Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cardonnel, Adam (d.1719)

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CARDONNEL, ADAM [de] (d. 1719), secretary to the Duke of Marlborough, was a son of Adam de Cardonnel, a French protestant, who had been rewarded for his services to royalty by the lucrative patents of customer and collector of customs at the part of Southampton (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, p. 213, 1661–2, pp. 504–5). The son entered the war office at an early age, where in due time he rose to be chief clerk, and in February 1693 received the appointment of secretary and treasurer to the commissioners for sick and wounded seamen (Luttrell, Relation of State Affairs, 1857, iii. 38). His connection with Marlborough quickly ripened into the closest personal friendship; he was certainly acting as secretary in the early part of 1692, and thenceforward accompanied the commander-in-chief in his several campaigns (Addit. MSS. 28917–18). From Luttrell's ‘Relation of State Affairs,’ vi. 160, we learn that Cardonnel was the only gentleman selected by Marlborough to attend him in his memorable visit, in April 1707, to Charles XII. In recognition of his services the duke obtained a promise from the queen that Cardonnel should succeed Walpole as secretary at war, an office for which his experience and ability well fitted him. He was accordingly nominated in January 1710 (ib. vi. 534–5), but the intrigue; of Harley prevailed, and greatly to the Duke's mortification Cardonnel was displaced by Granville, afterwards Lord Lansdowne, in the following October (Private Correspondence of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, 1838, i. 404, 407, ii. 128, 159). At the general election of November 1701 Cardonnel had been returned member for Southampton, and he continued to represent that borough without interruption in four successive parliaments (Lists of Members of Parliament, Official Return). When, however, Marlborough's overthrow was resolved on, as a preliminary step a committee was appointed to examine and report on the public accounts. Their report was demanded in September 1711, and appeared in the ensuing month of January. Sir Solomon de Medina, a contractor for to the army, stated in his evidence that from 1707 to 1711 he gave on sealing each contract a gratuity of 500 gold ducats to the duke's secretary. On 19 Feb. 1712 the house met to consider this charge and to hear the ex-secretary’s defence, of which, however, no report now exists. After a long debate it was resolved that the taking of a gratuity was ‘unwarrantable and corrupt,’ and on the question being put, Cardonnel was expelled the house by a majority of twenty-six (Commons Journals, xvii. 97; Cobbett, Parliamentary History, vi. 1049–1050, 1094). After his fall Cardonnel did not again attempt to seek office, but lived in retirement at his house in Westminster or at Chiswick. He died in St. Margaret’s, Westminster, on 22 Feb. 1719, and was buried on 8 March following at the parish church of Chiswick (Probate Act Book, 1719; Hist. Rev. 1719, p. 10; Lyons, Environs, ii. 212). His will, as of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, dated 29 Oct., with a codicil, 17 Nov. 1718, was proved on 5 March 1719 (Reg. in P. C. C. 42, Browning). He married, after April 1710, Elisabeth, widow of Isaac Teale, apothecary, of St. Margaret’s, Westminster (Will reg. in P. C. C. 99, Smith), but by this lady, who died in 1714, he had no issue (Letters of Administration in P. C. C. September 1714). He married seoondly Elizabeth, widow of William, the second son of Sir Thomas Frankland, bart., and daughter of René Bawdowin, a merchant of London. The children of this marriage were Adam, who died at Chiswick on 22 Sept. 1725 (Hist. Reg. 1725, p. 42; Letters of Administration in P. C. C. October 1726), and Mary, who became in February 1734, at the of fifteen, the wife of William, first Earl Talbot, bringing him, it is said, a fortune of 80,000l (Gent. Mag. iv. 107; Collins, Peerage, 1812, v. 237). Mrs. Cardonnel made a third alliance with Frederick Frankland, M.P., her first husband's younger brother, and died on 27 Jan. 1737 (Betham, Baronetage, ii. 186–7). Cardonnel's official correspondence with Stepney, John Ellis and others, is preserved in the ‘Additional MSS.' at the British Museum, but contains few details of interest.

Cardonnel’s uncle, Philip de Cardonnel, was also an enthusiastic adherent to the royal cause,a nd upon the marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza gave expression to his feelings in a series of extraordinary poems, published with the title of ‘Tagus, sive Epithalamium Caroli II Magnæ Britanniæ Regis, et Catharinæ Infantis Portugalliæ; Gallico primùm carmine decantatum, deindè Latino donatum. Authore P. D. C. Unà cum Poëmate Fortunatarum Insularum, antehàc Gallicè pro Inauguratione Caroli II conscripto,’ 8vo, London, 1662. From the description given by Lowndes (Bibl. Manual, Bohn, vol. i. art. ‘Cardonnel’) it would seem that another and enlarged edition containing translations of pieces by Dryden and Waller appeared at London the same year. Both editions are of the rarest occurrence. The earlier issue is adorned with a frontispiece representing Catherine being drawn to shore by Neptune and attendant nymphs, while Charles, ankle deep, is rapturously surveying her charms with the aid of a telescope. Philip de Cardonnel was dead before August 1667, for on the 15th of that month his relict Catherine administered to the estate of his brother, Peter de Cardonnel, of St. Margaret's, Westminster (Chester, Westminster Abbey Registers, Harl. Soc., p. 167).

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. and Treas.; Addit. MSS. 22221, 22551, 28887, 25917–18, 29550, 29553–7.]

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