Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham (1785-1851)

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CLINTON, HENRY PELHAM FIENNES PELHAM, fourth Duke of Newcastle (1785–1851), grandson of Henry Fiennes Clinton, the second duke [q. v.l, and elder son of Thomas Pelham Clinton, third duke of Newcastle, by Lady Anna Maria Stanhope, fifth daughter of William Stanhope, second earl of Harrington, was born 30 Jan. 1785. His father held the dukedom from 22 Feb. 1794 to his death, 17 May 1795, when his son succeeded him. He received his education at Eton 1796-1803, and was the founder at that college in 1829 of a scholarship which bears his name In 1803, during the peace of Amiens, he ventured on a continental tour, when, on the renewal of hostilities, he was taken prisoner and detained in France for four years. On his return to England in 1807 he entered on lift with many personal advantages, and with a considerable fortune. He married at Lambeth, 18 July 1807, a great heiress, Georgiana Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Miller Mundy of Shipley, Derbyshire. Newcastle was appointed lord-lieutenant of Nottingham in 1809, a knight of the Garter in 1812, and on 4 April in the same year steward of the forest of Sherwood and of the park of Folewood, Nottinghamshire. He was a rigid conservative, and violently opposed the claims of the protestant dissenters, catholic emancipation, and parliamentary reform. On various occasions he laid himself open to the bitterest assaults of popular indignation. The storm raged at its height when he repeated in parliament, 3 Dec. 1830, his famous and long-remembered question in reference to some of his tenants ejected at Newark: 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I please with mine own ?' (Hansard, 3 Dec. 1830, pp. 750-63). On 10 Oct. 1831 the mob of Nottingham burnt to the ground his mansion, Nottingham Castle, and at the same period he found it necessary to fortify his residence at Clumber, and the windows of his town house in Portman Square were broken by the London rabble. In the committee on the Reform Bill in May 1832 the duke avowed his decided hostility to the measure in every shape, and at a further stage left the house declaring that he would not take any part in its proceedings for the future. He adhered to his principles throughout the remainder of his life with conscientious consistency. In 1839, in resisting the appointment to the magistracy of two gentlemen nominated by the government, but of whose political and religious principles he disapproved, Newcastle wrote a very offensive letter to Lord-chancellor Cottenham, and on his refusing to withdraw it he received a letter on 4 May from Lord John Russell informing him that the queen had no further occasion for his services as lord-lieutenant of Nottinghamshire. The acquisition of Worksop manor, one of the finest estates in England, strained his resources, and involved him in much pecuniary difficulty. The purchase of Hafod estate in Wales was more successful, but the terms on which it was acquired led to much discussion in parliament, in connection with the rights of the commissioners of woods and forests. By the passage of the Reform Bill he lost the patronage and interest in six boroughs, a loss which he himself estimated as being equivalent to 200,000l. His opinions never changed. In 1837 he said, 'On looking back to the past I can honestly assert that I repent of nothing that I have done.' For more than twenty years it was assumed by the general public that the duke's motives as a landlord and as a member of the House of Lords were of the most unworthy character, and that his appetite for jobbery was insatiable. He died at Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, 12 Jan. 1851, and was buried in Markham Clinton Church on 21 Jan. His wife, who was born 1 June 1789, died, after giving birth to twins, at Clumber 26 Sept. 1822, and was buried at Bothamsal Church on 7 Oct. The duke published: 1. 'Letter of the Duke of Newcastle to Lord Kenyon on the Catholic Emancipation Question,' 1828. 2. 'An Address to all classes and conditions of Englishmen,' 1832. 3. 'Thoughts in times past tested by subsequent events,' 1837.

[Gent. Mag. October 1822, p. 370, March 1851, 3p. 309-10; Hansard's Debates, 1827 to 1831; Times, 15 Jan. 1851, p. 5; Illustrated London News, 18 Jan. 1851, p. 37, portrait, 25 Jan. pp. 62-4; Portraits of Eminent Conservatives 1836), pp. 1-2, with portrait.]

G. C. B.