LUTTRELL, Henry Lawes, 2nd Earl of Carhampton [I] (1737-1821), of Luttrellstown, co. Dublin and Painshill, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. 7 Aug. 1737,1 1st s. of Simon Luttrell†, 1st Earl of Carhampton [I], by Judith Maria, da. and h. of Sir Nicholas Lawes, gov. Jamaica. educ. Westminster 1751; Christ Church, Oxf. 1755. m. 25 June 1776, Jane, da. of George Boyd of Dublin, s.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Carhampton [I] 14 Jan. 1787.
MP [I] 1783-7.
Ensign, 48 Ft. 1757; lt. 34 Ft. 1759; capt. 16 Drag. 1759, maj. 1762; dep. adj.-gen. in Portugal and local rank as lt.-col. 1762; lt.-col. 1 Horse 1765; adj.-gen. [I] 1770-83; col. 1777; maj.-gen. 1782; col. 6 Drag. Gds. 1788-d.; col. en second R. Regt. Artillery [I] 1789-97, col. 1797-1800; lt.-gen. 1793; c.-in-c. [I] 1796-7; gen. 1798.
PC [I] 16 Aug. 1786; lt.-gen. of Ordnance [I] 1789-97, master-gen. 1797-1800.
Gov. co. Dublin 1789-d., custos rot. 1792-d.
Carhampton was approvingly described in 1798 by Lord Wycombe (John Henry Petty*), a kindred spirit, as ‘very comical and profligate’.2 According to his claim made in 1813, he was prevailed on in 1772 not to vacate his seat for Middlesex, where his opposition to Wilkes had earned him immense popular opprobrium, only by the personal intervention of George III, who ‘guaranteed’ him a seat in Parliament for life. While the royal pledge, if given at all, did not prevent his exclusion from the House in 1784 after voting for Fox’s East India bill, he had managed to ingratiate himself with Pitt by 1786, when the minister recommended him to Lord Mount Edgcumbe for a vacancy at Bossiney. Mount Edgcumbe was unable, or unwilling, to accommodate him on that occasion, but returned him in 1790 for Plympton. Carhampton had meanwhile succeeded to his father’s recently acquired Irish earldom and obtained a colonelcy of dragoons and the lieutenant-generalship of the Ordnance in Ireland.3
In 1791 he was listed among opponents of the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland. His inheritance included a Jamaican plantation and he opposed abolition of the slave trade, 8 Apr. 1791 and 27 Apr. 1792, when he asserted that the negroes only wanted ‘to murder their masters, ravish their women, and drink all their rum’, and mocked Wilberforce and his fellow misguided philanthropists, who ‘undertook the care and protection of all the world, but not without squinting a little at the world to come’. He spoke against parliamentary reform, 30 Apr. 1792, satirizing the Friends of the People as the ‘Knights of the Square Piece of Paper’, and supported the traitorous correspondence bill, 9 Apr. 1793.
The circumstances surrounding his vacation of his seat in February 1794 are not entirely clear. According to his own account, given almost 20 years later, he had in the 1770s purchased from his younger brother, Temple Luttrell, the sinecure office of patent customer at Bristol which, being incompatible with a seat in the House, had since been held nominally for him by a trustee. By a subsequent Act the post became due for abolition on the death of the present holder. According to Carhampton, when the trustee William Whitby died, Pitt impressed on him the ‘consequences as well to himself as to me if I continued to sit holding such an office which could not then be concealed’ and he opted to vacate his seat and retain the place.4
As the ruthless suppressor of disaffection in Connaught in 1795 and an uncompromising commander-in-chief in Ireland in 1796 and 1797, Carhampton made many enemies. A plot to assassinate him was uncovered in May 1797, when Camden, the lord lieutenant, pressed Pitt to meet his ‘most anxious wish and expectation’ of a British peerage when he relinquished the command: his life was hardly safe in Ireland and ‘as it is in future a great object with him to live in England this mark of the King’s favour is particularly desired by him’. He was made Irish master-general of the Ordnance in August 1797, but no peerage was forthcoming when he was replaced in the command at the end of the year.5 Early in 1799 he was reported to be fomenting from England opposition to the Union, boasting that Pitt ‘dared not turn him out’, but by July he had sold his Irish property and was said to intend ‘to vote for the Union which he has so loudly and indecently reprobated’. By his own later account, he ‘took no part in that measure’, being ‘disgusted at the scene that was passing before me, and seeing the country likely to become Catholic’, and abandoned Ireland because ‘the conduct of a corrupt and cowardly government exposed my life to assassination, wounded my feelings, robbed me of the weight and influence I had in it’. In August 1800 he resigned his Ordnance post in return for the reversionary grant to his illegitimate son Henry Luttrell, the wit and society poet, of the clerkship of the pipe.6
