TEMPLE NUGENT BRYDGES CHANDOS GRENVILLE, Richard Plantagenet, Earl Temple (1797-1861).

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



1818 - 17 Jan. 1839

Family and Education

b. 11 Feb. 1797, o.s. of Richard Temple Nugent Grenville†, 2nd mq. and 1st duke of Buckingham and Chandos, and Lady Anne Elizabeth Brydges, da. and h. of James Brydges†, 3rd duke of Chandos. educ. Eton 1808; Oriel, Oxf. 1815. m. 13 May 1819, Lady Mary Campbell (div. 19 Jan. 1850), da. of John, 4th earl of Breadalbane [S], 1s. 1da. styled Earl Temple 1813-22, mq. of Chandos 1822-39. GCH 1835; suc. fa. as 2nd duke of Buckingham and Chandos 17 Jan. 1839; KG 11 Apr. 1842. d. 29 July 1861.

Offices Held

Ld. privy seal Sept. 1841-Feb. 1842; PC 3 Sept. 1841.

High steward, Winchester.

Col. Bucks. yeomanry.


Temple, a spoiled only child, became a handsome young man, who combined beguiling charm with an egotism equal to that of his odious father. His uncle Charles Williams Wynn* observed in 1846 that ‘neither of them ... [had] ever been subjected to moral control or education, both ... learning no other lesson but that the world was made for them and that everything and everybody was to give way to their will and caprice’. He had a taste for low company and a shrewd eye for popular issues, but in the first part of this period was more interested in his corps of yeomanry than politics. A philanderer by nature, before his ill-fated marriage in 1819 to a strait-laced, Evangelical Scottish aristocrat, he had had an affair with an unsuitable woman, who ended her days in Bedlam, and fathered an illegitimate daughter, Anna Eliza (d. 1887).1

In his first Parliament he had followed the Whig alarmist and neutral line adopted by his father, head of the Grenvillite rump, but through the influence of his mother, he was hostile to Catholic relief, of which the rest of his senior male relatives were conspicuous supporters. On his unopposed return for Buckinghamshire on the family interest in 1820, one observer reported that he was ‘quite Tory, over and above, ultra royalist, anti-Catholic’.2 He presented petitions from distressed Buckinghamshire agriculturists, 12, 16 May, and on 31 May 1820 (when he was given a fortnight’s leave on urgent private business) acquiesced in the appointment of a select committee of inquiry, though he doubted its usefulness and said he would oppose any attempt to ‘add to the price to be paid by the labouring classes for their corn or bread’.3 Temple, who received £6,000 a year from his father, had moved into the family’s second county home at Wotton, near Aylesbury, after his marriage, but in late October 1820 it was destroyed by fire. He wrote to his great-uncle Thomas Grenville†:

In this world it is our duty to struggle against misfortunes and to bear our losses with firmness and composure; and if I have been able in the least to succeed in this enviable policy, I owe it entirely to the example of my dearest mother ... It is impossible for me ever to repay the kindness, the affection or the generosity of my parents, and though delightful it may be to see poor Wotton rise from its ashes, yet my residence in it would be embittered to the latest moment of my life if I thought that either their comfort or their income were in the least crippled or diminished. The expense ... will be heavy, but I hope that by diminishing my own establishment I shall be able to assist considerably with the savings of my own income.4

These were empty words, for he was already deep in debt. The house was rebuilt over three years and was partly furnished with articles from the house at Gosfield, Essex, which nominally belonged to Temple’s uncle Lord Nugent, Whig Member for Aylesbury, and which Temple occupied in the interim.5

Lord Buckingham, angered by the foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh’s* attack on his uncle Lord Grenville over his part in the 1806 Milan commission, was initially inclined to prevent Temple from attending to divide with the Liverpool ministry against the opposition censure motion on their conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821; but at Grenville’s request he relented and allowed his son to cast a silent vote.6 He was ‘sorry’ that Temple’s ‘feelings’ on the Catholic question made him abstain from the division of 28 Feb., but told his confidant William Fremantle* that he had ‘written to him to say what mine are, but that I leave him free. Nothing can be more considerate or affectionate than his letter. His opposition may prove embarrassing to me and will annoy Lord Grenville’. Temple voted against the second reading of the relief bill, 16 Mar.7 He presented Buckinghamshire agricultural distress petitions, 28 Feb.8 He divided with government against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., and on the army estimates, 11 Apr. He got leave for three weeks on private business, 9 May 1821. His father was rewarded with a dukedom for delivering the formal support of his squad to the ministry in January 1822, and Temple took the courtesy title of marquess of Chandos.9 He voted against more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb., his father having ordered Fremantle, now a member of the board of control, to ‘stick close to him to keep him in the right way’; but on the 29th he angered Buckingham by dividing for gradual relaxation of the salt tax. The Whig Sir James Mackintosh* heard that the duke, who was additionally vexed because he had ‘two or three days before on the first report of Lord Chandos wavering assured Lord Liverpool that he had spoken to his son and would answer for him’, dealt with him ‘so sorely ... that many such interviews it is supposed would make the young lord a Whig’. Buckingham let Liverpool know through Williams Wynn, his representative in the cabinet, that Chandos had given ‘assurances that his support in future shall be steady’; and he went up to vote against abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar.10 He voted against Canning’s bill to relieve Catholic peers, 30 Apr. By May Buckingham was complaining to Fremantle of the ‘insults’ offered to him by ministers, which he said Chandos also felt ‘strongly’; and he sanctioned his son’s vote in the minority of 24 for enhanced protection of domestic corn producers, 8 May. The day before he had presented a Buckinghamshire agriculturists’ petition expressing alarm at the notion of releasing warehoused foreign corn.11 He obeyed his father’s order to vote for the aliens bill, 5 June, divided in defence of the lord advocate’s treatment of the Scottish press, 25 June, and next day said that all grants of public money to his yeomanry had been legitimately spent.12 In late July, conjuring with the notion of getting the king to visit Stowe on his way back from Scotland, he complained to Fremantle that ministers were ‘not very anxious to assist us in ... county patronage’; and he recurred to this two weeks later when observing that Canning was ‘the only person at all calculated to supply the deficiency’ created by Lord Londonderry’s suicide. Fremantle’s nephew Sir Thomas Fremantle*, reporting that Chandos was unlikely to attend a county dinner, commented that ‘if we were farmers and clowns instead of gentlemen we might have a chance of being favoured with his company’.13

