CURZON, Nathaniel (1726-1804), of Kedleston, Derbys.
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Family and Education
b. 23 Dec. 1726, 1st surv. s. of Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 4th Bt., M.P.; bro. of Assheton Curzon. educ. Westminster 1740-4; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1745; Grand Tour. m. 27 Oct. 1750, Lady Caroline Colyear, da. of Charles, 2nd Earl of Portmore [S], 5s. 2da. suc. fa. as 5th Bt. 18 Nov. 1758; cr. Baron Scarsdale 9 Apr. 1761.
Curzon’s uncle and father had sat for Derbyshire as Tories 1701-27 and 1727-54, and he himself was classed by Dupplin in 1754 as ‘Tory’. He was one of the Tories who on 12 Mar. 1755 over the Mitchell election petition voted on the Sandwich-Fox side.1 Even under George II he was known to be bent on a peerage.2 In the new reign, on 9 Nov. 1760, he wrote to Bute3 claiming the barony of Powis, then in abeyance—
whatever favour his Majesty may be pleased to show me on this occasion will not be misplaced, and I shall always be happy in exerting on every occasion the influence of myself and family in the support of his Majesty’s Government.
In February 1761 handbills appeared announcing that Curzon was ‘soon to be made a peer’. Horace Walpole wrote to Horace Mann, 3 Mar. 1761:
Sir Nathaniel Curzon has struck a very novel stroke advertising that the King intended to make him a peer, and therefore, recommending his brother to the county of Derby for the same independent principles with himself. He takes a peerage to prove his independence, and recommends his brother to the Opposition to prove his gratitude!
But according to Curzon’s own explanation to Bute4
the truth was that my friends through a mistaken zeal to serve me, got the hand bills printed and dispersed in my absence ... I told my friends I had taken this advertisement upon myself but begged they would be careful it never appeared in a public paper, and when it did appear I sent express to London to stop it. And I do declare I never signed any one of them myself.
Curzon received his peerage on 9 Apr. 1761. On 2 Mar. 1764, disappointed in his claim to the lord lieutenancy of Derbyshire, he wrote to the King:5
I should wish indeed always to be considered as not building my interests on party combinations, but as choosing to rest my hopes on your Majesty’s graciousness rather than ministerial favour.
He followed the Bedfords, and in December 1766 was included in the list of friends for whom they demanded office. After 1767 he voted with the court.
Curzon began to build a new house at Kedleston in 1759 or 1760. The main work took place in the years 1760-4 when at least £22,500 was spent; at least £42,000 was laid out from 1760 to 1777. This strained his resources—his rental income was about £8,000 to £9,000 a year—and the house was never completed. It seems that by 1779 he had alienated his Queen Square estate in London, which had brought in about £1,100 a year, in order to pay off debts incurred since he succeeded his father.6
Curzon died 5 Dec. 1804.