GLOVER, Richard (?1712-85), of Exchange Alley, London
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Family and Education
b. ?1712, s. of Richard Glover, a Hamburg merchant of London, by Mary, da. of Richard West, London merchant, sis. of Richard West, M.P., lawyer and playwright. educ. Cheam, Surr. m. (1) 21 May 1737, Hannah Nunn (div. Feb. 1756), 2s.; (2) unascertained.
As a young man Glover became an active member of his father’s firm in the City; but at the same time pursued his own literary interests, wrote poetry, and dabbled in politics. He early became connected with Cobham and his ‘cubs’—Lyttelton, the Grenvilles, and Pitt; and when in 1737 he published an epic poem Leonidas (dedicated to Lord Cobham) it was enthusiastically received by the Opposition, who praised Glover for his ‘patriot’ sentiments. Glover was active in stirring up City opinion against Walpole; in 1740 opposed his candidate for lord mayor, and in 1742 drew up the merchants’ complaints against the Administration’s inadequate protection of trade. These, according to the 1st Earl of Egmont, he ‘summed up [at the bar of the House] in a remarkable good speech of two hours long’.1 Glover’s activities between 1742 and 1757 are related in his Memoirs which, though often inaccurate on political events and full of vastly inflated self-importance, at least give an indication of his activities and opinions during these years. He appears to have continued with his Opposition friends after Walpole’s fall, but writes that by 1744 he had realized that Pitt, Lyttelton, and others were ‘a party founded on the base desire of pecuniary emoluments, partly on the more extensive views of procuring the whole ministerial power to themselves’. And after they joined with Henry Pelham: ‘I had intimacies to a degree of friendship with most of them; but as these intimacies were contracted on the public account, when that cause was deserted by them, their society was abandoned by me.’ He was by this time in financial difficulties.
Forsaken by fortune [he writes] yet in the day of distress, I returned not to those powerful friends who were really willing and able to assist me: but I opened a new scene, repaired my losses, and maintained my independence.2
It is uncertain when Glover re-entered politics. He states that in 1754 he co-operated with Charles Townshend on ‘a plan of operation in North America’, which was put before Newcastle;3 and in October 1755 it was reported that he was being used by Leicester House to ‘stir up a clamour in the City’ against the Hanoverian subsidies.4 John Yorke, writing to his brother Lord Royston on 1 Nov. 1755, called Glover ‘Dodington’s trumpeter’.5 Glover himself writes that he knew that Dodington was ‘trimming between Pitt and Fox, though assuring me that he would unite with no cabal but stand on his own bottom, and publicly declare his sentiments unbiassed. This I encouraged, wishing sincerely well to a man whose company gave me pleasure.’ He records that his reconciliation with his former friends, the Grenvilles and Pitt, took place during the ministerial crisis of 1756: ‘It was now twelve years at least’, he writes, ‘since my own reserved behaviour and unpliant principles had kept me remote from this my once intimate and most favoured society. They received me with embraces.’6 As a result he drew up a memorandum for Pitt about conditions of accepting office, particularly the establishment of a strong militia. Glover was strongly opposed to the country becoming involved in a German war, and appears to have believed that Pitt felt the same.
After the accession of George III Dodington noted in his diary that though Glover ‘was full of admiration of Lord Bute’, and ‘applauded his conduct and the King’s’, he was ‘not determined about political connexions’, but ‘I believe he will come to us’.7 At the general election Glover was returned for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis on Dodington’s interest. Disapproval of the German war was the theme of one of his first speeches, 10 Dec. 1761, described by Horace Walpole as ‘most heroic fustian but not without good argument’;8 by Newcastle as ‘long and dull’;9 and as ‘elaborate and to the purpose’ by Harris who adds: ‘being delivered too slowly, and filled with a multiplicity of dates, numbers of ships, of men etc. it was not heard as it deserved, and would have made a better pamphlet than it did a speech’. Glover seems to have been known for his long speeches. James West wrote to Newcastle on 10 Dec. 1761: ‘Mr. Glover is now up and may speak an hour.’10
Glover subscribed £20,000 to the loan of 12 millions for the year 1762, in which Henry Fox and his friends did so well. Newcastle, on 20 June 1762, included Glover with Salvador and ‘Mr. Fox’s particular friends’ as ‘the only persons they [the Administration] have in the City’. Glover supported the peace preliminaries, and on 10 Dec. 1762, made ‘an elaborate speech ... proving by many facts that our trade had suffered by war’. Harris comments: ‘it was a well drawn performance, and full of more matter than could well be comprehended in one hearing’. Glover was admitted to a large share of the subscription to the Government loan of 1763. According to Sir Francis Dashwood he had £60,000 and had ‘got a great deal by it’.11 But in March 1763 Glover joined in the Opposition clamour against the cider tax. Charles Jenkinson reported to Bute on 11 Mar.:12
Glover got up meaning to be against the tax, and made the strangest enthusiastic speech against excises in general I ever heard ... the House was in a laugh; he was the only person serious in it. Not a word however of what he said had any relation to cider.
He appears to have drafted the City of London’s petition against the tax; and on 24 Mar. the King wrote to Bute:13
Mr. Glover’s conduct now exceeds the bounds that his opinion of my dear friend ought to keep him; and his having wrote so inflammatory a petition as the minutes of yesterday’s debate represents gives me much reason to believe that the desire of popularity will make him a tool of Opposition.
In fact, Glover seems to have followed an independent line. He was classed by Jenkinson in the autumn of 1763 as ‘pro’, but appeared as voting with Opposition in all the extant division lists on general warrants, February 1764. He wrote to Grenville, 16 Feb. 1764:14
Give me leave to say with some confidence that Sir William Meredith’s motion will pass, unless you snatch that occasion out of the hands of Opposition by an amendment, and secure to yourself all the credit which else will remain with them.
And he concluded by suggesting an amendment to the effect that general warrants were illegal. He again voted with Opposition on the following day, but was counted by Jenkinson as a friend. No other votes by him are reported. Newcastle (10 May 1764), and Rockingham (July 1765 and November 1766) both class him as ‘doubtful’. He remained on friendly terms with Grenville after the latter left office, and was classed ‘Bedford and Grenville’ by Townshend in January 1767.
Glover did not stand again in 1768, and seems henceforth to have played no part in City or national politics, but rather to have concentrated on his own commercial interests. On the failure of the Ayr bank in June 1772 he took a prominent part in settling its affairs. In March and April 1774 he appeared before the House of Commons as an agent for the English linen merchants, and in 1775 supported a petition from West Indian merchants.
Glover died 25 Nov. 1785.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Mary M. Drummond
- 1. HMC Egmont Diary, iii. 258.
- 2. Mems. of a Celebrated Lit. and Pol. Figure.
- 3. Ibid. For the plan see Add. 32736, ff. 510-13.
- 4. Add. 35374, ff. 126-7.
- 5. Ibid. f. 131.
- 6. Mems.
- 7. Diary, 20 Dec. 1761.
- 8. Mems. Geo. III , i. 89.
- 9. Add. 32932, ff. 107-8.
- 10. Ibid. ff. 109-10.
- 11. Harris’s memoranda, 23 Mar., 22 May 1763.
- 12. Bodl. North mss.
- 13. Sedgwick, 204.
- 14. Grenville Pprs. ii. 265.