HARBORD, Harbord (1734-1810), of Gunton Hall and Suffield, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. 15 Jan. 1734, 1st s. of William Morden of Gunton (later Sir William Harbord, 1st Bt., M.P.) by Elizabeth, da. of Robert Britiffe of Baconsthorpe, Norf. Took name of Harbord 1742 under will of his gt.-uncle Harbord Harbord, M.P. educ. Christ’s, Camb. 1752. m. 7 Oct. 1760, Mary, da. and coh. of Sir Ralph Assheton, 3rd Bt., of Middleton, Lancs., 3s. 3da. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 17 Feb. 1770; cr. Baron Suffield 21 Aug. 1786.
Harbord came of a rich and influential Norfolk family, and in 1756 was returned unopposed for Norwich with the support of his cousin the second Lord Buckinghamshire. ‘It is true indeed my son is very young’, wrote Sir William Harbord to Newcastle, 30 Sept. 1756,1
but bred in the same principles with his father who for many years together in Parliament invariably supported the measures of the then Administration, may he have an opportunity of performing the same with regard to the present.
In fact throughout his parliamentary career Harbord followed his own thoroughly independent line. In 1761 Newcastle after some hesitation marked him as doubtful.2 He does not appear in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries, December 1762, nor did he vote against them. Bute, believing that he would follow Buckinghamshire in supporting Administration, in December 1762 offered to make him a groom of the bed-chamber, but Harbord declined on the grounds that his accepting might ‘foment divisions’ amongst his constituents.3 In the autumn of 1763 he was classed by Jenkinson as an Administration supporter, and he does not appear in the minority list on Wilkes, 15 Nov. 1763; but he voted with the Opposition over general warrants, 6, 15 and 18 Feb. 1764; was included in Newcastle’s list of ‘sure’ friends, 10 May 1764, and in Rockingham’s lists of July 1765 and November 1766 as a supporter. He voted against the Administration on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767. Before the general election of 1768 Buckinghamshire suggested that Harbord should decline, but apparently did not press the point, and he topped the poll with a large majority. Henceforth he voted regularly with the Opposition.
Harbord was returned unopposed in 1774. In 1780, though deserted by some of his original supporters, his personal influence was sufficient to return him at the top of the poll with a large majority. The English Chronicle wrote of him shortly afterwards:
In private life he is a kind of rustic despot—rigid to his tenants, tyrannic and lofty to his immediate adherents, and exact to a degree of puerility, in all the game laws; but as a compensation for these defects he is in his public conduct the friend to freedom, and votes invariably on the side of liberty and patriotism.
Harbord voted for Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783; and for Pitt’s proposals for parliamentary reform, 7 May 1783. He did not vote on Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783, but in Robinson’s list of January 1784 was classed as ‘pro’, and henceforth supported Pitt’s Administration.
Less than half a dozen speeches by Harbord, on minor matters, are reported during his thirty years in the House.
He died 4 Feb. 1810.