LAMB, Hon. William (1779-1848), of Brocket Hall, nr. Hatfield, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



31 Jan. 1806 - 1806
1807 - 1812
16 Apr. 1816 - Nov. 1819
29 Nov. 1819 - 1826
24 Apr. 1827 - 29 Apr. 1827
7 May 1827 - 16 July 1828

Family and Education

b. 15 Mar. 1779, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Peniston Lamb†, 1st Visct. Melbourne [I], and Elizabeth, da. of Sir Ralph Milbanke†, 5th bt., of Halnaby Hall, Yorks.; bro. of Hon. George Lamb* and Hon. Peniston Lamb†. educ. privately by Rev. Thomas Marsham, curate of Hatfield, 1785-8; Eton 1788-96; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1796; by Prof. John Millar at Glasgow 1799-1801; L. Inn 1797, called 1804. m. 3 June 1805, Lady Caroline Ponsonby, da. of Frederick Ponsonby†, 3rd earl of Bessborough [I], 1s. surv. d.v.p. 1da. d.v.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Visct. Melbourne [I] and 2nd Bar. [UK] 22 July 1828. d. 24 Nov. 1848.

Offices Held

Chief sec. to ld. lt. [I] Apr. 1827-June 1828; PC [UK] 30 Apr. 1827 and [I] 16 July 1827; sec. of state for home affairs Nov. 1830-July 1834; first ld. of treasury 16 July-17 Nov. 1834, 18 Apr. 1835-3 Sept. 1841.

Capt. Herts. vol. inf. 1803, maj. 1804.


Lord John Russell recalled that Lamb’s ‘ease of manner and apparent indifference tended to conceal the excellence of his understanding and the warmth of his feelings’.1 A painfully sensitive man, given to gloomy introspection, he adopted for the world a mask of cynical indifference. Despite the miseries of his private life, which, thanks to his unbalanced and promiscuous wife’s recklessness and his own feebleness, were often publicly exposed, he was usually delightful, if quirky company. Greville wrote:

The vast fund of knowledge with which his conversation was always replete ... mixed up with his characteristic peculiarities, gave an extraordinary zest and pungency to his society ... This richness of talk was rendered the more piquant by the quaintness and oddity of his manner, and an ease and naturalness proceeding in no small degree from habits of self-indulgence and freedom ... He was often paradoxical, and often coarse, terse, epigrammatic, acute, droll, with fits of silence and abstraction, from which he would suddenly break out with a violence and vigour which amused those who were accustomed to him, and filled with indescribable astonishment those who were not.2

Lamb had a low estimate of mankind and, though he was one of the best-read and most thoughtful men ever to cut a figure in political life, with a well-stocked mind and formidable memory, he held no strong convictions on politics and religion.3 Always liable to see merit in both sides of an argument and averse to confronting trouble, he could be indecisive in the extreme, though he was not without ambition and showed himself capable, when in office, of energy and determination. By 1820 the essential conservatism of his Whiggism, which had led him to oppose parliamentary reform and support the suspension of habeas corpus, had distanced him irrevocably from the mainstream of the party, though he gave half-hearted support to its opposition to the repressive legislation which followed the Peterloo agitation. Politically he was adrift, reluctant to commit himself to the liberal, Canningite wing of the Tories, who seemed his natural allies.4 In January 1820 he wrote to Lord Fitzwilliam (on whose interest he had sat for Peterborough for three and a half years before his return for Hertfordshire, with the support of local ministerialists, in November 1819) indicating that while he considered Russell’s proposal to give Grampound’s seats to Leeds as ‘the commencement of a reformation of the present system of the representation’, he was ‘not unwilling’ to support it, given ‘the feeling and opinion of the country upon the subject’. His main object, however, was to encourage Fitzwilliam to ascertain from Lord Grey, the Whig leader, with whom Lamb was ‘not much in the habit of communicating’, whether his son-in-law John Lambton’s anticipated motion for a reform bill based on triennial parliaments, a householder franchise and the disfranchisement of nomination boroughs was to be regarded as ‘a party measure’:

It is a distinct declaration on the part of those who profess themselves moderate reformers, that they will be satisfied with nothing cautious and gradual, but that they are determined if they can to adopt at once a large and extensive change ... It has always been my opinion that no circumstances should ever induce an opposition to support measures which they are not convinced they should be able and willing to adopt in administration, and I cannot but think that reasonable men, if they give the matter a fair consideration, must feel themselves inclined at least to pause, before they pledge themselves to so sweeping an alteration of the constitution on the one hand, or expose themselves to the disagreeable alternative of receding from their words and abandoning their own votes, and thus subjecting themselves to all the imputations which are naturally cast upon such conduct.5

Lamb, whose wife, after an interlude of something close to rationality, made an exhibition of herself in the county that month, came forward again at the general election, claiming to have pursued such a course as would ‘secure the public tranquillity’ and at the same time ‘preserve the rights of the people from infringement or diminution’. There was no opposition to his return for what he described to his diplomat brother Frederick as ‘a very pleasant and independent’ seat; but he acknowledged the ever-present threat of ‘an expensive contest’, a particularly forbidding prospect in view of the age and infirmity of his father, an alcoholic wreck. Immediately after his own election he did what he could, which included asking Arbuthnot, the patronage secretary, and the duke of Wellington for ministerial intervention, to assist his brother George, a thoroughgoing Whig, in his unsuccessful bid to retain the Westminster seat which he had won against the radicals at the by-election of 1819.6

Lamb sensed a ‘spirit of violence’ in the new Parliament, as in the country at large, where economic distress had helped to create ‘discontent’. He divided with opposition on the civil list, 3 May, but ‘a bad cold’ kept him away from the division on the same subject, 5 May 1820, when he anticipated nothing more significant than ‘much talk’.7 He voted against government on the issue, 8 May, the additional baron of exchequer in Scotland, 15 May, and the aliens bill, 1 June. On 19 May he presented a Hertfordshire agriculturists’ petition for relief from distress, but declined to comment on the problem, as ‘partial and casual discussions ... only tended to keep up ill feeling and irritation’. He divided against Wilberforce’s compromise resolution on the Queen Caroline affair, 22 June 1820, but privately deplored the ‘shocking scrape’ in which it had landed the country, believing that ‘it ought to have been kept quiet at all hazards and at any expense’.8 When Wilberforce sought his support for his notion of calling county meetings to petition the king and Parliament to ‘put a stop to the whole inquiry’, he replied that it was too late for such a risky step, though he admitted that ‘I am too despairing in matters of this nature, and lean too much to the side of doing nothing, and awaiting the course of events’. Fearing ‘serious popular tumult and insurrection’, but wishing to conceal his alarm from ‘those from whom the danger proceeds’, he argued against ‘an exertion of influence on the part of the property of the country’, which might ‘create in the disaffected an exaggerated notion of the present peril, and of their own strength’.9

