LENNOX, Lord John George (1793-1873), of 79 South Audley Street, Mdx.
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Education
b. 3 Oct. 1793, 2nd s. of Charles Lennox†, 4th duke of Richmond (d. 1819), and Lady Charlotte Gordon, da. of Alexander, 4th duke of Gordon [S]; bro. of Lord Arthur Lennox* and Lord William Pitt Lennox*. educ. Westminster until 1811. m. 29 June 1818, Louisa Frederica, da. of Hon. John Rodney† of Armsworth, Hants. 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da. (2 d.v.p.). d. 10 Nov. 1873.
Cornet 13 Drag. 1811, 9 Drag. 1812; lt. 9 Drag. 1813; capt. 3 garrison batt. 1815, 9 Drag. 1816; maj. 1817; lt.-col. 1823 (half-pay); lt.-col. 6 Drag. 1830; ret. 1832.
Ld. of bedchamber to Prince Albert 1840-61.
In 1812 Lennox’s great aunt noted of him that ‘he has been very unwisely, in my mind, kept at Westminster school till 18 and ... I suspect there is a great deal to amend in his ideas, which have been allowed to run their own way as a full grown man at school in a metropolis’. He appeared to be ‘handsome [and] pleasant’, but was ‘a little sudden and too tenacious of his opinions for good company, having a horror of being advised or directed’. Recalling his subsequent army career, which was distinguished by service in the Peninsula and at Waterloo, his brother William wrote that ‘George was truly respected and beloved by all his brother officers for his downright honest John Bull manner, his sterling qualities [and] his kindly nature under rather a rough aspect’.1 He was returned for Chichester on the family interest following his eldest brother’s succession as 5th duke of Richmond in 1819, and he was again returned unopposed in 1820 with the Tory minister Huskisson.2
He was an occasional attender who gave general but silent support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry. He presented a Chichester petition in favour of restoring Queen Caroline’s name to the liturgy, 24 Jan.,3 but voted in defence of ministers’ conduct towards her, 6 Feb. 1821. He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. He voted against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., and Hume’s economy and retrenchment motion, 27 June. He divided against parliamentary reform, 9 May, and the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 23 May 1821. His only known opposition vote in this Parliament was for Sir Robert Wilson’s motion complaining of his dismissal from the army, 13 Feb. 1822. He voted against abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 14 Mar. He paired against relieving Catholic peers of their disabilities, 30 Apr. 1822. His placement on the army half-pay list in January 1823 had little apparent effect on his parliamentary attendance. He divided against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., and inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823. He voted against the abolition of flogging in the army, 5 Mar. 1824. He divided for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb., and against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, presenting a hostile petition from Chichester’s archdeacon and clergy, 18 Apr. 1825. On 16 Feb. 1826 he presented two Welsh anti-slavery petitions and one from West Sussex landowners against revision of the corn laws.4 At the general election that summer he was returned for Chichester at the head of the poll, as a friend of the government’s ‘liberal and enlightened’ policies.5
He took a slightly more prominent role in the 1826 Parliament. He presented a Sussex petition against alteration of the corn laws, 8 Feb., and voted accordingly, 2 Apr. 1827. He presented a West Sussex landowners’ petition against the importation of wool, 12 Feb.6 He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. In his first recorded contribution to debate, 2 Apr., he decried as ‘a measure most injurious to the town of Chichester and the western part of Sussex’ the proposal to hold county elections in Lewes. He maintained that ‘no riot or disorder’ had occurred at the last county election, 9 May. He was granted two weeks’ leave for urgent business, having served on an election committee, 3 Apr. 1827. He divided against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He voted with the duke of Wellington’s ministry against reduction of the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the patronage secretary, listed him as being ‘opposed to the principle’ of Catholic emancipation, and he duly divided against it, 6, 18 Mar., paired against it, 27 Mar., and presented numerous hostile