Grimston, William Luckyn (DNB00)

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GRIMSTON, WILLIAM LUCKYN, first Viscount Grimston (1683–1756), born in 1683, was the second son of Sir William Luckyn, by Mary, daughter of William Sherrington, and was adopted as heir by his great-uncle, Sir Samuel Grimston [q. v.] On Sir Samuel's death in 1700 William Luckyn succeeded to the Grimston estates, and assumed the surname. In 1710 he was returned as member of parliament for St. Albans, the seat formerly held by Sir Samuel Grimston, and again in 1713 and 1715. On the death of his elder brother Sir Harbottle Luckyn in 1710, the Luckyn baronetcy devolved on him, and on 29 May 1719 he was created a peer of Ireland, with the titles Baron Dunboyne and Viscount Grimston. Grimston is best known by a play which he published in 1705, 'The Lawyer's Fortune, or Love in a Hollow Tree.' This composition, in which occurs the line, 'Let's here repose our wearied limbs till wearied more they be,' was deservedly ridiculed. Swift introduced the author in his verses 'On Poetry, a Rhapsody,' and Pope in his lines on Gorhambury (Sat. ii. 176) calls him 'booby Lord.' Grimston himself, after publishing two editions of the play, one anonymously, withdrew the book from circulation. It was, however, reprinted at Rotterdam in 1728, and again in London in 1736. The story goes that the Duchess of Marlborough, when using her influence to oppose Grimston at an election for St. Albans, was responsible for this last edition, which she distributed broadcast among the electors. The author's name was not printed, but the edition was embellished by a dedication to 'The Right Sensible, the Lord Flame,' a frontispiece showing an ass wearing a coronet, and a head-piece depicting an elephant on a tight-rope. Forty-five years afterwards Johnson related the story to Lord Charlemont. The truth of the anecdote is very doubtful. The Duchess of Marlborough certainly quarrelled with Grimston over the election of 1734, but there was no vacancy at St. Albans in 1736. There is no doubt that the edition of that year was due to somebody's malice. 'Walpole, Baker, Whincop, Nichols, and others, who have wished to set off Grimston's parliamentary and domestic virtues against his literary folly, have urged in his defence that the play was written when he was only thirteen years old, and that its publication was probably due to his parents' vanity. They give as the date of his birth 1692, but he was certainly born in 1683. Grimston died 15 Oct. 1756, aged 73. He married Jane, daughter of James Cooke, citizen of London, and by her, who died 12 March 1765, he was the father of nineteen children. He was succeeded in the title and estates by his second son, James (1711-1773). His grandson, James Walter (1775-1845), was created first Earl of Verulam 24 Nov. 1815.

[Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, v. 188; Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, viii. 221; Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors, ed. Park, v. 263; Baker's Biog. Dram. ii. 302; Whincop's Compleat List of English Dramatic Poets; Swift's Works, ed. 1803, xi. 297 n.; Boswell's Johnson, ed. Birkbeck Hill, iv. 80; Cussans's Hertfordshire, Hundred of Cashio, iii. 248; Members of Parliament; see Notes and Queries, 5th ser. vii. 27, 93, 155, 301.]

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