Lamb was further aggravated in the autumn of 1820 by Lady Caroline’s flaunting of her latest conquest, the young Scottish doctor hired to treat their only child Augustus, who was mentally retarded beyond redemption. He was also afflicted by a succession of minor ailments as the year drew to a close.10 He thought ‘this whole country is gone out of its wits upon the business of the queen’ and blamed the king and his ministers for unnecessarily persecuting her and Caroline for her intransigence in refusing the offer of an honourable settlement. He told his brother that he would oppose the insertion of her name in the liturgy, the ‘principal’ point at issue;11 but he voted for Hamilton’s motion deploring its omission, 26 Jan. 1821. On 31 Jan., supporting the proposal to go into committee on provision for the queen, he expressed regret that ministers had ‘agitated the country with the most unfortunate and the most useless question that had ever been proposed’, but also attacked Caroline, which earned him a lashing from Henry Brougham. Many other Whigs, according to his sister Emily, Countess Cowper, were ‘very angry’ with him for this speech; but he voted with them in censure of ministers’ conduct, 6 Feb. At the end of the debate on a proposal to restore the queen’s name to the liturgy, 13 Feb., he reiterated his view that she had no legal entitlement and that she should have conceded the question for the sake of harmony, but announced that ‘in deference to the opinion of a large majority of the people’ he would vote for the motion, which he duly did. His sister thought it, as she told Frederick, ‘twaddling and foolish, speaking on one side and voting on the other, splitting hairs ... When you differ with your party about trifles, it is better to hold your tongue’. Lamb, who was worried by the potentially disruptive effects of serious distress among landowners, told Frederick ten days later that

the interest respecting the queen seems to be subsiding quietly, as after all everything which is so very foolish must in time. The Whigs blundered the business in my opinion in this. Whilst the trial was going on, there was undoubtedly a strong, real, vivid public feeling; but after the bill was given up, the feeling that was manufactured was for the most part fictitious, belonging to party and excited by the Whigs themselves. If they had remained quiet and adopted the tone of wishing to tranquillize the country out of doors, I think they would have had a better chance of attacking the ministry within. As it was they did what they always will do when they make a manifest reach at power. They called forth a very strong expression on the part of the House of Commons that however much they might disapprove of the ministers, they dreaded the opposition still more.

Lamb’s attitude did him no good with the king, ordinarily his admirer, though his snubbing of the couple at a Devonshire House rout in the summer was probably inspired principally by tales of Lady Caroline’s ostentatious espousal of the queen’s cause.12

On 24 Jan. 1821 Lamb urged ministers to undertake ‘wise and timely interference’ to preserve the integrity of the liberal government in Naples. He was still ‘frightened out of my wits at anything like movement or disturbance’ there in late February, though he did not vote for Mackintosh’s motion on the subject on the 21st.13 He voted for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. He presented Royston petitions for reform, 26 Feb., and relief from agricultural distress, 3 Apr., and one from county agriculturists to the same effect, 6 Mar.14 He was not particularly well in March, when his sister blamed Lady Caroline’s insistence on his being ‘cupped continually’ for his recurrent lumbago, which made him ‘look fat and white’.15 He voted for repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., but with government against the omission of arrears from the duke of Clarence’s grant, 18 June. At the county meeting called to petition for relief from agricultural distress, 1 Feb. 1822, he objected to the terms of the radical amendment calling for specific tax cuts and reserved his right to exercise his own judgement on the question. He advised agriculturists not to ‘recommit themselves with theorists’ on protection and currency reform and said he would support all retrenchment consistent with public welfare, but contended that distress, which the radicals exaggerated, was the inescapable consequence of the late wars. Criticized for his failure to support Hume’s campaign for economy in the previous session, he pleaded the excuse of his illnesses; but, to the anger of many of his audience, he added that he had no wish to be associated with many of Hume’s motions, as they were ‘brought forward in a tone and spirit of opposition in which he could not participate’.16 He divided with ministers against more extensive tax reductions, 11 Feb., and mitigation of the salt duties, 28 Feb., but was in the minority on the navy five per cents bill, 4 Mar. 1822. He had already given emphatic support to the coercive legislation to deal with Irish disturbances, 8 Feb., when he spoke of his ‘confidence’ in the government in both countries. Although he did not absolve them from blame for the current problems of Ireland, he argued that many of them were beyond their control and called on the Irish gentry to put their own house in order. The Tory Henry Bankes* thought Lamb’s was ‘among the speeches which deserved particular commendation’.17 He refused to support inquiry into the disorder at the queen’s funeral, 28 Feb., insisting that there were ‘evil-minded persons in this country who aimed to disturb the peace’ and that unless breaches of the law in the capital were discountenanced by Members, ‘they would sooner or later find that the consequences would be violence and bloodshed’. Mackintosh noted, 19 Feb., that Lamb ‘has now openly left us’ and ‘says that as soon as Tierney resigned the [Commons] leadership [in 1821] he considered himself as free from all party engagements. It is better that he should be an open enemy than a pretended friend’.18 George Agar Ellis* and Charles Baring Wall* considered trying to ‘engage’ Lamb in their projected ‘new party’, but nothing came of this.19 Lamb’s denial of the right of the likes of Denman and Hobhouse to set themselves up as champions of ‘the people of England’, which Mackintosh considered ‘a most insolent and malignant attack on his old friends’,20 earned him a rebuke from Hobhouse, 6 Mar., when he replied that there was a difference between ‘the people’ and ‘a tumultuous rabble’, though he criticized ministers over the route selected for the funeral procession. Lamb, who had been named to the select committee on agricultural distress, 18 Feb., presented a Hoddesden petition for relief, 28 Mar.;21 but he voted, with George, now Member for Dungarvan, in the minority of 25 for the imposition of a fixed duty of 20s. on imported wheat, 9 May. His only other known vote that session was against repeal of the salt duties, 28 June 1822. He was harried and distracted by renewed outbursts of lunacy by Lady Caroline, who was drunk for days on end in the summer. His sister recorded a conversation with him on the subject in October, which showed him to be moving, albeit hesitantly, towards a separation:

He says that he is quite miserable, and does not know what to do about her, that he never has a day’s peace, and that her violence increases so much that he is always afraid of her doing some serious mischief to some of her servants ... He says she is the greatest bore in the world, and that there never was such a temper ... He is a great ass, for having borne her as he has done, but one cannot help feeling for him, just particularly when it appears that he is not blinded about her, and that he really sees her as she is.

Yet a month later Emily told Frederick, whom she had encouraged to stiffen William’s resolve, that she had ‘little or no hope of him’, for he had fallen silent on the matter: ‘I suppose he feels that he has not courage to take any decisive step and is reduced to do what Cobbett advises the farmers to do - grin and bear’.22

There was speculation after Lord Londonderry’s* suicide in August 1822 that a place might be found in government for Lamb, especially if Canning came in. The duke of Buckingham thought he would be ‘a great accession’; but John Croker* was less sure, as he told Peel, the home secretary:

He is a very respectable man and a good grave speaker for once or twice in a session, but non tali auxilio just now; besides his father cannot live many years, perhaps not many months [and] it would therefore be extremely imprudent to embarrass the cabinet with another peer, of which you have already one or two too many. If he would take a privy councillor’s office during his father’s life, I should like ... to see him by your side.23

This ended in smoke, but Lamb, who had initially thought that the anti-Catholics in government would succeed in keeping Canning out, strongly advised his friend John William Ward* to accept Canning’s offer of an under-secretaryship at the foreign office.24 How far Thomas Creevey* was justified in writing in February 1823 that Lamb was ‘in Canning’s confidence’ is not clear. Fifteen years later he was at pains to deny that he had ever been ‘a Canningite or a follower of the Canning party’, as Brougham would have had the world believe:

I was acquainted with Canning, liked him, admired him, agreed with him upon some great questions, in his opposition to parliamentary reform and in his support of the Roman Catholic claims, but never acted with him, nor was in his confidence, nor had any political connection with him until I accepted office in 1827.