He was ‘not to be had’ as a mover of the address in 1823, when he declined Canning’s request, against the advice of his father, who observed that ‘he hates the House of Commons’.14 He did little there in that and the next session, when his only recorded vote was against inquiry into the parliamentary franchise, 20 Feb. 1823. In mid-April Buckingham told Fremantle that ‘Chandos’s conduct makes me very low and unhappy’;15 but on the 25th Chandos defended him in the House against an allegation of abuse of power as a Hampshire magistrate. At the end of the year Buckingham, though disgruntled with ‘the general inattention and indisposition’ of ministers, exhorted Fremantle to intervene with Lord Melville, first lord of the admiralty, on behalf of Captain Jervoise, whose dismissal from his ship for inflicting unduly harsh punishments had enraged his friend Chandos. The duke was anxious to avoid an embarrassing situation:

Chandos ... is warm in his affections and inveterate in his enmities and stands by Jervoise ... with a warmth which one cannot blame however much one may feel the inconvenience of it. Chandos’s determination is unless the admiralty gives Jervoise another ship, or in some way right him, to bring the subject before the House of Commons and this determination I cannot shake.

Chandos was apparently persuaded not to raise the matter in the House, but at the start of the 1824 session Buckingham reported that he

complains of general inattention, of Canning’s never having invited him even to his parliamentary dinners, or speaking to him. He is gone up to London most hostilely inclined, and I regret to say that government cannot count upon his support. I believe that he means to see Lord Liverpool to explain his situation ... Nothing will induce him to vote on any question with opposition, but he means to desire that notes may not be sent to him. Lord Melville might prevent this if he chose, but no one else can.

Chandos was credited with supporting the prayer of a Winchester petition for repeal of the assessed taxes, 22 Mar., but was otherwise inconspicuous.16 Two months later he was being treated with ‘marked and unusual courtesy’ by both Canning and the king’s anti-Catholic brother the duke of York. Buckingham, who was glad of this, noted that Jervoise was ‘no longer the immense object in Chandos’s eye which he was’; but in May York invited him to discuss the case, which made Buckingham apprehensive of his receiving ‘a long No Popery tirade’. Chandos subsequently raised the matter with the duke of Wellington, but to no avail.17 His absence from the division on the opposition call for inquiry into Irish disturbances, 11 May, was ‘accidental’, for he ‘went home at one, being tired’.18 In June 1824 (when Thomas Creevey* saw the deranged victim of Chandos’s youthful fling in Bedlam) there was a week-long ‘junket’ at Stowe to celebrate the christening of his first (and only) son. Lady Williams Wynn, a guest, commented sourly on ‘the perfect frigidity’ of Chandos and his wife, and on his obsession with his yeomanry, who were ‘paraded about and made ... much too prominent throughout the whole gala’.19

Chandos divided silently against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, but vowed to oppose it to the bitter end when presenting a hostile petition from Buckingham, 18 Apr. 1825.20 He voted against the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. In June his father wrote, without his knowledge, to ask Melville to try to procure him a place at the admiralty, being ‘very anxious to bring ... [him] forward ... into public life’, preferably just before the anticipated dissolution, to avoid two elections. Liverpool’s response was encouraging, and Buckingham then informed Chandos of what he had done.21 Before the close of the session he ordered Chandos to tell Canning of his preposterous desire to be made governor-general of India if Lord Amherst was recalled. In September Chandos was employed in the canvassing of directors of the East India Company. As the business dragged on Chandos, who Fremantle believed ‘rules his father’, matched the duke in the intensity of his ‘unmeasured’ anger with ministers, most especially Williams Wynn, for what they regarded as a breach of faith. Buckingham told Fremantle that as Williams Wynn had failed to promote his interests, he felt they would be ‘safer’ in the care of Chandos, who was now ‘turning out what I did not expect he would, a man of business’.22 He was mentioned as a possible candidate for the vacancy for Oxford University in January 1826, but Peel, the home secretary and sitting Member, discounted him as the eldest son of a peer.23 In early February he was sent by Buckingham to order Fremantle to promise not to speak in the House on anything relating to the Indian fiasco. He was satisfied with Fremantle’s reservation of his right to speak on departmental business, but asked him to warn Williams Wynn that if on the 23rd Hume mentioned the subject when moving for information on the Barrackpoor mutiny, he would ‘explain ... the whole of the conduct which his father has pursued’. Fremantle, who saw that the duke and Chandos were absurdly aiming to ‘drive out Wynn and to continue friends with government’, told his nephew that he had ‘cautioned ... [Chandos] against a reply from Canning, who has materials and will not fail to make use of them in exposing their conduct, to their serious injury’. As he expected, Chandos kept quiet.24 He presented a petition for the abolition of slavery, 13 Apr.25 He divided with ministers against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr., but was in the protectionist minority against the corn bill, 11 May, having lamented to his father the lack of a ‘leading agriculturist in the House who can contend with ministers, supported as they are by the manufacturing party’.26 He was Buckingham’s emissary to Fremantle in talks to decide whether the latter could continue to sit on the duke’s interest after his appointment to a household place and to ascertain Buckingham’s ‘situation with government’. Fremantle convinced him that only a direct approach to the king or Liverpool would answer. Buckingham shied from this, but Chandos eventually convinced him that it would not be ‘politic ... at the present moment to quarrel with the government’ and that he should ‘remain quiet’ until either India or Ireland (which he also coveted) fell vacant, when he could ‘demand ... fulfilment of the promise’. At the same time he urged Fremantle, who was assured of his return for Buckingham, to try to extract ‘one word’ of ‘kindness’ from the king.27