After several years of obscurity, Carhampton emerged in 1813 to plague Lord Liverpool with demands for fulfilment of George III’s alleged guarantee of a seat, for which the recent abolition of his customs sinecure by Act of Parliament had made him once more eligible. His real object, mentioned as an acceptable alternative to a seat in the Commons, was the United Kingdom peerage which, he claimed, should have been rightfully his at the time of the Union. Liverpool peremptorily ruled out a peerage and argued that government was under no obligation to provide him with a seat since Carhampton had chosen to forego the advantage of a seat in the Commons in order to hold on to his sinecure and had since been compensated for its abolition, and neither ministers nor the Regent had any knowledge of the royal pledge. Carhampton, now claiming to have been offered a British peerage at the time of the Union ‘on terms which did not accord with any notions of what would be just and honourable for me to accept’, appealed directly to the Regent, but to no avail. He continued to bombard Liverpool with angry letters in 1815, alleging that documentary evidence which he had submitted to substantiate his claim had been withheld from the Regent.7
The indefatigable Carhampton found his own way back into the House in June 1817, five weeks short of his eightieth birthday, by securing a seat for Ludgershall on the Graham interest, and proved that he did not bear his grudges lightly. He voted against government on the ducal marriage grants, 13 and 15 Apr., 11 May, and the prevention of bank-note forgeries, 14 May, called for economies in the Irish Ordnance department, 13 Apr., and condemned the proposed Irish window tax, 13 May 1818. He was in the opposition minority on the Windsor establishment, 22 Feb. 1819, and three days later, posing as ‘an independent Member’, deplored the grant to the Duke of York as a ‘most unprincipled, unfeeling, audacious’ waste of public money. He not only voted for Admiralty economies, 18 Mar., the foreign enlistment bill, 3 and 21 June, and the lottery resolutions, 9 June, but divided with opposition in favour of Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May. He made bantering remarks about the expense of the Caledonian canal project, 22 Mar., welcomed the bill enabling Camden to surrender the surplus profits of his sinecure tellership, 11 May, and argued that the Irish clerk of the peace bill was inadequate for its purpose, 19 May 1819.
It is significant that Carhampton did not join in the attacks on the domestic spy system in 1818 or vote for parliamentary reform in 1819. Moreover, the dismissal of Earl Fitzwilliam from his lord lieutenancy in the wake of the Peterloo incident was a measure after his own heart, as the Regent reported to Lord Sidmouth, 24 Oct. 1819:
Even that most eccentric and vinegar old gentleman Lord Carhampton swears that it alone could save us and our properties, and that now he sees the government disposed to take firm and resolute measures ... he shall to the utmost of his means and by his vote give them his support, in the hope to crush all those Radicals and their system.8
He died 25 Apr. 1821.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1737), 514.
- 2. Camden mss, Wycombe to Lady Londonderry .
- 3. Geo. IV Letters, i. 329; PRO 30/8/161, f. 232; 329, f. 313; HMC Rutland, iii. 305, 329; HMC Fortescue, i. 309, 336, 340.
- 4. Geo. IV Letters, i. 328-9.
- 5. Geo. III Corresp. ii. 1640.
- 6. HMC Fortescue, iv. 441, 450; Cornwallis Corresp. iii. 35, 112; Castlereagh Corresp. ii. 346; Geo. IV Letters, i. 329; Geo. III Corresp. iii. 2211.
- 7. Geo. IV Letters, i. 304, 305, 309, 321, 328, 329, 449, 456, 489, 490, 496, 497; ii. 535, 538; Add. 38261, ff. 124, 128, 130, 196; 38262, f. 51.
- 8. Prince of Wales Corresp. viii. 3410.