Indeed, in the latter year, four months after Canning’s death, Lamb snobbishly told his brother that he had ‘never got rid of’ the ‘tone’ of ‘a clerk’ and that as ‘a schemer’ he ‘had none of the straightforward simplicity which belongs to a great man, although he could at times assume the appearance of it’. Lamb was, however, increasingly intimate with Canning’s close associate William Huskisson*, to whom he was related by marriage, and whom he came to admire as ‘the greatest practical statesman he had known’. His sister’s adulterous relationship with Lord Palmerston* (whose wife she eventually became) may also have had an influence on Lamb’s accelerated gravitation towards the liberal wing of the Liverpool ministry after Canning’s return to the cabinet.25

Lamb attended the county meeting called to petition for reform, 8 Feb. 1823, and was barracked when he declared that he was ‘not prepared to vote for any sudden and extensive changes’, including Russell’s ‘plan of divesting certain boroughs of their franchises, and scattering them over the face of the country’.26 In the House, he objected to Creevey’s attempt to obstruct the supplies, 14 Feb., and voted with government against repeal of the assessed taxes, 18 Mar. On 16 Apr. he opposed repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, deploring French aggression against Spain, but denying that Britain was bound to interfere and urging the House not to be ‘led away by declamation and invective’. When accused by Dr. Lushington of apostasy, he rather lamely replied that it was the Whig party and not himself that had changed. His brother George told Emily that his speech was ‘bad, such milk and water’; she wished he ‘would join one side or the other’. Privately Lamb, who told Frederick that no one in Britain wanted war except ‘some few who have a sort of blind passion for Spain and the more violent democrats who are anxious to see a general struggle in Europe of people against kings’, thought he had done what he could to promote moderation. He considered that Canning had on the whole handled the matter well, though he had perhaps ‘condemned the conduct of France too openly, and expressed his hopes for her failure in a manner not quite consistent with a determination to be truly neutral’.27 He voted against inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., and presented a Hertfordshire agriculturists’ petition for an open trade in beer, 7 May.28 After enjoying the late spring beauties of Brocket for a week, he attended to vote against Scottish reform, 2 June, and inquiries into chancery delays, 5 June, and the currency, 12 June 1823. He presented a petition from Canterbury corporation for repeal of the coal duties, 4 Feb. 1824.29 He voted against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 26 Feb., but was in the minority of 19 against the grant for the propagation of the gospels in the colonies, 12 Mar. When supporting renewal of the Aliens Act, 23 Mar., he countered the arguments of Hobhouse and Mackintosh and asserted that the disturbed state of Europe was the fault not of despotism but of ‘the impracticable designs of that very liberal party, who now lamented over the evils by which the continent was afflicted’. He criticized their ‘violent and indefensible language’, and went on:

Before any attempt was made to stir up ill feeling, and excite insurrection, those who wished to make such an attempt ought to consider, whether they would do more for those persons on whose passions they intended to work, than to give them a dinner, a few toasts, a certain portion of violent speeches, some five or six thousand pounds, and an inefficient vote in that House.

Asserting that in all matters of foreign policy it was necessary to give ‘extended powers’ to the government of the day, he ended by praising Canning, who subsequently confirmed to his wife that ‘Lamb is professedly with me’. It was at about this time, according to Canning, that the king told him that he wished Lamb to be offered a place at the treasury : ‘I stared. William Lamb! Sir, it would surely affront to him to offer it - a lordship of the treasury for a person of his standing and pretensions!’ It turned out that the king really wanted the place for his mistress’s son Lord Francis Conyngham*; but it seems that cautious overtures may have been made to Lamb by Lord Liverpool.30 He voted with ministers on the prosecution of the missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June, and the Irish insurrection bill, 14 June, having been named to the select committee on Irish disturbances, 11 May 1824.

On the address, 3 Feb. 1825, Lamb, provoked by a personal reference to him by Brougham, warned against taking too sanguine a view of the country’s economic prospects and indicated that he would support the bill to suppress the Catholic Association, observing that the cause of emancipation, which he still warmly espoused, was being endangered by ‘the imprudence, if not the violence, of some of its advocates’. He duly welcomed the unlawful societies bill, in what Sir John Nicholl* thought ‘a good speech’, 15 Feb., when Brougham attacked him for ‘extreme inconsistency and want of argument’.31 He voted for Catholic relief, 1 Mar. He divided for the introduction of Onslow’s usury laws amendment bill, 8 Feb., the grant to the duke of Cumberland, 30 May, and the spring guns bill, 21 June. On 17 June 1825 he said that although he had opposed inquiry into Sir Robert Wilson’s* dismissal from the army, he was as anxious as anyone to see him restored to his rank. Charles Williams Wynn*, president of the board of control, worrying about the inadequacies of Lord Amherst as governor-general of India, told Buckingham that he had occasionally thought of Lamb, who had ‘very considerable talents’, as a replacement, not least because he would ‘probably not be sorry to accept any situation which placed him on the other side of the ocean from Lady Caroline’.32

Lamb was indeed largely preoccupied in the spring and summer of 1825 with the problem of effecting a formal separation from his wife, whose behaviour, more outrageous than ever since the death of Byron, her former lover, the previous year, had finally driven him, at the behest of his siblings, to cut the cord.33 Although he was resolute about the end in view, he dithered over the means, and characteristically shied from grappling with the sordid details, absenting himself in Paris at one stage. Emily, who kept him up to the mark, complained that ‘never in my life did I see so irresolute a person: every trifle turns his purpose and makes him waver’. After protracted negotiations, during which Caroline used every trick in her repertoire in an attempt to break Lamb’s resolve, a settlement was reached and she finally submitted to it, taking herself off to Paris in early August. Later that month Lamb went to Melbourne Hall in Derbyshire ‘as happy as possible’, in the words of his sister, though she reflected that the condition of his idiot son, whom he took with him, was bound to be yet another ‘drawback to his comfort’. Lady Caroline wrote Lamb an hysterical letter of abuse from Calais in early September, and by mid-October 1825 she was back in London, on the rampage. Lamb, to Emily’s delight, acted decisively and had her confined under the care of a Dr. Goddard. Eventually she was allowed to live at Brocket or Brighton, with Goddard usually in attendance, and, broken in health and spirit, she began her rapid decline towards death.34

Lamb, aware that his political conduct had cost him the support of most Hertfordshire Whigs, had decided by May 1825 that in view of his father’s state of health he was not prepared to risk the expense of a contest in order to retain his seat, and contemplated buying one for a close borough. Although he thought that the rejection of the Catholic relief bill by the Lords and the strong current of anti-Catholic feeling in the country made it unlikely that there would be a dissolution that year, he informed the Tory marquess of Salisbury, who helped to prop him up in the county, that he did ‘not feel it to be worth my while to maintain my seat at the expense which will be required’, the more so as the terms of his matrimonial separation had imposed a further financial burden on him.35 When an imminent dissolution was expected in September 1825, Lamb announced his intention to give up the county from ‘personal and private considerations’, but accepted an invitation to stand for Hertford, where his brother-in-law Lord Cowper had an interest, and whose independent Member, Nicolson Calvert, had offered for the county in Lamb’s room. He was forced to deny the allegation that he was only standing as a locum for Cowper’s son Lord Fordwich*, who would come of age in 1827.36 His opponent was Thomas Duncombe*, the heir to a valuable Yorkshire estate, and a reckless and debt-ridden gambler with a dubious private life, who had unsuccessfully contested the borough as an independent against Salisbury’s nominee in 1823, and cultivated it ever since. By February 1826 it had become clear that he was ‘quite sure’ of beating Lamb, whose sister was critical of his typical ‘want of energy’ and his ‘doing the thing by halves’, but thought that, however unpleasant the prospect of defeat at such hands, he could not ‘give up now without cutting such a foolish figure’. She was not, however, sorry when Lamb gave it up in April 1826 and announced his withdrawal, recommending in his place Henry Lytton Bulwer*, whose brother Edward*, then fresh from Cambridge, had been the victim of Lady Caroline’s last major flirtation in 1824.37

