Monday, 13 December 2010

Francis Seymour-Conway, Marquess of Hertford

In August 1750 he was created Viscount Beauchamp and Earl of Hertford. In 1755, according to Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, "The Earl of Hertford, a man of unblemished morals, but rather too gentle and cautious, to combat so presumptuous a court, was named Ambassador to Paris." However, due to the demands of the French, the journey was suspended.

From 1751 to 1766 he was Lord of the Bedchamber to George II and George III. In 1756 he was made a Knight of the Garter and, in 1757, Lord-Lieutenant and Guardian of the Rolls of the County of Warwick and City of Coventry.

In 1763 he became Privy Councillor and, from October 1763 to June 1765, was a successful ambassador in Paris. In the autumn of 1765 he became Viceroy of Ireland where, as an honest and religious man, he was well-liked.

An anonymous satirist in 1777 described him as "the worst man in His Majesty's dominions", and also emphasised Hertford's greed and selfishness, adding "I cannot find any term for him but avaricious." In his defence 18th century satirists were savage.

In 1782, when she was only fifty-six, his wife, Isabella Fitzroy, daughter of Charles Fitzroy 2nd Duke of Grafton and Lady Henrietta Somerset, died after having nursed their grandson at Forde's Farm, Thames Ditton, where she caught a violent cold. According to Walpole, "Lord Hertford's loss is beyond measure. She was not only the most affectionate wife, but the most useful one, and almost the only person I ever saw that never neglected or put off or forgot anything that was to be done. She was always proper, either in the highest life or in the most domestic." (Walpole visited Forde's Farm on several occasions from his residence at Strawberry Hill, Twickenham). Within two years of the tragedy, Lord Hertford had sold Forde's Farm to Mrs Charlotte Boyle Walsingham and two years later, she had re-developed the estate, building a new mansion which she called Boyle Farm, a name still in use today. 

In July 1793 he was created Earl of Yarmouth and Marquess of Hertford. He enjoyed this elevation for almost a year until his death at the age of seventy-six, on 14 July 1794, at the house of his daughter, the Countess of Lincoln. He died as the result of an infection following a minor injury he received while riding.

He was buried at Arrow, in Warwickshire.

I love this portrait since it reminds me of Nigel Hawthorne playing Sir Humphrey Appleby - this is just the look he would give Jim Hacker!

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