Philip Wharton, 1st Duke of Wharton

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The Duke of Wharton, by Rosalba Carriera, 1718-20. Philip, Duke of Wharton.png
The Duke of Wharton, by Rosalba Carriera, 1718-20.

Philip Wharton, 1st Duke of Wharton (21 December 1698 – 31 May 1731) was a powerful Jacobite politician, was one of the few people in English history, and the first since the 15th century, to have been raised to a Dukedom whilst still a minor and not closely related to the monarch.

Jacobitism political ideology

Jacobitism was the name of the political movement in Great Britain and Ireland that aimed to restore the House of Stuart to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The movement was named after Jacobus, the Latin form of James.

A duke (male) or duchess (female) can either be a monarch ruling over a duchy or a member of royalty or nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch. The title comes from French duc, itself from the Latin dux, 'leader', a term used in republican Rome to refer to a military commander without an official rank, and later coming to mean the leading military commander of a province.

In law, a minor is a person under a certain age, usually the age of majority, which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood. The age of majority depends upon jurisdiction and application, but it is generally 18. Minor may also be used in contexts that are unconnected to the overall age of majority. For example, the drinking age in the United States is usually 21, and younger people are sometimes called minors in the context of alcohol law, even if they are at least 18. The term underage often refers to those under the age of majority, but it may also refer to persons under a certain age limit, such as the drinking age, smoking age, age of consent, marriageable age, driving age, voting age, etc. Such age limits are often different from the age of majority.

Contents

Youth

He was the son of Thomas "Honest Tom" Wharton, the Whig partisan, and his second wife Lucy Loftus. When Thomas died in 1715, Philip, then 16 years old, succeeded him as 2nd Marquess of Wharton and 2nd Marquess of Malmesbury in the Peerage of Great Britain and 2nd Marquess of Catherlough in the Peerage of Ireland. Just a month after he inherited his titles, he eloped with Martha Holmes, the daughter of Major-General Richard Holmes. Wharton did not get control of his father's extensive estate, for it was put in the care of Philip's mother and Thomas's Whig party friends.

Thomas Wharton, 1st Marquess of Wharton English politician

Thomas Wharton, 1st Marquess of Wharton PC was an English nobleman and politician. A man of great charm and political ability, he was also notorious for his debauched lifestyle.

The Peerage of Great Britain comprises all extant peerages created in the Kingdom of Great Britain after the Acts of Union 1707 but before the Acts of Union 1800. It replaced the Peerage of England and the Peerage of Scotland, until it was itself replaced by the Peerage of the United Kingdom in 1801.

The Peerage of Ireland consists of those titles of nobility created by the English monarchs in their capacity as Lord or King of Ireland, or later by monarchs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The creation of such titles came to an end in the 19th century. The ranks of the Irish peerage are Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount and Baron. As of 2016, there were 135 titles in the Peerage of Ireland extant: two dukedoms, ten marquessates, 43 earldoms, 28 viscountcies, and 52 baronies. The Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland continues to exercise jurisdiction over the Peerage of Ireland, including those peers whose titles derive from places located in what is now the Republic of Ireland. Article 40.2 of the Irish Constitution forbids the state conferring titles of nobility and a citizen may not accept titles of nobility or honour except with the prior approval of the Government. As stated above, this issue does not arise in respect of the Peerage of Ireland, as no creations of titles in it have been made since the Constitution came into force.

Thereafter, young Wharton began to travel. He had been raised with an excellent education and prepared for a life as a public speaker, and Wharton was eloquent and witty. He travelled to France and Switzerland with a severe Calvinist tutor whose authority he resented. He met with James Francis Edward Stuart, the "Old Pretender" and son of James II, sometimes known in Europe as the rightful James III, or Prince James, the Prince of Wales (James Francis Edward Stuart; "The Old Pretender" or "The Old Chevalier"; 10 June 1688 – an orphan in 1701, aged 13–1 January 1766) who created him Jacobite Duke of Northumberland in 1716.

Switzerland federal republic in Central Europe

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a country situated in western, central, and southern Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, and the city of Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The sovereign state is a federal republic bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million people is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global cities and economic centres Zürich and Geneva.

Calvinism Protestant branch of Christianity

Calvinism is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians.

