Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow

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The Baron Thurlow

PC, KC
Edward Thurlow, Baron Thurlow by Sir Thomas Lawrence.jpg
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
Lord High Steward for the trial of:
In office
3 June 1778 7 April 1783
Monarch George III
Prime Minister Lord North
The Marquess of Rockingham
The Earl of Shelburne
Preceded by The Earl Bathurst
Succeeded byIn Commission
In office
23 December 1783 15 June 1792
MonarchGeorge III
Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger
Preceded byIn Commission
Succeeded byIn Commission
Personal details
Born(1731-12-09)9 December 1731
Died12 September 1806(1806-09-12) (aged 74)
NationalityEnglish
Political party Tories

Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow, PC, KC (9 December 1731 – 12 September 1806), was a British lawyer and Tory politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1765 to 1778 when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Thurlow. He served as Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain for fourteen years and under four Prime Ministers.

Privy Council of the United Kingdom Formal body of advisers to the sovereign in the United Kingdom

Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, commonly known as the Privy Council of the United Kingdom or simply the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

Tory A conservative political philosophy

A Tory is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved in the English culture throughout history. The Tory ethos has been summed up with the phrase "God, Queen, and Country". Tories generally advocate monarchism, and were historically of a high church Anglican religious heritage, opposed to the liberalism of the Whig faction.

The House of Commons is the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada and historically was the name of the lower houses of the Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Great Britain, Kingdom of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Southern Ireland. Roughly equivalent bodies in other countries which were once part of the British Empire include the United States House of Representatives, the Australian House of Representatives, the New Zealand House of Representatives, and India's Lok Sabha.

Contents

Early life

Born at Bracon Ash, Norfolk, Thurlow was the eldest son of Reverend Thomas Thurlow. Thomas Thurlow, Bishop of Durham, was his brother. He studied at King's School, Canterbury and at Caius College, Cambridge. [1] However, he was forced to leave Cambridge in 1751 without a degree after coming into conflict with the authorities of the university. He was for some time articled to a solicitor in Lincoln's Inn, but in 1754 he was called to the Bar, Inner Temple. After a slow start, Thurlow eventually established a successful legal practice. He was made a King's Counsel in 1761 and was elected a bencher of the Inner Temple in 1762. [2]

Norfolk County of England

Norfolk is a county in East Anglia in England. It borders Lincolnshire to the northwest, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest, and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea and to the north-west, The Wash. The county town is Norwich. With an area of 2,074 square miles (5,370 km2) and a population of 859,400, Norfolk is a largely rural county with a population density of 401 per square mile. Of the county's population, 40% live in four major built up areas: Norwich (213,000), Great Yarmouth (63,000), King's Lynn (46,000) and Thetford (25,000).

Thomas Thurlow (1737–1791) was an English bishop.

Bishop of Durham Diocesan bishop in the Church of England

The Bishop of Durham is the Anglican bishop responsible for the Diocese of Durham in the Province of York. The diocese is one of the oldest in England and its bishop is a member of the House of Lords. Paul Butler has been the Bishop of Durham since his election was confirmed at York Minster on 20 January 2014. The previous bishop was Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. The bishop is one of two who escort the sovereign at the coronation.

Political career

Lord Chancellor Thurlow Edward Thurlow.jpg
Lord Chancellor Thurlow
In Sin, Death, and the Devil (1792), James Gillray caricatured the political battle between Pitt (Death) and Thurlow (Satan), with Queen Charlotte (Sin) in the middle, protecting Pitt. Sin-Death-and-the-Devil-Gillray.jpeg
In Sin, Death, and the Devil (1792), James Gillray caricatured the political battle between Pitt (Death) and Thurlow (Satan), with Queen Charlotte (Sin) in the middle, protecting Pitt.

Thurlow then turned to politics, and in 1768 he was elected Member of Parliament for Tamworth as a Tory. Two years later, as a recognition of his defence the previous January of the expulsion of John Wilkes he was appointed Solicitor-General in the government of Lord North. [2] He held this post until 1772, when he was promoted to Attorney General. He was to remain in this office for six years, during which period he became known as an ardent opponent of the American colonists' strive for independence. He is noted for his defeat in the case of Woodfall, who was publisher of the Letters of Junius, upon which a verdict of mistrial was entered by Lord Mansfield.

