HERVEY, Frederick William, Lord Hervey (1769-1859), of Ickworth, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1796 - 8 July 1803

Family and Education

b. 2 June 1769, 3rd but o. surv. s. of Frederick Augustus, 4th Earl of Bristol and bp. of Derry, by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Jermyn Davers, 4th Bt., of Rougham, Suff.educ. St. John’s Camb. 1786; L. Inn 1793. m. 20 Feb. 1798, Hon. Elizabeth Albana Upton, da. of Clotworthy, 1st Baron Templetown [I], 6s. 3da. suc. fa. as 5th Earl of Bristol 8 July 1803. cr. Mq. of Bristol 30 June 1826.

Offices Held

Ensign 1 Ft. Gds. 1788-92; capt. Bury vols. 1798; maj. commdt. Ickworth yeomanry 1798.

Sec., registrar and clerk of council, Tobago 1794-1801.

Under-sec. of state for Foreign affairs Feb. 1801-Aug. 1803.


On the death of his elder brother in January 1796, Hervey became heir to his father’s earldom. Bereft of Lord Mountstuart and then of his brother, he subsequently informed his father, who was detained on the Continent, that he had lost two irreplaceable friends; and that he must needs abjure ‘Voltaire and Co.’ and adhere to those philosophers who appreciated the element of hope furnished by religion. Their correspondence shows that he was widely read, sensitive, and conservative in his outlook. He had taken the first opportunity of reviving the family interest at Bury at the election of 1796 and was described by Pitt as ‘friendly to government and nearly connected with parts of it’. He defeated the Duke of Grafton’s son in the ensuing contest. Soon afterwards his father wished him to marry a wealthy German lady, a natural daughter of the King of Prussia, predicting that a dukedom and a major diplomatic post could be got for him; but he settled for the daughter of an Irish peer.1

Hervey was a silent supporter of Pitt’s ministry. He attended the debates on the Irish union and fully approved Pitt’s policy, so he informed his father, with the caveat that ‘concession never yet conciliated those whose situation it did not practically improve’. His father thought that with ‘his birth, his talents, his connexions and his assiduity’, Hervey would be ‘secretary of state in ten or twelve years’. He took his first (and last) step in that direction in February 1801 when his brother-in-law Lord Hawkesbury made him his under-secretary at the Foreign Office in Addington’s ministry. Reproached by the Whig branch of his family, he claimed that ‘his character and principles would justify any measures he might adopt’. The Duchess of Devonshire commented:

I am very sorry—he is very good and amiable and well-meaning to enthusiasm. Why then if he would come in, did he not under Pitt, and why form part of a motley group, that must be crushed and shut out from both sides for ever? One of Lady Hawkesbury’s great arguments is that Lord Bristol would approve; is this worthy his attending to? And most likely Lord Bristol having previously pledged himself to the Roman Catholics, would disapprove.2

But Hervey refused to see matters in such a light: Addington’s ministers remained Pitt’s friends.

In April 1801 Woronzow, the Russian ambassador, who knew him well, expressed his fears to Lord Grenville that Hervey might be sent to St. Petersburg as a diplomat:

Il a la vanité, l’esprit, la légèreté et le déficit de jugement caracteristique de la famille. Il est Hervey, Hervey, et archi-Hervey.

Others agreed: Lord Glenbervie reported, 6 Oct. 1802,

I perceive from many circumstances that he takes a great deal upon him in the conduct of foreign affairs, and indeed I believe his sister and he interfere a great deal in Lord Hawkesbury’s business, who has more understanding but is less dashing and more timid.

Lord Malmesbury agreed and was anxious that Hervey should not be sent to Russia in 1803 to secure mediation against the resumption of hostilities.3 He had played no part in debate—his only known speech was the report of the Berwick election committee, 6 Apr. 1803, though he twice acted as government teller that session, 19 May and 3 June.

Hervey’s official career ended when he succeeded to the earldom in July 1803, with estates worth at least £20,000 a year.4 He remained well-disposed to Lord Sidmouth and approved Lord Grenville as Pitt’s successor in 1806, except on the question of Ellenborough’s seat in the cabinet; but he retained his connection with Lord Hawkesbury who, as premier, secured him a marquessate. He died 15 Feb. 1859.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Winifred Stokes


  • 1. W. Suff. RO, Hervey mss, Hervey to Bristol, 18 Mar. 1799; PRO 30/8/195, f. 132; Two Duchesses ed. V. Foster, 119, 123, 125, 129.
  • 2. Hervey mss, Hervey to Bristol, 11 Mar. 1799; Two Duchesses, 136; The Times, 20 Feb. 1801; Chatsworth mss, Duchess of Devonshire diary, 8, 11 Feb. 1801.
  • 3. HMC Fortescue, vii. 6; Glenbervie Diaries, i. 340; Malmesbury Diaries, iv. 241, 270.
  • 4. Hervey mss, Liverpool to Bristol, 30 Sept. 1804.