MONTAGU, George, Visct. Mandeville (1799-1855), of Brampton Park, Hunts. and Melchbourne Park, Beds.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

1826 - 1837

Family and Education

b. 9 July 1799, 1st s. of William, 5th duke of Manchester, and Lady Susan Gordon, da. of Alexander, 4th duke of Gordon [S]. educ. Eton 1811. m. (1) 8 Oct. 1822, Millicent (d. 21 Nov. 1848), da. and h. of Brig.-Gen. Robert Bernard Sparrow of Brampton, Hunts., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da.; (2) 29 Aug. 1850, Harriet Sydney, da. of Conway Richard Dobbs of Castle Dobbs, co. Antrim, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. as 6th duke of Manchester 18 Mar. 1843. d. 18 Aug. 1855.

Offices Held

Vol. RN 1812, midshipman 1814, lt. 1818, ret. 1822.

Biography

Mandeville, whose mother ran off with a footman before formally separating from his father in 1813, entered the navy direct from Eton in 1812, but he was later reported to be unhappy in the profession.1 He served on the home and Halifax stations before his transfer in 1818 to the Larne at Jamaica, where his father had been governor since 1808. He was in the West Indies for the remainder of his career. In 1822 he accompanied his relatives Lord and Lady Huntly to Geneva and Paris, and by the time of his last promotion in July he was engaged to the Huntingdonshire heiress Millicent Sparrow. Her mother, the formidable Evangelical Lady Olivia Sparrow, was keen on the marriage, but left nothing to chance over the settlement. Manchester had little or no disposable capital with which to provide an allowance, but he agreed to settle the Kimbolton estates on Mandeville, who did not return to sea, though he remained on the reserve half-pay list until his death.2 His Whig cousin Lord John Russell, Member for Huntingdonshire, commented to Lady Holland, ‘I suppose Mandeville’s marriage will turn me out ... but I don’t much care. It is a very good thing for him, and the lady is agreeable and good and will give him some sense’.3 Her Irish property at Tanderagee, county Armagh, was thought to be worth £10,000 a year. The marriage took place in October 1822, but contrary to Lady Olivia’s wishes the couple made their home at Kimbolton as well as Brampton. Mandeville visited the Irish property for the first time in the summer of 1823, and in November 1824 he secured the lease to Melchbourne Park, Bedfordshire.4

He shared his mother-in-law’s Evangelical zeal and supported a number of Protestant societies, but his abiding passion was the exegesis of apocalyptic texts. He corresponded with clergy and laymen of various denominations, including Henry Drummond and Edward Irving. He regularly attended their conferences for the study of unfulfilled prophecy at Albury Park, Surrey, but it is uncertain whether he became a member of their Holy Catholic Apostolic Church.5 He addressed its 1829 gathering with great effect; and Irving, who was not always in agreement with him, told his wife:

Lord Mandeville is truly sublime and soul-subduing in the views he presents. I observed a curious thing, that while he was reading a paper on Christ’s office of judgement in the millennium everybody’s pen stood still, as if they felt it a desecration to do anything but listen.6

He had already ventured into print on behalf of the Continental Society; but it was his elaborate essay On the New Covenant, published that year in Morning Watch, which established his reputation as an amateur theologian.7

In September 1824 it was reported that Mandeville, who was described as ‘a liberal’, would offer for county Armagh at the next general election, but nothing came of this.8 He had little taste for politics, although he was annoyed at the ease with which Russell had secured the county seat in 1820 by taking advantage of his father’s absence and his own minority.9 A preliminary canvass was undertaken in the summer of 1825, and subsequent rumours of an impending dissolution prompted him to declare for the county in coalition with the Tory sitting Member William Fellowes at the Huntingdon mayor’s feast in late September. He was reported to have proclaimed his hostility to the ‘importation of corn and Catholics’, but by early December 1825 he was tormented by doubts and religious scruples. His uncle Lord Frederick Montagu†, perplexed by his pusillanimity, urged him not to disappoint his wife and father:

Pray do not give way to such mistaken feelings of religion, but consider how much your own importance and character are at stake by your representing the county ... I think on reflection your scruples about the people getting drunk must vanish. If your notions are correct, the whole 600 [sic] Members ... must be culpable, and in fact according to such ideas we ought to have no Parliament.10

