LAMB, Matthew (?1705-68), of Brocket Hall, Herts. and Melbourne Hall, Derbys.
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Family and Education
b. ?1705, 2nd s. of Matthew Lamb of Southwell, Notts. educ. L. Inn 1726, called 1733. m. c.1740, Charlotte, da. of Thomas Coke of Melbourne Hall, sis. and h. of George Lewis Coke who d. 1751, 1s. 2da. cr. Bt. 17 Jan. 1755.
Solicitor to the Post Office 1738- d.; counsel for Board of Trade and Plantations 1746- d.; bencher L. Inn 1754; K.C. 1754.
Lamb’s father, a Southwell attorney, was legal adviser to the Coke family of Melbourne Hall. Lamb himself began his legal career under the auspices of his uncle Peniston Lamb, a successful barrister, whose ‘large fortune’1 he afterwards inherited. He became legal adviser to many of the nobility, and in this capacity lent large sums of money. He seems to have succeeded his uncle as legal adviser to the Fitzwilliam family; managed their interest at Peterborough, and in 1756 became guardian to the fourth Earl. He was returned unopposed for Peterborough in 1754, and was counted by Dupplin as an Administration supporter. No vote by him is recorded during the 1754 Parliament. He is only once reported to have spoken in the House: on 25 May 1759, when, having seconded Lord Carysfort’s motion for the exemption from tax of perpetual pensions chargeable on the excise, he went on to oppose the taxation of stewards and receivers.2 In 1761 he was again returned unopposed for Peterborough. During this Parliament he appears to have supported each successive Administration.
Several months before the general election of 1768 Lamb found himself involved in a contest at Peterborough which he told Fitzwilliam seemed likely to become ‘one of the most expensive in the kingdom’:3
I declared to all our friends there, that ... I would support your interest let the expense be what it would, which had a very good effect, and we have all three candidates for four months been at a shameful expense—for although I knew I had a majority, I was under a necessity to keep up that majority to be at as much expense as the other candidates.
When his stand proved successful and one of the candidates withdrew, Lamb wrote to Fitzwilliam:
I have the pleasure to assure you that in the way I have conducted this affair I have so established your interest that at no time your family ever had it so strong. Was it not for establishing that which I pique myself in doing for your sake, I would on no account have taken upon me so very troublesome and expensive an affair.
On 28 Dec. he wrote again:
I am very glad you approve of my conduct at Peterborough and the justice you do me in relation to my attention and assiduity in supporting your interest there ... As to what your Lordship mentions about the expenses of the election, it is true in your father’s time he paid it. I always pressed him that I might do it but he would not agree to it. It was small then, a little more than £300 ... Since he died you have not been at a farthing expense for my election, or in any other way on my account, but it has been considerably more to me than usual on that account.
Still he would not accept Fitzwilliam’s offer to pay the expenses, but took care to point out that they would have to continue till the election ‘so that it is likely to cost me as many thousands as it used to be hundreds’. When eventually a contest did take place Lamb was returned at the head of the poll. He died 6 Nov. 1768.