At the general election in June 1826 Chandos, many of whose bills from 1820 remained unpaid, reached an agreement with the Whig sitting Member Robert John Smith which was designed to save money on dinners and canvassing; but it collapsed and he spent £2,500 on his unopposed return. His father would not hear of his suggestion of transferring to Buckingham and agreed to pay his current election debts. On the hustings he condemned the government’s proposal to admit bonded corn, declared himself ‘decidedly hostile’ to slavery, but stressed the rights of the planters, denied being ‘a ministerial man’ and, echoing the ‘No Popery’ cries of an intimidating and regimented group of his supporters, ‘gloried’ in having opposed Catholic relief. He preached agricultural protection and resistance to Catholic claims at a series of celebration dinners, prompting Fremantle to wonder if his conduct arose from some ‘malady’ which blinded him to the best long-term county interests of himself and his family; he also marvelled at Buckingham’s ‘submission to it’. In January 1827 he commented that if the fat duke ‘stomachs’ Chandos’s scarcely veiled threats to intervene against his nomination of pro-Catholics for Buckingham at the next election, ‘he had better at once retire and make room for his son’s succession’.28

In February 1827 Buckingham applied to Liverpool through Chandos for the Indian post and received a ‘flat refusal’. Chandos now argued that his father must separate himself from the government, but Fremantle, who believed that Chandos was ‘leading him to his political disgrace’ by trying to ‘get his father abroad and himself ... in possession and command of his influence and property’, persuaded the duke to stay his hand until Chandos had seen Wellington to establish where he stood. Wellington sent ‘general expressions of kindness’ which temporarily mollified Buckingham.29 Chandos presented petitions against further interference with the corn laws, 21, 23 Feb., when he also brought up one from distressed Buckingham lace-makers. Presenting and endorsing two parish petitions against Catholic relief, 2 Mar., he called for ‘a decided negative’ to kill the question; and he wrote what Buckingham, who believed he was deluding himself, called ‘a note of unfeeling joy’ to inform him of the majority against it, 6 Mar.30 He demanded to know why the Catholic Association had been allowed to assume the ‘character of a legislative body’, 6 Apr. On the 2nd he presented more petitions against relaxation of the corn laws before voting against the corn bill.31 He was involved in the early April exchanges between Buckingham and Wellington over the terms on which the Grenvillites had joined the ministry in 1822, and he continued to press his father’s claim to India, which Canning, the new premier, summarily dismissed.32 Later in the month the Fremantles blamed the duke’s vacillation over fulfilment of his engagement to return Sir Thomas for Buckingham in place of the retiring William on Chandos’s pernicious and dominating influence over his father and his wish to secure the seat for an anti-Catholic. William Fremantle thought he was ‘outrageous at being disappointed in getting rid of his father’ and would ‘never forgive those who would not join with him in the attempt’. Chandos did not risk opposing the return of Sir Thomas, but he pointedly stayed away from the formalities; he was one of the borough burgesses required by the duke to resign their gowns.33 Canning’s coalition with the Lansdowne Whigs had convinced Chandos that the king had ‘given way on the Catholic question and that the government are to support the measure’.34 He said as much in the House, 2 May, when he presented an anti-Catholic petition, declared his hostility to the ministry and entreated the country to come forward ‘in a manner so decisive as to drive the question ... for ever from the door of Parliament’. On 7 May he said that ‘the character of an English Whig’ had been ‘disgraced and degraded’ by the coalition. He presented a Chipping Wycombe petition for repeal of the Test Acts, 23 May.35 Buckingham, who directed his other Members to remain neutral for the present ‘and not to sit with Lord Chandos nor appear to belong to his party’, complained to Fremantle that his son had aligned himself with Peel and the Tory opposition ‘without communication with me’, and noted in his diary that he had ‘broke off political connection’ with Chandos, who ‘thinks himself the head of a Protestant party instead of his father’s’. Nugent was horrified by his ‘absurd violence’ on the issue; but Chandos told his wife five years later that ‘there was a time when I thought that political matters could not so materially affect me, but I was called forward by the Catholic question’.36 Buckingham was preparing to leave England for a extended stay in Italy in a bid to save money; but he made light of Chandos’s address to his yeomanry in mid-June, which Fremantle, who warned him of the ‘alarming’ danger of leaving his son to run riot in the county, considered to be ‘of a political character highly objectionable’. In July 1827 Buckingham pledged to the king his own and his Members’ support for the government as ministers of the crown; but Chandos immediately saw Wellington and Peel in what Fremantle construed as an attempt to undermine this. The news of Canning’s death prompted Chandos to ask Fremantle whether the ensuing change ‘might once more give ... [Buckingham] an opening for India’, which Fremantle believed remained ‘Chandos’s only object’.37 As he, his mother and Sir Edward East* began to look into the duke’s financial affairs, he was shocked by the enormity of the debts and the discovery that Buckingham had violated the terms of his marriage settlement by diverting the Chandos estates to himself. (At the instigation of the duchess, this was subsequently rectified by a private Act.) He also found that his paternal inheritance had been tampered with; but he too was in debt, to the extent, as East ascertained, of over £130,000.38 In December 1827 he entertained Wellington and Peel at Wotton and orchestrated a dinner in Buckingham to honour Wellington for his military services. The affair, which offended Chandos’s great-uncles, was ostensibly non-political; but its anti-Catholic undertones were obvious.39

