Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lennox, Charles (1735-1806)
LENNOX, CHARLES, third Duke of Richmond and Lennox (1735–1806), third son of Charles, second duke of Richmond and Lennox [q. v.], by his wife, Lady Sarah Cadogan, was born in London on 22 Feb. 1735. He was educated as a town-boy at Westminster School, where Cowper remembered seeing him set fire to Vinny Bourne's ‘greasy locks and box his ears to put it out again’ (Southey, Cowper, 1836, iv. 98). He graduated at Leyden University on 28 Oct. 1753 (Peacock, Index of Leyden Students, 1883, p. 83), and subsequently travelled on the continent. Having entered the army he was gazetted captain in the 20th regiment of foot on 18 June 1753, lieutenant-colonel in the 33rd regiment of foot on 7 June 1756, colonel of the 72nd regiment of foot on 9 May 1758, and is said to have served in several expeditions to the French coast, and to have highly distinguished himself at the battle of Minden in August 1759. He succeeded his father as third Duke of Richmond and Lennox on 8 Aug. 1750, and took his seat in the House of Lords for the first time on 15 March 1756 (Journals of the House of Lords, xxviii. 523). On 25 Nov. 1760 he was appointed a lord of the bedchamber, but shortly afterwards quarrelled with the king, and resigned office (Dodington, Diary, 1784, pp. 417–19, 501–6). He carried the sceptre with the dove at the coronation of George III, in September 1761, and became lord-lieutenant of Sussex on 18 Oct. 1763. He subsequently broke off his relations with the ministry, and attached himself to the Duke of Cumberland. Upon the formation of the Marquis of Rockingham's first administration he refused the post of cofferer, and in August 1765 was appointed ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Paris, being admitted to the privy council on 23 Oct. following. Though young and inexperienced he conducted his mission with great prudence and temper (Walpole, Memoirs of the Reign of George III, ii. 229). Upon his return to England he became, in spite of the king's strong personal dislike, secretary of state for the southern department (23 May 1766), in place of the Duke of Grafton, and retired from office on the accession of Chatham to power in the following August. In recording Rockingham's resignation Walpole writes: ‘To the Duke of Richmond the king was not tolerably civil; and in truth I believe the seals which I had obtained for his grace were a mighty ingredient towards the fall of that administration’ (ib. ii. 338). During the debate on the bill of indemnity on 10 Dec. 1766, Richmond called Chatham ‘an insolent minister,’ and when called to order replied that he ‘was sensible truth was not to be spoken at all times and in all places’ (ib. ii. 410; see also Grenville Papers, iii. 396–7). Both lords were required to promise that the matter should go no further (Journals of the House of Lords, xxxi. 448). After this quarrel Chatham ‘during the whole of the remainder of his administration appeared no more in the House of Lords’ (Walpole, Memoirs of the Reign of George III, ii. 411). On 2 June 1767 Richmond moved three resolutions in favour of the establishment of civil government in Canada, and censuring Lord Northington's neglect of cabinet business, but was defeated by 73 to 61 (ib. iii. 54; Parl. Hist. xvi. 361 n.) On 18 May 1770 his eighteen conciliatory resolutions relating to the disorders of America were met by a motion for adjournment, which was carried by a majority of thirty-four votes (Parl. Hist. xvi. 1010–14). On 30 April 1771 he moved that the resolutions of the House of Lords of 2 Feb. 1770, relating to the Middlesex election, should be expunged, but, though supported by Chatham, he failed to elicit any reply from the ministers, and the motion was negatived (ib. xvii. 214–16). In 1772 Richmond unsuccessfully advocated secession from parliament (Burke, Correspondence, i. 370–1). He constantly denounced the ministerial policy with reference to the American colonies, and during the debate on the second reading of the American Prohibitory Bill in December 1775 declared that the resistance of the colonists was ‘neither treason nor rebellion, but is perfectly justifiable in every possible political and moral sense’ (Parl. Hist. xviii. 1079). In August 1776 Richmond went to Paris in order to register his peerage of Aubigny in the French parliament, a formality which had never been gone through (Burke, Correspondence, ii. 113–18). It was during the memorable debate upon Richmond's motion for the withdrawal of the troops from America, on 7 April 1778, that Chatham was seized with his fatal illness when attempting to reply to Richmond's second speech (Parl. Hist. xix. 1012–31; see also Walpole, Letters, vii. 49–50, 51). In May 1779 he supported the Marquis of Rockingham's motion for the removal of ‘the causes of Irish discontent by a redress of grievances,’ and in reference to an allusion to a union of the two countries, declared that ‘he was for an union but not an union of legislature, but an union of