Lamb approved the government’s emergency measures to deal with the financial crash of 1825-6, which he attributed largely to rash speculation in ‘convertible paper’ currency, but wondered whether it was possible to go on for much longer without ‘depreciation in some mode or other’.38 He was largely inactive in the House in the 1826 session, but he led the resistance to further investigation of the charges against the Welsh judge William Kenrick†, arguing that formal parliamentary condemnation of him would ‘shake the whole system of constitutional law’: his motion to drop the matter was defeated by 81-42, 17 Feb. More significantly, he spoke and voted, ‘from conviction’, against Russell’s reform scheme, 27 Apr., when he said that its advocates had failed to demonstrate ‘what real benefit could be derived from it’ and warned them that although they denied that they wished to create ‘democracy’, they should remember that men ‘did not always want what they got, nor get what they wanted’. William Fremantle* thought ‘Lamb’s was the only good effective speech’; but Emily Cowper took a dim view of it:

All the Whigs are furious with him for his speech ... and I think it is a pity that he should always somehow manage to say the strangest things against the people he has left. However, as far as the speaking went all accounts say it was very good, but Canning said I could not say anything after William Lamb, for I could not have gone so far, and it is a pity that he should always take the unpopular side.39

By now Lamb had, as he told Frederick, ‘made up my mind to have nothing to do with the next Parliament’, and he contemplated leaving England after the elections to ‘travel leisurely and in my manner through France’ in order to spend six weeks with his brother in Spain, returning home by the beginning of September. Emily reported to Frederick in June 1826 that he ‘seems well satisfied to be out of Parliament and looks very cheerful and gay’; but soon afterwards he abandoned the Spanish plan, fearing ‘the heat of travelling at this time’, and talked of making a tour of the Rhine. His sister suspected that his real reason for prevaricating was his reluctance to go abroad while Lady Caroline, unknown to Lord Melbourne, remained in stubborn occupation of Brocket, where Lamb had been ‘monstrous foolish’ enough to let her take root. He appears to have remained in England, and in February 1827, when Lady Caroline had removed to Hastings, he was ‘as amiable as ever and the best company possible’ for Emily at Cowper’s Hertfordshire residence at Panshanger.40

In the early stages of the negotiations of April 1827 which led to the formation of Canning’s ministry, Lamb was widely seen as a potential recruit. To his sister’s irritation, he was not only ‘terribly supine about putting himself forward’, but even went off to Derbyshire at a critical juncture: ‘I think there is nothing so stupid as not to be on the spot. Seeing you puts people in mind of you.’ The negotiations faltered when the moderate Whig Lord Lansdowne, whom Canning wished to be home secretary, insisted that the lord lieutenant of Ireland and his chief secretary should be Catholic. This Canning could not concede, being bound by the king’s scruples on the Catholic question. After several false starts, the king agreed to the appointment of Lamb as Irish secretary until a suitable Protestant could be found or he was removed to the Lords by his father’s death; and Lansdowne acquiesced in the arrangement as an earnest of good faith. There was a possibility at one point that if Lansdowne declined to come in, Lamb would have the home seals; but Lansdowne, who entered the cabinet without portfolio, agreed to take them at a future date, when the anticipated embarrassment of appointing a Protestant viceroy had been got over. Lamb’s return on the Holmes interest for Newport, on ‘very reasonable terms’, had already been arranged, and within a few days of it he was obliged by his acceptance of office to vacate the seat in order to seek re-election. It was initially hoped that the Holmes trustees would have ‘no objection’ to facilitating this, but difficulties evidently arose, and he was brought in instead for Bletchingley, whose owner and Member William Russell had made the seat available to Canning before going abroad, on condition that he could reclaim it if desired on his return home.41

His sister reported that Lamb, who ‘looks more happy and comfortable than I have ever seen him’, was

pleased with his appointment and feels I think comfortable to be fixed in his politics after having been so long no how ... Canning speaks most highly of him [and] told Madame Lieven that he looked upon him not as one, but as the cleverest person going. I am afraid he will find Ireland a hornet’s nest, but he seems very stout-hearted and well satisfied.42

Lamb, who lost no time in making obsequious contact with Lord Wellesley, the lord lieutenant, initially found the pressure of office business and ‘constant attendance in the House’, which ‘loses him his dinner almost every day’, a little overwhelming, but he soon warmed to his task and began to thrive on it.43 When he submitted the Irish miscellaneous estimates which he had inherited, 25 May 1827, he listened to the comments of backbenchers who were willing to accept them as they stood in return for a promise of future economies, but, demonstrating a ready mastery of the techniques of ministerial evasion, gave a vague answer:

No man was more impressed than himself with the necessity of preserving a strict, but at the same time a prudent economy in the public service. He was anxious to make every reduction in these grants that was consistent with humanity and the responsibility which government had in preserving the health of the people.

He did, however, warn Wellesley that the attitude of these Members laid ‘the ground of future difficulty, unless something effectual can be done’, and he recommended a curb on additional expenditure by the institutions which had come in for criticism. He conceded a select committee on Irish grand jury presentments, 6 June, but the following day dismissed Moore’s proposal for the establishment of a small loans fund to assist needy labourers as a ‘dangerous’ precedent and departure from the safer practice of relying on private charity.44 On 28 May he had spoken and voted, with Canning, against the reformers’ plan to transfer Penryn’s seats to Manchester; and he voted for Lord Althorp’s election expenses bill the same day. He was in the government majority on the grant for Canadian canals, 12 June 1827.

On the eve of his departure for Dublin in early July he told Frederick that ‘I have a difficult mission, but somehow or other I feel it in me, as if I shall manage it. I may and probably do deceive myself’. He took Augustus with him, which Emily considered to be ‘madness’; and a month after his arrival he informed his brother:

I find myself well enough here and shall bide it for a short time. The business is not much in itself, but it is enough for me, who have been so long used to do nothing, particularly when added to the necessary dining out, which goes on without intermission. There is a good deal of annoyance with impudent applications, and more to do with gaols, police, hospitals, penitentiaries than suits me, being subjects which I have little or no time for.45

Before leaving for Dublin Lamb had sent a message to the Catholic leader Daniel O’Connell* to the effect that ‘I must for a time be worse than Peel but when we can we will do all the good we can. Beg of him to have confidence, though we cannot do much, or worse men will come’. O’Connell was unimpressed, and although he later conceded that Lamb was ‘perfectly free from guile’ and ‘honourable’, he always felt that he had ‘done nothing’, even though he had it in his power, to break the Orange supremacy.46 In truth, Lamb, who retained his office under Lord Goderich after Canning’s death, achieved little in Ireland, but he ‘gained much credit by his readiness of access and conciliatory manners’, as Sir John Newport* and others were happy to admit.47 He worked hard, set his face against jobbery and attempted to master the great variety of issues which confronted anyone responsible for Ireland.48 Temperamentally better suited to the identification and analysis of problems than to devising solutions, he soon concluded that pending the concession of Catholic emancipation, which he thought could not be pressed ‘in opposition to the wishes of the king’, there was little that could be done beyond keeping order and conciliating Catholic opinion as far as possible. He wrote to Brougham:

As to the Roman Catholics, it is of course better that they should be tranquil and prudent than the contrary, but it is of importance that they should not think that they confer a great obligation upon the government by their tranquillity and forbearance.