James Francis Edward Stuart British prince

James Francis Edward Stuart, nicknamed The Old Pretender, was the son of King James II and VII of England, Scotland and Ireland, and his second wife, Mary of Modena. He was Prince of Wales from July 1688 until, just months after his birth, his Catholic father was deposed and exiled in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. James II's Protestant elder daughter, Mary II, and her husband, William III, became co-monarchs and the Bill of Rights 1689 and Act of Settlement 1701 excluded Catholics from the English then, subsequently, British throne.

Wharton then went to Ireland where, at the age of 18, he entered the Irish House of Lords as Marquess Catherlough. When he was 19 years old he was created Duke of Wharton in 1718 by George I in the King's effort to solidify his support. In 1719, Wharton's wife gave birth to a son named Thomas, but the baby died in a smallpox epidemic the next year. From that point on, Wharton had little to do with his wife.

Irish House of Lords

The Irish House of Lords was the upper house of the Parliament of Ireland that existed from medieval times until 1800. It was modelled on the House of Lords of England, with members of the Peerage of Ireland sitting in the Irish Lords, just as members of the Peerage of England did at Westminster. When the Act of Union 1800 abolished the Irish parliament, a subset of Irish peers sat in the House of Lords of the merged Parliament of the United Kingdom.

George I of Great Britain King of Great Britain, Elector of Hanover

George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698 until his death in 1727.

Smallpox eradicated viral disease

Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by one of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in October 1977 and the World Health Organization (WHO) certified the global eradication of the disease in 1980. The risk of death following contracting the disease was about 30%, with higher rates among babies. Often those who survived had extensive scarring of their skin and some were left blind.

Political life

The Duke of Wharton. DukeOfWharton.jpg
The Duke of Wharton.

Wharton turned Jacobite when travelling in 1716, or at least nominally Jacobite. He began signing his name "Philip James Wharton" to indicate his allegiance. Because he was a powerful speaker, an elegant writer, a wealthy (initially) peer, and a man with a title, the new Hanoverians always sought to gain him as an ally, while the old Jacobites were, at least initially, zealous to keep him on their side.

Even before his losses in the South Sea Bubble stock market crash of 1720, Wharton collected debts. He was so indebted that he sold his Irish estates and used that money to invest in South Sea Company stock. When the Bubble burst, he lost the staggering sum of £120,000 (in an era when a middle class salary in London might be £200 a year). In response, he hired musicians and a hearse and held a public funeral for the South Sea Company.

South Sea Company British joint-stock company founded in 1711

The South Sea Company was a British joint-stock company founded in 1711, created as a public-private partnership to consolidate and reduce the cost of national debt. The company was also granted a monopoly to trade with South America and nearby islands, hence its name. When the company was created, Britain was involved in the War of the Spanish Succession and Spain controlled South America. There was no realistic prospect that trade would take place, and the company never realised any significant profit from its monopoly. Company stock rose greatly in value as it expanded its operations dealing in government debt, peaking in 1720 before collapsing to little above its original flotation price; the economic bubble became known as the South Sea Bubble.

Hearse large funeral vehicle

A hearse is a vehicle used to carry the dead in a coffin/casket. They range from deliberately anonymous vehicles to very formal heavily decorated vehicles.

Wharton began to borrow money from Jacobite bankers and accumulated more debts. In 1719 Wharton is credited with founding the original Hellfire Club. [1] (not related to Dashwood's Hell-fire Club), which primarily performed parodies of religious rites. He became Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England in 1723, and was active in the House of Lords in opposition to Robert Walpole. In 1723, he wrote and spoke in favour of the exoneration of Francis Atterbury, the accused Jacobite bishop, although Atterbury's Jacobitism was superficial. He published The True Briton as a periodical to oppose the rise of Walpole. He was in favour of the Pretender not for religious or nationalist reasons but, he explained, because he was a true Old Whig like his father, whose principles had been betrayed by Walpole and the new non-native royals.

Hellfire Club any of several exclusive clubs for society rakes in 18th-century Britain and Ireland

Hellfire Club was a name for several exclusive clubs for high society rakes established in Britain and Ireland in the 18th century. The name is most commonly used to refer to Sir Francis Dashwood's Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe. Such clubs were rumoured to be the meeting places of "persons of quality" who wished to take part in socially perceived immoral acts, and the members were often involved in politics. Neither the activities nor membership of the club are easy to ascertain. The clubs were rumoured to have distant ties to an elite society known only as The Order of the Second Circle.