hearts, hands, of affections and interests’ (Parl. Hist. xx. 650). In June 1779 Richmond received a well-merited rebuke from Lord Thurlow, whom he had taunted with the lowness of his birth, and who in reply reminded the duke that he owed his seat in the House of Lords to ‘being the accident of an accident’ (Reminiscences of Charles Butler, 1824, pp. 188–90; Mahon, Hist. of England, vi. 262; Parl. Hist. xx. 582–90). On 7 Dec. 1779 Richmond's motion for an economical reform of the civil list, which he maintained ‘was lavish and wasteful to a shameful degree,’ was defeated by 77 to 36 (ib. xx. 1255–8, 1260–1). On 2 June 1780 Richmond, who had previously joined the Westminster committee of correspondence, attempted to bring forward his reform bill, but was interrupted by the confusion which prevailed in the house owing to the presence of the mob in Old Palace Yard (ib. xxi. 664–72). On the following day he explained the purport of his bill, the reading of which alone is said to have occupied an hour and a half. The three main features of the proposal were annual parliaments, manhood suffrage, and electoral districts (see An Authentic Copy of the Duke of Richmond's Bill for a Parliamentary Reform, London, 1783, 8vo). It was rejected without a division, and practically without discussion (Parl. Hist. xxi. 686–8). In consequence of some expressions in the speech with which he introduced his motion for an inquiry into the execution of Colonel Isaac Hayne on 4 Feb. 1782, he became involved in a quarrel with Lord Rawdon, afterwards Marquis of Hastings, to whom he eventually apologised after an exchange of correspondence (ib. xxii. 966–71). In the same month he protested in the House of Lords against the advancement of Lord George Germaine to the peerage (ib. xxii. 1006–8). On the formation of the Marquis of Rockingham's second administration, Richmond was appointed master-general of the ordnance with a seat in the cabinet (30 March 1782), and on 19 April 1782 was elected and invested a knight of the Garter. In consequence of a misunderstanding with George III, which had lasted several years, Richmond, previously to accepting office, wrote an apologetic letter to Rockingham, in order that it might be shown to the king (Lord Albemarle, Memoirs of the Marquis of Rockingham, ii. 467–8; see also Donne, Correspondence of George III with Lord North, 1867, ii. 327–8). At a meeting held at Richmond's house early in May 1782, a resolution proposed by Sheridan requesting Pitt to bring forward a motion on parliamentary reform in the House of Commons was carried (Howell, State Trials, 1818, xxv. 394). In a letter to Rockingham dated 11 May 1782, written after the defeat of Pitt's motion, Richmond insisted upon the appointment of a committee upon parliamentary reform during the session, reminding Rockingham that ‘it was my bargain’ (Lord Albemarle, Memoirs of the Marquis of Rockingham, ii. 481–3). The committee was never appointed, for Rockingham died on 1 July 1782. Upon his death Richmond expected to be named by Rockingham's friends as his successor in the leadership of the party. His nephew, Charles James Fox, tried in vain to pacify him, by pointing out that they were ‘both out of the question owing to the decided part we have taken about parliamentary reform,’ and there can be no doubt that his chagrin at the adoption of the Duke of Portland considerably influenced his subsequent political conduct (Memoirs and Correspondence of C. J. Fox, 1853, i. 445–6; Lord Albemarle, Memoirs of the Marquis of Rockingham, i. 339–40). On 10 July 1782 Richmond explained in the House of Lords his reasons for not having followed the example of Fox and Lord John Cavendish in leaving the administration on the accession of Lord Shelburne to the treasury (Parl. Hist. xxiii. 188–191, 196). He appears to have objected to the cession of Gibraltar when proposed in the cabinet, but his opinion was viewed with indifference by Lord Shelburne (Lord E. Fitzmaurice, Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, iii. 305). In January 1783 Richmond, ‘disapproving of Lord Shelburne's assumption of too much power in the negotiation,’ refused to attend the council meetings any longer, but remained in office at the king's request (Walpole, Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 578). In the following month he expressed his disapproval of the terms of peace with France and the United States in the House of Lords (Parl. Hist. xxiii. 