wales; attorney-gen. 1756-7; P.C. 30 June 1757; ld. keeper 1757-61; ld. high steward for trials of Lord Ferrers 1760 and of Lord Byron 1765; ld. chancellor 1761-6; ld. lt. Hants 1764-71; ld. pres. of the council 1766-7.
Though returned for Bath on Ralph Allen’s interest (see under Bath constituency) ‘as a favourite of the Ministry’, Henley spoke against them immediately after taking his seat. Described by Horace Walpole as ‘a lawyer in vogue’ whose ‘abilities did not figure in proportion to the impudence of his ill nature,’1 he was introduced to Leicester House in 1749 by his friend Bubb Dodington, who was authorized by the Prince of Wales to promise him the solicitor-generalship in the next reign.2 In the list of the future government approved at the Carlton House meeting in April 1750, he figures as attorney-general. In a debate on General Philip Anstruther in April 1751, Horace Walpole reported that ‘Henley (the profession out-weighing the faction in him) declared the House could exercise no juridiction in this case’. On Frederick’s death, he went over to the Administration, spoke for the regency bill, and was made solicitor-general to the young Prince of Wales.3 In January 1753 he was offered a puisne judgeship by Hardwicke, but declined on the ground that he had a large family and that it was ‘more for their interest for me to continue in my present condition’.4 In May 1753 he spoke for Hadwicke’s bill against clandestine marriages.5 After representing Bath for ten years he vacated his seat on becoming lord keeper in 1757. He died 14 Jan. 1772.