MANNERS, John, Mq. of Granby (1721-70).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1741 - 1754
1754 - 18 Oct. 1770

Family and Education

b. 2 Jan. 1721, 1st s. of John, 3rd Duke of Rutland, by Hon. Bridget Sutton, da. and h. of Robert, 2nd Baron Lexinton of Aram; bro. of Lord George and Lord Robert Manners Sutton.  educ. Eton 1732; Trinity, Camb. 1738; Grand Tour, extending to European and Asiatic Turkey 1740-2.  m. 3 Sept. 1750, Lady Frances Seymour, da. of Charles, 6th Duke of Somerset, 4s. 3da.

Offices Held

Col. army 1745; maj.-gen. 1755; lt.-gen. 1759; col. R. Horse Gds. 1758- d.; col. 21 Drag. 1760-3; lt.-gen. of the Ordnance 1759-63; master gen. of the Ordnance July 1763-Jan. 1770; c.-in-c. Aug. 1766-Jan. 1770.


Generous, brave and impetuous, often acting before he had time to think, Granby was no politician nor a great general, but a brilliant cavalry leader. Immensely popular, he became ‘the mob’s hero’,1 and important as such. When in 1753 he decided to stand for Cambridgeshire he engaged himself to the Tories not to stand ‘upon a particular interest, nor to be set up by a club’. He would not declare a junction with Philip Yorke before the county meeting—Yorke wished he could be induced ‘to take more notice of the Whig gentlemen in the county’, and feared that his civility had ‘all gone to the other side’.2 Finally the two were returned unopposed, which they were again in 1761.

In spite of Granby’s declining all ‘party contest’ in Cambridgeshire, he ranked as a Government supporter; on 25 Mar. 1755 moved for a vote of credit; defended the Government over the subsidy treaties, 12 Dec.: ‘he was not such an enemy to Hanover as to let the French satiate their rage on Hanoverian subjects, because their Elector had acted the part of a British King’;3 and after Newcastle’s resignation in November 1756 repeatedly defended him in Parliament.4 The next few years were taken up by military duties; he commanded a cavalry brigade in Germany 1758-9, and next all the British forces, returning home for a visit in the spring of 1761, and for the first few months of 1762, when he attended Parliament. But he went back, politically unimportant till the crisis of November-December 1762.

Fox, on his appointment as ‘His Majesty’s minister in the House of Commons’ (13 Oct.), wrote to Granby, who replied on 1 Nov.: ‘To support my King and the dignity of the Crown, as it is my duty, so it is and ever will be my inclination and design.’5 This expressed Granby’s normal attitude, but was written before the news could have reached him in Germany of Devonshire’s dismissal, which made the attitude of the Rutland family of crucial importance. Fox wrote to Shelburne, 2 Nov.:6

If the Duke of Rutland’s behaviour will warrant it, let him be summoned to the Conciliabulum, a place be found for Mr. Thoroton etc. And let Lord Granby, by your Lordship, Calcraft, and others be made more drunk with praise than he ever was with champagne. Let Lord Bute get them to declare, and we will with these simpletons distance the other old families, those phantoms that they talk of so much.

On 4 Nov. the King offered Devonshire’s place of lord chamberlain to Rutland, who begged he might first write to Granby: the King replied that the post was ‘of too great importance at such an hour to be longer vacant’.7 Rutland, wrote Newcastle to Devonshire, 16 Nov., is now ‘the object of the attention of our friends, and our enemies. All will depend upon my friend my Lord Granby. I hear they intend to offer him master general of the Ordnance; and to point out to him the command of the army.’ His friends and family hoped he would act ‘as I should wish him to do upon this occasion’, but feared that Fox through his friend Calcraft might get at him.8 On receipt of Granby’s letter of 1 Nov. Fox wrote to Bute, 17 Nov., that Rutland was ‘vastly pleased’ with it, but still would not ‘take the staff, I dare say from private reasons’.9 And Walpole to Mann, 30 Nov.: ‘Lord Granby is impatiently expected: it is not certain what part he will take, and, with his unbounded popularity, it cannot be indifferent.’ But he fell ill of a fever in Germany, and was thought in serious danger. While recovering, on 12 Dec., he called his secretary ‘to him, and said: “Storer, write Thoroton that I love my friend the Duke of Newcastle. But I could wish to remain quiet in the present bustle.”’10 None of the Rutland group voted with the Opposition on 9 or 10 Dec.

