BOND, Nathaniel (1754-1823), of 11 Paper Buildings, Inner Temple, London and East Holme, Dorset.
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Family and Education
Recorder, Dorchester Dec. 1781-Dec. 1806; KC 2 Mar. 1795; bencher, I. Temple 1795, reader 1799, treasurer 1801; ld. of Treasury Mar. 1801-May 1804; PC Nov. 1803; vice-pres. Board of Trade Feb.-June 1804; judge adv.-gen. Mar. 1806-Nov. 1807.
Bond, a barrister on the western circuit, took silk, but had thoughts of giving up his profession in 1800. His friend Joseph Jekyll* assured him that ‘bustle’ was the best remedy for his ‘constitutional melancholy’, the ‘physical result of a bilious, nervous temperament’. Soon afterwards, as a result of his ‘long and intimate friendship’ with his schoolfellow Addington, he entered Parliament in the family seat, vacated by his brother, when Addington came to power.1 He was immediately offered a place on the Treasury board.
He was evidently a man of business, for when the post of chief secretary to the lord lieutenant of Ireland became vacant in February 1802, Addington told Charles Yorke to inform his half-brother Hardwicke that ‘though he loses the most able and efficient assistant at the Treasury by giving him up ... you cannot have a more able, a more honourable or a more pleasant assistant’. Yorke added: ‘The House affords very few indeed besides Bond. ... My only doubt is whether he will undertake it.’ Charles Abbot the Speaker-elect also assured Hardwicke, 5 Feb., that Bond’s long friendship with Addington and (Sir) John Mitford* and his ‘Treasury habits of business’ made him ‘peculiarly eligible’ for the post. But on 7 Feb. Yorke informed the viceroy: ‘Nat Bond cannot be persuaded to undertake the office ... He pleads ill health, etc. The truth is that with all the talents and acquirements he possesses, he does not like to give himself more trouble than is absolutely necessary.’ On the following day, ignorant of Bond’s decision, Hardwicke wrote doubting Bond’s suitability, as debating experience was needed.2
Bond’s maiden speech, 14 May 1802, was in defence of the treaty of Amiens and the blessings of peace. He also on several occasions (Mar.-May 1803) defended the Nottingham election bill, which he played a major part in framing. The Speaker believed in June that Bond was to be secretary at war. In November he was made a privy councillor and there was again talk of his going to Ireland in January 1804 as chief secretary; but he would ‘not think of it’. Charles Yorke informed Hardwicke, who in any case did not want him as his secretary (8 Jan.), that he believed nothing would ‘induce him to move from the sphere in which he at present, most usefully, moves’.3 In the following month Bond became vice-president of the Board of Trade, an office he did not hold long because of the return to power of Pitt, whose administration he opposed. On 30 Sept. 1804 the King hinted to George Rose that Bond, to whom he had spoken at Weymouth, would make an acceptable replacement for (Sir) Charles Morgan* as judge advocate-general: Pitt had ‘some objections’ which he stated to Rose on 13 Oct., but the offer was made and Addington was made aware of the flirtation with his friend. Bond nevertheless kept aloof and advised Addington against a rapprochement with Pitt in December 1804, unless he was conceded sufficient influence in Pitt’s counsels. In his negotiations for it, Addington stipulated office for Bond and he was expected to be judge advocate-general in due course. He informed himself of the duties attached to the office in anticipation.4
When his leader became disillusioned with Pitt, Bond made it clear in the House. On 2 May 1805 he spoke in approval of the commission of naval inquiry: he ‘never wished to screen delinquency’. He had voted against Whitbread’s censure motion on Melville, 8 Apr., because he thought it premature, but now in the light of the evidence, he thought that criminal rather than civil proceedings should be instituted against Melville. To Whitbread’s suggestion of impeachment, he preferred prosecution by the attorney-general, as the experience of the trial of Warren Hastings showed that impeachments were liable to be slow and cumbersome. His amendment to this effect was successful by 238 votes to 229 on 12 June. Canning alleged that Bond spoke with ‘scoundrelly candour’: he ‘did all the mischief possible and declared ... his intention to vote for the impeachment if he could not carry his own amendment’.5 He maintained this point of view in subsequent debates on the subject, deploring Hugh Leycester’s successful motion for an impeachment as an attempt to rescind a decision of the House, 25 June.
