LASCELLES, Edwin (1713-95), of Harewood, nr. Leeds, Yorks.
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Family and Education
bap. 5 Feb. 1713, 1st s. of Henry Lascelles, M.P., of Harewood and Barbados by his 1st w. Mary, da. and coh. of Edwin Carter of St. Michael’s, Barbados; bro. of Daniel Lascelles, educ. Trinity, Camb. 1732; I. Temple 1731. m. (1) 5 Jan. 1747, Elizabeth (d. 31 Aug. 1764), da. and h. of Sir Darcy Dawes, 4th Bt., s.p.; (2) 31 Mar. 1770, Jane, da. of William Coleman of Garney, Devon, wid. of Sir John Fleming, 1st Bt., s.p. suc. fa. 1753; cr. Baron Harewood 9 July 1790.
The family of Lascelles, long established in Yorkshire, had been connected with Barbados since the end of the 17th century. Henry Lascelles, M.P. for Northallerton 1745-52, founded the firm of Lascelles and Maxwell, sugar factors, of Mark Lane, London; which in 1763 became Lascelles, Clarke, and Daling.1 In the second half of the 18th century the Lascelles family and the Peirse family of Bedale controlled Northallerton. From 1754 to 1774, during the minority of Henry Peirse, both seats were held by the Lascelles.
Edwin Lascelles took no part in the family business. In George II’s reign he was always counted as a Government supporter. He had built up his own interest at Scarborough, and in 1754 intended to stand again; but when it became clear that there would be a contest, withdrew, and was returned for Northallerton. In 1761 he was chosen, with Lord Rockingham’s support, for Yorkshire, on a joint interest with Sir George Savile. At this general election he had intended to offer a candidate for Scarborough but changed his mind, and henceforth his interest in the borough declined.
In Bute’s list Lascelles is marked ‘Rockingham’, and in 1761 he was sent Newcastle’s parliamentary whip through Rockingham. Although associated with Rockingham in county affairs he maintained his independence, but when Rockingham emerged as a party leader in Parliament Lascelles tended to follow him. He did not vote against the peace preliminaries (although his brother Daniel and cousin Edward did), nor in the first division on general warrants, 6 Feb. 1764. In the divisions of 15 and 18 Feb. he voted with the Opposition; still, Newcastle, in his list of 10 May, classed him as a ‘doubtful friend’.
In July 1765 Rockingham classed Lascelles as ‘pro’, and in December sent him the whip for the meeting of Parliament. ‘Although my intention was not to be in town before the holidays’, Lascelles replied, 2 Dec.,2 ‘... as your Lordship desires I would be present at the meeting of the Parliament, I shall pay no regard to my private affairs.’ But Rockingham in his list of November 1766 classed Lascelles as only ‘doubtful’. Lascelles voted with the Opposition for the 3s. land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, and the nullum tempus bill, 17 Feb. 1768—both measures favoured by the country gentlemen, and the second introduced by his fellow-Member Savile.
In 1768 and 1774 Lascelles again stood for Yorkshire with Rockingham’s support and on a joint interest with Savile, and was returned unopposed. In the Parliament of 1768 he made his only recorded contributions to debate: on the Selby canal bill, 24 May 1773 and 3 Mar. 1774. On the expulsion of Wilkes and the Middlesex election—questions on which Rockingham and Savile were actively engaged—Lascelles voted with the Opposition (3 Feb., 15 Apr., 8 May 1769, 25 Jan. 1770, and 26 Apr. 1773); and in September 1769 received the thanks of the freeholders of Yorkshire for his conduct. But in no other division list of the Parliament of 1768 does his name appear—not even in that on Grenville’s Election Act, 25 Feb. 1774. On the royal marriage bill, March 1772, Robinson classed him as ‘doubtful’; and at the end of the Parliament as ‘hopeful’.
It seems clear that Lascelles was moving towards Administration, and the outbreak of the American war decided him. In none of the minority division lists 1775-8 does his name appear, and in January 1778 North described him as a ‘disinterested and ... very useful friend to Government’. And on 13 Feb. 1779: ‘Mr. Lascelles and his friends, who are [of] considerable weight in the House of Commons and the country, have given a constant and disinterested support to Government.’3 But in the five divisions February-April 1780 he voted with the Opposition. Robinson wrote about him in his survey for the general election of 1780:
Mr. Lascelles is threatened with an opposition for his conduct, which, though he voted with Opposition, has been imputed to be with a view to his election, not from principle, and by his management he has not pleased the other side. The Patriots despise him, the friends of Government in Yorkshire are disgusted with him for his trimming.
But since Lascelles had ‘ready money to fight with and a fortune not easily hurt’, Robinson expected the opposition to withdraw.
But the support given by Lascelles to the American war had seriously undermined his position in Yorkshire. Although his interest was considerable, he owed much more to his association with Rockingham and Savile. Henry Duncombe offered himself a candidate pledged to Opposition, and was joined by Savile. An election fund was raised on their behalf. Lascelles in his election address spoke of his ‘free and independent line of conduct’; and on 16 Sept. assembled a meeting of his friends at York.
Mr. Lascelles threw out hints [wrote Rockingham to Portland, 17 Sept. 1780] that there was a large subscription in favour of Sir G. Savile and Mr. H. Duncombe, and that something of the kind might be necessary in aid of him. These hints were not taken. He then retired to consult some select friends, and ultimately declined.4
Lascelles was returned for Northallerton in place of his brother. He supported North’s Administration to the end; voted for Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783; was absent from the divisions on Fox’s East India bill; and supported Pitt. His wish for a peerage, ‘the only favour he ever in his life asked for himself’,5 was granted in 1790.
He died 25 Jan. 1795.