Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Orde, Thomas
ORDE, afterwards ORDE-POWLETT, THOMAS, first Lord Bolton (1746–1807), politician, elder son of John Orde of East Orae and Morpeth (d. 1784), by his second wife, Anne, daughter of Ralph Marr of Morpeth, and widow of the Rev. William Pye, was born on 30 Aug. 1746, and baptised at Morpeth on 2 Oct. Admiral Sir John Orde [q. v.] was his brother. He was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge, being admitted in 1706, becoming a fellow in 1768, and graduating B.A. 1770, M.A. 1773. While at Cambridge he studied the art of etching, and showed great skill 'in taking off any peculiarity of person.' This was a dangerous gift, but he never portrayed any one likely to become an object of ridicule. Three portraits by him in 1768 of D. Randall, fruit-seller at Cambridge, and of Mother Hammond, are described in Wordsworth's 'University Life in the Eighteenth Century,' pp. 453-4. The particulars of his etching in the same year of a very stout man, and in 1769 of William Lynch, an old seller of pamphlets, are set out in the 'Catalogue of Satirical Prints at the British Museum' (iv. 498, 579). The names of the performers in the 'Cambridge concert,' which is usually attributed to him, are given in the 'Catalogue of Satirical Prints' (iv. 698-9) ; but, according to Hawkins, the design was by Orde, and the etching by Sir Abraham Hume. He also etched his father, mother, and younger brother, and drew a pen-and-ink sketch of Voltaire acting in one of his own tragedies (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. vii. 323). To the 'Account of Kings College Chapel,' 1769, which bears the name of Henry Maiden, chapter clerk, is prefixed his portrait by Orde. The profits from the sale of these etchings were given by him to the characters whom he drew.
Orde was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn, and was elected F.S. A. on 23 Feb. 1775. He entered upon political life as member for Aylesbury, which he represented from 1780 to 1784. The details of the money which he distributed among the electors, and the suppers which he gave to them, are contained m Robert Gibbs's 'History of Aylesbury' (p. 245). For two parliaments, lasting from 1784 to 1706, he sat for Har*'ich, and he represented in the Irish parliament from 1784 to 1790 the constituency of Rathcormack, co. Cork. He was elected in 1781 to the ninth place in the secret committee on Indian affairs, and to him was attributed its fifth report, which, in the language of Wraxall, was 'one of the most able, well-digested, and important documents ever laid upon the table of the House of Commons' (Memoirs, ed. Wheatley, ii. 109). For his services on this body Dundas openly paid him in the house a very high compliment. When Lord Shelburne was appointed one of the principal secretaries of state early in 1782, Orde became his under-secretary, and, on the formation of the new ministry under Shelburne in July 1782, he was promoted to the post of secretary to the treasury. In this position he assiduously discharged one of its chief duties by giving to his political friends frequently dinner parties at his house in Park Place, St. James's Street (Wraxall, ii. 358–359, 414). He went out of office with Shelburne as representing his views in the House of Commons, and, through attachment to his old master, declined, in December 1783, the offer of Pitt to resume his old place at the treasury.
From February 1784 to November 1787 the Duke of Rutland was lord-lieutenant of Ireland, with Orde as his chief secretary and a member of the privy council in Ireland. They endeavoured in 1786 to form a 'commercial union' between England and Ireland, their object being to 'reunite the two countries by the chain of mutual benefits and an equal participation of the advantages of trade. The propositions put forward by Orde in the Irish parliament were duly assented to, and were then introduced by Pitt into the English House of Commons. They were vehemently opposed by Fox and the other whig leaders, but, after a protracted struggle of parties, they passed through parliament, mainly through the arguments that their adoption would tend to promote the prosperity of England. The changes which were introduced into the 'Irish propositions' during their progress through the English parliament materially altered their effect, to the disadvantage of the dependent country; and when the scheme was again brought before the Irish House of Commons, it was fiercely resisted by Grattan, Flood, and Curran, and only carried by nineteen on the first division. All that Orde could effect was to obtain an order that the bill should be read a first time and printed for circulation through Ireland, 15 Aug. 1785. It was then dropped. Many letters to and from him on these propositions are printed in the 'Memoirs of Henry Grattan,' vol. iii., and in the 'Correspondence of the light Hon. John Beresford,' i. 251–94. The views of the viceroy and himself are set out in the 'Correspondence of Pitt and Charles, duke of Rutland' (1842 and 1890), and in it are contained two long letters to him, and from the duke (pp. 153–8), the other from Pitt (pp. 86–9). Pitt blamed him for irresolution, but the charge was based on erroneous information.
