Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Weston, Edward (1703-1770)

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WESTON, EDWARD (1703–1770), didactic writer, second son of Stephen Weston [q. v.], bishop of Exeter, was born at Eton in 1703. He was educated at Eton and at King's College, Cambridge, where he was admitted in 1719, graduating B.A. in 1723 and M.A. in 1727. Horace Walpole states that he went in 1725 to Bexley in Kent with his cousins, ‘the four younger sons of Lord Townshend, and with a tutor, Edward Weston … and continued there some months.’ Next summer he had the same education at Twickenham, ‘and the intervening winters he went every day to study under Mr. Weston at Lord Townshend's’ (Cunningham, Walpole Letters, vol. i. p. lxi). The first date is probably a misprint for 1723, as Walpole was under Weston's charge in July 1724 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. App. p. 239), and certainly remained so until September 1726 (ib. p. 240).

Weston was secretary to Lord Townshend during the king's residence at Hanover in 1729, and, on his retirement from office, lost ‘a very generous friend and patron.’ In May 1730 he offered his services to Lord Harrington, and when that peer was made secretary of state for the northern department, Weston became under-secretary, remaining in that position until 1746. He was appointed on 8 Sept. 1741 editor of the ‘London Gazette,’ with a salary of 500l. per annum, and held that post until his death. In November 1746 Harrington went to Ireland as lord lieutenant, and Weston accompanied him as chief secretary, and was created a privy councillor for Ireland. He remained there until 1751, and then through ill-health went into retirement for ten years. He had purchased from his relative, Mr. Rossiter, the parish of Somerby, and the greater part of the next parish of Searby, in Lincolnshire.

At Lord Bute's earnest request, Weston, ‘a very able, worthy, good man,’ returned in March 1761 to his old post in the northern department. He was a clerk of the signet, and was allowed to perform his duties by deputy (Home Office Papers, 1760–5, p. 100). In August 1762 he received a grant for thirty-one years of the office of alnager in Ireland, and next August resigned it, on receiving a pension of 500l. per annum for the same period (ib. pp. 251, 376). On 1 Sept. in that year he was appointed one of the commissioners to execute the office of privy seal (ib. p. 237). In July 1763 he addressed a letter to George Grenville on his ill-health and his sole reward ‘of 275l. per annum, with the honourable title of gazetteer’ in the secretary's department. He then served under Lord Halifax in the southern department, and recommended the issue of a general warrant against Wilkes (Nichols, Lit. Anecdotes, ii. 280). Next May his health broke down, and he retired from office, a pension of 750l. per annum being granted to him for his services. He died at Buxton on 15 July 1770, and was buried at Somerby, Lincolnshire, where a monument records his memory. He married, early in 1730, Penelope, granddaughter of Bishop Patrick, and eldest daughter and coheiress of the Rev. Symon Patrick of Dalham, Suffolk, by Anne, daughter of Thomas Fountayne of Melton, Yorkshire. His second wife was Anne, younger daughter of John Fountayne of Melton. Both his wives were nieces of Mrs. Sherlock, wife of the bishop of London. Weston had several children.

Junius, under the impression that Weston was the author of ‘A Vindication of the Duke of Grafton,’ assailed him in his tenth letter, calling him ‘comptroller of the salt office, a clerk of the signet, and a pensioner on the Irish establishment;’ but Weston denied the authorship. He also disclaimed in 1769 a pamphlet entitled ‘The Political Conduct of the Earl of Chatham.’

Weston was the author of: 1. ‘The Englishman directed in the Choice of his Religion’ (anon.), 1740; 4th edit. (anon.) 1767. 2. ‘The Country Gentleman's Advice to his Son on coming of age’ (anon.), 1755. 3. ‘The Country Gentleman's Advice to his Neighbours’ (anon.), 1755; 3rd edit. by Edward Weston; with letter to bishop of London, 1756; 4th edit., with second addition to letter, 1756. 4. ‘Family Discourses by a Country Gentleman’ (anon.), 1768; 2nd edit. by the late Edward Weston, 1776. The second edition was edited by his son, Charles Weston, prebendary of Durham. Weston wrote on the Jew bill (1753), and replied to Bishop Warburton (Letters to Hurd, 1759, in 2nd edit. pp. 280, 284). He was a good classical scholar, and composed a Latin ode on the marriage of George III. The long epitaph in Fulham churchyard on Bishop Sherlock was drawn up by him.

[Harwood's Alumni Eton. p. 300; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. i. 124, ii. 453–4; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 216, ix. 494; Junius, ed. 1812, i. 121–5; Halkett and Laing's Anon. Literature, i. 522, 763, ii. 889; Grenville Papers, i. 360, ii. 79–80, iv. 468, 476–7. His papers, the property of Mr. Weston Underwood, his descendant, are calendared in the Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. pp. 9–13, and App. pp. 199–520. Many of his letters are in the Newcastle and Titley Corresp. British Museum. Information has kindly been supplied by Mr. Weston Underwood.]

W. P. C.