HEATHCOTE, Sir Gilbert, 3rd Bt. (c.1723-85), of Normanton, Rutland
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Family and Education
b. c.1723, 1st s. of Sir John Heathcote, 2nd Bt., by Bridget, da. of Thomas White, M.P., of Wallingwells, Notts., sis. of John White. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1741. m. (1) 1 June 1749, Margaret (d. 10 Aug. 1769), da. of Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, s.p.; (2) 26 Dec. 1770, Elizabeth, da. of Robert Hudson of Teddington, Mdx., 3s. 1da. suc. fa. 5 Sept. 1759.
In November 1756 Heathcote was offered by Newcastle a seat at Aldborough, without trouble or expense, but declined because of ‘very particular objections’ to being in the House: ‘the attendance ... would be very disagreeable to me’, he wrote to Hardwicke, 22 Nov., ‘and what I don’t think I should ever perform as I ought to do’.1
In June 1760 Lord Exeter wrote to solicit Heathcote’s support in Rutland for T. C. Cecil and Thomas Noel—Lord Winchilsea was running a candidate against them. Heathcote consulted Hardwicke, and Hardwicke Newcastle: he would not have Heathcote ‘take such a part now, as, by an absolute submission, may exclude him for ever from taking advantage of the great property which he has in the county’. Newcastle offered to find a borough for Heathcote who should now, against a future election, try to form a connexion with one ‘of the noble families in the county which his father had neglected’.2 Meantime Heathcote returned a reply to Exeter drafted for him by Hardwicke:3 having but lately come into a considerable property in the county, he must have a reasonable attention to any interest that may properly fall to his own share; and therefore ‘be excused from taking any engagement on this occasion’. Two months later he still adhered to his neutrality ‘as none of the parties have hinted anything relating to him’.4 Negotiations between Exeter and Hardwicke followed in December.5Exeter dangled before him the chance that Cecil would withdraw soon; but Hardwicke did not relish the prospect of a by-election after a borough seat had been secured. Heathcote agreed: he would stand now if Cecil withdrew; otherwise he would give them his interest on a promise of support at a future election.
On 3 Feb. 1761 Newcastle wrote to Hardwicke offering Heathcote a seat at Shaftesbury on Lord Shaftesbury’s interest. ‘But the expense will be very great ... viz. £2,000.’6 Hardwicke and Heathcote thought ‘the sum exorbitant’; yet ‘he is ready to give it, provided he may be excused from going down to Shaftesbury and any personal attendance. He lays more weight upon the trouble and disagreeableness than upon the money.’7 Although there was a contest, Heathcote’s presence was dispensed with, and he was returned on 27 Mar.
And then on 4 Apr. Lady Grey wrote to her husband, Lord Royston:8
The strangest event that has happened since you left us, is the desperate resolution Sir Gilbert has taken to go down and vote in Rutlandshire, for which he sets out with an aching heart, sleepless nights, and trembling nerves (God willing) tomorrow morning, and leaves my lady and the steeds to the protection of the fates for four or five whole days. It would tempt one to do something very riotous, carry off the former and turn the latter out to grass, if a cold on her part and a great deal of sobriety on ours, did not secure him.
In Parliament Heathcote voted against the peace preliminaries, 9 and 10 Dec. 1762; opposed Grenville’s Administration; and supported Rockingham. He did not vote on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, but was classed by Newcastle as a friend, 2 Mar. 1767, and voted with Opposition on the nullum tempus bill, 17 Feb. 1768. There is no record of his having spoken in the House. He did not stand again, either for a borough or for Rutland.
He died 2 Nov. 1785.9
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Sir Lewis Namier
- 1. Add. 35594, ff. 344, 347.
- 2. Add. 32907, ff. 157, 159, 235, 253-4.
- 3. Ancaster mss, Lincs. RO.
- 4. Hardwicke to Newcastle, 3 Aug., Add. 32909, ff. 239-40.
- 5. Hardwicke to Heathcote, 4 Dec. 1760, Ancaster mss; Add. 35596, ff. 197-201.
- 6. Add. 35420, f. 177.
- 7. Add. 32918, f. 228.
- 8. Add. 35376, f. 47.
- 9. GEC Baronetage; but Gent. Mag. gives 2 Dec.