In 1787 Orde introduced into the Irish House of Conmions, in a speech of three hours' length, an 'extremely comprehensive' scheme of education. The clergy were to continue the maintenance of schools with increased charges at a graduated scale on their incomes, and the bishops and dignitaries of the church were also to contribute. Two great academies in Dublin and some smaller institutions were to educate thirteen thousand children, and the annual cost of this was to be defrayed by the Incorporated Society to the extent of 13,000l., and by the state with a grant of 7,100l. All of these propositions passed through the house by a unanimous vote, with the exception of the clause relating to the foundation of a second university, which was opposed by a single member.
The government of Ireland by the Duke of Rutland was mainly, through his personal popularity, very successful. The duke died in October 1787, and Orde retired with health much broken. An Irish pension of 1,700l. per annum was conferred upon him, but the grant was attacked, and not without reason, as a violation of the assurance on which the salary of the office of chief secretary had been augmented. Orde was depreciated by Sir Jonah Barrington as 'a cold, cautious, slow and sententious man, tolerably well informed, but not at all talented, with a mind neither powerful nor feeble' (Rise and Fall of Irish Nation, pp. 320–1 ; Historic Anecdotes of Ireland, ii. 219).
Orde married at Marylebone, on 7 April 1778, Jean Mary Browne Powlett, natural daughter of Charles, fifth duke of Bolton, by Mary Browne Banks, on whom, in default of male issue to the duke's next brother, the greater part of the extensive estates wore entailed. On the death of the sixth duke, leaving only female children, on 24 Dec. 1794, the property passed to Orde in right of his wife, and by royal license he assumed, on 7 Jan. 1795, the additional surname of Powlett. On 20 Oct. 1797 he was created Baron Bolton of Bolton Castle, Yorkshire, in the peerage of Great Britain. In 1791 he was appointed governor and vice-admiral of the Isle of Wight, and in 1800 he was created lord-lieutenant of Hampshire. He was also a lord of trade and plantations, receiver-general of the duchy-court of Lancaster, and registrar, examiner, and first clerk of the county palatine of Lancaster (Harwood, Alumni Eton. p. 346). During his official connection with the Isle of Wight he built Fernhill, near Wotton, and repaired the goveronr's residence at Carisbrooke. He died at Hackwood Park, near Basingstoke, on 30 July 1807, aged 60, and was buried at Old Basing. His widow died at the Hotwells, Bristol, on 14 Dec. 1814, and was also buned at Old Basing. They left issue two sons.
Orders speech on the 'Irish propositions' was printed at Dublin in 1785, and that on education in 1787. When in Ireland he gave 'a snug little place in the license office to Maurice Goldsmith, in honour of his brother's literary merit,' April 1787 (Prior, Life of Oliver Goldsmith, ii. 227). His communications with Father O'Leary, whom he paid for furnishing information as to the designs of his compatriots, are set out in Froude's 'English in Ireland' and Fitzpatrick's 'Secret Service under Pitt.' The latter of these writers suggested that the published letters of the Duke of Rutland were written by Orde (Athenæum, 29 March 1890, pp. 404-6), but the suggestion seems untenable. Numerous letters to and from him are in Fitzmaurice's 'Life of Lord Shelburne,' iii. 361-3, 393-413; 'Historical Manuscripts Commission,' 12th Rep. App. pt. ix. pp. 307-61, and 13th Rep. App. pt. viii. pp- 20-8. Mathias addressed to him, on 15 Sept. 1791, a Latin ode, which was printed for private distribution, and was also included in his 'Odæ Latinæ,' 1810.
Orde was a friend of Romney, and frequently visited him about 1775. On his commission, Romney began a religious picture, which was intended for presentation to King's College, Cambridge, as an altar-piece ; but the intention of Orde was forestalled, and the painting was never finished. Romney painted his portrait, which was engraved in mezzotint, with three impressions, by John Jones. It is nearly whole-length, and his hand is holding a 'bill for effectuating the intercourse and commerce between Great Britain and Ireland.' There are also two portraits of him etched by Bretherton.
[ Wraxairs Memoirs, ed. Wheatley, iv. 124-38, 153-68; Lecky*8 Hist, during the Eighteenth Century, vi. 351 et seq.; Willis and Clark's Cambridge, i. 489 ; Gent. Mag. 1807 pt. ii. p. 786 ; Peer.igej by Brydges, Foster, and Cokayne; Cat. of Satirical Prints in Brit. Mus. iv. 699 ; Romney's Life of George Romney, pp. 136-7, 259; Uoroe's Portrait-s of Gainsborough and Romney, p. 61 ; Granger's Letters, pp. 87-8 ; Smith's Mezzotint Portraits, ii. 763-4.]