Tamworth (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1997 onwards

Tamworth is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Christopher Pincher, a Conservative.

John Wilkes 18th-century English radical, journalist, and politician

John Wilkes was a British radical, journalist and politician. He was first elected a Member of Parliament in 1757. In the Middlesex election dispute, he fought for the right of his voters—rather than the House of Commons—to determine their representatives. In 1768, angry protests of his supporters were suppressed in the St George's Fields Massacre. In 1771, he was instrumental in obliging the government to concede the right of printers to publish verbatim accounts of parliamentary debates. In 1776, he introduced the first bill for parliamentary reform in the British Parliament.

Solicitor General for England and Wales Law officer of the Crown, deputy of the Attorney General

Her Majesty's Solicitor General for England and Wales, known informally as the Solicitor General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown, and the deputy of the Attorney General, whose duty is to advise the Crown and Cabinet on the law. He or she can exercise the powers of the Attorney General in the Attorney General's absence.

In 1778 Thurlow was admitted to the Privy Council, raised to the peerage as Baron Thurlow, of Ashfield in the County of Suffolk, [3] and appointed Lord Chancellor by Lord North. In this post he notably opposed the economical and constitutional reforms proposed by Edmund Burke and John Dunning. The Tory administration of Lord North fell in March 1782, after twelve years in office. The Whigs under Lord Rockingham came to power, but Thurlow managed to cling on as Lord Chancellor. Rockingham died in July 1782, but Thurlow remained Lord Chancellor also when Lord Shelburne became Prime Minister. The latter government fell in April 1783, when a coalition government under Charles James Fox and Lord North was formed (with the Duke of Portland as titular Prime Minister). Thurlow was not invited to resume the role of Lord Chancellor, and instead the Great Seal was put into commission. He went into opposition and contributed to the downfall of the coalition in December 1783. William Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister and reinstated Thurlow as Lord Chancellor. The relationship between Pitt and Thurlow was always fragile, and Thurlow often relied on his friendship with King George III to be able to remain in office. He opposed a bill for the restoration to the heirs of estates forfeited in the Jacobite rising of 1745. Partly to please the king, he consistently and strongly supported Warren Hastings, and negotiated with the Whigs to ensure his continued power in the event of a change of government. In 1792, when he attacked Pitt's bill to establish a fund to redeem the national debt, he was finally dismissed. [2]

Lord Chancellor Highest-ranking regularly-appointed Great Officer of State of the United Kingdom

The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest ranking among those Great Officers of State which are appointed regularly in the United Kingdom, nominally outranking the Prime Minister. The Lord Chancellor is outranked only by the Lord High Steward, another Great Officer of State, who is appointed only for the day of coronations. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. Prior to the Union there were separate lord chancellors for England and Wales, for Scotland and for Ireland.

Edmund Burke 18th-century Anglo-Irish statesman and political theorist

Edmund Burke was an Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher. Born in Dublin, Burke served as a member of parliament (MP) between 1766 and 1794 in the House of Commons with the Whig Party after moving to London in 1750.

John Dunning, 1st Baron Ashburton British politician

John Dunning, 1st Baron Ashburton, of Spitchwick the parish of Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Devon, was an English lawyer and politician, born in Ashburton in Devon, who served as Solicitor-General from 1768. He was first noticed in English politics when he wrote a notice in 1762 defending the British East India Company merchants against their Dutch rivals. He was a member of parliament from 1768 onward. His career in the House of Commons is best known for his motion in 1780 that "the influence of the crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished". He was created Baron Ashburton in 1782.

Personal life

Thurlow had a number of illegitimate children [4] Two of his daughters, Maria and Catharine, had their portrait painted by George Romney in 1783. Maria, who died in 1816, married Colonel Sir David Cunynghame of Milncraig, 5th Baronet, in 1801, and had several children. [5] Catharine, who died in 1826, married Alexander Fraser, 17th Lord Saltoun, in 1815. [6]

George Romney (painter) 18th-century English painter

George Romney was an English portrait painter. He was the most fashionable artist of his day, painting many leading society figures – including his artistic muse, Emma Hamilton, mistress of Lord Nelson.

