Negus, Francis (DNB00)

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NEGUS, FRANCIS (d. 1732), reputed inventor of negus, is believed to have been connected with the Norfolk family of Negus. From 1685 to 1688 he was secretary to the Duke of Norfolk, and in that capacity made the acquaintance of Elias Ashmole (cf. Ashmole, Diary, 1 April 1685). He served in the French wars under Marlborough, and attained to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the 25th or Suffolk regiment of foot. He was in 1715 appointed joint commissioner, and on 27 June 1717 sole commissioner, for executing the office of master of the horse, which office he held until the death of George I. He was appointed avener and clerk martial to George II on 20 June 1727, and master of his majesty's buckhounds on 19 July in the same year. He represented Ipswich in parliament from 1717 until his death, at his seat at Dallinghoo, Suffolk, on 9 Sept. 1732. His death occasioned a copy of verses in the 'Ipswich Gazette,' commencing 'Is Negus gone? Ah! Ipswich weep and mourn.' Negus was also a ranger of Swinley Chace, lieutenant and deputy warden of Windsor Forest, and one of the commissioners of the lieutenancy of Middlesex and liberty of Westminster.

It is related that on one occasion, when the bottle was passing rather more rapidly than good fellowship seemed to warrant over a hot political discussion, in which a number of prominent whigs and tories were taking part, Negus recommended the dilution of the wine with hot water and sugar. Attention was diverted from the point at issue to a discussion of the merits of wine and water, which ended in the compound being nicknamed 'negus.' A correspondent of the 'Gentleman's Magazine' (1799, i. 119) states that the term first obtained currency in Negus's regiment. A contemporary, Thomas Vernon of Ashton (1704-1753), thus recommends the mixture: 'After a morning's walk, half a pint of white wine, made hot and sweetened a little, is recond very good. Col. Negus, a gentn of tast, advises it, I have heard say' (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. x. 10). Malone in his 'Life of Dryden' (prefixed to 'Prose Works,' 1800, i. 484) definitely states that the mixture called negus was invented by Colonel Negus in Queen Anne's time. The term was at first applied exclusively to a concoction made with port wine, and hence the ingenious but improbable suggestion made by Dr. Fennell, that the name may have a punning connection with the line in 'Paradise Lost,' xi. 397, 'Th' empire of Negus to his utmost port' (Stanford Dictionary, p. 569). The word appears in French as négus, and is defined by Littré as a kind of 'limonade au vin.'

A portrait of Francis Negus was in 1760 in the possession of his nephew, a Mr. Potter of Frome.

In 1724 Colonel Francis Negus's patronage was solicited by Samuel Negus, who was probably a poor relation. This Samuel Negus, who had been since 1722 a struggling printer in Silver Street, near Wood Street, in the city of London, published in 1724, through William Bowyer, 'A Compleat and Private List of all the Printing Houses in and about the Cities of London and Westminster, together with the Printers' Names, what Newspapers they print, and where they are to be found: also an Account of the Printing Houses in the several Corporation Towns in England, most humbly laid before the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Townshend.' For this work, which also professes to be a key to the political principles of the printers enumerated, Negus was rewarded by a letter-carrier's place in the post office.

[Historical Reg. 1727, Chronological Diary, pp. 26, 28; Gent. Mag. 1732, p. 979; Notes and Queries, let ser. x. 10, 6th ser. xi. 189; Official Returns of Members of Pari. pt. ii. pp. 44, 56, 67; Timperley's Encycl. of Lit. and Typograph. Anecdotes, p. 631; Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, i. 288, 292; Doran's London in Jacobite Times; Haydn's Book of Dignities, ed. Ockerby, p. 302; Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. iv. pp. 102, 839, and App. vii. 105-7; Whitney's Century Dictionary, s.v. 'Negus.' For the analogous term 'grog' see art. Admiral Vernon].

T. S.