Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/West, John (1693-1766)

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WEST, JOHN, first Earl De La Warr (1693–1766), born on 4 April 1693, was son of John West, sixth (or fifteenth) baron De La Warr of the second creation, by Margaret, daughter and heir of John Freeman, merchant, of London and Westminster. He was descended from Thomas West, third or twelfth baron De La Warr [q. v.] On his return from his travels in 1712 he was nominated standard-bearer of the band of gentlemen pensioners, and on 18 Aug. was appointed clerk-extraordinary of the privy council. He was returned to parliament as member for Grampound in Cornwall on 27 Jan. 1714–15, and in April of the same year was gazetted guidon and first major of the first troop of horse guards. Two years later, on 24 Dec. 1717, he became lieutenant-colonel, and in the following year was made verderer of Windsor Park. He succeeded to the peerage as seventh (or sixteenth) Baron De La Warr in 1723. On 3 June 1725 he was named lord of the bedchamber to George I, and on the revival of the order of the Bath in the same year was created a knight. He was sworn of the privy council in June 1731, on becoming treasurer of the household. He held that office for six years. In March 1736 he was sent on a special mission to Saxe-Gotha to conduct the Princess Augusta to England, where she was to marry Frederick, prince of Wales. They landed at Greenwich on 25 April. Lord Hervey thought that no fitter selection could have been made to disarm the jealousy of the prince, and that a more unpolished ambassador for such an occasion could not have been found in any of the Goth or Vandal courts of Germany. On 2 July of the following year De La Warr was appointed captain-general and governor of New York and New Jersey. But he did not leave England, where he had for some time begun to take an active part in public affairs. In February 1732 he had denounced the reintroduction of Samuel Sandys's pension bill, which had twice previously been rejected by the lords, as an indignity to the house. On 18 April of the following year he was chosen speaker of the House of Peers, during the absence of Peter King, baron King [q. v.], the chancellor (Lords' Journals, xxiv. 237). According to the same authority, De La Warr was in that year ‘very zealous in the bill against Edinburgh’ which followed the Porteous riots. In February 1739 he spoke against allowing counsel to the petitioners against the recent convention with Spain, citing the precedent of the merchants heard against Bolingbroke's commercial treaty with France. On 9 Feb. 1739 he moved that the author and publisher (Paul Whitehead [q. v.] and Robert Dodsley [q. v.]) of a satire called ‘Manners’ reflecting on the administration should be ordered to attend at the bar of the House of Lords. Three days later, when it was proposed that Whitehead should be taken into custody for non-attendance, Lord Abingdon opposed the motion, on the ground that he had not been personally served with the summons. De La Warr replied, and the motion was agreed to. On 14 May De La Warr moved the third reading of a bill settling annuities on George II's younger children. It was opposed by Carteret, but carried by 78 to 27.

During 1740 and 1741 he took a leading part on behalf of the Walpole ministry in several debates. Thus on 28 Feb. in the former year, when Lord Halifax moved that it was contrary to the usage of parliament, and derogatory to the privileges of the House of Lords, that a king's message asking for supplies to carry on the war should be sent to the commons singly, De La Warr in a weighty speech moved the previous question, and carried it in spite of the opposition of Carteret and Chesterfield. But in the course of a debate on 12 March of the following year he expressed his regret that the lords had given up their right to amend money bills, and his wish that it could be restored to them. In rejecting bills because they had been amended by the upper house, the commons would, in his opinion, do what they had no right to do. Hardwicke, the chancellor, supported his contention. In the course of the same year (1742) several changes were introduced into the procedure of the House of Lords at De La Warr's instance; and he procured the rejection of a motion to allow peers three proxies each (Parl. Hist. xi. 640–2, 768–76). In March 1754 he was a second time elected speaker during Hardwick's absence (Lords' Journals, xxviii. 249).

He showed not a little knowledge of commercial affairs. On 1 June 1742 he made a long and elaborate speech (which was ‘reported’ by Dr. Johnson in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’) against a measure put forward by merchants for securing trade and navigation in time of war. Notwithstanding that it passed the commons unanimously, the second reading was refused in the lords by 59 to 25. On 15 Feb. 1743 he earnestly supported the ministerial spirituous liquors bill, which was strongly opposed by Chesterfield and the bishops. On 7 May 1744 he spoke at length against the bill for enlarging the trade to the Levant. He defended the Turkey Company, of which he was governor, denying that they held an absolute monopoly of the trade.