Chandos was offered a place at the admiralty by Wellington when he became prime minister in January 1828, but he declined it, claiming that acceptance would risk ‘a diminution’ of his county influence. At the same time, he pledged his ‘best’ support for the ministry and sought employment for a constituent, one Wyndham, though initially without success.40 He presented Dissenters’ petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 14, 26 Feb., when he voted against that measure, and brought up a dozen more hostile petitions, 17 Mar. He presented and endorsed petitions for reform of the poor laws, 5 Mar., 1 May, and more anti-Catholic petitions, 2, 6, 8 May; he voted against relief, 12 May. That day he brought up a Newport Pagnell agriculturists’ petition against the revised corn duties. On the 14th he stated his ‘decided objection’ to the provision for Canning’s family and condemned Canning’s ‘principles and policy’. Williams Wynn’s brother reckoned that he had ‘lowered himself very much by ... leaving the House lest anybody should answer him’.41 He voted against repeal of the usury laws, 19 June, and ordnance reductions, 4 July, and presented an Olney petition for the abolition of slavery, 10 July 1828. Three weeks later he informed Wellington that he was ready to accept a West Indian governorship if a vacancy occurred. This arose from negotiations with his father over his financial situation. When Chandos threatened to resign his seat unless his allowance was raised to £8,000, Buckingham gave way and agreed to pay his debts.42

In the autumn of 1828 Chandos, who was described by Lady Holland as ‘living with inferiors and always accompanied by a led captain, his bully back’, promoted the formation of the Buckinghamshire Brunswick Club, though he took a moderate tone in his speech as chairman of its dinner, 21 Oct.43 On the recall of the viceroy Lord Anglesey from Ireland in January 1829 he reminded Wellington of his father’s ‘great anxiety to obtain that appointment’; but Buckingham subsequently disclaimed all knowledge of this.44 Wellington’s decision to concede Catholic emancipation enraged Chandos, as he showed in the House, 5 Feb. He made his father’s Pall Mall house a rendezvous for the parliamentary opponents of emancipation and was one of the principal promoters of protest meetings and petitions, which he presented and endorsed by the bushel in February and March; on 16 Feb. he clashed openly with Nugent in the Commons.45 In defiance of his father he organized a meeting of the three hundreds of Buckingham, 21 Feb., when, after giving a public breakfast at Wotton, he went with his guests to Buckingham to declare that ‘though I may not live to see the day ... if this law now passes England will know the period when blood must be shed in defence of her liberties’. His father was furious when he learned of this display, issued a public letter condemning it and told Sir Thomas Fremantle that he must persevere in ‘ceasing to consider my son as speaking my political language or leading my political friends’.46 Chandos divided steadily against emancipation, acting as a minority teller in divisions on 6, 18, 23, 30 Mar. On the 24th he complained that its opponents had not had a fair hearing and was defeated by 218-98 in his bid to prevent a Catholic becoming first lord of the treasury. Yet he was not permanently alienated from the ministry, and once the relief bill had passed the Commons he wrote to Wellington asking to be given ‘official employment’ as soon as possible. Wellington was sympathetic, as was Peel, on whom Chandos also pressed his claims, but nothing could readily be found for him and in May the cabinet ‘rejected immediately’ a suggestion that he be made lord privy seal, as he was ‘not of sufficient calibre’. According to Mrs. Arbuthnot, he was ‘very uneasy’ at the recruitment of the Whigs Lord Rosslyn and James Scarlett* and ‘intimated that he would oppose any further such appointments’. The value of his formal attachment to the government as a means of securing the good will of ‘all the respectable part of the Tory party’ was clear to several ministers; but he could not persuade Peel to make his constituent Wyndham receiver of the new metropolitan police.47 He was at first disposed to decline an invitation from the committee of West India planters and merchants to become their chairman, but after consulting Wellington, who endorsed his view that he might be of service to the government in that capacity, he accepted it. He presided at the committee’s dinner in honour of Wellington, 25 June, and a few days later led a deputation to the premier to explain the West Indians’ concerns.48 In late July, when it was falsely rumoured that he had ‘refused offers or at least repelled advances’ from Wellington, the Ultra leader Sir Richard Vyvyan* considered Chandos to be virtually lost to his faction; and when the king’s Ultra brother the duke of Cumberland sounded him, Chandos ‘told him there was not a word of truth in the report, but let him know ... that he was perfectly well inclined to accept office if offered to him’. In mid-October, however, Cumberland assured Lord Eldon that Chandos was ‘all right, sees things in the true point of view, is ... of opinion that it is impossible for the present government to go on as they are now constituted [and] says that many of the county Members have declared they will not serve under Peel as a leader’.49 William Fremantle thought Chandos, whose ‘great object’ was to ‘get rid of his father and to send him to die at Calcutta’, was ‘fully prepared to take office’, but had ‘assumed the ministry will not take him, unless he can bring unconditionally the whole parliamentary influence of his father with him’; Fremantle doubted that the duke would sanction this ‘without some arrangement for himself’. In late October, shortly before Buckingham returned to England, Chandos, who had recently raised £30,000 by a ‘most ruinous’ annuity, told Fremantle that he was determined to mount a challenge to Nugent at Aylesbury at the next election, that his father intended to ‘claim an engagement from the duke of Wellington’ that he should be made Irish viceroy on the next vacancy and that he himself was to go as governor to Jamaica:

Chandos ... ended by begging me to speak well of him to the king ... he was in constant communication with the duke of Cumberland, which will do him no good. The more I ... know of him, the more I am confirmed in my conviction of his being the most profligate, unprincipled, abandoned public political character that at his age and in his station ever existed.

