Topham Beauclerk

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Topham Beauclerk ( /bˈklɛər/ boh-KLAIR; 22 December 1739 – 11 March 1780) was a celebrated wit and a friend of Dr Johnson and Horace Walpole.

Contents

Life

Topham Beauclerk was born on 22 December 1739, the only son of Lord Sidney Beauclerk and a great-grandson of King Charles II. He was christened on 19 January 1740 in St James's Church, Piccadilly, in Westminster. He attended Trinity College, Oxford.

In 1763 he was in Italy with John Fitzpatrick. In 1774 he lived in Muswell Hill, north London.

On 12 March 1768 he married Diana (1734-1808), former Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte. She was born into the Spencer family as the daughter of Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough and the Honourable Elizabeth Trevor. Diana had married in 1757 as her first husband Frederick St John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke. This marriage, which gave her two sons, was unhappy and her husband was notoriously unfaithful. In February 1768 he petitioned for divorce on grounds of adultery ("criminal conversation"). The petition required an act of parliament, which was passed the next month. Soon thereafter she married Beauclerk.

They had four children together:

Plaque, Great Russel Street.jpg

From 1772-1776 he lived at 3 Adelphi Terrace. [2] Beauclerk died at his house in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury on 11 March 1780. Lady Diana later sold the house to retire in reduced circumstances to Richmond. The house at Great Russell Street, which was partly demolished in 1788, housed a library designed by Robert Adam.

Friendships and anecdotes

Topham Beauclerk entertained Dr Johnson at his home in Old Windsor for a number of weeks. He appears several times in James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson . As Bennet Langton records: "His affection for Topham Beauclerk was so great, that when Beauclerk was labouring under that severe illness which at last occasioned his death, Johnson said (with a voice faultering [ sic ] with emotion), 'Sir, I would walk to the extent of the diameter of the earth to save Beauclerk'." (Boswell 1672).

He was an intimate friend also of Horace Walpole. The artist Joseph Farington records Walpole's description of him:

Lord Orford mentioned many particulars relative to the late Mr. Topham Beauclerc. He said He was the worst tempered man He ever knew. Lady Di passed a most miserable life with him. Lord O, out of regard to her invited them occasionally to pass a few days at Strawberry Hill. They slept in separate beds. Beauclerc was remarkably filthy in his person which generated vermin. He took Laudanum regularly in vast quantities. He seldom rose before one or two o'clock. His principal delight was in disputing on subjects that occurred, this He did accutely. Before He died He asked pardon of Lady Di, for his ill usage of her. He had one son and two daughters by Lady Di. One married Lord Herbert, the second went abroad with her Brother, Lord Bolingbroke [i.e. George St John, 3rd Viscount Bolingbroke].

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References

  1. "BEAUCLERK, Charles George (1774-1845), of South Lodge, St. Leonards, nr. Horsham, Suss. | History of Parliament Online". www.historyofparliamentonline.org. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  2. 'Adelphi Terrace', in Survey of London: Volume 18, St Martin-in-The-Fields II: the Strand, ed. G H Gater and E P Wheeler (London, 1937), pp. 103-108. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol18/pt2/pp103-108 [accessed 16 October 2017].