VILLIERS, Hon. Thomas (1709-86), of The Grove, Watford, Herts.

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



1747 - 3 June 1756

Family and Education

b. 1709, 2nd s. of William, 2nd Earl of Jersey, by Judith, da. and h. of Frederick Herne, London merchant.  educ. Eton 1725; Queens’, Camb. 1728.  m. 30 Mar. 1752, Lady Charlotte Capel (coh. of her mother), 1st surv. da. of William, 3rd Earl of Essex, by Jane, da. of Henry Hyde, 4th and last Earl of Clarendon, 3s. 1da.  cr. Baron Hyde 3 June 1756; Earl of Clarendon 14 June 1776.

Offices Held

Envoy to Poland 1738-43; minister to Austria 1742-3; envoy to Poland 1744-6, to Prussia Feb.-Sept. 1746; ld. of Admiralty Dec. 1748-Nov. 1756; P.C. 9 Sept. 1763; jt. postmaster gen. Sept. 1763-July 1765; chancellor of duchy of Lancaster 1771-82, Dec. 1783-86; jt. postmaster gen. Sept. 1786- d.


Villiers was given to writing very long autobiographical letters in which he expatiated on his labours and achievements as diplomat and the insufficient recompense received—‘with less prolixity’, he thought, ‘than is common to an egotist’. Thus he wrote in retrospect to Bute, on 30 Nov. 1760: ‘I served the Crown many years in foreign commissions, several of great importance, and fortunately never failed in any one I was honoured with.’1 Returned at Tamworth on the interest of his cousin Thomas, 2nd Viscount Weymouth, under George II he was a regular Government supporter and a placeman for most of his life. His great ambition was a peerage, which he achieved in 1756 in right of his wife.2 He was dropped from the Admiralty on the formation of the Devonshire-Pitt Administration in November 1756. ‘I never solicited in my life’, he wrote to Devonshire on 21 Nov., while pleading the uneasiness of his ‘friends and relations’ at his dismissal.3 ‘Perhaps my misfortune is my unwillingness to ask favours’; but he did so extensively during the following years. He was reinstated by Grenville as joint postmaster general in September 1763, proved active and efficient in the office; was dismissed in July 1765; and adhered to Grenville, re-entering Administration only after Grenville’s death. He was never important politically.

He died 11 Dec. 1786.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Bedford Corresp. i. 45-49; Bute mss; Mann to Walpole, 29 July 1742.
  • 2. Add. 32734, ff. 348-50, 352-3.
  • 3. Devonshire mss.