Fremantle remained sure that Chandos, whose ‘best quality, and the one he most values, is that of hatred and revenge’, would not allow his father to ‘play a friendly game‘ between Nugent and himself.50

Wellington, who visited Chandos at Wotton at the turn of the year and received him in London at the head of a West Indian deputation, 16 Jan. 1830, offered him the mastership of the mint on the 26th. After three days’ thought he turned it down, against the advice of his father (who had been urged by Wellington to persuade him to take it), pleading his ‘unpleasant’ situation in Buckinghamshire ‘from the peculiar difficulties I now have to contend with’. It was thought that infuriated Ultras would have organized a challenge to his necessary re-election, though ‘some people’ surmised that he had turned down the offer because it did not include membership of the cabinet. He and Buckingham pledged support for the ministry.51 Buckingham, who attributed ‘the refusal ... [to] a feeling of anger and a wish not to be bound up with me’, and was set on a line of ‘steady downright support’ of government, warned Sir Thomas Fremantle ‘not to let any quirks or crotchets of his, either in consequence of his own feelings or the instigation of constituents, respecting currency, malt tax, etc., be considered as mine’.52 Chandos did present and endorse a Stony Stratford petition for repeal of the malt and beer duties and currency reform, 17 Feb.; but when bringing up one for repeal of the malt duty, 19 Mar., he said that he had been ‘much gratified’ by ministers’ tax reductions, especially repeal of the beer duty. He expressed to Peel ‘a particular wish’ to be placed on the select committee on the East India Company, and was duly obliged, 9 Feb.53 He voted against the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. On 22 Feb. he got leave to bring in a bill to amend the game laws, which, as he told Sir Thomas Fremantle, was intended to ‘preserve property and protect the gentlemen’.54 The measure met strong opposition and Chandos gave it up for the session on 5 July. He presented and endorsed petitions from West India merchants and planters for reduction of various duties, 23 Feb., 19 Mar., 30 Apr., 14, 21 June. On 18 May he failed to make Peel promise to relieve the West Indian colonies, and on 14 June he was beaten by 102-23 in an attempt to secure a cut in the duties on their produce. He complained that East Indian sugar planters had received preferential treatment and was defeated by 88-36 in a bid to redress the balance, 30 June.55 A ‘lucky’ vacancy occurred in late April to enable ministers to find a job for Wyndham;56 but this did not deter Chandos from voting against the sale of beer bill, 4 May, 21 June. He divided against Jewish emancipation, 17 May. On 9 July 1830 he presented the Glasgow West India body’s petition for protection and compensation for losses inflicted by the recent order-in-council on slavery.

In May 1830 Chandos and Buckingham jointly raised a loan of £35,000 to meet the latter’s needs, in return for which Chandos had the rise in his allowance confirmed and was given a £3,000 annuity from the estate, which he used to borrow £45,000, theoretically to pay off his crippling annuity loans. Yet he remained in deep trouble and, like his father, was now in marital difficulties, having been detected in adultery.57 Buckingham vetoed any interference against Nugent at the 1830 general election, when Chandos, who tried unsuccessfully to upset the Carrington interest at Wendover (to the annoyance of his great-uncles), was returned unopposed but not cheaply for the county. At the nomination he claimed that he had ‘never truckled to power nor struck my colours to any political party whatever’ and denied being ‘opposed to the freedom of slaves’. At subsequent celebration junkets he boasted of his resistance to Catholic emancipation, called for fair protection for the agricultural interest, again paid lip service to the amelioration of slavery and declared that ‘church and king have always been the anxious objects of my support’.58 Ministers listed Chandos, whose father had been made lord steward of the household on the accession of William IV, among their ‘friends’; but his recommendation of his Whig father-in-law Lord Breadalbane for the lord lieutenancy of Perthshire was disregarded.59

He was an absentee from the division on the civil list which brought down the ministry, 15 Nov. 1830. That month he was active at the head of his yeomanry in dealing with ‘Swing’ rioters.60 On 18 Nov. he repudiated Daniel O’Connell’s allegation that some of Buckingham’s Irish tenants had been driven to penury by the tyranny of his local agent and got leave to reintroduce his game bill, slightly modified, which was superseded by the Grey ministry’s subsequent measure. He was named to the select committee on public salary reductions, 9 Dec. On the 13th he presented the West India body’s petition for protection of legally acquired property and deplored ‘unjust’ abolitionist attacks on the planters. He presented an anti-slavery petition from Buckingham, 18 Dec. 1830, and on 14 Feb. 1831 secured information on Jamaican slave manumissions and the sugar trade. That day he demanded to know if it was true that ministers had compromised with O’Connell over his threatened prosecution; he was satisfied with the explanation, 16 Feb. He rallied the West India interest against aspects of the budget and on 21 Feb. was only persuaded by Peel’s personal appeal to withdraw a resolution declaring their right to relief, which some thought would have been carried against ministers. His initial anger with Peel was soothed by the whip William Holmes’s* discreet intervention to get the West India committee to write him a letter of thanks.61 His amendment to reduce the sugar duties, 11 Mar., when he complained of the planters’ great distress, was defeated by 147-49; and he failed to persuade ministers to allow sugar and molasses to be used in brewing and distilling, 22 Mar. In a bid to sidetrack the anticipated ministerial reform scheme, Chandos took up the case of Evesham, where ‘flagrant’ corruption had been exposed by inquiry into the last return. On 16 Dec. 1830 he carried a motion to have the writ suspended until the evidence had been printed. He got leave to introduce a bill to disfranchise the borough and transfer its seats to Birmingham, 18 Feb. 1831, but gave way to ministers’ insistence on his postponing the date for the attendance of witnesses from 28 Feb., the day before the reform plan was to be unveiled, to 7 Mar.62 The measure was rendered nugatory by the government’s reform bill, against the introduction of which Chandos believed Peel should have divided the House.63 On 7 Mar. he alleged that supporters of the ministry were ‘going abroad amongst the people, trying to influence the minds of the lower classes’ and to ‘intimidate Members’ hostile to the scheme. He could not convince Peel that a preferable alternative to opposing the second reading was the submission of an alternative plan which, while it ‘satisfies the moderate reformer and protects the timid politician, will ensure the safety of the country and preserve its tranquillity’.64 He was a teller for the minority when the second reading was carried by one vote, 22 Mar.; and on the 29th he declared his ‘most decided opposition’ to the bill, even though he professed to want ‘a moderate, proper and constitutional reform’ and to like ‘one or two’ features of the measure. He presented petitions for the English and against the Irish bills, 13 Apr., and divided for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election (during which his wife found more strong evidence of his philandering) he promoted an unsuccessful intervention against his uncle at Aylesbury and was himself easily but expensively returned for the county after a four-day contest forced by the disorganized local reformers. Under questioning on the hustings, he claimed again to be ‘a friend to moderate and constitutional reform’, in favour of ‘extending the elective franchise, giving representatives to large and populous places and disfranchising every borough that should be proved to be corrupt’, and professed to desire the abolition of slavery, being ‘equally disposed to do his duty both by blacks and whites’. Ever the populist, he portrayed himself as ‘a country gentleman, determined to support the agricultural and general interests of the country, without hope of profit or emolument from ... government’.65

