OXENDEN, Sir George, 5th Bt. (1694-1775), of Deane Court, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. 26 Oct. 1694, 2nd s. of George Oxenden, M.P., and bra. of Sir Henry Oxenden, 4th Bt.. educ. Trinity Hall, Camb. 1710, fellow 1716-20. m. May 1720, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Edmund Dunch, 3s. 3da. suc. bro. 21 Apr. 1720.
Ld. of Admiralty 1725-7, of Treasury 1727-June 1737.
In 1720 Oxenden, on the death of his brother, succeeded to the baronetcy, married an heiress and was returned to Parliament for Sandwich on his family’s interest. He moved the Address on 20 Oct. 1721. On 12 Feb. 1725 he moved for the impeachment of Lord Chancellor Macclesfield, of whose trial he was chosen one of the managers, opening it ‘with many flowers and some sharpness’.1 Appointed a lord of the Admiralty at the end of the same session, he became a lord of the Treasury at George II’s accession. On 7 May 1728 a debate on the King’s message for a special supply to meet foreign engagements was
opened by Sir George Oxenden, who did it very awkwardly, by calling for an opposition, and saying that gentlemen who were for supplying his Majesty were usually treated as if they were giving up the constitution of Parliament by giving up the undoubted right of giving money.
When he moved the Address on 21 Jan. 1729
he was out once or twice, and would have been more but that Thompson had his speech wrote out in his hat, and sat next him and prompted him.2
Horace Walpole describes him at this stage of his career as
the fine gentleman of the age, extremely handsome, a speaker in Parliament, a lord of the Treasury, very ambitious, and a particular favourite of my father—till he became so of my sister-in-law. That, and a worse story, blasted all his prospects and buried him in retirement.3
The first of these scandals is referred to by the 1st Lord Egmont, commenting on a report at the beginning of 1732 that Oxenden’s town and country houses and their contents had been seized for debt:
Sir George Oxenden is a proud, conceited, lewd man but one would think an estate of £2,500 a year, and the post of lord of the Treasury, would have kept men out of gaol, from whence now it is only his being a Member of Parliament that does it. Sir Robert Walpole was his patron, and gave him the great employment he has, and in return he got the lady of my Lord Walpole, Sir Robert’s son, with child, and this unlawful issue will inherit the estate.
He had had two children by his wife’s sister, who was married to his most intimate friend, Mr. Thompson, from whom, upon Sir George Oxenden’s account, she was separated, and died in childbed not without Sir George’s being suspected of having a greater share in her catastrophe than merely having got the child.
He continued in office till 1737, when he was dismissed for voting against the Government on the Prince of Wales’s allowance, after learning that he was in any case going to be turned out for neglect of his duties. ‘Nobody was sorry for him’, Hervey writes, ‘for he was a very vicious, ungrateful, good-for-nothing fellow. He passed his whole life in all manner of debauchery and with low company’.5 He spoke against the Government on the navy estimates, 1 Feb. 1740, but voted against the motion for Walpole’s dismissal in February 1741. Though opposed by the Government at Sandwich in 1741, he not only retained his seat but brought in a friend for the other. Attaching himself to the Prince of Wales, who gave his eldest son a place in his household, he voted with the rest of the Leicester House party for the Hanoverian troops in 1742 and 1744. Speaking on Pitt’s promotion to be paymaster general in May 1746 he said that the ministry had
made more fuss and racket with one repenting sinner in the House of Commons than with the ninety-nine honest Members whose actions are so just to the Crown as not to call for repentance, unless it be when they see a notorious sinner exalted above them.6
In 1747, when Oxenden was re-elected unopposed on a compromise with the Government, the Prince offered to pay young Oxenden’s election expenses at Ludgershall,7 but in 1749 he turned him out. Next year Oxenden made overtures to Pelham, intimating that ‘a place for his son would be very convenient’, to which Pelham replied that he would do what he could, but that ‘the King like other men’, had his ‘prejudices’ and it was ‘not easy to wipe them off’8
In 1754 Oxenden told Newcastle that he would be willing to resign his seat to any person whom Newcastle recommended in return for a place in the revenue for his son of about £500 a year. Newcastle ‘would give no promise but encouraged him to hope for such an employment for his son, he having been turned out by the late Prince of Wales’. A commissionership of excise or customs appears to have been contemplated.9 Oxenden duly gave up his seat at Sandwich but his son never received a place, a year later marrying the daughter and heiress of Sir George Chudleigh ‘with £50,000’.10
After retiring from Parliament Oxenden continued to take an active interest in East Kent politics, about which he corresponded with Newcastle during the general election of 1761.11
He died 20 Jan. 1775.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Romney R. Sedgwick
- 1. HMC Portland, vi. 4.
- 2. Knatchbull Diary.
- 3. To Lady Upper Ossory, 1 Sept. 1780.
- 4. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 213; ii. 101-2.
- 5. Hervey, Mems. 741-2; HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 360.
- 6. HMC 8th Rep. pt. 2, p. 111.
- 7. HMC Fortescue, i. 118.
- 8. Pelham to Newcastle, 3 Aug. 1750, Add. 32722, f. 26.
- 9. Add. 32995, ff. 98, 186, 258.
- 10. HMC Hastings, iii. 105.
- 11. Namier, Structure, 67 n. 1, 101, 114, 414.