395, 420). Richmond refused an invitation to join the coalition ministry (Walpole, Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 589; Parl. Hist. xxiv. 155), and resigned his office on 3 April 1783, but resumed it again on the accession of Pitt to power (27 Dec. 1783). At first he declined a seat in Pitt's cabinet, but was admitted to it a few weeks afterwards at his own request (Lord Stanhope, Life of William Pitt, i. 165–6). His firmness during the struggle against the opposition in 1784 is said to have prevented Pitt from resigning in despair, and it was on this occasion that George III is reported to have said ‘there was no man in his dominions by whom he had been so much offended, and no man to whom he was so much indebted, as the Duke of Richmond’ (Memorials and Correspondence of C. J. Fox, 1853, i. 455). In spite of many previous declarations Richmond now developed into a zealous courtier, and soon grew disinclined to all measures of reform. He became extremely unpopular, and his domestic parsimony was frequently contrasted with the profusion of the public money at the ordnance office (History and Posthumous Memoirs of Sir N. Wraxall, iv. 104; see also The Rolliad, 1795, pp. 142–63). On 14 March 1785 his plans for the fortification of Portsmouth and Plymouth were violently attacked in the House of Commons. Pitt, while consenting to their delay, defended Richmond's character (Parl. Hist. xxv. 390). A board of military and naval officers having pronounced favourably upon the plans, Pitt, on 27 Feb. 1786, moved a resolution in favour of effectually securing the Portsmouth and Plymouth dockyards ‘by a permanent system of fortification founded on the most economical principles,’ which was defeated by the casting-vote of the speaker (ib. xxv. 1096–1156).
In March 1787 an acrimonious discussion took place between Richmond and the Marquis of Lansdowne during the debate upon the treaty of commerce with France (ib. xxvi. 554–66, 572–84, 589–95), which put an end to their friendship, and nearly ended in a duel (Lord E. Fitzmaurice, Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, iii. 434; and see Life and Letters of Sir Gilbert Elliot, first Earl Minto, 1874, i. 135).
In November 1790 he remonstrated with Pitt in an able and angry letter on Grenville's promotion to the peerage, and declared that this change, ‘which is avowedly made for the sole purpose of giving the House of Lords another leader,’ added to his desire of retiring from public business, ‘which you know I have long had in view’ (Lord Stanhope, Life of William Pitt, ii. 75–80). In March 1791 he dissented from Pitt as to the advisability of ‘the Russian armament’ (ib. ii. 112–13). On 31 May 1792, during the debate on the king's proclamation against seditious writings, Richmond was violently attacked by Lord Lauderdale for his apostasy in the cause of reform (Parl. Hist. xxix. 1517–1522). After an altercation Lauderdale challenged the Duke of Richmond, and was himself challenged by General Arnold, but the duel in the former case was averted by the interposition of friends (Lord Stanhope, Life of William Pitt, ii. 158). In November 1794 Richmond was called as a witness at the trials of Thomas Hardy and John Horne Tooke for high treason, when his letter ‘on the subject of a parliamentary reform,’ addressed to Lieutenant-colonel Sharman, chairman of the committee of correspondence appointed by the Irish volunteer delegates, and dated 15 Aug. 1783, in which he had insisted that universal suffrage, ‘together with annual elections, is the only reform that can be effectual and permanent,’ was read at length (Howell, State Trials, 1818, xxiv. 1047–65, xxv. 344, 375–81). This letter, which became, as Erskine said, ‘the very scripture of all these societies,’ was originally published in 1783 (London, 8vo), and passed through a number of editions. It was reprinted in the twenty-fourth volume of the ‘Pamphleteer’ (London, 1824, 8vo), pp. 351–362, and in ‘The Right of the People to Universal Suffrage,’ with prefatory remarks by Henry Brookes (London, 1859, 8vo). For the sake of concord in the cabinet Richmond was removed from the ordnance office in February 1795, and was succeeded by Charles, marquis Cornwallis. He was, however, allowed to remain on the staff, and continued to give a general support to the administration (Lord Stanhope, Life of William Pitt, ii. 298; Appendix, p. xxii). From a letter to his sister, Lady Louisa Conolly, dated 27 June 1795, it appears that at this time Richmond had become convinced of the necessity of the speedy enactment of a legislative union with Ireland (Lecky, History of England in the Eighteenth Century, vii. 133–6). In 1800 he obtained an annuity of 19,000l., payable out of the consolidated fund, in lieu of ‘a certain duty of twelvepence per chaldron of coals shipped in the river Tyne to be consumed in England,’ granted by Charles II to his son Charles, the first duke of Richmond and Lennox, by letters patent, 18 Dec. 1677 (39 & 40 Geo. III, cap. 43). In May 1802 Richmond characterised the terms of the treaty of peace as humiliating, and condemned the conduct of the war and the lavish expense in subsidising German princes (Parl. Hist. xxxvi. 731). He spoke for the last time in the House of Lords on 25 June 1804, during the debate on the second reading of the Additional Force Bill, which he condemned as a feeble and inadequate measure (Parl. Debates, 1st ser. ii. 832, 833). He died at Goodwood, Sussex, on 29 Dec. 1806, in the seventy-second year of his age, and was buried in Chichester Cathedral, his body having been first opened and filled with slack lime, according to his directions.