Granby returned to England on 6 Feb. 1763, and on the 10th the King wrote to Bute:

Lord Granby's language to me was full of duty and attachment, saying he had obligations to the Duke of Newcastle that would ever make him out of gratitude have a personal regard for him; but that his inclination as well as duty would make him ever attached to my person, and consequently support my measures and ministry as at present composed or however I should form it.

On the formation of the Grenville Government Granby refused the lieutenancy of Ireland—which ‘I own hurts me’ wrote the King to Bute; was ‘happy’ when made master general of the Ordnance;11 and drew still closer to the Grenvilles after the crisis of August 1763, when Pitt had named Albemarle for the command of the army after the King had suggested Granby. He was told about it by the King, wrote Sandwich to Holland on 26 Sept., ‘which has had the right impression, and he takes part with us with the utmost warmth and spirit’.12And the Grenville Diary, 23 Sept., notes with pleasure:13

Lord Granby ... made the most affectionate and warm declaration to Mr. Grenville of his thorough approbation of his conduct, and his determination to support him to the utmost. He said ... that in regard to the present ministry, his attachment was to Mr. Grenville singly.

—and that he had no love for his colleagues.

Granby supported the Government over Wilkes and general warrants; spoke on their side 17-18 Feb. 1764; but in the debate on the Address, 10 Jan. 1765, blamed them for dismissing officers for votes in Parliament: military men should not be turned out ‘otherwise but by courts martial’.14 On 20 May 1765, during the silk-weavers' riots which coincided with a Cabinet crisis, Halifax wrote to the King asking for Granby to be appointed ‘to the chief command of the troops’:15 ‘Lord Granby is a very popular man and might save the lives of these deluded wretches which may be exposed and sacrificed by another commander ... less a favourite of the people.’ And when the King was forced to recall the Grenvilles, one of their conditions was Granby's appointment to the command of the army.16 But when the King told Granby that he had already promised it to Cumberland,17 Granby replied ‘that he never had solicited that honour’, and would not be an obstacle to any arrangement made by the King; which caused Grenville to waive the demand, and merely ask for a promise of it in case of Cumberland's death; this the King refused.18

When in June the King once more appealed to Pitt to deliver him from his ministers, one of the first to be sent for by Pitt was Calcraft, ‘fetched with Lord Granby from Grantham races by express’.19 And Rockingham, when called upon to form a Government, pressed Granby to join it, which Granby claimed to have ‘absolutely refused’—according to Grenville, on 5 July Granby gave him the warmest assurances of his attachment to him ‘and him alone’, and said he would tell the King that he could not hold office ‘in support of a new ministry of which ... he disapproved’.20 But the next day, 7 July, on which the King insisting that he should resume the Ordnance, Granby ‘consented, it being declared that he should be at full liberty to act as he pleased ... unconnected with the new system’.21 Chase Price, a shrewd observer, thus reported the matter to the Duke of Portland:22

Lord Granby went into the King, as he told me, to resign, that is Lord Granby went into the King not to resign but to preserve appearances. The King received him cordially and upon his Lordship's saying that he should esteem it a peculiar act of favour in his Majesty if he would be kind enough to receive into his own hand the employment he had given him, the King insisted upon the contrary. If, says the Marquis, your Majesty orders me to continue in office I have only to obey, but, Sir, I hope you will permit me to continue unconnected with your ministers. As long as you stand by yourself I will stand by you, and whenever your Majesty shall condescend to show me upon paper any Administration you think capable of carrying on your business, I shall be ready directly to take an efficient part.

Bedford regretted that Granby had not ‘the resolution to abide by his first determination of quitting his employment’;23 and on later occasions reproached him with having taken an adverse part to Grenville and himself when dismissed, after they had done their best to promote his wishes, ‘and that in the most essential point, of seeing you at the head of the army’.24 But Grenville, when entertaining on 17 July 1765 members of the late Government at dinner, did not omit Granby, who, however, ‘sent his excuse’.25 Perhaps Grenville's was the wiser line: in the crisis over the repeal of the Stamp Act, according to Lord George Sackville, ‘Mr. Grenville produced my Lord Granby, and prevailed on him to speak in opposition’:26 he spoke on 5 Feb. for the amendement that compensation to sufferers in the riots in America should be required, not recommended; on the 7th, that laws in America should be enforced; and in the crucial division of 22 Feb. he voted with the Opposition, followed by four members of his family.

