HERBERT, Hon. Edward Charles Hugh (1802-1852), of Tetton, Som.
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Family and Educationb. 30 Mar. 1802, 2nd s. of Henry George Herbert†, 2nd earl of Carnarvon (d. 1833), and Elizabeth Kitty, da. of John Dyke Acland† of Pixton, Som.; bro. of Henry John George Herbert, Lord Porchester*. educ. Eton 1814; Christ Church, Oxf. 1820. m. 19 June 1833,1 Elizabeth, da. of Rev. Thomas Sweet Escott, rect. of Brompton Ralph, Som., 2s. (1 d.v.p.). d. 30 May 1852.
Capt. W. Som. yeoman cav. 1829.
Herbert was the younger son of Lord Porchester, Whig Member for Cricklade since 1794, who in 1811 succeeded his father as 2nd earl of Carnarvon and to the extensive family estates at Highclere, on the Hampshire and Berkshire border. Like his elder brother, Lord Porchester, he was educated privately, produced quantities of juvenile verse and proceeded to Eton, whence he once reported to his father that
cricket is going on like fury ... There is a boy who has had his eye nearly cut out from a blow by a cricket ball, another with an arm nearly broke, another with a leg everything but broke and another with a hand cut in two, besides the bruises that are given and received every day.
He had a spell at Oxford and travelled on the continent, notably in 1826 and 1828. He was admitted to Brooks’s, 12 May 1827, sponsored by the 5th Earl Cowper and his father. From Paris, 5 Mar. 1828, he expressed his surprise at the size of the majority on Lord John Russell’s motion for repeal of the Test Acts, 28 Feb.2 He took up residence at Tetton, under an inheritance from his mother’s family, and became active in the Somerset militia. He attended the by-election at Rye in February 1830 to hear the ‘speechifying’ of his brother’s friend, Philip Pusey, who was unseated on petition. In July he was recommended by John Willis Fleming, Member for Hampshire, as a magistrate of that county, and he was duly appointed the following year.3
Like Carnarvon and Porchester, by about 1830 he had abandoned the Whigs, particularly because of their commitment to extensive parliamentary reform.4 No doubt attempts had previously been made to find him a seat in Parliament, but he was not returned until the general election of 1831, when Alexander Baring, who transferred to Thetford, brought him in for Callington, apparently at a cost of under £1,000.5 He made no known speeches in the House. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831, and at least once for adjourning debate on it, 12 July. He divided in favour of using the 1831 census to determine the boroughs in schedules A and B, 19 July, and postponing discussion of the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July. He voted in the minority for appointing a select committee to consider how far the Sugar Refining Act could be renewed with due regard to West India interests, 12 Sept. He presented a Hampshire petition against the Hundred Act, 21 Sept., and divided against the passage of the reform bill that day. He voted against the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. His only other known votes were against the second reading of the vestry bill, 23 Jan., and the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July 1832. He was deprived of his seat by the Reform Act and left the House at the dissolution in December 1832.
At the Somerset West election that month he was given a very unruly reception when he attempted to nominate the Conservative Bickham Escott, who soon became his brother-in-law and was Member for Winchester, 1841-7.6 According to his brother, now 3rd earl of Carnarvon, 8 July 1833, the Conservative whip William Holmes* ‘thinks Herbert might come forward for Bridgwater and is going to write to him. I said we had no money, but he says money is not wanted, but that is a Holmes speech’.7 Nothing came of it. Active in the Conservative interest of his relation Thomas Dyke Acland, son and namesake of the 10th baronet, at the general election of 1837, Herbert proposed him for Somerset West in a speech which condemned the ‘brilliant but delusive expectations’ excited by reform and praised Conservative principles as the true support of the country.8 Of Herbert’s sickly wife, Carnarvon admitted that ‘I own I cannot see her actual state without considerable uneasiness. She has cough, what appears to be a very decided flush, and an expression of eye which I do not like, and after dinner today her hand was feverish and her pulse as I thought very wrong’. Her ‘hectic flush’ proved to be consumption, of which she died in July 1840 in Italy, where her husband had taken her to recuperate.9 Herbert’s nephew, the 4th earl, who witnessed his death in May 1852, recalled that he was
a man of considerable powers, but his natural gifts were marred by an inability to pursue anything consistently and steadily to its end. He was kindly and agreeable, and in early life a great walker and swimmer, as well as a good shot; later he used to shut himself up in retirement, which, so far as books and writing were concerned, ended in little.10
Acland, in a letter to his father, lamented: ‘Dear Herbert, his was a gentle fine-strung mind, very generous and noble, and I believe humble and earnestly devout; believing strongly, and the more strongly for having his faith much tried’.11 His heir, his only surviving child Edward Henry Charles (b. 1837), a diplomat, was murdered by brigands in Greece in 1870.12
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Stephen Farrell
- 1. Hants RO, Carnarvon mss 75M91/F10/34.
- 2. Ibid. B11/1, 2, 4-6; E10/1C; E11/10; E14/50; F1/1; F10/16-32; H6/5.
- 3. Ibid. H2/1, 2; Earl of Carnarvon, Herberts of Highclere (1908), 78; Wellington mss WP4/2/1/9; Hants RO, q. sess. recs. Q27/3/293.
- 4. Carnarvon mss H5/3.
- 5. Ibid. B24/60; L12/7; The Times, 8 Aug. 1831.
- 6. Taunton Courier, 19 Dec. 1832; Ped. of Escott of Som. (1928).
- 7. Carnarvon mss J3/20.
- 8. Ibid. F5/1; F6/14; F9/4, 14; Taunton Courier, 12 July, 2 Aug. 1837.
- 9. Carnarvon mss E43/86; J3/35, 36, 38.
- 10. Ibid. J9/3; Carnarvon, 78; Taunton Courier, 9 June 1852.
- 11. Mem. and Letters of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland ed. A.H.D. Acland, 172.
- 12. The Times, 7 May 1870.