STANHOPE, Hon. Sir William (1702-72), of Eythrope, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. 20 July 1702, 2nd s. of Philip, 3rd Earl of Chesterfield, by Lady Elizabeth Savile, da. of George, 1st Mq. of Halifax. m. (1) 27 Apr. 1721, Susanna (d. 7 Oct. 1740), da. of John Rudge, M.P., of Wheatfield, Oxon., 1 da. who m. Welbore Ellis; (2) 29 May 1745, Elizabeth (d. 25 Feb. 1746), da. of Sir Ambrose Crowley, M.P., London alderman, s.p.; (3) 6 Oct. 1759, Anne Hussey, da. of Francis Blake Delaval, M.P., sis. of Francis Blake and John Hussey Delaval, s.p. cr. K.B. 27 May 1725.
Sir William Stanhope inherited the vast Buckinghamshire estates of the Dormer family, valued at £8,000 p.a.1 ‘With less good breeding, and more satire’ than his brother, the famous Lord Chesterfield, Stanhope had wit ‘though of a kind rough and unpolished’,2 ‘not so frequent but more natural than his brother’s, and at the same time much more bitter’.3 He was a founder member of White’s, where he spent much of his time. Looked upon as a man of taste, in the course of frequent visits to Italy he purchased pictures from Roman galleries at expensive prices. He adorned the grounds of Eythrope, his favourite seat, with ‘the imitation of ruins of an amphitheatre, castles, and turreted buildings’;4 while Horace Walpole admired his ‘magnificently furnished’ town house which with ‘all the ornaments designed by Kent, and the whole festino, put us more in mind of Florence, than anything we have seen here’.5
Returned for Buckinghamshire in 1754 without a contest, Stanhope was classed by Dupplin as ‘doubtful’. The next few years he spent in Italy: in spite of ill health and increasing deafness he enjoyed travelling. Horace Mann on 2 June 1754 described him as having ‘quite recovered his hearing and ... vastly happy’.6 He was back in England in September 1758, and, anxious for a male heir, decided to marry again.
He was weary of being alone [wrote Chesterfield]7 and by God’s good providence found out a young woman of a retired disposition, and who had been bred up prudently under an old grandmother in the country; she hated and dreaded a London life, and chose to amuse herself at home with her books, her drawing, and her music.
Returned unopposed in 1761, he left England again for Italy shortly afterwards. His third marriage was unhappy; Walpole wrote to Mann on 1 Sept. 1763:
We sent you Sir William Stanhope and my Lady, a fond couple; you have returned them to us very different. When they came to Blackheath, he got out of the chaise to go to his brother Lord Chesterfield’s, made her a low bow and said, ‘Madam, I hope I shall never see your face again.’ She replied, ‘Sir, I will take all the care that you never shall.’ He lays no gallantry to her charge.
A separation was arranged through the mediation of Chesterfield.8
He was now almost completely deaf and increasingly absent from Parliament. He voted against Government on 15 Nov. 1763 over Wilkes, and on 18 Feb. 1764 over general warrants. Shortly afterwards he went abroad again: in May 1765 he was at Naples, on friendly terms with Wilkes,9 and Rockingham in July 1765 noted him as still absent. In November 1766 Rockingham classed him as ‘Whig’, and Newcastle in March 1767 as ‘doubtful or absent’; he does not appear in the division lists for 1766-8, and he did not stand at the general election.
During the last years of his life he spent much time in the south of France, and he died at Dijon on 7 May 1772.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: John Brooke
- 1. M. Maty, Mems. Life Ld. Chesterfield (1777), p. 269.
- 2. Lord Charlemont, ‘Some Anecdotes of [Philip] Stanhope’, HMC Charlemont, i. 328.
- 3. Walpole’s ms note on p. 269 of his copy of Maty’s Mems. Chesterfield, now in B.M.
- 4. Lipscomb, Bucks. i. 483.
- 5. To Mann, 7 June 1748.
- 6. HMC Var. vi. 26.
- 7. B. Dobrée, Letters of Chesterfield, v. 2669.
- 8. Ibid. 2534, 2544.
- 9. Mann to Walpole, 4 May 1765.