Shortly afterwards Mandeville changed his mind again and, much to Lord Frederick’s approval, took up the cause ‘with spirit and energy’, though he retained his misgivings about entertaining the freeholders.11 His inexperience and ‘innate modesty’ were easy targets for criticism: the Huntingdon Gazette sneered at his incompetence as a grand juryman and mocked his ‘pathetic zeal’ at Bible meetings.12 His final decision to stand, which was formally announced on 19 Dec. 1825, perhaps owed more to a sense of Christian duty than to his uncle’s exhortations. He was reluctant to discuss tactics, and Montagu, convinced that his ‘irrational notions of religion’ made him miserable, encouraged his wife to persuade him to abandon his rural retreat at Melchbourne, for ‘if he can be induced to go into society, and live as other young men of his rank and age do, I am sure he will be much happier’. However, Mandeville perversely went to Ireland until mid-January 1826, leaving his campaign under the direction of his wife.13 A bitter contest was inevitable once Russell decided to stand his ground. Mandeville duly came forward at the general election in June 1826, though he remained diffident and viewed the prospect of the hustings with some trepidation, since, as Lady Millicent told Montagu, he was ‘not fond of being stared at, or made to speak in public’.14 He was unable to get a hearing at the nomination, but he headed the poll and was returned with Fellowes after a four-day contest.15 At a Huntingdon agricultural meeting in October 1826 he condemned tithes as an obstacle to improvement, though ‘his objection was to the manner in which tithes were collected, and not so much to the abstract principle’.16

Mandeville was excused further attendance on an election committee, 20 Feb. 1827, on account of the death of his youngest sister. He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. He was granted three weeks’ leave, 27 Mar. In May he was elected as the first president of the non-political British Society for Promoting the Religious Principles of the Reformation.17 On the appointment of his wife’s uncle Lord William Cavendish Bentinck* as governor-general of Bengal in July 1827 it was rumoured that Mandeville was keen to go out with him, but fears for his wife’s health soon put this out of the question.18 He presented petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 2 Feb., and voted accordingly, 26 Feb. 1828. In his maiden speech, 2 May, he criticized the Lords’ amendments to the securities and called for the insertion of an unequivocally Trinitarian declaration in the repeal bill. He presented petitions for the open circulation of small bank notes, 7 May, and the abolition of slavery, 30 June. He brought up anti-Catholic petitions, 8 May, and divided against relief, 12 May 1828. In October 1828 he became president of the newly formed Armagh Brunswick Club.19 He was surprisingly listed as ‘doubtful’ by Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, in his prediction of Members’ conduct on the concession of Catholic emancipation in February 1829. A correspondent of Lady Mandeville fancifully envisaged an alliance between Mandeville and the 10th earl of Winchilsea ‘to fight the battle inch by inch’.20 He presented several hostile petitions, 17, 24 Feb., 2, 9 Mar., and on the 7th highlighted one from an assembly of London Dissenting ministers. He divided steadily against emancipation throughout the month, and on the 19th defended anti-Catholic petitioners against the aspersions of Waithman. On the Irish franchise bill, he was in the minority of 20 for the reregistration of Irish 40s. freeholders, 20 Mar. He voted in the minority of 14 against the Maynooth grant, 22 May 1829, after arguing that it violated the principle of emancipation and would incur divine judgement. He was not much in evidence in the 1830 session, when he presented petitions against the malt tax, 16 Mar., 11 June, and the northern roads bill, 24, 29 June. He voted to consider Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., but divided against it, 17 May 1830.

At the general election of 1830, when he topped the poll after a short contest, Mandeville claimed to be motivated by a desire to ‘let the oppressed go free’ and said he would support ministers only when he judged them to be right.21 The government listed him among the ‘moderate Ultras’, and he voted against them in the division on the civil list which brought them down, 15 Nov. 1830. On 30 Nov. 1830 he was given a week’s leave on account of the spread of incendiarism to Huntingdonshire. He presented a county petition in favour of a general fast, 14 Feb. 1831. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he finished in second place behind a reformer, though his return was never in doubt. He claimed to have voted against the Wellington ministry on the civil list from motives of economy and went on:

Although he was opposed to the reform measure, it was not because he wished to perpetuate a system of corruption, but he could not think that House of Commons very corrupt which had voted out two different administrations, and believed that the present distress did not arise from misrepresentation, but from taxation.