By now Chandos occupied a prominent position in the opposition hierarchy: he was at the meeting which decided to adopt Joseph Planta’s* Charles Street house as a headquarters, 16 June 1831, and hosted a gathering which set up a managing committee a month later.66 He was a teller for the minority against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and divided for use of the 1831 census to determine the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July, and to postpone consideration of Chippenham’s inclusion in B, 27 July. He objected to the allocation of three county Members to Buckinghamshire, 13 Aug. On the 18th he proposed and carried against government, by the impressive margin of 84 votes, the enfranchisement in the counties of £50 tenants-at-will, whom he described as ‘independent’, after exploiting a procedural blunder by Colonel Waldo Sibthorp, Member for Lincoln, who had tried to make an identical proposal. Ministers, having already resolved to extend the right of borough freeholders to vote in the counties, accepted this reverse, optimistically expecting the Lords to overturn it.67 Chandos was one of the Tories ‘dissatisfied’ with Peel’s decision to give up stubborn resistance to the details of the bill and ‘prepared to go on interminably’.68 He was a teller for the majority against issuing the Liverpool writ, 8 July, voted in the same sense, 5 Sept., divided for the transfer of Alborough to schedule A and failed to have Evesham treated likewise, 14 Sept., and voted against the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept. He provoked a warm debate by demanding an explanation of why the prosecution of O’Connell had not gone ahead, 27 June, protested against the possible disarming of the Irish yeomanry, 18 Aug., and voted to censure the Irish administration for interfering in the Dublin election, 23 Aug. He presented the petition of Northampton electors complaining of the use of barracks to house out-voters in the ministerial interest at the last election, 11 July, but did not pursue the matter. On 22 July he said that ‘some protecting duty’ was necessary to safeguard domestic corn production. He badgered ministers for information on the situation in Belgium, 25 July, 6, 11, 17 Aug. He suggested significant alterations to their game bill, 8 Aug., and later briefed Wellington on how to amend it in the Lords.69 On 30 July he presented the West India merchants and planters’ petition against renewing the Sugar Refinery Act until the House had considered its implications for their interest and continuance of the foreign slave trade. He was reported to have told the abolitionist Thomas Fowell Buxton* that as chairman of the West India committee he would ‘agree to a parliamentary measure for emancipation if a loan or an indemnity to the amount of five million were given to the planters’. Nothing came of this, but he was named to the select committees on the state of the West India interest, 6 Oct., 15 Dec. 1831.70

Chandos, who was included as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster in Lord Ellenborough’s sketch of a putative interim administration to carry moderate reform, sent Wellington information about potential opponents of the reform bill in the Lords ahead of its defeat there.71 In the Commons, 17 Oct. 1831, he urged ministers to offer a reward for the capture of those responsible for burning Nottingham Castle. He was privy to the attempts of the Tory ‘Waverer’ peers to effect a compromise on reform with ministers (he seemed to be ‘satisfied with the concessions of the government’ in late November), and in early December, at an audience of the king ostensibly on the subject of the West Indies, he obtained ‘a sort of authority’ to renew the negotiations. He arranged a meeting between Lords Harrowby and Wharncliffe on the one side, and Grey, Althorp* and Brougham on the other, 10 Dec., but it ended in failure.72 In the House, 12 Dec. 1831, he expressed a wish for conciliation and took a markedly more moderate line than Peel on the revised reform bill; but his assertion that it retained ‘many’ objectionable features convinced ministers that compromise was unattainable.73 In early January 1832 Chandos, who was on the committee of six appointed to set up a club for the anti-reformers, tried unsuccessfully through the king to renew the negotiations in order to prevent a mass creation of peers.74 He voted against going into committee on the reform bill, 20 Jan., and to condemn ministers over the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan. (and again, 12 July). He welcomed their retention of his clause enfranchising tenant farmers, 1 Feb. Confident of success, he moved on 28 Feb. to get rid of the proposed new metropolitan electoral districts, but he was beaten by 316-236.75 He voted against the third reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar. Presenting a West Indian colonists’ petition for reduction of the sugar duties, 7 Mar., he said that some planters were in ‘absolute poverty’; his motion for a reduction of 4s. was beaten by only 148-134. He wanted information on the slave insurrections in Jamaica and elsewhere, 9 Mar. During the crisis of May he was one of the leading Conservative backbenchers who vainly tried to persuade Peel to take office to carry a measure of reform.76 On 24 May he presented and endorsed the West India body’s petition for immediate relief and divided against the government’s temporizing amendment on abolition; he was named to the select committee on this, 30 May. He voted against the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May. He voted for Alexander Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from the House, 27 June, and failed to get a response from ministers on British involvement in the Greek loan, 5, 13 July 1832.