He initiated a correspondence with Brougham on the possibility of introducing a general system of education to Ireland, but was discouraged by the ‘very great difficulties’ which emerged as he studied the subject.49

On 18 Nov. 1827 Lamb wrote to Frederick of the general political scene:

There are competent men enough, but the difficulty in governments is putting men together and making them co-operate. I do not see how this is to be done. They have all got into false positions, the duke of Wellington falsest of all. He made a wrong move [in refusing to serve with Canning], and the consequence is that he never can make a right one after. I have no doubt he had every provocation; but a politician should be, as the thirty nine articles define the deity, sine passionibus.50

The following month he was informed that William Russell now wanted to resume his seat, but an opening for him presented itself in county Durham and Lamb was allowed to remain undisturbed at Bletchingley.51 He had known for several weeks that his wife was declining fast, but, though ‘harassed to death with domestic calamity’, felt it would be ‘awkward’ if he left Dublin early in January 1828, when he was confronted with the prospect of the simultaneous parochial meetings planned by the Catholic Association after mass on the 13th. He thought they ought to be prevented and urged Wellesley, who was in London to hand over power to his replacement, Lord Anglesey, to press this course on ministers, arguing that the meetings were ‘the commencement of a system of combined and concerted movement’. His view was not accepted, and he was ordered to do nothing more than monitor the gatherings.52 In the negotiations with Wellington after the collapse of the Goderich ministry (which Lamb believed it had been John Herries’s* intention to bring about from the moment he took office in it), Huskisson insisted on Lamb’s inclusion in the new administration, and the duke accordingly wrote to him, 12 Jan., asking him to stay in his office. Before he received this offer, Lamb commented to Frederick that it was

more than probable that the arrangement will be such as will make my present situation untenable. In politics tone and impression are everything, and whatever may be the real feelings and merits of the duke of Wellington, Peel, Goulburn, etc., they have got such a damned character for intolerance ... in this country, that their accession to the office would encourage the violent Protestants and depress the Roman Catholics to such a degree, as would make it impossible for me to pursue my course in this country or to continue here with credit and the appearance of consistency.

In reply to Wellington’s letter, Lamb asked for time to consult Huskisson and the other Canningites in London. He arrived there on 19 Jan. 1828, after a dreadful sea passage to Holyhead, as he told his mistress, Lady Branden, the estranged wife of the 4th Lord Branden, a worthless clergyman, with whom he had formed an indiscreet, warm and volatile relationship soon after going to Dublin:

When I got down to the water and saw how it blew, I should have liked to return without going on board, but was ashamed. What would Dublin have said of a secretary who was turned back from the edge of the sea by a gale of wind? I had a melancholy journey, believe me. Behind me deep grief, before me death.53

After consultations with Huskisson, Palmerston, Anglesey and others, and interviews with Wellington and Peel, Lamb, whose continuance in Ireland was seen, with Anglesey’s appointment, as a guarantee of ministerial neutrality on the Catholic question, had little hesitation in accepting the offer. He told Frederick:

With respect to the past I could not make out much from any of them. With respect to the future nothing could be more satisfactory or in fact more agreeable to my own opinions than the language and views of Peel and the duke; and under the circumstances in which I stood there was nothing to preclude me from giving them every assistance I could, and if they thought I could serve them best by remaining in my present situation, I was ready to do so, in fact liking it better than any other, except the real efficient places, such as the treasury and the secretaryships of state.54

Lady Caroline died on 26 Jan. 1828. Lamb attended her death bed, and was not quite as unmoved as it appeared to his sister, who reported that he was ‘hurt at the time and rather low next day, but he is now just as usual, and his mind filled with politics’. ‘Nothing but tears and misery here below’, he told Lady Branden, to whom he wrote almost every day, and whom he assured that ‘the six months we have just passed seem to me as if they were the last sunshine which would gleam upon my life’. He was ‘very low and melancholy’ before the funeral, but felt ‘relieved by it’, as ‘it seems as if everything had been done that could be and every duty paid’. Yet two weeks later he told her:

I have had a great blow and have not recovered my spirits. I felt upon that occasion [the funeral] a sort of impossibility of believing that I should never see her countenance or hear her voice again, a sort of sense of desolation, solitude and carelessness about everything, when I forced myself to remember that she was really gone, such as I never experienced before, nor anything like it.

This said, Lamb, who had essentially had a millstone removed from his neck, did not grieve for long; and, politics aside, he had enough to distract him in the importunities of Lady Branden, to whom he wrote, 21 Feb. 1828:

I have received your letter of the 17th. There is no ground whatever for any suspicion, and my feelings are just the same, as when I left Dublin. Is this distinct enough? Is this satisfactory? Will this do? I am still very low. What I have seen haunts me and returns to my recollection upon every occasion.55

In answer to Spring Rice’s question in the House, 15 Feb. 1828, as to whether the government intended to renew the Act to curb the activities of the Catholic Association, Lamb, having consulted Wellington, said that nothing had yet been decided. When, in late March, Anglesey strongly recommended allowing the Act to lapse at the end of the session and relying on the ordinary law and the constabulary to maintain order, Lamb was in complete agreement with him; but on discussing the matter with Wellington, he was

sorry to find ... that his mind was a good deal impressed with the idea of its being necessary to renew the bill ... I stated to him strongly my opinion that the bill could have no other effect than to produce useless and unnecessary exasperation ... He looked staggered and with that air, which he always has, of a man very little accustomed to be differed from or contradicted, and changed the subject.

Lamb forcefully argued the ‘conclusive’ case against renewal to Peel and Huskisson and eventually carried the point.56 On calls for repeal of the Irish Subletting Act, 19 Feb., he agreed that the practice of ‘minutely dividing land’ was one of the fundamental causes of discontent, but he hesitated to legislate to effect sudden changes and called on the resident gentry to exercise moderation. His observation that he was willing to consider any practical modification of the system gave rise to expectations of action, which he was at pains to lower, 21 Mar., when he said that in the last resort he would rather keep the law as it was than abandon its principle. After discussing the problem of general education with Peel, he said on 28 Feb. that as the difficulties in the way of devising such a scheme as would ‘give general satisfaction’ had been ‘greatly augmented’, ministers were not prepared to submit one that session. He did, however, as he had known he must, acquiesce in Spring Rice’s motion for the appointment of a select committee, 11 Mar., though he made it clear that he expected nothing to come of it, while professing his willingness to do everything to promote education which was ‘compatible with the public expenditure, and which will not extinguish private benevolence’.57 Lamb, who voted silently for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., introduced bills dealing with jury laws, the lighting and improvement of towns, the appointment of sheriffs, the larceny laws, linen manufactures and the prevention of malicious damage to property, most of which reached the statute book. On 1 Apr. he argued, like Peel, that it was idle to think that a system of poor laws could be successfully introduced to Ireland and urged Members not to be ‘too sanguine in their plans’ for economic improvement:

When ... a country is distressed, if we wish to alleviate that distress, the only way is to introduce a system of patient perseverance, of rigid economy, of increasing industry. This may be a hard lesson to learn.