He dismissed the reform bill as ‘not a renovation, but a revolution of the constitution’. Pressed to be more explicit, he conceded that £10 householders in Huntingdon might reasonably be enfranchised; but with respect to the country at large, he said that he feared the augmentation of Catholic power and that Daniel O’Connell* would be able to nominate as many Members ‘as the borough mongers are said to return’.22

Mandeville presented petitions against the Maynooth grant from Scotland and Ireland, as well as constituency petitions against slavery and the coal duties, 23 June 1831. He denounced the grant and questioned the propriety of all such subsidies in the wake of emancipation, 19 July. Having been criticized by O’Connell on account of the bigoted wording of the June petitions, he assured the House, 20 July, that the petition he was about to present contained no inflammatory language. He spoke and voted against the grant, 26 Sept., when, aware that he was an easy target for derision from the treasury benches, he declared, ‘I would rather subject myself even to their ridicule than I would say or do anything which could have the effect of hurting the church of which I am a member’. He divided against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and in the opposition minorities for using the 1831 census as a basis for disfranchisement, 19 July, and against the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July. He voted against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. He was granted three weeks’ leave to attend to urgent business, 29 Sept. He was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831. On the 28th he was prominent at the Armagh county meeting which addressed the king on the threatened state of the Protestant interest in Ireland.23 He voted against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., the third reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar., and the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May 1832. He divided against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July. He was associated with the revival of the Orange Order and addressed meetings in Armagh and Dublin in January.24 He spoke at a public meeting at Exeter Hall on the government’s plans for interdenominational education in Ireland, 8 Feb., when he said that ‘the only remedy for the evils of Ireland was the spread of the word of peace’.25 He criticized the scheme in the House, 6 Mar. 1832.

Mandeville, who continued to sit for Huntingdonshire until 1837 and succeeded to the dukedom in 1843, was a ‘consistent Tory’ and active promoter of the Protestant cause throughout his life. He died in August 1855.26

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Simon Harratt

Notes

  • 1. Hunts. RO, Manchester mss ddM 21a/8, Bedford to Lord F. Montagu, Wed. [Mar. 1820].
  • 2. Ibid. 67/2, B.C. Williams to Lady O. Sparrow, 25 July, 16, 20 Aug., replies, 16, 24 July, 7 Aug. 1822.
  • 3. Add. 51679, Russell to Lady Holland [July 1822].
  • 4. Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 30 Aug. 1823, 6 Nov. 1824.
  • 5. F.K. Brown, Fathers of the Victorians, 259; B. Hilton, Age of Atonement, 94; Manchester mss 10a/10/1, 4-9, 11-13; J. Wolffe, Protestant Crusade in Britain, 36.
  • 6. M.O.W. Oliphant, Edward Irving, 273.
  • 7. Morning Watch (1829), i. 187-24, 354-91.
  • 8. TCD, Courtown mss P/33/14/11.
  • 9. Manchester mss 21a/8, Bedford to Mandeville, 27 July, 7 Aug., reply, 1 Aug. 1825.
  • 10. Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 9 July, 24 Sept.; Manchester mss 21a/8, Maltby to Lady Mandeville, 28 Sept., Montagu to Mandeville, 9 Dec. 1825.
  • 11. Ibid. 21a/8, Montagu to Lady Mandeville, 19, 24 Dec. 1825, 13 Jan. 1826.
  • 12. Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 12, 26 Nov., 3 Dec. 1825.
  • 13. Manchester mss 21a/8, Montagu to Lady Mandeville, 24 Dec. [1825], 13, 16, 23 Jan. [1826].
  • 14. Ibid. 49/15, Lady Mandeville to Montagu, 23 May [1826].
  • 15. Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 3 June; The Times, 17, 22 June 1826.
  • 16. Drakard’s Stamford News, 27 Oct. 1826.
  • 17. Wolffe, 36.
  • 18. Add. 51669, Bedford to Lady Holland, 26 Oct.; Fitzwilliam mss, Russell to Milton, 11 Nov. 1827.
  • 19. Belfast News Letter, 14 Oct. 1828.
  • 20. Manchester mss 10a/7/21, Loftie to Lady Mandeville, 24 Feb. 1829.