On 27 June 1805 Pitt informed Lord Sidmouth that in view of the ostentatious hostility to himself of Bond and Hiley Addington, he had scruples about placing them in office as originally promised. Although Bond refused to allow his claims to stand in the way of a reconciliation, Pitt’s demur on this occasion severed relations between him and the Sidmouthites. Bond had no regrets; he thought himself ‘unfit’ for office. To Henry Bankes he confided: ‘I am too old to be an active Member of Parliament. I never liked the work, I am now disgusted with it, and I cannot persuade myself that I have any chance of doing much good.’6
In January 1806 Lord Grenville offered Bond, as one of his friends for whom Sidmouth expected ‘immediate appointment’, the office of judge advocate and, though he felt ‘no disposition to take an office of much labour’, he accepted. He did so with ‘more apprehension than satisfaction’, but ‘the wishes of my political friends, the advice of other friends, and some conference with Sir Charles Morgan’ (the latter was making way for Bond) decided him. He was gazetted on 8 Mar., but warned, ‘If I find myself insufficient I shall certainly run away from my shop’. Bond also learnt that Grenville and Fox had been prepared to offer him a seat at the Treasury if he refused the other appointment. In lieu of an official residence he was given ‘a very liberal provision’.7 On 3 Mar. 1806 he spoke in defence of Ellenborough’s seat in the cabinet and acted as teller. He was dismayed to find from a memorandum of the secretary of war (Windham) that the Duke of York as commander-in-chief, and not he, would have access to the King on questions of courts-martial: he wrote to Grenville begging to resign, 30 May, though prepared to continue until a successor was appointed. Grenville wrote a dissuasive reply, 6 June, professing ignorance of the memorandum. Windham, who from the start had wanted French Laurence* as advocate-general, pressed Grenville to accept Bond’s resignation, which Grenville did not consider honourable.8 On 7 June Bond wrote to Grenville that, although his decision to resign was not hasty, he would continue for the present, but wished to resign soon. In the meantime Grenville saw to it that a compromise was arranged with the Duke of York on the question of Bond’s official responsibilities, and Richard Fitzpatrick*, the mediator, also wrote to Sidmouth, 14 June, asking him to use his influence with Bond to stay. By 24 July Bond could write to Grenville saying he was satisfied with the arrangement and his only complaint was that his eyesight was bad, but he would continue in his office if no one else wanted it. Steps were taken to buy the Downing Street house of his predecessor in the office.9
Bond did not contest the election of 1807, but he continued in office until November. Lord Auckland wrote to Grenville, 17 Nov., ‘I do not yet believe the story of Mr Bond’s resignation (he signed the declaration against Denmark)’, but a fortnight later, when the story was confirmed, ‘Mr Bond’s friends assure me that his resignation was occasioned solely by an extreme nervousness, which once before affected his mind’. This nervousness was no doubt exacerbated by the traumatic experience of June 1806, for Bond informed Charles Abbot, 21 Nov. 1807, when he knew that he was to be succeeded by Richard Ryder*, ‘I know that he is acceptable to the King’. He added that he was going to give up his London residence and settle in the west country for his health: ‘There is nothing in the world of politics that is cheering either to the sick or the well’. Charles Long thought Bond must have been influenced by Sidmouth’s exclusion from office, but the latter lamented it ‘on all accounts’. Writing to Henry Bankes, 15 Nov., Bond had attributed his resignation to his state of health and frequent weakness of eyesight. By 1809, William John Bankes could report of Bond: ‘It is a pleasure to see how much his health is improved and how much he enjoys himself since his resignation’.10 From East Holme, the younger son’s portion left him by an uncle Nathaniel who was himself a younger son, he occasionally corresponded with his old leader on questions of the day.11 He died 8 Oct. 1823, ‘debilitated and reduced to a skeleton’, leaving Holme to his nephew Nathaniel, another younger son.12
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. Dorset RO, Bond mss D367, Jekyll to Bond, 22 Dec. 1800; Add. 35712, f. 84.
- 2. Add. 35701, ff. 229, 231, 233; 35712, f. 84.
- 3. Colchester, i. 427; Add. 35701, f. 250; 35704, f. 276.
- 4. Colchester, i. 532, 535, 536; Rose Diaries, ii. 161, 172; Sidmouth mss, Addington to Bond, 7 Nov., reply 8 Nov. 1804; Bond mss D413, box I, corresp. with R. Ryder, Jan. 1805.
- 5. Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 12 June 1805.
- 6. Colchester, ii. 13, 15; Pellew, Sidmouth, ii. 371; Malmesbury Diaries, iv. 338; Add. 49188, f. 9; Bankes mss, Bond to Bankes, 6, 13 July 1805.
- 7. Colchester, ii. 34; Pellew, ii. 414; HMC Fortescue, viii. 38; Fortescue mss, Bond to Grenville, 30 May; Bankes mss, Bond to Bankes, 31 Jan. [Feb.] 1806.
- 8. Fortescue mss; HMC Fortescue, viii. 171, 173, 192; Add. 37847, ff. 3, 5.
- 9. Fortescue mss; HMC Fortescue, viii. 467.
- 10. HMC Fortescue, ix. 147, 153; Geo. III Corresp. iv. 3559; PRO 30/9/15; Lonsdale mss, Long to Lonsdale, 13 Nov.; Sidmouth mss, Sidmouth to Bragge Bathurst, 15 Nov.; Bankes mss, Bond to Bankes, 15 Nov. 1807, W. J. Bankes to Mrs Bankes, Fri. .
- 11. Sidmouth mss, passim.
- 12. PRO 30/12/2.I, Jekyll to Lady Ellenborough, 14 Oct. 1823; PCC 172 Richards.