He would not commit himself to abolishing the jurisdiction of the Irish ecclesiastical courts, 25 Apr., but thought the subject worthy of ‘a full and solemn inquiry’. His speech of 9 May 1828 in favour of Catholic relief, which, though it would not ‘heal all the wounds or remedy all the evils of Ireland’, would ‘give rise to a general feeling that justice has been done ... [and provide] a ray of light which will illumine the darkest cabin of this country’, was applauded by Croker as ‘a short and fine burst for conciliation and harmony’.58

When the government seemed to be on the verge of breaking up in late March 1828 over Charles Grant’s* disagreement with the rest of the cabinet on the revised corn bill, Lamb, though he thought Huskisson was wrong to offer his resignation in sympathy, did not see how he could remain in office if they and Palmerston and Lord Dudley went out.59 This crisis blew over, but there was no reprieve for Lamb in May, when Huskisson sent his ill-considered letter of resignation to Wellington after finding himself in the minority against throwing the delinquent borough of East Retford into the hundred of Bassetlaw rather than transferring its seats to Birmingham, and the duke, anxious to be rid of him, took it at face value with indecent haste. Lamb, who thought such tinkering with the representative system would only ‘hasten and advance’ general reform, to which he remained hostile, had voted with Peel in the majority; but after talks with Huskisson, Palmerston and Dudley, he saw no alternative but to show solidarity and go out, as he had come in, with them. He dismissed Dudley’s tortured attempts to reconcile staying in with political honour and consistency, and was said to have rejected a personal appeal from the king to remain in his place.60 It is clear he that made a considerable sacrifice of self-interest and inclination by resigning. To Anglesey, whom he successfully persuaded to continue as lord lieutenant, he explained:

Having remained in office in January last with Huskisson, being connected with him by the ties of relationship and feeling that though he erred in the first instance, yet that the duke took too hasty an advantage of that error, and acted towards him both harshly and sharply, I felt myself ... bound to resign with him. At the same time I did not take this course with perfect satisfaction to myself. I feel that the ground of difference is too insignificant and even ridiculous, and that I am depriving myself of the power of doing some good and running the risk of doing some evil by producing an unfavourable impression upon the public mind in Ireland for no sufficient reason. On the other hand, if we had acquiesced in the duke’s conduct without notice or remonstrance and let Huskisson go, how would he hereafter have treated those who remained, if upon any occasion they had differed from or resisted him?

He elaborated the point a few days later:

The real cause of my resignation is that under the circumstances I felt that I could not abandon Huskisson. It has always been a maxim with me, that it is more necessary to stand by one’s friends when they are in the wrong, than when they are in the right; and though I do not say that he is quite in the former predicament, yet to have let him go out, with circumstances by no means clear in his favour and with the additional blow of being deserted by all his personal and political friends, would have been a course to which I could not have reconciled my feelings. At the same time I must say that I never took a step with deeper regret and less satisfaction, but I think I should have felt even more dissatisfied and uneasy, if I had adopted a contrary line of conduct.

Yet Anglesey told Holland that Lamb was ‘probably in some measure influenced [in] his decision’ by the ‘scrape’ which he had got into with Lady Branden. When Wellington made overtures to Lamb two years later, he suggested to him that the sole reason for his resignation had been that entanglement, ‘which made it unpleasant to him to return to Dublin’; but Lamb emphatically and quite justifiably rejected this interpretation of his motives. He was prepared to place ‘the most perfect reliance upon the sincerity’ of Peel and Wellington in their public professions that they had ‘no intention to change the principles upon which the government had been conducted during the last five years and upon which the administration had been formed in January’, though he was worried about ‘the high opinions and strong prejudices of the duke, fostered, as they are said to be, by those who are about him and have his ear, and not opposed by persons of weight and authority, as they have been’; all the more reason, he thought, for Anglesey to stay in office.61 In the House, 9 June 1828, Lamb replied to Hume’s attack on the Irish estimates with the comment that ‘every possible reduction’ had been made. According to Croker, who thought it ‘a great pity’ that he had not been made colonial secretary, for, though he was ‘idle and careless’, he was ‘bold, high-minded and eloquent’, Lamb had taken his seat that night ‘in his old place on Bankes’s bench just vis a vis to the Huskisson seats’.62 On 12 June he defended the generality of the Irish constabulary force against charges of corruption and stressed the importance of its being ‘efficiently kept up’ and adequately funded. He refused to answer Frankland Lewis’s question about the outcome of the Irish revenue board’s recommendations for reductions in the establishment, 23 June. Two days later his old adversary Hobhouse sat next to him at dinner, and reflected that his ‘abrupt breaker of a laugh and attention to his plate and glass do not bespeak him the clever able man that he certainly is’. As William Russell had come out against the government, Lamb had to surrender his seat for Bletchingley in the third week of July 1828; but it scarcely signified, for his father’s long anticipated death on the 22nd sent him to the Lords, where James Abercromby* surmised that he would be ‘more at his ease ... than he was in the Commons’. A month later Creevey noted that ‘never man was so improved as William Lamb, whether from gaining his title, or losing his wife I know not’.63

In May 1828 Lamb, who had developed a taste for flagellation in his sexual relationships, had an action for crim. con. brought against him by Lord Branden. When it came to court the following year, it was thrown out; but it is clear that Lamb had bought Branden off. In 1836, as prime minister, he successfully defended another action brought against him by the hitherto complaisant husband of his current mistress, Mrs. Caroline Norton.64 As a peer, he scaled the political heights. He took office as home secretary in the Grey ministry and soon, as Greville wrote

surprised all those about him by a sudden display of activity and vigour, rapid and diligent transaction of business, for which nobody was prepared, and which will prove a great mortification to Peel and his friends, who were in hopes he would do nothing and let the country be burnt and plundered without interruption.65

Ever the pragmatist, he swallowed the reform bills when he saw that there was no alternative. The story went that when the king sent for him to ask him to form a government on Grey’s resignation in July 1834, he said to his secretary Tom Young that

‘he thought it a damned bore, and he was in many minds what he should do - be minister or no’. Young said, ‘Why, damn it, such a position was never occupied by any Greek or Roman, and, if it lasts two months, it is well worth while to have been prime minister of England’. ‘By God that’s true’, said Melbourne; ‘I’ll go’.66

As the head of two troubled and divided administrations, with the thrust of which he was increasingly out of sympathy, he applied all his arts of cynical passivity to the task of keeping them in power. His greatest achievement perhaps lay in his political education of the young Queen Victoria, who was devoted to him.67

Lamb’s health began to fail from 1842 and, while at times he came close to recovering his old exuberance, he tended frequently to lapse into ‘gloomy silence and reverie’, as Lady Holland put it. After his death, following a series of strokes, at Melbourne Hall in November 1848, Hobhouse commented that ‘his existence had become painful to himself and others, and the continuance of it was not to be desired’.68 By his will, dated 31 Jan. 1843, he disposed of his real estate in accordance with the strict settlement imposed in his father’s will of 1819. Lamb’s original will had not come to light by the time limited administration was granted on the authority of a copy, 19 Mar. 1849, to his executors, Brougham and Edward Ellice*. As the wretched Augustus had died in 1836, Lamb was succeeded in the peerage and estates by his brother Frederick, who had been created Lord Beauvale in 1839, and to whom he left separate instructions making generous financial provision for Lady Branden and Mrs. Norton. Beauvale was not best pleased at the prospect of the scarcely sane Brougham having access to Lamb’s correspondence.69 On Beauvale’s death without issue in 1853 the peerages became extinct, and the estates, including Brocket, were inherited by Emily, now Palmerston’s wife. They passed from her to the Cowpers.

