WATSON, Hon. Lewis (1728-95), of Lees Court, Kent
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Family and Education
b. 28 Nov. 1728, 2nd s. of John, 1st Baron Monson, by Lady Margaret Watson, da. of Lewis, 1st Earl of Rockingham. educ. Westminster 1737-45; Grand Tour with Thomas Pelham and later with Charles Watson Wentworth, 2nd Mq. of Rockingham.1m. 12 Oct. 1752, Grace, da. and coh. of Henry Pelham, M.P., niece of Thomas, 1st Duke of Newcastle, 3s. suc. cos. Thomas, 3rd Earl of Rockingham, to Watson estates in Northants. and Kent and assumed name of Watson, 26 Feb. 1746; cr. Baron Sondes 22 May 1760.
Joint auditor of the imprest Feb. 1754- d.
Watson was elected head of the poll for Kent in 1754, having also been returned by his uncle Newcastle at Boroughbridge as a hedge. His great ambition was a peerage, to which his inheritance of the Rockingham estates gave him a claim. Newcastle wrote to another aspirant (Sir Jacob Downing) on 22 May 1756:
I was forced to submit the pretensions of my nephew Watson ... to his Majesty’s favour, upon some other occasion. I hope, when this is the case of so near a relation of my own, nobody will have reason to be displeased with me for his Majesty’s determination to make so few peers only, at present.
On 16 Feb. 1760, in view of the approaching general election, Watson renewed his application:
People [are] beginning to inquire if I intend to stand again for the county. The very great dislike I have to that your Grace is already acquainted with.
Newcastle pressed Watson’s claims very strongly. He wrote to Hardwicke on 4 Mar. about his application to the King:
I mentioned my nephew Watson ... his Majesty replied, I expected that, I have given one peerage already to the family. I then took it up high and talked in a strain that I seldom do ... if his Majesty expected that I should be employed in choosing a new Parliament, I could not do it if I had not the power to oblige the first gentlemen in the countries. There I left it steadily, and there I will make my stand; and Mrs. Legge and Mr. Watson shall be made.2
Newcastle was successful, and Watson was created a peer on 22 May.
He died 30 Mar. 1795.