Smith, Robert (1752-1838) (DNB00)

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SMITH, ROBERT, first Baron Carrington (1752–1838), the third but eldest surviving son of Abel Smith (d. 1788) by his wife Mary, daughter of Thomas Bird of Barton, Warwickshire, was born at Nottingham on 2 Feb. 1752 and baptised at St. Peter's on the 21st. His father, a member of the banking firm of Smith, Payne, & Co. of Nottingham and London, sat in parliament for Aldborough in 1774, St. Ives in 1780, and St. Germains in 1785. On the death of his elder brother Abel in 1779 Robert succeeded him as member of parliament for Nottingham, which he represented in five successive parliaments, until his elevation to the peerage in 1797. From the first he attached himself to the fortunes of the younger Pitt, and a close friendship sprang up between the two. In 1786 Pitt selected Smith to examine into the state of his disordered private affairs (Stanhope, Life of Pitt, ed. 1879, i. 223). According to Wraxall, Smith's character was ‘without reproach and his fortune ample,’ but he ‘possessed no parliamentary talents’ (Posthumous Memoirs, 1836, i. 66–9). He was generous in the use of his wealth, and one of his benefactions was to place considerable sums of money in the hands of the poet Cowper for the benefit of the poor at Olney (Southey, Life and Works of Cowper, i. 254–5). On 11 July 1796, as a reward for his fidelity and the support which he secured to Pitt through his pocket-boroughs Midhurst and Wendover, Smith was created Baron Carrington of Bulcot Lodge in the peerage of Ireland, and on 20 Oct. 1797 Baron Carrington of Upton, Nottinghamshire, in the English peerage. According to Wraxall, this was the only instance in which George III's objections to giving English peerages to those engaged in trade were overcome; he also insinuates that the honour was the reward of financial assistance rendered by Smith to Pitt. Carrington refuted this charge on the appearance of Wraxall's ‘Memoirs’ in 1836 by a letter printed in the ‘Quarterly Review’ (No. cxiv. p. 456). In 1802 Pitt, as warden of the Cinque ports, appointed Carrington captain of Deal, and in the following year he became lieutenant-colonel of the second battalion of the Cinque ports volunteers. In April 1803 he entertained Pitt at his seat, Wycombe Abbey. On 3 July 1810 he was created D.C.L. of Oxford, and in 1819 LL.D. of Cambridge University. He was also a vice-president of the Literary Fund, F.R.S., and F.S.A. He was a firm supporter of the tory party, and, when in later years unable to attend the House of Lords, he entrusted his proxy to the Duke of Wellington. He died on 18 Sept. 1838 at his mansion in Whitehall, and was buried at High Wycombe on 2 Oct.

Carrington married, first, on 6 July 1780, Anne, eldest daughter of Lewyns Boldero Barnard of Cave Castle, Yorkshire; by her he had one son, Robert John, born 16 Jan. 1796, who succeeded to the peerage, took the name Carrington instead of Smith by royal license, dated 26 Aug. 1839, and died on 17 March 1868, being succeeded by his eldest son, Charles Robert, the present Lord Carrington, who changed the family name from Carrington to Carington. The first lord had also seven daughters, of whom the second, Catherine Lucy, married Philip Henry, fourth earl Stanhope, and was mother of Philip Henry, fifth earl Stanhope [q. v.], and the seventh, Emily, married Lord Granville Charles Henry Somerset.

[Annual Register, 1838, p. 225 (by Carrington's grandson, Earl Stanhope); Gent. Mag. 1838, ii. 545–6, 678; Official Returns of Members of Parl.; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Burke's and G. E. C.'s Peerages; Stanhope's Life of Pitt, passim; Wraxall's Posthumous Memoirs, 1836; Life of Wilberforce, i. 77; Martin's Stories of Banks and Bankers.]

A. F. P.