Dayrolles, Solomon (DNB00)

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DAYROLLES, SOLOMON (d. 1786), diplomatist, nephew and heir of James Dayrolles, king's resident for some time at Geneva, and from 1717 to 1739 at the Hague, who died on 2 Jan. 1739, was the godson of Lord Chesterfield, the wit and politician, through whose friendship the young official obtained speedy advancement in his profession. He began his diplomatic career under James, first earl of Waldegrave, then ambassador at Vienna, and when that peer was transferred to the same position at Versailles, the active Lord Chesterfield endeavoured to obtain the appointment of secretary to the embassy for his protégé, but in this he was frustrated by superior influence. Dayrolles was sworn as gentleman of the privy chamber to George II on 27 Feb. 1740, and retained his place in the court of George III. With the old king he quickly became a personal favourite, and was duly rewarded for his good qualities by the post of master of the revels (12 April 1744). He was secretary to Lord Chesterfield during that peer's second embassy to the Hague (1745), and when his patron somewhat later in the year entered upon his duties as lord-lieutenant of Ireland, Dayrolles accompanied him in the same capacity, and was nominated by him gentleman usher of the black rod (2 Sept. 1745), a sinecure to which he was entitled, as the donor ingeniously said, by the excessive darkness of his complexion. Through the personal liking of the king, and Chesterfield's credit with Pelham, the place of king's resident at the Hague was bestowed on Dayrolles on 12 May 1747. There he continued for four years, when he was promoted to a similar office at Brussels, a position which he held until August 1757. On his uncle's death in 1739 he inherited considerable wealth, and in that year he purchased from Sir Richard Child, earl of Tilney, the estate of Henley Park, in the parish of Ash, near Guildford, which remained his property until 1785. In March 1786 he died, and in the same year his library was sold. Horace Walpole, with his usual spitefulness, said that Dayrolles had 'always been a led-captain to the dukes of Grafton and Richmond, used to be sent to auctions for them, and to walk in the park with their daughters, and once went dry-nurse to Holland with them.' Whatever Walpole may write, it was through intimacy with Chesterfield that Dayrolles while alive secured his promotion and is remembered after his death. For years they kept up an uninterrupted correspondence, and the communications which he received from Chesterfield were for the first time printed in an unmutilated state under the editorship of Lord Mahon, afterwards known as Lord Stanhope. The originals were bought from the heirs of Dayrolles by Messrs. Bentley, and they passed by purchase to Lord Stanhope in April 1846. Maty was assisted in his 'Life of Chesterfield' by Dayrolles, and it was on a call from him that the dying peer, only half an hour before his decease, remarked, with the ruling passion of formality strong in death, 'Give Dayrolles a chair.' He married, on 4 July 1751, Christabella, daughter of Colonel Peterson of Ireland, who is said to have been 'a lady of accomplished manners and dignified appearance.' She died at George Street, Hanover Square, on 3 Aug. 1791, and as her age was at that time given as fifty-eight she must have been considerably younger than her husband. A literary student, called William Cramp, who was anxious to fix the authorship of the 'Letters of Junius' on Lord Chesterfield, published in 1851 a small pamphlet of 'Facsimile Autograph Letters of Junius, Lord Chesterfield, and Mrs. C. Dayrolles, showing that the wife of Mr. Solomon Dayrolles was the amanuensis employed in copying the Letters of Junius for the printer.' This pamphlet was reviewed by C. W. Dilke in the 'Athenæum,' 22 March 1851 , and the article is reproduced in Dilke's 'Papers of a Critic,' ii. 140-54. Dayrolles had issue one son, Thomas Philip Dayrolles (a captain in the 10th dragoons, who died at Lausanne, having married Mile. H. G. Thomaset, a Swiss lady) and three daughters. Christabella, the eldest, married in 1784 the Hon. Townsend Ventry. Emily married, on 24 Dec. 1786, the Baron de Reidezel, aide-de-camp to the Duke of Würtemberg; and Mary became the wife, on 6 Feb. 1788, of Richard Croft, junior, a banker in Pall Mall. The youngest of these daughters is said to have been the prototype of the vivacious Miss Larolles in Miss Burney's novel of 'Cecilia.' Which, if either of them, was the lady who, according to Walpole, 'eloped to Leonidas Glover's youngest son,' it is now impossible to say. Dayrolles was a member of the Egyptian Club, a body of gentlemen who had visited Egypt, and had returned with a desire that the origin and history of its antiquities should be studied critically. His own official correspondence and that of his uncle, comprised in twenty-one folio volumes, once belonged to Upcott. Dayrolles was a man of benevolent disposition, set off by the stately manners of the old school.

[Chesterfield's Letters (Mahon), vol. i. preface, iii. 68, 97, 112, 198, 300, 429; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 334, v. 663; Manning and Bray's Surrey, iii. 73; WMlpole's Letters (Cunningham), ii. 84, vi. 417; Gent. Mag. 1739, p. 47, 1745, p. 333, 1747, p. 248, 1751, pp. 332, 381, 1786, p. 1146, 1788, p. 178, 1791, p. 780, 1828, pt i. pp. 2, 215-216, 290; Maty's Chesterfield (1777), pp. 53, 174-6, 199, 224, 326, 332; Gray's Works (ed. 1884), ii. 353-4; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. i. 219, 373, 476 (1850), 7th ser. ii. 425 (1886).]

W. P. C.