One of Lamb’s obituarists, in a sour piece, wrote disparagingly that his life and career had been shaped by ‘the negative enjoyment, which he vastly prized, of avoiding trouble’, though he conceded that he had ‘many estimable qualities’.70 Guizot characterized him as ‘a judicious epicurean, an agreeable egotist, gay without warmth, and mingling a natural air of authority with a carelessness which he took delight in proclaiming’.71 Like many others, Lady Holland was captivated by his conversation, which was ‘pleasant, rich in matter and full of genius and originality’; and Lord Campbell wrote that

of all the public men I have ever known, Lord Melbourne was approached with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction ... He seemed to have no reserves, and to make everyone his confidant. Yet without any duplicity or deceit he was exceedingly prudent, and to those only whom he knew he could perfectly trust did he say anything that he wished not to be repeated. Then he had singular rectitude of judgement and much vigour in cases of emergency, his courage always rising with the danger ... His great defect was that he had no fixed system of policy. In his heart he was inclined to Conservatism ... He was contented with indolence and luxury, and cared little about the active exercise of power.72

Henry Lytton Bulwer portrayed him in what was perhaps a rather flattering light:

His habits were in appearance those of indolence ... and consequently he was called idle, and for many years of his life decried as idle, by a vast variety of persons who were far less usefully employed than himself. During this time he read more, and thought more, than perhaps any person of his own station and standing ... As a minister ... he had ... many qualities of a first-rate kind ... a temperament cool and courageous; a mind dispassionate and unprejudiced; a manner remarkably good humoured and conciliating; an intellect of a high order, and which had been improved by incessant, though not forced cultivation ... The extent of Lord Melbourne’s acquirements, and the comprehensiveness of his understanding, stood in one sense in his way. They made him so well acquainted with all that could be said on one side or the other of every argument ... that the tendency of his judgement was to underrate distinctions; and to deem differences between opinions less wide and less important than they really were ... This habit of mind, while it gave moderation to his judgement, did not infuse irresolution into his conduct ... He never, after having once adopted a policy, faltered in the execution of it.73

In a thoughtful and objective assessment of Lamb, Greville, who knew him well, but not intimately, wrote:

He was certainly a very singular man ... good-natured, eccentric, and not nice ... He never was really fitted for political life, for he had a great deal too much candour, and was too fastidious to be a good party man ... And still less was he fit to be the leader of a party and the head of a government, for he had neither the strong convictions, nor the eager ambition, nor the firmness and resolution which such a post requires. No position could be more false than the position in which Melbourne was often placed, and no man ever was more perplexed and tormented than he was by it, for he was remarkably sensitive; and most of the latter years of his administration were passed in a state of dissatisfaction with himself and all about him ... He held office with a profound sense of its responsibilities; there never was a minister more conscientious in the distribution of patronage ... He was perfectly disinterested, without nepotism, and without vanity ... His distinctive qualities were strong sound sense, and an innate taste for what was great and good, either in action or sentiment ... But while he pursued truth, as a philosopher, his love of paradox made him often appear a strange mass of contradictions and inconsistency. A sensualist and a sybarite, without much refinement or delicacy, a keen observer of the follies and vices of mankind, taking the world as he found it, and content to extract as much pleasure and diversion as he could from it, he at one time would edify and astonish his hearers with the most exalted sentiments, and at another would terrify and shock them by indications of the lowest morality and worldly feelings, and by thoughts and opinions fraught with the most cold-hearted mockery and sarcasm. His mind seems all his life long, and on almost every subject, to have been vigorous and stirring, but unsettled and unsatisfied ... During his administration his great object seemed to be to keep a rickety concern together, less from political ambition than from his personal feelings for the queen. He abhorred disputes and quarrels of every description, and he was constantly temporising and patching them up ... by all sorts of expedients ... Such weak and unworthy misrule brought his cabinet, his party, and himself into contempt, and it was unquestionably in great measure owing to his want of judgement and firmness that they became so unpopular, and at last fell with so little credit and dignity ... Taking him altogether, he was a very remarkable man in his abilities and his acquirements, in his character and his career, with virtues and vices, faults and merits, curiously intermingled, and producing as eccentric results as society has beheld.74

Lamb once observed that ‘neither man nor woman can be worth anything until they have discovered that they are fools’;75 he was no fool, but he had looked inside himself and been unimpressed by what he found.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


The best biography is P. Ziegler, Melbourne (1976); the 1987 edn. has been used here. L.G. Mitchell, Lord Melbourne (1997) offers an updated version of the psychological study by Lord D. Cecil in The Young Melbourne (1939) and Lord M (1954). See also W.M. Torrens, Mems. Visct. Melbourne (1878), Lord Melbourne’s Pprs. ed. L.C. Sanders (1889) and D. Marshall, Lord Melbourne (1975).

