VERNON, Francis (c.1715-83), of Orwell Park, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. c.1715, 1st surv. s. of James Vernon, M.P., of Great Thurlow, Suff.; bro. of Charles and nephew of Edward Vernon. educ. Westminster 1725; Trinity, Camb. 1732; L. Inn 1732; ? Leyden 1737. m. 14 Jan. 1748, Alice, da. and h. of Samuel Ibbetson of Denton, Yorks., 3s. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1756 and uncle Edward Vernon 30 Oct. 1757; cr. Baron Orwell [I] 7 Apr. 1762; Visct. Orwell [I] 21 July 1776; Earl of Shipbrook [I] 8 Feb. 1777.
Clerk to Privy Council 1738-62; commr. of the victualling office 1747-62; ld. of Trade Dec. 1762-July 1765.
When, on the death of Admiral Vernon, Francis Vernon set out for Ipswich with a view to standing in his place, Lord Halifax wrote to Newcastle, 1 Nov. 1757:
I can answer for my friend. He is no Tory, and is not likely to have any Tory connections at Ipswich, unless necessary to maintain his ground there, and I hope they are not. As to his future conduct in public life I dare say it will be of a piece with his private character, which I have been intimately acquainted with and loved and honoured from a boy.
And further on 5 Nov.:1
As to the borough of Ipswich, he tells me he has long been resolved to have nothing to do with it, unless both parties would agree to choose him. He tells me the Whigs have made him the offer your Grace sent me yesterday by Mr. Kent, which he would have accepted, if his uncle’s friends, whom the Admiral had raised to what they are, and supported at in immense expense and unspeakable trouble, would have stood by him. But upon sounding the principal men of that party, he received for answer that the Admiral had at the last Bury assizes in the presence of Sir Cordell Firebrace and many other gentlemen declared that he was not desirous that his nephew, Mr. Vernon, or any other of his family should stand for Ipswich; in consequence of which they had entered into engagements with Mr. Staunton, and Mr. Montgomery ... This being the case, my friend says it would be very imprudent and unadvisable for him to stand for Ipswich. He likewise says that considering the great obligations he has to his uncle it would scarce be decent to set up on an interest opposite to that which he cultivated; and the same reason holds with him for not interfering in favour of any other person.
But on 23 Jan. 1761 Vernon wrote to Newcastle that he was encouraged by a great number of friends to stand for Ipswich; ‘and as your Grace was one of the first that did me the honour to put me upon it’, Vernon asked for his support. Newcastle replied on 31 Jan.: ‘The friends of the Government are much obliged to you for undertaking this trouble.’2 The return was uncontested.
Halifax continued his patron and, while lord lieutenant of Ireland, obtained for Vernon an Irish peerage. ‘His family is ancient and respectable, his real and personal estate very considerable, his zeal and attachment to his Majesty’s Government well known, and his character wholly unexceptionable’,3 Halifax wrote to Egremont, 12 Feb. 1762. In Bute’s parliamentary list Vernon was classed as one of his supporters. As a friend of Halifax and a placeman he naturally supported the Grenville Administration, left office with them, and was henceforth classed as a follower of Grenville. He voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. 1766, and remained in opposition under the Chatham Administration, voting against them over the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767; and the nullum tempus bill, 17 Feb. 1768. Only three interventions of his in debate are reported, all in March 1764, on matters concerning trade.4 He acted as teller for Gilbert’s poor bill, 18 Mar. 1765. His attendance at the meetings of the Board of Trade was fair: about 60% in 1763, and 50% in 1764-5. He was defeated in 1768 at Mitchell, and in 1774 at Ipswich.
He died 15 Oct. 1783.