WORSLEY, Sir Richard, 7th Bt. (1751-1805), of Appuldercombe, I.o.W.
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Family and Education
b. 5 Mar. 1751,1 1st s. of Sir Thomas Worsley, 6th Bt., by Lady Elizabeth Boyle, da. of John, 5th Earl of Cork and Orrery [I]. educ. Winchester; Corpus Christi, Oxf. 1768; Grand Tour with Gibbon’s friend D’Eyverdun as tutor. m. 20 Sept. 1775, Seymour Dorothy (div. 22 Feb. 1782), da. and coh. of Sir John Fleming, 1st Bt., of Brompton Park, Mdx.,2 1s. d.v.p. 1da. suc. fa. 23 Sept. 1768. His sis. Henrietta Frances m. 1784, John Bridgeman afterwards Simpson.
Comptroller of Board of Green Cloth 1777-9, of the Household Dec. 1779-Mar. 1782; P.C. 9 Feb. 1780; gov. I.o.W. 1780-2; minister to Venice 1793-7.
Gibbon, whose family had long been friends of the Worsleys, wrote, 21 Mar. 1772, about Richard on his return from the grand tour: ‘I ... see many alterations, and little improvement. From an honest wild English buck, he is grown philosopher’; disgusts ‘by the affectation of wisdom’; and is ‘losing ground in the good opinion of the public, which at his first arrival ran strongly in his favour’. An even more unfavourable description of him is given by Bentham who met Worsley in Constantinople and in Southern Russia in 1786: he calls him ‘haughty, selfish and mean’.3
Returned for Newport on the Government-Holmes interest, reinforced by his own, in Parliament Worsley was a regular Government supporter. He wished for a place of business at the Board of Trade or the Admiralty but was kept 1777-82 in court offices.4 On 8 Mar. 1779 he spoke against Fox’s motion on the navy, and on 13 Apr. 1780 against Crewe’s bill to disfranchise revenue officers—his only two reported speeches in Parliament before 1790. In December 1779 he contested Hampshire with Government support: the election which was managed by the Duke of Chandos cost Worsley about £6,000, and the Government £2,000.5But on 23 Dec. Robinson wrote to Jenkinson: ‘By accounts I have received Sir Richard Worsley must give up the contest in Hampshire; he is beat.’6 He apparently did so on the 21st, having received 1,456 votes against 2,180 for his opponent—according to Robinson’s survey for that general election, the management had been ‘wretchedly bad’. Worsley was re-elected for Newport. In January 1780 he was appointed governor of the Isle of Wight, which caused Chandos to resign the lord lieutenancy of Hampshire. Worsley voted in four out of five divisions, 20 Feb.-15 Mar. 1782, always with the Government; but was absent on 22 Feb., the day his divorce petition was tried (when told the reason, Lord North remarked: ‘Oh, if all my cuckolds desert, I shall be beaten indeed’).7 Because of connivance only one shilling damages was awarded to the plaintiff. In January 1783 he returned Shelburne’s solicitor-general, Richard Pepper Arden, at Newtown,8 but on 18 Feb. voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries. At the end of April he went abroad and only returned in 1788; he traversed Europe from Portugal and Spain to Greece and Constantinople, visited Asia Minor, went across Russia to St. Petersburg, spending a good deal of time, both on the way out and back, in France and Italy.9 On his journeys he acquired the art treasures described in his Museum Worsleianum; he was a scholar, and his History of the Isle of Wight (1781) is of value even now.
While abroad Worsley applied to Pitt to be appointed ambassador at Constantinople; and on his return adhered to Government—writing to John Wilkes, 27 Dec. 1788, about Pitt’s expected dismissal, he added: ‘we shall both lose a friend’.10
Worsley lived his last years ‘in a state of seclusion’;11 and died on 8 Aug. 1805.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Sir Lewis Namier
- 1. Note by Sir Thos. Worsley, Worsley mss in possession of the Earl of Yarborough.
- 2. Gibbon to J. B. Holroyd, 17 June 1775.
- 3. Works. x. 153.
- 4. Add. 38306, f. 70b.
- 5. Chandos to North, 12 Dec. 1779, Abergavenny mss; Fortescue, v. 467.
- 6. Add. 38212, f. 316; Walpole, Last Jnls. ii. 260.
- 7. Walpole to Mann, 25 Feb. 1782.
- 8. Fortescue, vi. 342.
- 9. Worsley’s jnls, Yarborough mss.
- 10. Add. 27915, f. 13; 30873, f. 146.
- 11. Gent. Mag. 1805, p. 781.