Granby retained the Ordnance under Chatham, and was included in the Cabinet even before appointed commander-in-chief;27 and because of the unhappiness that appointment would create to his friend, Lord Ligonier, he asked Chatham to drop it, ‘at least for the present’—emboldened, he said, to make the request by ‘the fixed and determined part I have taken to support the Administration’.28 He was appointed none the less on 13 Aug.—but not as the result of a bargain as alleged by Walpole.29 He had little influence in the Cabinet on policy, but in the House spoke on East India and American affairs,30 not always with happy results. Thus in the debate of 6 Mar. 1767 Charles Townshend and Conway ‘kept clear of any explanation on the difference of opinion in the Cabinet’ over the East India inquiry,31

the military and naval chiefs [writes Horace Walpole32] by their posts members of the Cabinet, but with all their merits very incompetent judges of state affairs, and still worse qualified to engage in the subtleties of a parliamentary discussion; both, I say, Lord Granby and Sir Edward Hawke, babbled out the secret which the ministers were veiling, and which even the treachery and loquacity of Townshend had not dared openly to disclose.

There was talk in 1767 of Granby not standing again at the general election, or removing from Cambridgeshire to the University—at least the Yorkes, anxious to resume their country seat, hoped he would.33 But ‘Lord Chatham's friends about my Lord Granby’ laboured to prevent his leaving the House; and as Rutland had ‘long determined to give over all thoughts about elections’,34 and left the care of them to his son, Granby plunged into the fray, adding considerably to his parliamentary interest and to his debts. Newcastle wrote to Admiral Keppel, 12 Nov. 1767,35 about ‘the entrance of the great Marquis of Granby into Shoreham, where I believe his name was scarce ever known, with an Irish lord in his hand, and into Bramber’. On 25 Jan. 1768 he canvassed Grantham and on 7 Feb. James West reported to Newcastle:36

Lord Granby told Mr. West this day, he should set out for Great Grimsby on Tuesday next, and give an entertainment there on Friday next, that the Monday following he should give a supper and ball at Scarborough, that the Thursday afterward he should see his friends at Cambridge, that from thence he should go to Bramber.

Besides, Granby strenuously, though unsuccessfully, exerted himself in support of his cousin Sir Henry Harpur in Derbyshire. Otherwise the results were favourable: the three seats in Cambridgeshire, Newark and Grantham were held, one seat was added at Scarborough and one at Grimsby; and, on petition, two were captured at Bramber. But as George Vernon wrote to Granby, 22 July 176837—‘by what I perceive of your band, there is a want of a good first fiddle; and your Lordship I know has too much modesty to play in public’.

Granby was not a parliamentary band-leader, and his interventions in debate are of minor importance. Nor did he carry much weight in Government counsels. He was absent when on 12 Apr. 1768 the Cabinet decided to expel Wilkes; concurred in this decision at a meeting of front bench Members, 25 Apr.; but on 12 May said in Parliament, when Sir Gilbert Elliot proposed immediate action,38 ‘that such a step ... when people's minds were so much inflamed ... might very probably cause a rebellion, and therefore he ... would oppose it to the utmost of his power’.

On Chatham's resignation Hertford wrote to the King that he had strong reasons for thinking Granby would be affected by it: it would be very material to convince him that Chatham's resignation was ‘unprovoked by any design on the part of the ministry’. The same day the King wrote to Grafton: ‘I should think your acquainting Lord Granby with what has happened would be very advisable, for dislike of some now in my service [the Bedfords] makes him open to what ill-intentioned persons may suggest.’39 Chatham's three friends, Grafton, Camden, and Granby, remained in the Cabinet, ill at ease; Granby rendered even more than usually inconsistent by contrary influences and a conflict of loyalties to the King and to Chatham. On 27 Jan. 1769 he voted with the court over Wilkes. The next day Conway told Walpole that he and Granby ‘had agreed to stay away on the expulsion: having declared against violent measures, they would nor concur in it; and disapproving Wilkes's attacks on the Government, they would not defend him’.40 Later Granby claimed that he had always been against expulsion,41 but on 15 Apr. and 8 May he voted for the seating of Luttrell. Equally inconsistent was his attitude over America: he had systematically opposed the repeal of the Stamp Act, but at the Cabinet of 1 May supported the repeal of the tea duty.

Rutland disapproved of the Government's policy over Wilkes; and a crisis supervened in his relations with them when in October Camden appointed two justices of the peace in Leicestershire without consulting him, its lord lieutenant.42 Now Chatham and Calcraft by day to day manœuvres tried to detach Granby from the court and save him from their ‘snares’.

