LEVESON GOWER, Hon. John (1740-92).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

1784 - 1790
1790 - 15 Aug. 1792

Family and Education

b. 11 July 1740, 6th s. of John, 1st Earl Gower, by his 3rd w. Lady Mary Tufton, da. of Thomas, 6th Earl of Thanet, wid. of Anthony Grey, Earl of Harold; half-bro. of Granville, Visct. Trentham.  m. 5 July 1773, Frances, da. of Edward Boscawen, 5s. 3da.

Offices Held

Lt. R.N. 1758; capt. 1760; r.-adm. 1787.

Ld. of Admiralty Jan-Apr. 1783, Dec. 1783-9.

Biography

Leveson (as he was always called) was connected with Sir Charles Saunders and Augustus Keppel, and served under Keppel in the indecisive action off Ushant in June 1778. Sandwich, first lord of the Admiralty, wrote about him to the King in November 17781 after the controversy had arisen between Keppel and Sir Hugh Palliser:

Though much attached to Mr. Keppel, has kept himself out of all disputes and shown no partiality to either side; has attended closely to the duty of his ship and is perhaps one of the most valuable officers in the King’s service.

Leveson’s opinion of Sandwich is shown in a letter he wrote to William Cornwallis, 27 Feb. 1776:2

As to Lord Sandwich, he never had any decency, and, shocking as it is, yet it is most true that he concealed the account of his son’s death [William Augustus Montagu] two or three days, that it might not stop the amusements and entertainments which he was then making at Hinchinbrooke.

Leveson took Keppel’s part after the court martial (he wrote to Lady Cornwallis about Keppel, 2 Oct. 1779:3 ‘the most malevolent person cannot have the smallest cause for finding fault with him’); signed the memorial to the King praying for Palliser’s dismissal; and resigned his ship. He did not serve again until April 1782. In January 1783, though not in Parliament and not yet of flag rank, he was appointed by Lord Howe to a seat at the Board of Admiralty; which he lost under the Coalition. Reappointed by Howe in December 1783, he was brought into Parliament in 1784 on the Thanet interest at Appleby. Four speeches by him are recorded 1784-90, all on Admiralty business. Although in office, he voted against Richmond’s fortifications plan, 27 Feb. 1786.

The story of Leveson’s quarrel with Lord Chatham, appointed first lord of the Admiralty in July 1788, is told in a letter to William Cornwallis of 19 Feb. 1790:4

Soon after you left this country I was obliged to resign the Admiralty. I had before Christmas [1788] met some things which were very disagreeable to me, but on my return to town after those holidays I found so much of what might really be called incivility, that as soon as his Majesty was said to be well enough recovered to do business, I gave in my resignation.

This did not affect his political conduct, for he voted with Pitt on the Regency.

Leveson died 15 Aug. 1792.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke

Notes

  • 1. Fortescue, iv. 226.
  • 2. HMC Var. vi. 315.
  • 3. Ibid. 320.
  • 4. Ibid. 347.
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