HERBERT, Hon. Robert Sawyer (1693-1769), of Highclere, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. 28 Jan. 1693,1 2nd s. of Thomas Herbert, M.P., 8th Earl of Pembroke; bro. of Hon. Nicholas, Thomas and William Herbert. educ. Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1709. m. bef. 1723, Mary, da. of John Smith, Speaker of the House of Commons, s.p. suc. to mother’s estates 1706.
Groom of the bedchamber to George I 1723-7; commr. of revenue [I] 1727-37; ld. of Trade 1737-51; ld. lt. Wilts. 1750-2; surveyor of crown lands 1751-d.
Robert Herbert inherited Highclere under the will of his maternal grandfather, Sir Robert Sawyer (d. 1692), who entailed his estates on his daughter’s younger sons, then unborn.2 Returned on his father’s interest at Wilton in 1722, he held minor government posts for over 30 years, voting for successive Administrations in all recorded divisions. A founder member of White’s, he appears to have fancied himself as a man of fashion. Nicknamed ‘Amoretto’, he was satirized by Chesterfield, in letters to Lady Suffolk, for his attempts at gallantry and wit during visits to Bath.3 His wife was bedchamber woman to Queen Caroline. Although she had long been ‘a personal and warm enemy’ of Sir Robert Walpole, she was ‘so sensible, so well-bred, so handy, so cheerful and so agreeable’ that the Queen showed special preference for her.4 In 1751 he was appointed surveyor general by Pelham, who wrote to Robert Nugent:
He has been of the Board of Trade upwards of 20 years, tho’ in it I believe not as many times. You know the connexions I have had, and now have with that family, how many years they have served the King, and what access almost every branch of it has at court. In this situation, could I refuse my good offices for such a change of employment?5
He died 25 Apr. 1769, leaving Highclere to his nephew Henry Herbert, M.P., afterwards 1st Earl of Carnarvon.