Chandos topped the poll for Buckinghamshire in 1832, 1835 and 1837 and succeeded to the dukedom in 1839. As the self-styled ‘Farmer’s Friend’, he was the leading Protectionist in the Commons in the 1830s. His status earned him a place, as lord privy seal, in Peel’s 1841 cabinet, but he resigned after six months in protest at the premier’s relaxation of the corn laws, and was compensated with the garter. This ended his political career.77 The rest of his life was a sordid saga of personal extravagance, financial catastrophe and sexual scandal, marked by the enforced sale of the contents of Stowe in 1848 and divorce in 1850 after his proven adultery with the wife of a House of Lords clerk. He spent his last years as a pensioner, living in lodgings and hotels on money provided by his son and whatever he could scrounge, and editing and publishing selections from his family’s political correspondence. He died, bankrupt, in the Great Western Hotel, Paddington, in July 1861, having succeeded with his father in squandering a vast fortune and wasting a glittering inheritance in a period of only 34 years. On the death in 1889 of his worthy son Richard, Protectionist Member for Buckingham, 1846-57, and a member of the Derby and Disraeli ministries, 1852 and 1866-7, who managed to stave off complete ruin during his lifetime, the dukedom became extinct. Adverse economic conditions subsequently ensured that the family’s landed inheritance had been alienated by 1921, when Stowe was sold to become a public school.78

