Murray, David (1727-1796) (DNB00)

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MURRAY, DAVID, second Earl of Mansfield (1727–1796), diplomatist and statesman, was eldest son of David, sixth viscount Stormont, by Anne, only daughter of John Stewart of Innernylie. Born on 9 Oct. 1727, he was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated 28 May 1744 and graduated B.A. in 1748. In the latter year, by the death of his father, 23 July, he succeeded to the viscounty of Stormont. He entered the diplomatic service, and was attaché at the British embassy, Paris, in 1751, when he contributed to the ‘Epicedia Oxoniensia, in obitum Celsissimi et Desideratissimi Frederici Principis Walliæ’ (Oxford, fol.), an English elegy of more than ordinary merit (cf. English Poems on the Death of his Royal Highness frederick Prince of Wales, Edinburgh, 1751, 12mo).

Accredited envoy extraordinary to the court of Saxony, Stormont arrived at Dresden early in 1756. On the invasion of the electorate by Frederic the Great in the following September, he made of his own initiative a fruitless attempt to mediate between the belli erents. The elector took refuge in his Polish kingdom, and during the rest of the war Stormont resided with the court at Warsaw, where on 16 Aug. 1759 he married Henrietta Frederica, daughter of Henry Count Bunau of the elector’s 'privy council. On 28 April 1761 he was nominated plenipotentiary at the intended congress of Augsburg. On the failure of that project he was recalled to the United Kingdom, was elected a representative peer of Scotland, and on 20 July 1763 was sworn of the privy council. During the next nine years Stormont was envoy extraordinary at the imperial court, where he enjoyed much of the confidence of Maria Theresa and the Emperor Joseph. The death of Lady Stormont in the prime of life, 16 March 1766, weighed so heavily on his mind that, after burying her heart in the family vault at Scone, he sought relief in Italian travel. At Rome, in the spring of 1768, he became intimate with Winckelmann, who calls him (Briefe, ed. Forster, zweiter Band, S. 326) ‘the most learned person of his rank whom I have yet known,’ and praises his unusual accomplishment in Greek. On his return to Vienna the same year he was invested (30 Nov.) with the order of the Thistle. Transferred to the French court in August 1772, he remained at Paris until March 1778, when, hostilities being imminent, he was recalled. The same year he was appointed lord-justice general of Scotland. Notwithstanding his absence from the kingdom, he had retained his seat in the House of Lords at the general elections of 1768 and 17 74, and he was re-elected in 1780, 1784, and 1790. On 27 Oct. 1779 he entered the cabinet as secretary of state for the southern department, but went out of office with Lord North in July 1782. In the debate of 17 Feb. 1783 he severely censured the preliminary articles of peace, and on 2 April following accepted the office of president of the council in the Duke of Portland's coalition ministry. On its dismissal, after the rejection by the House of Lords of Fox's East India bill, 19 Dec. the same year, he attached himself for a time to the whigs, and made himself formidable to the government by his trenchant criticism of Pitt's East India bill, motion for reform, and the Irish commercial propositions (1784-1785). He also took an active part in the debates on the Regency bill (1788). His long and varied diplomatic experience lent weight to his censure of the policy of intervention in the war between Russia and the Porte (1791-2), and to the support which he at once gave to ministers when, in answer to the French declaration of war on 1 Feb. 1793, they declared war against France on 11 Feb. In 1794 he returned to office as president of the council in succession to Lord FitzWilliam. He died at Brighton on 1 Sept. 1796. Stormont had succeeded, 20 March 1793, to the earldom of Mansfield of Caen Wood, Middlesex, on the death of his uncle, William Murray, first earl of Mansfield [q. v.], by whose side he was buried in the North Cross, Westminster Abbey, on 9 Sept, 1796.

Mansfield was an eminently able and honourable diplomatist and statesman, and, though no orator, a ready and powerful speaker. He retained his scholarly tastes to the end. On 3 July 1793 the university of Oxford conferred upon him the degree of D.C.L., and the same year he was made chancellor of Marischal College, Aberdeen. After the death of his first wife, by whom he had issue two daughters only, he married, 5 May 1776, the Hon. Louisa Cathcart, third daughter of Charles, ninth lord Cathcart, by whom he had issue three sons and a daughter. On the death of the first Earl of Mansfield, Lady Stormont became Countess of Mansfield in the county of Nottingham in her own right by reason of the peculiar form of the original patent creating the earldom of Mansfield. She survived Mansfield, and married, secondly, 19 Oct. 1797, her cousin-german, Robert Fulke Greville, third son of Francis, first earl of Warwick; she died on 11 July 1843.

[Alumni Westmonast. ; Foster's Alumni Oxon . ; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Stormont ; Gent. Mag. 1761 p. 504, 1796 p. 795; Horace Walpole's Letters, ed. Cunningham ; Polit. Corresp. Friedrichs des Grossen, Bande xi-xir. and xviii-xix. ; Lord Chesterfield's Letters, ed. Lord Mahon, ii. 81 ; Wraxall's Hist, and Posth. Mem., ed. Wheatley; Parl. Hist. 1778-95; Mrs. Delany's Autobiogr., ed. Lord Llanover, iii. 553 ; Grenville Papers, iii. 373; Add. MSS. 24159, 24162-5; Nicolas's British Knighthood, vol. iii. Chron. List. p. xxx ; Haydn's Book of Dignities, ed. Ockerby ; Chester's Westminster Abbey Registers ; Carlyle's Frederick the Great, passim.]

J. M. R.