LETHIEULLIER, Benjamin (1729-97), of Belmont, Mdx. and Middleton, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. 1729, 1st surv. s. of Christopher Lethieullier, director of the Bank of England, by his 2nd w. Sarah, da. of Edward Lascelles, wid. of Joshua Iremonger of Wherwell, Hants. unm. suc. fa. 1736.
Lethieullier was returned for Andover with the support of his brother-in-law Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh, who in 1754 had himself been a candidate for the borough, and of his half-brother Joshua Iremonger, whose estate was close to Andover. Sir Matthew wrote to Newcastle on 11 Feb. 1768 that Lethieullier ‘has all probable reasons to think he shall be chose at Andover’; and on 16 Feb.:1
I am going up tomorrow morning to the Duke of Grafton to endeavour to prevent his proceeding to oppose my brother Lethieullier at Andover, where the Duke of Northumberland has engaged him to use his influence, and has joined his own to it, to bring in if possible Sir Francis Delaval. But whether his Grace will I am doubtful, though it will not I believe signify, as I think my brother is pretty sure; but he has desired me to go to speak to the Duke about it.
Lethieullier subsequently fought one more contested election at Andover against a candidate with a strong influence in the borough: in 1774 against John Pollen, whose father had represented Andover 1734-1754.
In the House Lethieullier voted with Opposition over Wilkes and the Middlesex election and on the Grenville Act, 25 Feb. 1774; against sending troops out of the kingdom, 2 Feb. 1778; in three divisions on economical reform in 1780, and on Dunning’s motion; but in the division on the petitions, 24 Apr. 1780, Lethieullier voted with Government. The Public Ledger described him in 1779 as ‘a very respectable Member of Parliament, and perfectly unbiassed in his conduct.’ In the next Parliament he again voted with Opposition on questions affecting the American war, but with Government in the two crucial divisions on ‘no confidence’ motions, 8 and 15 Mar. 1782: he obviously did not relish the idea of the Opposition coming in. John Robinson wrote about Lethieullier in August 1782 that he was brought in by himself and his ‘own attention’ and was ‘a very independent gentleman’; he sometimes had voted with the North Government; and Robinson thought it likely that he would go with Conway.2 Lethieullier voted for Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and was absent from the divisions on Fox’s East India bill. In December 1783 Robinson classed him as ‘hopeful’. In 1784 Lethieullier was returned both for Andover and Midhurst: possibly in view of Lord Portsmouth’s adhering to the Coalition he felt uncertain of retaining his seat at Andover, and hedged at Midhurst. After 1784 he followed Pitt, and voted with him during the Regency crisis, 1788-9.
There is no record of Lethieullier’s ever having spoken in the House during the 30 years he sat in it. When mentioned he is spoken of with respect, but his name very seldom appears in contemporary correspondence; nor are there any letters from him in the main collections of political papers for the period. He never held any place nor seems ever to have solicited benefits for himself. He was a rich man, with traditional City connexions, but does not seem to have been active in business, and did not even participate in any of the ventures of his brother-in-law Matthew Fetherstonhaugh. At times he held considerable amounts of Bank of England stock, but although his father and uncle had been directors of the Bank, Lethieullier never was. His holding in Government stock at one time rose into five figures.3
He died 5 Dec. 1797.