On 6 Nov. 1769 Granby told Calcraft43 that

he never knew why Lord Chatham resigned ... His retiring now would look like skulking to Junius, or he saw himself unfit for the command of the army. Looks to Lord Chatham, but not cordial with Earl Temple or George Grenville. Will advise the King to send for Lord Chatham; and will advise a dissolution, as the only measure to quieten people's minds ... Sees his situation, and that his character depends on his appearance, and taking a round, firm part.

On 22 Nov. Calcraft told Chatham that Granby's ‘intentions’ were ‘perfectly right at present’;44 and on 25 Nov.:

He has been with the chancellor, who ... pressed his going to a Council on Monday ... Lord Granby seems determined to follow the chancellor ... unless better advised in the interim ... fearing neither of our friends are the best politicians, I cannot help harbouring doubts but they may get entangled at this Council ... therefore I trouble your Lordship that they may be put on their guard.

‘It is much to be wished’, replied Chatham the same day, ‘that Lord Granby may not go to the place where it rains snares.’45

Great hopes were built on Granby's conduct at the meeting of Parliament. On 7 Jan. 1770 Calcraft offered to convey to Granby any commands of Chatham's ‘as may aid his conduct at this crisis’. And on the 8th: ‘Lord Granby ... seems very properly disposed ... Except the common invitation to hear the Speech read at Lord North's, he has had no correspondence with ministers.’46 Next day on the Address Granby spoke and voted against the court: ‘I am not content with the vote I gave on the Middlesex election. I see it now in a different light. Had I seen it in that light before, I should have voted otherwise.’47 Which made Walpole remark:48 ‘he recanted a vote he had not understood, for reasons he understood as little’.

On 15 Jan. the King wrote to Grafton:49

I thoroughly approve of your using every means to engage him [Granby] to hold his employments though absenting himself from Cabinet, and will leave no stone unturned if he comes to me to persuade him to change his present sentiments.

And Calcraft to Chatham:

Lord Granby is this moment come in here, and ... I take the opportunity of informing you that at the most pressing request of the Duke of Grafton (after using every argument to persuade against resignation) he has postponed waiting on the King till Wednesday, when he remains determined to resign the army and the Ordnance.

‘Calcraft's letter to you was dictated by Lord Granby’, wrote Temple to Chatham that evening, ‘but Calcraft does most earnestly wish ... that you may take the trouble of writing ... your ... warm desire that his Lordship may tomorrow morning ... carry into execution what had been so much better done yesterday.’ ‘My solicitude is extreme’, replied Chatham almost immediately, ‘and full of the most real pain’ at the delay: his ‘most respectful and warmly affectionate advice’ was that Granby should next day demand an audience, ‘and then and there absolutely and finally resign the Ordnance and the command of the army’.50

‘These manly sentiments’ Calcraft communicated to Granby, who was ‘exceedingly affected with them’ but ‘could not prevail on him to press the audience at Buckingham House’. ‘He assures me of his firmness in the closet tomorrow’, wrote Calcraft to Chatham on 16 Jan.,51 ‘and that no persuasion shall make him depart from the execution of those resolutions.’ But he insisted on first obtaining ‘his father's approbation (which he is sure of)’. He resigned on 17 Jan. 1770.

In Opposition Granby had little influence outside his family. In July 1770, on a by-election at Scarborough, he proposed to return his old friend George Cockburne, comptroller of the navy, who he knew would support Administration. Rockingham urged him to change his candidate, and Chatham complained of the ‘inexcusable weakness of our noble friend in favour of a tool of the court’.52

Granby died at Scarborough 18 Oct. 1770. ‘His last fatal resolution’, wrote Lovett Blackborne, a dependant of Rutland,

was the embarkation in a Scarborough canvass, and by this means the place he chose for an asylum for a hurt constitution, and an overburdoned mind, grew to be a residence ten times hotter to him in every respect than any other; and what could be the consequence, but the fatal event that actually happened?53

He left a load of debt; the deficit of only £37,000 stated by Blackborne probably ‘fell short of the eventual total’.54 Granby's political dependence on Calcraft because of debt was often alleged. He was too lenient to Calcraft's shady friends among army commissaries such as Peter Taylor (q.v.), and may have favoured contractors supported by him, e.g. Nicholas Linwood (q.v.); but such complaisance was in Granby's nature. He also was politically influenced by Calcraft, a much cleverer man who had easy access to him. Still, George Macartney's allegation in October 1763 that, because of indebtedness, Granby was ‘entirely in Calcrafts' hand’,55 was disproved by events. And Walpole's allegation that Calcraft, ‘to ensure Lord Granby's dependence and resignation [in January 1770] lent him £16,000 additional to a great debt already contracted’,56 is nearly on a par with the further statement that ‘Chatham was no less in the power of the userer Calcraft’.

