Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Griffin, John Griffin

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GRIFFIN (formerly Whitwell), JOHN GRIFFIN, Lord Howard de Walden (1719–1797), field-marshal, born 13 March 1719 at Oundle in Northamptonshire, was the eldest son of William Whitwell of that place and his wife Ann, youngest sister of Lord Griffin of Braybrooke and grand-daughter of James Howard, third earl of Suffolk and baron Howard de Walden. He entered the army, became captain in the 3rd regiment of foot-guards in March 1744, and served with the allied forces in the Netharlands and Germany during the war of the Austrian succession and the seven years' war. In this service he distinguished himself, and succeeded to the command of the 33rd regiment, stationed in Germany. He was promoted major-general on 25 June 1759, lieutenant-general on 19 Jan. 1761, general on 2 April 1778, and field-marshal on 30 July 1796. As a reward for his military services he was made a knight of the Bath, and installed in Henry VII's Chapel on 26 May 1761.

In 1749 he assumed by act of parliament the surname and arms of Griffin, on receiving from his aunt Elizabeth, wife of the first Earl of Portsmouth, her share in the estate of Saffron Walden in Essex. On the death of the same aunt he also inherited Audley House with its demeenes. On 26 Nov. 1749 he was elected member of parliament for Andover Vice Viscount Lymington, deceased, and continued to represent the constituency till 1784, when he succeeded to the House of Lords as Baron Howard de Walden, his claim to the barony as representative of the last lord having been allowed by a committee of the house on 8 Aug. 1784.

He married, (1) on 9 Feb. 1749, Anne Mary (d. 18 Aug. 1764), daughter of John, baron Schutz, and, (2) on 11 June 1765, Catherine, daughter of William Clayton, esq., of Harleyford in Buckinghamshire. He was created in 1788 Baron Braybrooke of Braybrooke in Northamptonshire, with special remainder in his kinsman Richard Aldworth Neville. He died on 2 June 1797 without issue, when the barony of Howard de Walden again fell for a time into abeyance. At the time of his death he was lord-lieutenant (chosen in 1784) and vice-admiral of the county of Essex, colonel of the Queen's Own dragoons, and recorder of Saffron Walden.

[Gent. Mag. 1797. pt. i. p. 529; Haydn's Book of Dignities; London Gazette; Proceedings in relation to the Barony of Walden, published 1807.]

E. J. R.