  • 1. Russell, Recollections, 140.
  • 2. Melbourne Pprs. p. vi; Greville Mems. vi. 129-30.
  • 3. C.R. Leslie, Autobiog. Recollections, i. 170.
  • 4. Ziegler, 63-73.
  • 5. Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F49/76.
  • 6. Lady Palmerston Letters, 24, 28; County Chron. 29 Feb.; County Herald, 11 Mar.; Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F49/77; Add. 38458, f. 323; 45550, f. 17; Herts. Archives, Panshanger mss D/ELb F78, W. to F. Lamb, 3 May 1820.
  • 7. Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 3 May 1820.
  • 8. Ibid. F78, W. to F. Lamb, 29 July 1820; Life of Wilberforce, v. 76.
  • 9. Wilberforce Corresp. ii. 433-5.
  • 10. Lady Airlie, Lady Palmerston, i. 60-61, 65-66; Add. 45550, ff. 52, 78.
  • 11. Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 18 Dec. 1820, 9 Jan. 1821.
  • 12. Lady Palmerston Letters, 68, 70, 83; Lady Airlie, i. 84, 91; Add. 45550, f. 110; Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, i. 122.
  • 13. Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 23 Feb. 1821.
  • 14. The Times, 27 Feb., 7 Mar., 4 Apr. 1821.
  • 15. Lady Palmerston Letters, 75; Lady Airlie, i. 88; Add. 45550, f. 105.
  • 16. The Times, 2 Feb.; County Chron. 5 Feb. 1822.
  • 17. Dorset RO, Bankes mss D/BKL, Bankes jnl. 131 (7 Feb. 1822).
  • 18. Add. 52445, f. 50.
  • 19. Northants. RO, Agar Ellis diary, 21 Feb. [1822].
  • 20. Add. 52445, f. 63.
  • 21. The Times, 29 Mar. 1822.
  • 22. Lady Palmerston Letters, 96, 101, 102, 111; Add. 45550, f. 128.
  • 23. Bucks. RO, Fremantle mss, Buckingham to Fremantle, 19 Sept. 1822; NLW, Coedymaen mss 647; Add. 40319, f. 57.
  • 24. Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 16 Aug. 1822; Ward, Llandaff Letters, 362-3.
  • 25. Creevey mss, Creevey to Miss Ord, 21 Feb. 1823; Brougham mss, Melbourne to Mrs. G. Lamb, 24 Dec. 1838; Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 16 Aug. 1822, 3 Dec. 1827; Greville Mems. ii. 45; Ziegler, 84-86; Torrens, i. 182-4.
  • 26. The Times, 10 Feb.; County Herald, 15 Feb. 1823.
  • 27. Lady Palmerston Letters, 123; Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 6, 20, 30 May 1823.
  • 28. The Times, 8 May 1823.
  • 29. Ibid. 5 Feb. 1824.
  • 30. Harewood mss, Canning to wife, 31 Mar., 4 Apr. 1824; Torrens, 187; Ziegler, 85.
  • 31. Merthyr Mawr mss F/2/8; Agar Ellis diary, 15 Feb. [1825].
  • 32. Buckingham, ii. 272.
  • 33. Lady Holland to Son, 28-29, 31; Shelley Diary, ii. 121.
  • 34. Lady Palmerston Letters, 133-44; Lady Airlie, i. 116-19, 121-3; Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 16, 28 May, 23 July 1825; Add. 45548, f. 159; 45550, f. 176; Ziegler, 80-83; H. Blyth, Caro. The Fatal Passion, 209-45.
  • 35. Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 16, 23 May, 23 July 1825.
  • 36. Torrens, i. 207-11; Herts Mercury, 3, 24 Sept., 1 Oct. 1825.
  • 37. Torrens, i. 211-15; Lady Palmerston Letters, 142, 146-8; Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss SC8/79; Herts Mercury, 29 Apr. 1826; Add. 45550, f. 202; 45551, ff. 3, 7.
  • 38. Add. 45548, ff. 161, 163.
  • 39. Buckingham, ii. 300; Lady Airlie, i. 126.
  • 40. Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 13 Apr. 1826; Add. 45551, ff. 39, 43, 45, 47, 77; Lady Airlie, i. 132; Lady Palmerston Letters, 154.
  • 41. Coedymaen mss 193, 196; Add. 45551, f. 93; Canning’s Ministry, 111, 180, 220, 236, 239, 240, 242, 255, 256, 258; Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1318; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 108; Wellington mss WP1/887/48; Lady Palmerston Letters, 164-6; Lincs. AO, Tennyson d’ Eyncourt mss H1/105.
  • 42. Canning’s Ministry, 283, 396; Lady Palmerston Letters, 169.
  • 43. Add. 37305, ff. 97, 100, 103, 111; 45551, ff. 96, 98.
  • 44. The Times, 7, 8 June 1827.
  • 45. Lady Palmerston Letters, 169; Add. 45548, f. 165; 45551, ff. 99, 101, 103.
  • 46. O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1392, 1394-6, 1398, 1413, 1445.
  • 47. Geo. IV Letters, i. 1393; Lady Palmerston Letters, 174; Lady Holland to Son, 70; Add. 51742, Duncannon to Holland, 29 Sept.; 51833, Newport to same, 15 Aug.; Lansdowne mss, Duncannon to Abercromby, 19 Aug. 1827.
  • 48. NLI, Monteagle mss 548, pp. 4-7, 15.
  • 49. Add. 37305, ff. 163, 173; Brougham mss, Lamb to Brougham, 4, 28 Sept., 14 Oct.; PRO NI, Anglesey mss, same to Anglesey, 9 Sept.; Lansdowne mss, same to Lansdowne, 17, 20 Sept.; (3) 34, Holland to Lansdowne, 2 Dec.; Add. 51724, Duncannon to Holland [Oct.]; Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 11 Oct. 1827; Ziegler, 91-95; Torrens, i. 226-80.
  • 50. Panshanger mss F78.
  • 51. Add. 38753, ff. 3, 4; Grimsby Pub. Lib. Tennyson mss, Gregson to Tennyson, 17 Dec.; Lansdowne mss, Lamb to Lansdowne, 24 Dec.; Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 12 Jan. 1828.
  • 52. Melbourne Pprs. 79-80; Torrens, i. 295-6; Add. 37305, ff. 236, 240-3, 246-7, 252, 254, 264.
  • 53. Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1461; Wellington mss WP1/913/21; 918/20; Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 11, 12 Jan.; F40, same to Lady Branden, 18, 21 Jan. 1828.
  • 54. Add. 38754, ff. 162, 182, 200, 219; 40395, f. 86; Huskisson Pprs. 285; Bulwer, Palmerston, i. 215-18; Fitzwilliam mss, Scarlett to Milton [c. 27 Jan.]; Panshanger mss F78, W. to F. Lamb, 28 Jan. 1828.
  • 55. Howard Sisters, 107; Lady Airlie, i. 129; Melbourne Pprs. 80-81; Panshanger mss F40, Lamb to Lady Branden, 27-29 Jan., 4, 18, 21 Feb. 1828.
  • 56. Wellington mss WP1/917/18; 923/13; Mq. of Anglesey, One-Leg, 194; Add. 38755, f. 263; 40396, ff. 90, 109.
  • 57. Add. 40395, ff. 187, 218.
  • 58. Croker Pprs. i. 419.
  • 59. Bulwer, i. 239, 244-5; Anglesey mss, Lamb to Anglesey, 28 Mar. 1828; Ellenborough Diary, i. 112.
  • 60. Bulwer, i. 272, 275; Melbourne Pprs. 117; Arniston Mems. 346; Brougham mss, Melbourne to Brougham, 2 Nov. 1838; Wellington mss WP1/933/13; Add. 38756, f. 171; 40322, f. 249; 40397, ff. 14, 15; 51564, Brougham to Lady Holland, 25 May; 51567, Anglesey to Holland, 28 May 1828.
  • 61. Anglesey mss, Lamb to Anglesey, 27 May, 3 June; Add. 51567, Anglesey to Holland, 7 June 1828; Southampton Univ. Lib. Broadlands mss, Palmerston’s memo. [June 1830].
  • 62. Lonsdale mss, Croker to Lowther, 10 June 1828.
  • 63. Broughton, Recollections, iii. 280; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 5 [?July]; Add. 51574, Abercromby to Holland, 19 Nov. 1828; Creevey’s Life and Times, 280.
  • 64. See Ziegler, 106-10, 226-39.
  • 65. Greville Mems. ii. 75.
  • 66. Ibid. iii. 76.
  • 67. See Ziegler, 127-342; Oxford DNB.
  • 68. Lady Palmerston Letters, 266, 268-9, 302-3; Lady Holland to Son, 203, 205, 226, 230; Greville Mems. vi. 8, 128; Broughton, vi. 226-7.
  • 69. Brougham mss, Melbourne to Brougham, 30 Jan. 1843; PROB 11/2090/209; IR26/1841/175; Greville Mems. vi. 139-40.
  • 70. Gent. Mag. (1849), i. 83-87.
  • 71. CP, viii. 639.
  • 72. Lady Holland to Son, 158; Life of Campbell, ii. 204-5.
  • 73. Bulwer, Priv. Mem. of Melbourne (1848), 2, 28-29.
  • 74. Greville Mems. vi. 129-36.
  • 75. Melbourne Pprs. 91.