Francis Dashwood, 11th Baron le Despencer British politician

Francis Dashwood, 11th Baron le Despencer PC FRS was an English rake and politician, Chancellor of the Exchequer (1762–1763) and founder of the Hellfire Club.

A rite is an established, ceremonial, usually religious, act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:

His substantive change to Jacobitism occurred in 1725, when Wharton joined Earl Orrery in attacking the Court. He made allies among City politicians, which was valuable to the Jacobites as Jacobitism had previously been associated with Scotland and disaffected country squires. The City had been a Whig stronghold and any erosion in their support would have powerful consequences. Indeed, although Wharton did not benefit from it, much of this would bear fruit in the emergence of the Patriot Whigs a few years later. At the same time, Wharton was £70,000 in debt.

Debt and decline

Tomb of the Duke of Wharton in Poblet Tomba1 warton duc de.jpg
Tomb of the Duke of Wharton in Poblet

Wharton's debts were impossible for him to overcome. He accepted or sought the position as Jacobite ambassador to the Holy Roman Empire in Vienna in 1725, but the Austrians did not like Wharton, whom they did not consider a satisfactory diplomat. His dissipated lifestyle also offended the more severe Austrians. He then went to Rome, where James gave him the Order of the Garter, which Wharton wore publicly. He moved on to Madrid. Wharton's wife died in 1726, and he married Maria Theresa O'Neill O'Beirne only three months later. Walpole's spies were informed of Wharton's activities and other Jacobites considered him a dangerous person to be near. Additionally, his behaviour was growing more offensive, mainly with drunkenness, but also with inappropriate actions. At the reception for his wedding, he exposed himself to the wedding party (and bride) to show her "what she was to have that night in her Gutts" (cited in Smith). Even Francis Atterbury condemned him.

In 1728, Wharton began to help Nathaniel Mist with Mist's Weekly Journal. He wrote the infamous "Persian Letter" that caused the Walpole ministry to respond violently with arrests and the destruction of the presses. The power of Wharton's name and eloquence was such that Walpole offered Wharton a pardon and forgiveness of his debts if he were to agree to leave off writing. He also wrote, that year, a powerful piece against the "corruption" of Whig causes under Walpole entitled, "Reasons for Leaving his Native Country." Edward Young modelled "Lorenzo" in Night Thoughts on Wharton. Alexander Pope referred to Wharton as "the scorn and wonder of our days" – a man "Too rash for thought, for action too refined" (Epistle to Sir Richard Temple).

Wharton was soon stealing food from acquaintances and seeking money anywhere he could get it. He sold his title back to George I and took a position as a lieutenant colonel in the Jacobite forces in the Spanish army fighting England. He took up arms, therefore, against his native country, and this warranted a charge of treason in 1729. In the siege at Gibraltar in 1727, Wharton sought to prove that he was not a coward, and so he charged at the head of his men and was wounded in the foot. [2]

Before the treason charge, Wharton fitfully attempted a reconciliation with George. He offered to give Walpole's spies intelligence, but they rejected him as of little value, and he returned to Madrid to live on his army pay alone. When he was insulted by a valet, he caned him and was imprisoned briefly before being banished.

In 1730, he renounced James and the Jacobite cause. In advanced stages of alcoholism, he and his wife moved to the Royal Cistercian Abbey of Poblet, in Catalonia, where he died 1 June 1731. His widow returned to London, with the aid of James. When Wharton's will was proved in court in 1736, she was able to live comfortably in society in London. Wharton's titles became extinct on his death, other than Baron Wharton which was inherited by his sister Jane Wharton, 7th Baroness Wharton.

See also

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References

  1. Blackett-Ord p. 44
  2. Smith, Lawrence B. "Wharton, Philip James, duke of Wharton and Jacobite duke of Northumberland (1698–1731)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29171.|access-date= requires |url= (help)(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

Further reading

Masonic offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Montagu
Grand Master of the Premier
Grand Lodge of England

1723
Succeeded by
The Duke of Buccleuch
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Duke of Wharton
1718–1729
Succeeded by
Forfeit
Preceded by
Thomas Wharton
Marquess of Wharton
1715–1729
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Thomas Wharton
Baron Wharton
1715–1729
Succeeded by
Abeyant