petitions. He clashed with his Whig colleague Poyntz over the division of opinion on the subject at Chichester, 9 Mar., and denied that he and Richmond had orchestrated the anti-Catholic petitioning there. He was a minority teller against the bill to disfranchise 40s. freeholders in Ireland, 19 Mar. 1829. His name does not appear in Sir Richard Vyvyan’s* list of Ultra Tories that autumn. On 9 Feb. 1830 he introduced a bill to oblige smugglers sentenced to serve in the navy to maintain their families, rather than having them thrown on the parish; it gained royal assent, 8 Apr. (11 Geo. IV and 1 Gul. IV, c. 10). He voted against the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb. However, he opposed ministers by voting to restrict the grant for the army, 19 Feb., and against the Bathurst and Dundas pensions, 26 Mar. He presented a Chichester petition against the sale of beer bill, 27 Apr., and voted to prohibit on-consumption in beer houses, 21 June. He divided against Jewish emancipation, 17 May 1830. Contrary to speculation that his resumption of an active army career with a regiment in Ireland might cause him to retire from the Commons, he offered again for Chichester at the general election that summer. He pledged support for ‘a very limited degree’ of parliamentary reform, consistent with the security of traditional ruling institutions, the ‘gradual emancipation’ of colonial slaves, reform of the game laws and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, but he betrayed no great disaffection with Wellington’s government; he was returned at the head of the poll.7
The ministry listed Lennox as one of the ‘moderate Ultras’, but it was noted that he ‘always votes with us’. In fact, he voted against them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. About this time Lord George Cavendish Bentinck* praised his ‘firmness, skill and celerity’ in helping to ‘restore peace and good government in the Chichester district’ following the ‘Swing’ riots.8 He was named to the Evesham election committee, 2 Dec., and called for the evidence of bribery and corruption to be presented to the House, 13 Dec., observing that this had made him ‘a reformer to a large extent’. The fact that Richmond, who shared his disappointment at the passage of Catholic emancipation and his concern about agricultural unrest, had joined Lord Grey’s ministry, doubtless also influenced his change of opinion. He declared that if the corruption at Evesham was ‘as extensive as there is reason to believe, the franchise should be ... transferred to some other town’, 16 Dec. 1830. He was granted three weeks’ leave for urgent private business, 11 Feb. 1831, which he apparently used to visit his regiment in Ireland. He returned, as he had promised his brother,9 to praise the government’s ‘efficient’ reform bill, 4 Mar., and expressed the hope that if it was rejected ministers would ‘throw themselves upon the country and manfully appeal to it for support’. He presented a friendly petition from Chichester, 9 Mar., voted for the bill’s second reading, 22 Mar., spoke at the Sussex county meeting convened in its support, 7 Apr.,10 and divided against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. He presented a Chichester petition for repeal of the coal duties, 9 Feb., called for the closure of a military riding establishment near Maidstone, 14 Mar. 1831, but warned next day that repeal of the timber duties would ‘strike a fatal blow to one-fifth of our shipping interest and alienate the affections of our colonists’. At the general election that May he offered for the Sussex seat vacated by the death of Walter Burrell, which Richmond had long wanted him to fill, and the family’s standing in the county and pro-reform stance ensured his unopposed return.11
In May 1831 Lennox, piqued at being overlooked for military promotion, unsuccessfully pressed on Richmond his claim to be appointed an aide-de-camp to the king, pointing out that he had seen service in ‘seven general actions for which medals were given’. He also mentioned that he had voted for the reform candidates at the Dublin election and predicted their comfortable return.12 He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and steadily for most of its details, though he diverged from the government line by voting for the complete disfranchisement of Aldborough, 14 Sept. He gained something of a reputation as a heckler of opponents, and one such incident, 19 July, sparked a furious row with George Bankes over who was more able to vote according to the dictates of