The Cunynghame Baronetcy, of Milncraig in the County of Ayr, is a title in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia. It was created on 3 February 1702 for the Scottish lawyer and politician David Cunynghame, with remainder to his "'heirs male in perpetuum'". He was the member of a family that claimed descent from the second son of Alexander Cunningham, 1st Earl of Glencairn. The second and fourth Baronets both represented Linlithgowshire in the British House of Commons while the third Baronet was a Lieutenant-General in the British Army. Another member of the family to gain distinction was Sir Arthur Augustus Thurlow Cunynghame, fifth son of the fifth Baronet. He was a General in the British Army.

Alexander Fraser, 17th Lord Saltoun British Army general

Lieutenant-General Alexander George Fraser, 17th Lord SaltounKStG KMT, was a Scottish representative peer and a British Army general who fought in the Napoleonic Wars and the First Opium War.

Later life

As a way of compensation, Thurlow was given a second peerage as Baron Thurlow, of Thurlow in the County of Suffolk, with remainder to his three nephews and their heirs male. [7] He was never to hold office again and retired into private life. However, in 1797 he intrigued for the formation of a government from which Pitt and Fox should be excluded, and in which the Earl of Moira should be Prime Minister and himself Lord Chancellor. [2] Despite the tacit support of the Prince of Wales the enterprise failed. His last recorded appearance in the House of Lords was in 1802. [2]

A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles in a number of countries, and composed of assorted noble ranks.

Francis Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings Governor-General of India

Francis Edward Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings, KG, PC, styled The Honourable Francis Rawdon from birth until 1762, as The Lord Rawdon between 1762 and 1783, and known as The Earl of Moira between 1793 and 1816, was an Anglo-Irish British politician and military officer who served as Governor-General of India from 1813 to 1823. He had also served with British forces for years during the American Revolutionary War and in 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars. He took the additional surname "Hastings" in 1790 in compliance with the will of his maternal uncle, Francis Hastings, 10th Earl of Huntingdon.

George IV of the United Kingdom King of the United Kingdom and Hanover

George IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and King of Hanover following the death of his father, King George III, on 29 January 1820, until his own death ten years later. From 1811 until his accession, he served as regent during his father's final mental illness.

Maria and Catherine, daughters of Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow (George Romney, 1783) Maria and Catherine, daughters of Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow, by George Romney.jpg
Maria and Catherine, daughters of Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow (George Romney, 1783)

Lord Thurlow never married, but left three natural daughters. He died at Brighton on 12 September 1806, aged 76, and was buried in the Temple Church. [2] The barony of 1778 became extinct on his death, while he was succeeded in the barony of 1792 according to the special remainder by his nephew Edward, who was the eldest son of the first baron's brother, Right Reverend Thomas Thurlow, Bishop of Durham.

Thurlow appears as a character in Alan Bennett's play The Madness of George III and the subsequent film adaptation, in which he was played by John Wood.

Notes

  1. "Thurlow, Edward (THRW748E)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Renton 1911.
  3. "No. 11880". The London Gazette . 2 June 1778. p. 1.
  4. Quarterly. The Society. 1953. p. 415.
  5. Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003. Volume 1, page 1000.
  6. Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003. Volume 3, page 3512.
  7. "No. 13424". The London Gazette . 9 June 1792. p. 396.

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References

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Hon. Thomas Villiers
Viscount Villiers
Member of Parliament for Tamworth
1765–1778
With: Hon. Thomas Villiers to March 1768
William de Grey March–November 1768
Charles Vernon 1768–74
Thomas de Grey from 1774
Succeeded by
Thomas de Grey
Anthony Chamier
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Dunning
Solicitor General for England and Wales
1770–1771
Succeeded by
Alexander Wedderburn
Preceded by
William de Grey
Attorney General for England and Wales
1771–1778
Succeeded by
Alexander Wedderburn
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl Bathurst
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
1778–1783
In commission
Title next held by
Himself
Preceded by
In Commission
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
1783–1792
In commission
Title next held by
The Lord Loughborough
Preceded by
The Earl of Northington
Teller of the Exchequer
1786–1806
Succeeded by
Hon. William Eden
Preceded by
Lord High Steward
1788–1792
Succeeded by
The Lord Loughborough
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Thurlow (of Thurlow)
1792–1806
Succeeded by
Edward Hovell-Thurlow
Baron Thurlow (of Ashfield)
1778–1806
Extinct