Meanwhile De La Warr had not given up the military profession. He commanded a brigade at the battle of Dettingen, and subsequently attained the rank of major-general (March 1745), lieutenant-general (September 1747), and general of horse (March 1765). In December 1747 he was appointed governor of Tilbury, and on 29 April 1752 of Guernsey. He moved the address in the lords in 1753, ‘in as parliamentary a manner as possible—very short and very nothing,’ as Rigby wrote to Bedford (Bedford Corresp. ii. 138). This appears to have been De La Warr's last public performance. In a ‘jubilee masquerade in the Venetian manner’ held at Ranelagh in May 1749 (which Horace Walpole declared to be the prettiest spectacle he ever saw) De La Warr appeared as Queen Elizabeth's porter, in a costume designed from a picture now at Hampton Court. At a Russian masquerade at Somerset House on 6 Feb. 1755 he resumed the character. He was created by George III, in March 1761, Earl De La Warr and Viscount Cantelupe. He died on 16 March 1766. A portrait of him, after J. Highmore, was engraved for Pine's ‘Knights of the Bath.’ Hervey speaks of his ‘long, lank, awkward person.’

De La Warr was twice married: first, in 1722, to Charlotte, daughter of Donough McCarthy, fourth earl of Clancarty [q. v.]; and secondly, in 1744, to Anne, dowager baroness Abergavenny, daughter of Nehemiah Walker. By the first marriage he had two sons and two daughters. Of the latter, Henrietta married General James Johnston of the Enniskillen dragoons, and Diana became the first wife of General Sir John Clavering [q. v.]

His son, John West, second Earl De La Warr (1729–1777), entered the army in 1746 as an ensign in the 3rd foot guards. He was gazetted colonel in the army on 8 May 1758, major-general 8 March 1761, and lieutenant-general 30 April 1770. He bore the title of Viscount Cantelupe from 1761 till his succession to the peerage. From 1761 to 1766 he was vice-chamberlain to Queen Charlotte, and was her master of the horse from that date till 1768. He was named lord chamberlain in November of that year. He died in Audley Square on 22 Nov. 1777, and was buried at St. Margaret's, Westminster. He married, in 1756, Mary, daughter of Lieutenant-general John Wynyard, leaving William Augustus, third earl (1757–1783), and John Richard, fourth earl (1758–1795).

The fourth earl's son, George John Sackville West, fifth Earl De La Warr (1791–1869), born in Savile Row on 26 Oct. 1791, was educated at Harrow and Brasenose, Oxford, graduating B.A. in 1812 and M.A. in 1819. He was appointed a lord of the bedchamber in July 1813, and again held that office from January 1820 to March 1828. On his marriage in November 1843 he assumed his wife's surname of Sackville before his own. On 8 Sept. 1841, when he was also made a privy councillor, he was named by Sir R. Peel, lord chamberlain. He again held that office under Lord Derby from February 1858 to June 1859. He died at Buckhurst Park, Kent, on 23 Feb. 1869. The fifth Earl De La Warr was the ‘Fair Euryalus’ of Byron's ‘Childish Recollections.’ Byron addressed to him the verses in ‘Hours of Idleness’ beginning ‘Oh yes, I will own we were dear to each other,’ and also the lines inscribed to D___. Both poems were prompted by a misunderstanding between them while at Harrow. Byron afterwards owned himself in the wrong and apologised. He subsequently drew a portrait of De La Warr, whom he calls very handsome. It was engraved by Harding. Another portrait, by E. D. Smith, was engraved by W. H. Mote for Ryall's ‘Eminent Conservatives.’ De La Warr married Lady Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of John Frederick Sackville, third duke of Dorset [q. v.] She was on 27 April 1864 created Baroness Buckhurst in her own right, with remainder to her younger sons, and a special proviso that the barony and earldom of De La Warr should in no case be held by the same person (see G. E. C[okayne], Peerage). In spite of this patent her third son, Reginald Windsor, baron Buckhurst, became also Earl de La Warr in April 1873. She died at 17 Upper Grosvenor Street on 9 Jan. 1870. Her second son, Charles Richard Sackville West, sixth earl De La Warr (1815–1873), is separately noticed.

[Doyle's Baronage; Burke's and G. E. C[okayne]'s Peerages; Gent. Mag. 1766 p. 152, 1777 p. 556, 1795 ii. 706; Parl. Hist. vols. viii–xiii. passim; Hervey's Memoirs, 1884, ii. 287–8, iii. 38, 108; Walpole's Letters, ed. Cunningham, ii. 152n., iii. 384, 419, &c.; Evans's Cat. Engr. Portraits; authorities cited; Moore's Life of Byron, pp. 23, 40; Byron's Works, 1859, pp. 377, 417; Ryall's Portraits of Eminent Conservatives, 2nd ser.; Boase's Mod. Engl. Biogr.]

G. Le G. N.