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. J. Beckett, Rise and Fall of the Grenvilles, 106, 112-16; R.W. Davis, Political Change and Continuity, 72-73; HP Commons, 1790-1820, v. 350-1.
  • 2. J.J. Sack, The Grenvillites, 201; Fox Jnl. 312; Essex RO, Gunnis mss D/Dgu Z1 C1/1/5; Jackson’s Oxford Jnl. 26 Feb., 18 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. The Times, 17 May 1820.
  • 4. Add. 41859, f. 20.
  • 5. Beckett, 111, 121-2, 137.
  • 6. Bucks. RO, Fremantle mss D/FR/46/11/45; 46/12/36.
  • 7. Ibid. 46/12/34; Add. 58967, f. 138.
  • 8. The Times, 1 Mar. 1821.
  • 9. Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, i. 256.
  • 10. Fremantle mss 46/10/15, 17, 18; Add. 52445, f. 64.
  • 11. Fremantle mss 46/10/32; 46/12/22; The Times, 8 May 1822.
  • 12. Fremantle mss 46/12/77; The Times, 27 June 1822.
  • 13. Fremantle mss 46/10/42, 52, 57.
  • 14. Arbuthnot Corresp. 38; Fremantle mss 46/12/69.
  • 15. Fremantle mss 46/1/80.
  • 16. Ibid. 46/11/88, 91; The Times, 23 Mar. 1824.
  • 17. Fremantle mss 46/11/99; 51/5/21; Wellington mss WP1/797/18; 807/21; 808/19.
  • 18. Buckingham, ii. 74.
  • 19. Creevey’s Life and Times, 198; Bucks. Chron. 19 June 1824; Williams Wynn Corresp. 316-20; Beckett, 145.
  • 20. NLW, Coedymaen mss bdle. 18, Fremantle to Williams Wynn [18 Apr. 1825].
  • 21. NLI, Melville mss, Buckingham to Melville, 19, 23 June, reply, 21 June 1825.
  • 22. Fremantle mss 46/12/55, 64, 67; 138/12/2, 5, 8, 9; Christ Church, Oxf. Phillimore mss, Fremantle to Phillimore, 5 Oct. 1825; Coedymaen mss 950, 957; Add. 40331, f. 243; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 434; Wellington mss WP1/834/13.
  • 23. Add. 40342, f. 307.
  • 24. Fremantle mss 51/8/1; 138/16/18.
  • 25. The Times, 14 Apr. 1826.
  • 26. D. Spring, ‘Lord Chandos and the Farmers’, HLQ, xxxiii (1969-70), 258.
  • 27. Fremantle mss 46/11/133, 135; 46/12/90; 51/8/3; Fremantle to Buckingham, 3 May 1826.
  • 28. Beckett, 111; Sack, 21; Bucks. Chron. 3, 10, 17, 24 June, 19, 26 Aug. 1826; Fremantle mss 138/16/1; 138/18/7; 138/21/1/5.
  • 29. Fremantle mss 46/12/100, 101; 51/8/4; 138/21/1/7, 8; Canning’s Ministry, 15; Wellington mss WP1/883/4.
  • 30. The Times, 22, 24 Feb., 3 Mar. 1827; Fremantle mss 46/11/155; 138/21/1/10.
  • 31. The Times, 3 Apr. 1827.
  • 32. Canning’s Ministry, 64, 69, 76; Wellington mss WP1/887/9; Fremantle mss 51/8/5.
  • 33. Fremantle mss 46/10/47, 48; 49/1/8; 138/21/2/5, 7, 8, 10; 138/28/2.
  • 34. Ibid. 49/1/17.
  • 35. The Times, 24 May 1827.
  • 36. Fremantle mss 46/12/113; 49/1/17; 138/28/3; Add. 52447, f. 76; Sack, 211-12; Spring, 258.
  • 37. Fremantle mss 138/21/2/11-15; Fremantle to Buckingham, 19 June 1827; Add. 40394, f. 128.
  • 38. Beckett, 148-53.
  • 39. Fremantle mss 138/22/2-6, 8; 138/21/2/17, 21-24; Bucks. Chron. 15, 22, 29 Dec. 1827.
  • 40. Wellington mss WP1/914/19; 915/50; 918/6; 920/43; 939/1; Add. 40395, ff. 109, 112, 265, 269, 271.
  • 41. TNA 30/29/9/5/67; NLW ms 2796 D, Sir W. to H. Williams Wynn, 27 May 1828; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 187.
  • 42. Wellington mss WP1/943/18; Beckett, 153; Sack, 22.
  • 43. Wellington mss WP1/955/6; Lady Holland to Son, 88; Fremantle mss 139/2/2-4; Bucks. Chron. 20, 27 Sept., 25 Oct. 1828; Davis, 73; Sack, 212-13.
  • 44. Wellington Despatches, v. 440; Wellington mss WP1/998/13; Fremantle mss 139/10/5, 7.
  • 45. Colchester Diary, iii. 597, 601; Fremantle mss 139/10/14, 17; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 10 Feb.; Dorset RO D/BKL, Bankes jnl. 166 (5 Mar. 1829).
  • 46. Fremantle mss 139/10/14, 36; The Times, 24 Feb. 1829.
  • 47. Wellington mss WP1/1011/14; Ellenborough Diary, ii. 6, 19, 42, 55; Add. 40399, ff. 181, 183, 242, 243, 270, 278; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 287, 290.
  • 48. Wellington mss WP1/1019/10; 1022/16; 1024/26, 32; 1025/26; 1027/19; 1030/35; Windsor and Eton Express, 27 June 1829.
  • 49. Add. 51655, Mackintosh to Lady Holland, 31 July; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 298; Cornw. RO, Vyvyan mss, Vyvyan to Newcastle, 20 July, reply, 15 Aug., Cumberland to Vyvyan, 17 Aug., Knatchbull to same, 26 Aug.; Eldon mss, Cumberland to Eldon, 16 Oct. 1829.
  • 50. Fremantle mss 139/10/47, 49, 54, 55, 64.
  • 51. Arbuthnot Jnl. , ii. 321, 324, 328; Ellenborough Diary, ii. 173, 180, 181, 185; Wellington mss WP1/1065/40; 1085/19; 1019/35, 38; Wellington Despatches, vi. 436-7, 441, 455; Fremantle mss 46/12/118; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 25, 28 Jan., reply, 26 Jan; Add. 51575, Abercromby to Holland, 3 Feb.; 51680, Russell to Lady Holland, 6 Jan.; NLS mss 24770, f. 39; Grey mss, Ellice to Grey [27, 30 Jan., 1 Feb.]; Howick jnl. [1 Feb. 1830].
  • 52. Fremantle mss 139/14/9.
  • 53. Ibid. 139/14/11.
  • 54. Ibid. 139/14/3.
  • 55. Wellington mss WP1/1120/19.
  • 56. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 232; Wellington mss WP1/1110/13.
  • 57. Beckett, 116, 155.
  • 58. Davis, 26, 85; Cent. Kent. Stud. Stanhope mss U1590 C228, Carrington to Lady Stanhope, 10, 11 Aug.; Bucks Gazette, 7, 28 Aug. 1830.
  • 59. Wellington mss WP1/1144/17; 1148/25.
  • 60. Wellington mss WP4/2/2/6, 11; Wellington Despatches, vii. 368; Three Diaries, 25.
  • 61. Arbuthnot Corresp. 143; Croker Pprs. 108; St. Deiniol’s Lib. Glynne-Gladstone mss 197, T. to J. Gladstone, 22 Feb. 1831; Add. 34614, f. 119.
  • 62. Glynne-Gladstone mss 197, T. to J. Gladstone, 19 Feb. 1831.
  • 63. Fremantle mss 139/20/9.
  • 64. Add. 40402, ff. 15, 17; 57420, f. 58.
  • 65. Fremantle mss 139/20/16, 20, 22; Wellington mss WP1/1182/21; 1186/1; Add. 37185, f. 538; Bucks Gazette, 30 Apr., 7, 14 May; The Times, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13 May 1831; Beckett, 116; Davis, 90-91; Sack, 21, 26; M. Brock, Great Reform Act, 196.
  • 66. Three Diaries, 93, 97, 108.
  • 67. Brock, 228; Holland House Diaries, p. xxxii; Three Diaries, 119-20.
  • 68. Peel Letters, 134; Add. 40320, f. 183.
  • 69. Wellington mss WP1/1198/9.
  • 70. Holland House Diaries, 55-56.
  • 71. Three Diaries, 147, 151; Wellington mss WP1/1198/1.
  • 72. Brock, 260; Grey-William IV Corresp. ii. 14-15, 21-24; Three Diaries, 160, 162-3; Holland House Diaries, 92; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii, 437-8; Croker Pprs. ii. 140; Wellington Despatches, vii. 124-5; Fremantle mss 46/12/20; 130/5/7, 8.
  • 73. Grey-William IV Corresp. ii. 25, 28; Croker Pprs. ii. 141; Holland House Diaries, 97; NLW ms 2797 D, Sir W. to H. Williams Wynn, 18 Dec. 1831.
  • 74. NLI, Farnham mss 18602; Russell Early Corresp. ii. 29-30; Three Diaries, 174; Grey-William IV Corresp. ii. 181; Wellington Despatches, viii. 147
  • 75. Three Diaries, 178; Glynne-Gladstone mss 199, T. to J. Gladstone, 1 Feb. 1832.
  • 76. Three Diaries, 251, 256; Hants RO, Carnarvon ms 75M91/H5/4.
  • 77. Spring, 257-82; Beckett, 192-3.
  • 78. Beckett, 100, 192-267; D. and E. Spring, ‘Fall of Grenvilles’, HLQ, xxix (1955-6), 165-90.