LYTTELTON, George (1709-73), of Hagley Hall, Worcs.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 17 Jan. 1709, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Lyttelton, 4th Bt., and bro. of Richard and William Henry Lyttelton. educ. Eton 1725; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1726; Grand Tour (Germany, France, Italy) 1728-30. m. (1) June 1742, Lucy (d. 19 Jan. 1747), da. of Hugh Fortescue, M.P., of Filleigh, Devon, 1s. 2da., (2) 10 Aug. 1749, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Robert Rich, 4th Bt., of Ross Hall, Suff., s.p. suc. fa. as 5th Bt. 14 Sept. 1751; cr. Baron Lyttelton of Frankley 18 Nov. 1756.
Sec. to Frederick, Prince of Wales 1737-44; ld. of Treasury 1744-54; cofferer of the Household Mar. 1754-Nov. 1755; P.C. 21 June 1754; chancellor of the Exchequer Nov. 1755-Nov. 1756.
On Lyttelton’s return from the grand tour he was introduced by Bubb Dodington to Frederick, Prince of Wales, with whom he became a great favourite. In 1734, at the instance of his uncle, Lord Cobham, who had broken with Walpole, he persuaded the Prince to replace Dodington, a member of the Government, by Chesterfield, one of the leaders of the Opposition, as his political adviser. Next year he was brought into Parliament by his brother-in-law, Thomas Pitt, with whose brother, William, and his own cousin, Richard Grenville, he acted under Cobham’s direction, forming a family group known as ‘Cobham’s Cubs’. With them he delivered a series of speeches against the Government, including a personal attack on Walpole for turning Cobham and William Pitt out of the army ‘merely for voting as their consciences directed them in Parliament’. His appointment to be the Prince’s secretary in 1737 was interpreted as a sign that Frederick intended to go into open opposition, for ‘there was nobody more violent in the Opposition, nor anybody a more declared enemy to Sir Robert Walpole’. He is described about this time as
extremely tall and thin. His face was so ugly, his person so ill made and his carriage so awkward, that every feature was a blemish, every limb an incumbrance, and every motion a disgrace. But, as disagreeable as his figure was, his voice was still more so, and his address more disagreeable than either. He had a great flow of words that were always uttered in a lulling monotony, and the little meaning they had to boast of was generally borrowed from the commonplace maxims and sentiments of moralists, philosophers, patriots, and poets, crudely imbibed, half digested, ill put together, and confusedly refunded.1
After Walpole’s fall, the Cobham group parted company with the Prince, who supported the new ministry, while they continued in active opposition. Nevertheless, Lyttelton retained his post with the Prince till the leaders of the Opposition came to terms with the Pelhams at the end of 1744, when he was appointed a lord of the Treasury. On this the Prince dismissed him, explaining, when Lyttelton pointed out that two of the Prince’s servants, Lord Baltimore and Lord Archibald Hamilton, had been allowed to hold seats on the Admiralty board without forfeiting their places under him, that they ‘had obtained their employments under the King through him, but that we had obtained ours through others, of whom he did not approve’. With the rest of the group he joined Pitt, who was still out of place, in harassing the Government at the end of 1745, but after Pitt’s admission to office in February 1746 he returned to his allegiance, speaking so well in support of the bill abolishing hereditary jurisdictions in Scotland that Pelham ‘begged him to recollect it and ... have it printed that it might be sent down to Scotland: ... to reconcile the minds of the Scotch to the bill’.2
In 1747 Lyttelton was re-elected for Okehampton, at the cost of a quarrel with the Prince, who had intended to nominate one of his servants for the seat.3 In 1750 a negotiation for a reconciliation, involving Pitt, was begun but came to nothing owing to the Prince’s death in 1751. Soon after this the negotiation leaked out through an insufficiently addressed letter from Lyttelton to his father, which was opened in the post office.4
Lyttelton continued a member of the family group till 1755, when he severed his connexion with it by refusing to follow Pitt into opposition. Left out of the Pitt-Newcastle ministry in 1757, he never again held office.
He died 22 Aug. 1773.