his conscience. Next day he expressed support for the sweeping borough disfranchisements proposed for Sussex and stated that his recent extensive canvass there had shown overwhelming support for reform. He opposed giving two Members to Brighton on the ground that its population included many transients, 5 Aug. He informed The Times that he had voted with ministers on their proposed division of counties, 11 Aug.13 He ridiculed Hunt’s claim to represent public opinion in his radical critique of the bill, 30 Aug. He divided for its third reading, 19 Sept., its passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He spoke in favour of a close scrutiny of the pensions list, 19 July. He voted in the minorities to swear in the Dublin election committee, 29 July, and suspend the issue of a new writ, 8 Aug., when he denied that this would impugn the entire electorate. However, he voted to punish only those guilty of bribery and against the motion censuring the Irish administration, 23 Aug. He divided with the minority against issuing the Liverpool election writ, 5 Sept. He expressed sympathy for the plight of labourers thrown out of work as a result of the use of threshing machines, 13 Sept., but confessed himself ‘at a loss ... to point out any effectual way of relieving them’. Writing from Dublin, where he was stationed with his regiment, 25 Nov., he told Richmond that he considered the early reconvening of Parliament to be ‘a great bore’,14 and he was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831. He was in place to vote steadily for its details, and he divided for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832, after being advised by Richmond that it would not be ‘safe’ to miss Parliament for the Lewes assizes.15 He was absent from the division on Ebrington’s motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an unimpaired measure, 10 May, but voted for the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, and against increased county representation for Scotland, 1 June. He voted with government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., paired with them on this issue, 12, 16 July, and voted with them on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. He divided in the minority for printing a petition in favour of the abolition of Irish tithes, 16 Feb. Next day he pledged himself to introduce a bill to enable farmers to receive compensation for riot-damaged threshing machines, as manufacturers did in comparable circumstances. The bill was duly introduced, 1 Mar., and gained royal assent, 1 Aug. (2 and 3 Gul. IV, c. 72). He presented a Sussex petition calling for a rate to be levied to stimulate the employment of labourers, 10 Apr. He was added to the select committee on the renewal of the East India Company’s charter, 23 Feb. On 23 May 1832 he voted for the Liverpool franchise bill and questioned the arbitrary manner in which the Sussex assizes had been moved from Horsham to Lewes. Next day he and his brothers voted for the immediate abolition of slavery, apparently to Richmond’s displeasure.16
At the end of July 1832 Lennox retired from the army, his ambitions for promotion having been disappointed. This may have influenced his decision not to abandon his parliamentary career, as Richmond had earlier thought he might, and he was returned at the general election later that year for the western division of Sussex, which he represented until Richmond’s heir came of age. After 1832 he displayed a greater degree of loyalty to the Liberal governments than did Richmond, which led to occasional friction in their relations.17 He died in November 1873.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Howard Spencer
- 1. Life of Lady Sarah Lennox ed. Lady Ilchester, ii. 256-7; W.P. Lennox, Drafts upon my Memory, i. 109.
- 2. Suss. Advertiser, 13 Mar. 1820.
- 3. The Times, 25 Jan. 1821.
- 4. Ibid. 17 Feb. 1826.
- 5. Brighton Gazette, 8, 15 June 1826.
- 6. The Times, 9, 13 Feb. 1827.
- 7. Chichester Election Procs. 1830, pp. 132-3.
- 8. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland mss PwH 150, Bentinck to Portland, 22 Nov. 1830; E. Hobsbawm and G. Rudé, Captain Swing, (1985), 85.
- 9. W. Suss. RO, Goodwood mss 1433, f. 156.
- 10. The Times, 9 Apr. 1831.
- 11. Goodwood mss 1433, ff. 202, 218.
- 12. Ibid. f. 274.
- 13. The Times, 16 Aug. 1831.
- 14. Goodwood mss 1451, f. 366.
- 15. Ibid. 1457, f. 236.
- 16. Ibid. 1455, f. 543.
- 17. Ibid. 1486, f. 28; D.A. Smith, ‘The Richmond Interest and Party Politics, 1834-41’, Suss. Arch. Colls. cxvii. (1979), 213-15.