SHUCKBURGH, Sir George Augustus William, 6th Bt. (1751-1804), of Shuckburgh, Warws.

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

1780 - 11 Aug. 1804

Family and Education

b. 23 Aug. 1751, 1st s. of Lt.-Col. Richard Shuckburgh by Sarah, da. of John Hayward of Plumstead, Kent, wid. of Edward Bate.  educ. Rugby 1760; Balliol, Oxf. 1768; Grand Tour (France and Italy).  m. (1) 3 July 1782, Sarah Johanna (d. 10 Apr. 1783), da. of John Darker, s.p.; (2) 6 Oct. 1785, Julia Annabella, da. and h. of John Evelyn of Felbridge, Surr. and niece and h. of George Medley, 1da.  suc. fa. 1772; uncle as 6th Bt. 10 Aug. 1773; on d. of fa.-in-law 1793, took name of Evelyn after Shuckburgh.

Offices Held

Biography

The Shuckburghs were a very old Warwickshire family, who first sat for Warwick in 1640 and for the county in 1698. In 1780 Sir George Shuckburgh was returned unopposed. ‘His fortune’, wrote the English Chronicle soon after his election, ‘is hardly adequate to the rank he bears in life’; and continued:

In politics he is supposed to bend towards the ministerial side of the question, and it is imagined that no extraordinary aversion would be expressed by him to such a provision from the premier as might be entirely fit for and worth his acceptance. It was expected by his constituents that he would have been an orator in Parliament, but as he has not yet displayed it remains doubtful whether diffidence or the conscious want of this peculiar talent has been the true source of his past taciturnity.

In his first two Parliaments he is not reported as having spoken in the House, and nothing is known of his political conduct until the last weeks of North’s Administration when he voted steadily against the court. He seems at this period to have been connected with Fox, but to have turned against him through dislike of the Coalition: he did not vote on Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783; voted against Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783; and in Robinson’s list of January 1784, and Stockdale’s of 19 Mar., was classed as a supporter of Pitt. He was again returned unopposed in 1784.

On 23 Apr. 1788 he wrote to Pitt1 to express his concern at certain naval promotions—recently the subject of debate in the Commons when some of the country gentlemen had turned against Pitt. Shuckburgh described himself as ‘a person perfectly unbiassed by every influence of party’, and recommended Pitt to take action.

If this be not done, assure yourself that you will oblige the independent Members of Parliament to recur to a proceeding which it is not in your power to resist ... there are several respectable persons in both Houses of Parliament and a very great number indeed in the public at large, who, though attached to the Government, will not support it ill-administered ... Take a retrospective view of your situation four or five years back when the unexampled madness of Mr. Fox’s party and the profligate desertion of profession made him the just object of public indignation, but attribute not the event that succeeded to its wrong cause; indignation not love was the prevailing sense in the people’s minds, and reflect should that spirit be again raised with what tenfold vengeance it would fall on you.
If in this address I should appear to have violated the gentleness of courtly phrase, I must request you to attribute it to no intention of personal disrespect but to an ardent zeal to set you right.

Pitt refused to interfere in what he regarded as a departmental affair. ‘I ... can therefore only regret’, he wrote to Shuckburgh on 27 Apr.,2 ‘that I cannot receive from you in this instance the support which I have experienced on other occasions.’ Shuckburgh signed the circular letter of May 1788 calling for the formation of a third party independent of Pitt or Fox, but voted with Pitt on the Regency.

He was an amateur scientist of considerable distinction, contributed papers to the Royal Society, and built an observatory at Shuckburgh.  He died 11 Aug. 1804.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke

Notes

  • 1. Chatham mss.
  • 2. Ibid.
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