Still, Walpole's final estimate of Granby is fair and balanced:57

His large and open countenance ... his robust and commanding person ... distinguished him without any extrinsic ornament ...  Intrepidity, sincerity, humanity and generosity were ... innate in his breast. He was dauntless on every occasion, but when it was necessary to surmount his bashfulness. His nerves trembled like a woman's when it was requisite that he should speak in public. His modesty was incapable of ostentation. His rank, his services, and the idolatry of the people could inspire him with no pride, a sensation his nature knew not. Of money he seemed to conceive no use but giving it away.

But his understanding was not equal to his virtues; through lack of judgement he ‘lent himself to measures which his principles disapproved’; and when he resigned he showed no knowledge ‘of the question for which he devoted himself’. ‘In a rude age he would probably have been a successful general ... but in times wherein military knowledge is so much improved, it was perhaps fortunate for his country that the sole command was never intrusted to him on any capital emergency.’

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Walpole to Mann, 8 Aug. 1759.
  • 2. Add. 35592, ff. 82-83, 104; 35351, ff. 233-4, 243-4.
  • 3. Walpole, Mems. Geo. II, ii. 131.
  • 4. HMC 8th Rep. pt. i. 222b; Add. 35351, f. 370; Yorke, Hardwicke, ii. 358-359.
  • 5. Henry Fox mss.
  • 6. Lansdowne mss.
  • 7. Sedgwick, 157.
  • 8. Add. 32945, f. 51.
  • 9. Bute mss.
  • 10. HMC Rutland, ii. 280.
  • 11. Sedgwick, 189, 216, 219.
  • 12. Ilchester, Letters to Hen. Fox, 183.
  • 13. Grenville Pprs. ii. 208.
  • 14. Harris's 'Debates'.
  • 15. Fortescue, i. 105.
  • 16. Grenville Pprs. iii. 41
  • 17. Fortescue, i. 106.
  • 18. Grenville Pprs. iii. 184-7; Fortescue, i. 113-15.
  • 19. Rigby to Bedford, 22 june, Bedford Corresp. iii. 298.
  • 20. Grenville Diary, Grenville Pprs. iii. 205-6, 209.
  • 21. Grenville to Bedford, 7 July, Bedford mss 52, f. 20.
  • 22. 18 July 1765, Portland mss.
  • 23. Grenville Pprs. iii. 70.
  • 24. Bedford to Granby, 17 Apr. 1767, Bedford mss 55, f. 72.
  • 25. Grenville Pprs. ii. 219.
  • 26. HMC Stopford-Sackville, i. 107.
  • 27. Lord Townshend to Bute, 7 Aug. 1766, Bute mss.
  • 28. Chatham Corresp. iii. 32-3.
  • 29. Mems. Geo. III, ii. 256.
  • 30. Fortescue, i. 425, 451.
  • 31. Conway to the King, 6 Mar., Fortescue, i. 460.
  • 32. Mems. Geo. III. ii. 305.
  • 33. Add. 32981, f. 333.
  • 34. Newcastle to Hardwicke, 12 May, ibid. f. 371.
  • 35. Add. 32986, f. 392.
  • 36. Add. 32988, f. 123.
  • 37. Rutland mss.
  • 38. Add. 32990, f. 63.
  • 39. Fortescue, ii. 65, 66.
  • 40. Mems. Geo. III, iii. 212.
  • 41. Egerton 220, ff. 22-23.
  • 42. Rutland to Grafton, 12 Oct. 1769, Rutland mss at Belvoir; Grafton to Camden, 16 Oct. 1769, Camden mss; Grafton to Rutland, 18 Oct. 1769, HMC Rutland, ii. 312.
  • 43. Chatham Corresp. iii. 363.
  • 44. Chatham mss.
  • 45. Chatham Corresp. iii. 363-4, 365.
  • 46. Ibid. 370-80, 390.
  • 47. Egerton 3711, ff. 51-52.
  • 48. Mems. Geo. III, iv. 32.
  • 49. Grafton mss.
  • 50. Chatham Corresp. iii. 391, 392-4.
  • 51. Ibid. 396-7.
  • 52. Ibid. 468.
  • 53. HMC Rutland, ii. 316.
  • 54. W.E. Manners, Granby, 392.
  • 55. Ilchester, Letters of Hen. Fox, 185.
  • 56. Mems. Geo. III, iv. 32.
  • 57. Ibid. 117-19.