Richmond was a remarkably handsome man, with a dignified bearing and graceful and courteous manner. As a politician he was both hasty and ambitious. Though an indifferent speaker, ‘at the East India House, in his quality of a proprietor, no less than as a peer of parliament at Westminster, he was ever active, vigilant in detecting and exposing abuses, real or imaginary, perpetually harassing every department with inquiries, and attacking in turn the army, the admiralty, and the treasury’ (Hist. and Posth. Memoirs of Sir N. Wraxall, ii. 60). Horace Walpole, who never tired singing Richmond's praises, worshipped ‘his thousand virtues beyond any man's,’ and declared that he was ‘intrepid and tender, inflexible and humane beyond example’ (Letters, vii. 379). But Burke, while drawing a long and flattering picture of Richmond, expresses his opinion that ‘your grace dissipates your mind into too great a variety of minute pursuits, all of which, from the natural vehemence of your temper, you follow with almost equal passion’ (Correspondence, i. 376).
Richmond married, on 1 April 1757, Lady Mary Bruce, the only child of Charles, third earl of Ailesbury and fourth earl of Elgin, by his third wife, Lady Caroline Campbell, only daughter of John, fourth duke of Argyll. ‘The perfectest match,’ says Walpole, ‘in the world—youth, beauty, riches, alliances, and all the blood of the kings from Bruce to Charles II. They are the prettiest couple in England, except the father-in-law and mother’ (Letters, iii. 67). The duchess died at Goodwood on 5 Nov. 1796, without issue, and was buried in Chichester Cathedral on the 14th of the same month. Richmond left four illegitimate daughters, and was succeeded in his honours by his nephew, Charles, the only son of his younger brother, Lord George Henry Lennox.
Richmond was gazetted a major-general on 9 March 1761, lieutenant-general on 30 April 1770, general on 20 Nov. 1782, colonel of the royal regiment of horse guards on 15 July 1795, and field-marshal on 30 July 1796. He was elected F.R.S. on 11 Dec. 1755, and F.S.A. on 6 June 1793. He was a patron of literature and of the fine arts, and in March 1758 opened a gratuitous school for the study of painting and sculpture in a gallery in his garden at Whitehall, engaging Giovanni Battista Cipriani the painter and Joseph Wilton the sculptor to direct the instruction of the students (Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting, 1849, i. xiii.; Edward Edwards, Anecdotes of Painters, 1808, pp. xvi–xix). The collection of casts from the antique formed by Richmond for this purpose was the first of the kind in England. Some of them eventually came into the possession of the Royal Academy (Leslie and Taylor, Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds, i. 158–9, 316). Horace Walpole dedicated to Richmond the fourth volume of his ‘Anecdotes of Painting,’ printed at Strawberry Hill in 1771. Several of Richmond's letters will be found in the ‘Correspondence’ of Burke and Chatham respectively, and also in Lord Albemarle's ‘Memoirs of the Marquis of Rockingham,’ where some extracts from his ‘Journal’ kept during the last days of the first Rockingham administration are printed. The authorship of ‘An Answer to a short Essay [by James Glenie] on the Modes of Defence best adapted to the situation and circumstances of this Island,’ London, 1785, 8vo (anon.), is attributed to Richmond in the catalogue of the Advocates' Library.
Richmond sat twice to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who also executed a copy of one of these portraits for his wife's stepfather, Henry Seymour Conway [q. v.] A portrait of Richmond, painted at Rome by Pompeo Battoni, and another by Gainsborough, are in the possession of the present Duke of Richmond. The half-length portrait of Richmond by Romney, which belonged to Baroness Burdett Coutts, was engraved by James Watson in 1778. The duchess sat to Sir Joshua Reynolds no less than seven times. Richmond House, Whitehall, was destroyed by fire on 21 Dec. 1791 (Ann. Reg. 1791, Chron. pp. 52*–4*).