ERLE DRAX GROSVENOR, Richard (1762-1819), of Charborough Park, nr. Blandford Forum, Dorset and Swell Court, Som.
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Family and Education
b. 5 Oct. 1762, 1st s. of Thomas Grosvenor I* of Swell Court by Deborah, da. and coh. of Stephen Skynner of Walthamstow, Essex; bro. of Thomas Grosvenor II*. educ. Westminster 1773; Christ Church, Oxf. 1779. m. 11 Mar. 1788, Sarah Frances, da. and h. of Edward Drax* of Charborough, 1s. 2da., and took names of Erle Drax before Grosvenor. suc. fa. 1795.
Sheriff, Dorset 1800-1.
Capt. Dorset yeomanry 1795, 1803, maj. 1809.
Drax Grosvenor vacated his government seat for East Looe when his cousin, Lord Belgrave, came of age in 1788, but not before his father, who told Pitt that ‘it is not pleasant to him, neither is it to me, that a young man of his great expectations should cease to be one of the Senate’, had solicited a peerage, on the pretext that this would enable Belgrave to step into his own seat for Chester and so allow his son to remain in the House. In support of his claim, Thomas Grosvenor asserted that as a result of his son’s recent marriage to the Drax heiress, whose inheritance included property in Barbados, ‘between the two families an estate of between 12 and 13 thousand pounds per annum will devolve upon the young people’.1
Drax Grosvenor was without a seat until September 1794, when his kinsman Assheton Curzon returned him for the vacancy at Clitheroe created by his own elevation to the peerage. He was marked ‘pro’ in the ministerial survey drawn up for the general election of 1796, when he had to make way for Curzon’s son. He asked Pitt for a peerage, but met with a flat refusal. Nothing came of reports that he was to be nominated for Westminster ‘as an independent country gentleman’ in opposition to the ministerial candidate. In 1797 and again in 1802 and 1803 he urged Dundas to fulfil an earlier promise to press his claims for a peerage.2
When Belgrave, who had sat for Chester since 1790, succeeded as 2nd Earl Grosvenor in 1802, he returned Drax Grosvenor for the vacant seat. He is not known to have opposed the Addington ministry. On Pitt’s return to power in 1804 the King, a visitor to Charborough during periods of residence at Weymouth, ‘used every endeavour’ to persuade him to support the new ministry. Although he was ‘undoubtedly well disposed’ and ‘expressed the utmost willingness to comply’, he and his brother, his colleague at Chester, each wished the other to make the first move, being ‘fearful of offending Lord Grosvenor’, who was ‘strongly disinclined to Mr Pitt, on account of the Catholic question’.3 In September 1804, ministers initially listed him as ‘doubtful for’, but subsequently under ‘Pitt’, as they did again in July 1805. After Pitt’s death Lord Grosvenor went over to the Whigs, but Drax Grosvenor did not follow his line and he voted against the Grenville ministry’s repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806. One of the die-hards who opposed the slave trade abolition bill, 23 Feb. 1807, he is not known to have spoken in the House. He informed his constituents, 28 Apr. 1807, that ‘circumstances have arisen which prevent me from offering you my services’; and it was later alleged that Lord Grosvenor discarded him because of his hostility to Catholic relief in the controversy surrounding the fall of the ‘Talents’.4
Drax Grosvenor, who made another unsuccessful application for a peerage to the Perceval ministry,5 re-entered the House at the general election of 1818 as Member for New Romney, where the Dering family returned supporters of administration, but he died soon after the new Parliament met, 8 Feb. 1819.