HERBERT, Henry (1741-1811), of Christian Malford, Wilts. and Highclere, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. 20 Aug. 1741, 1st s. of William Herbert, and bro. of Charles Herbert. educ. Eton 1753-9; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1760; Glasgow Univ. 1762. m. 15 July 1771, Lady Elizabeth Wyndham, da. of Charles, 2nd Earl of Egremont, 7s. 1da. suc. fa. 1757; cr. Baron Porchester 17 Oct. 1780; Earl of Carnarvon 3 July 1793.
P.C. 12 Feb. 1806; master of the horse 1806-7.
Herbert sat for Wilton on the interest of his cousin, Lord Pembroke. He voted with Opposition over Wilkes and the Middlesex election, and in 1770 introduced a bill to allow a Member expelled from the House to take his seat if re-elected. He is described by Horace Walpole as ‘a young man of great fortune and good principles’, and ‘a very conscientious young man’.1 He was a frequent speaker in the House; never attached himself to any party; and judged issues on their merits.
On 6 Dec. 1770 he opposed a motion by John Glynn, Wilkes’s friend, to inquire into the administration of justice—an Opposition measure founded on no real grievance; but on 7 Feb. 1771 he spoke for Sir George Savile’s bill to secure the rights of electors—which had some popular feeling behind it. He did not vote with the Opposition over the Spanish convention, 13 Feb. 1771. On 18 Mar. 1771, during a debate on the printers’ case, he warned the House against engaging ‘in another contest with the people, more difficult and more dangerous’ than the Middlesex election—‘It will be no disgrace to give up a little dignity absurdly engaged’.2 He voted for the petition of the clergy against subscription to the 39 Articles, 6 Feb. 1772, and against the royal marriage bill, which he said ‘ought to be entitled an act to encourage adultery and fornication’.3
In July 1772 Herbert vacated his seat at Wilton and contested Wiltshire at a by-election. On 25 July he wrote to Shelburne asking for his interest in the county. Shelburne replied:4
I should be very glad to obey your commands as well on account of the good disposition which I am informed you have shown in Parliament as of some persons you stand connected with for whom I have a great regard. But it’s impossible for me on this occasion to separate myself from those who ... made strenuous though hitherto ineffectual efforts for the redress of grievances, to which I must think a temporary opposition insufficient.
The election was hard fought, and Herbert was defeated. In December he was re-elected for Wilton where the vacancy had not been filled. About 1774 he began to build up an interest at Cricklade; and between 1779 and 1782, when the borough was reformed, controlled one seat.
He voted for Grenville’s Election Act, 25 Feb. 1774, and for Wilkes’s motion on the Middlesex election, 22 Feb. 1775, but supported the court over the American war. He seems at this time to have been losing interest in Parliament: between 1768 and 1774 eighty speeches by him are reported by Cavendish, but for 1774-80 Almon’s Parliamentary Register prints only two. When defeats came he blamed the conduct of the war: on 3 Mar. 1779 he voted with Opposition on the motion of censure against the Admiralty, and on 26 Nov. 1779 criticized the state of the defence at Plymouth. He did not vote in the divisions of February-April 1780 for which lists are available—again an indication that his interest in Parliament had waned.
On 21 Aug. 1780 John Robinson wrote to Charles Jenkinson: ‘Unless Henry Herbert will stand for Hampshire, I fear no candidate tolerably on our side will step forward. Herbert will with encouragement.’5 Shortly afterwards Herbert learnt that Lord Pembroke, now in opposition, would not return him again for Wilton; but still he did not contest Hampshire. Perhaps he already had a promise of a peerage. He died 3 June 1811.