Leveson-Gower, Granville (1721-1803) (DNB00)

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LEVESON-GOWER, GRANVILLE, first Marquis of Stafford (1721–1803), third son of John, first Earl Gower [see under Leveson-Gower, John, 1675–1709] by his first wife, the Lady Evelyn Pierrepont, third daughter of Evelyn, first duke of Kingston, was born on 4 Aug. 1721, and educated at Westminster School, where, in his fifteenth year, he was admitted upon the foundation. Leaving Westminster in 1740, he matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, on 30 April in that year. He did not, however, take any degree, and was returned to parliament for the borough of Bishop's Castle at a bye-election in December 1744. At the general election in 1747 he was returned at the head of the poll for the city of Westminster. On 18 Nov. 1749 he was appointed a lord of the admiralty in Pelham's administration, and was again returned for Westminster after a very severe contest with Sir George Vandeput, the tory candidate, whom he defeated by a majority of 170 votes. During the debate on the petitions against his return, in January 1751, Gower, then known by his courtesy title of Lord Trentham, made his maiden speech in the House of Commons, replying to the attacks made against him 'with great manliness and sense and sprit' (Walpole, Memoirs of George II, i.14). Having attached himself to that section of the whig party nicknamed the 'Bloomsbury Gang,' of which his brother-in-law, the fourth Duke of Bedford, was the leader, he resigned office in June 1751. At the general election in April 1754 he was returned at the head of the poll for the city of Lichfield, and on the death of his father, on 25 Dec. 1754, succeeded to the upper house as second Earl Gower. On 7 Jan. 1755 he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Staffordshire, and on 22 Dec. in that year was, through the influence of the Duke of Bedford, constituted lord privy seal, in the place of the Duke of Marlborough, and at the same time was sworn a member of the privy council. Resigning the privy seal in. June 1757 he was appointed, on the 2nd of the following month, master of the horse, a post which he retained until his appointment as keeper of the great wardrobe, on 25 Nov. 1760. Fox, in a memorandum 'wrote at Lord Bute's desire and given to him March 11, 1763,' recommended Lord Gower for office, saying that he 'is of a humour and nature the most practicable; and if any man could do the office of southern secretary without either quarrelling with Charles Townshend or letting down the dignity of his own office, he would' (Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice, Life of Shelburne, i, 187–8). In April 1763 Gower became lord chamberlain of the household, but resigned that office upon the accession of Rockingham to power in July 1765. In August 1766 Gower refused to accept Chatham's offer of a place in the ministry as first lord of the admiralty, but was afterwards induced by the Duke of Grafton to become president of the council, and kissed hands on his appointment on 23 Dec. 1767. From this time Gower took a considerable part in the debates in the House of Lords, and on 11 Feb. 1771 was elected a knight of the Garter, in the place of the Duke of Bedford, who had died in the preceding month. Though in February 1775 Gower 'declared in the most unreserved terms for reducing the Americans to submission,' opposing Chatham's provisional act for settling the troubles in America (Parl. Hist. xviii, 207–8, 211–12), and in May 1777 spoke against Chatham's motion for an address to the king to put a stop to the hostilities (ib. xix. 320-3), he altered his views in regard to the wisdom of continuing the American war, and resigned office in November 1779. On 1 Dec. following, during the debate on Shelburne's motion of censure on the ministers for their conduct towards Ireland, Gower made a violent attack upon the government, and declared that he had 'presided for years at the council table, and had seen such things pass there of late that no man of honour or conscience could any longer sit there' (ib. xx, 1175–6). In March 1783, after the fall of Lord Shelburne's ministry, the post of prime minister was offered to Gower, who had, however, sufficient resolution to refuse it. Upon Pitt's accession to power Gower once more became lord president of the council on 19 Dec. 1783, but was succeeded by Lord Camden in the following year, and appointed lord privy seal on 24 Nov. 1784. On 1 March 1786 he was created Marquis of the county of Stafford, and resigned the office of privy seal in July 1794, upon the Duke of Portland joining the ministry. He died at Trentham Hall, Staffordshire, on 26 Oct. 1803, in his eighty-third year. Gower was a man of considerable parts, great wealth, and much political influence. He was chosen a governor of the Charterhouse on 24 June 1757, and elected F.S.A. on 28 April 1784. During the latter part of his political career he spoke but rarely in the house, 8 Dec. 1788 being the date of his last reported speech (Parl. Hist. xxvii, 6o8). He married, first, on 23 Dec. 1744, Elizabeth, daughter of Nicholas Fazakerly of Frescot. Lancashire, who died of small-pox on 19 May 1745, and whose only child John predeceased her. On 28 March 1748 he married, secondly, the Lady Louisa Egerton, eldest daughter of Scroope, first duke of Bridgewater, by whom he had four children, viz, George Granville, who married 4 Sept. 1785 Elizabeth (1765–1839), countess of Sutherland in her own right, succeeded as the second marquis of Stafford, and was on 28 Jan. 1833 created Duke of Sutherland, and three daughters. Gower's second wife died on 14 March 1761, and on 23 May 1768 he married, thirdly, Lady Susannah Stewart, second daughter of Alexander, sixth earl of Galloway, by whom he had three daughters and one son, Granville Leveon-Gower (1773–1846), who was afterwards created Viscount and Earl Granville, and is separatately noticed. His widow survived him but a short time, and died on 15 Aug. 1806. A full-length portrait of Gower by George Romney belongs to the Duke of Sutherland.

[Alumni Westmon. (1852), pp. 313, 314–16; Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George II (1847); Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George III (1845); Walpole's Letters, ed. Cunningham, v. 9, vii. 14, 221, 266–7, viii. 184–5, 188, 244, 345, 348, 351; Grenville Papers (1852–1853), vol. ii. iii. iv.; Coxe's Memoirs of the Pelham Administration (1829), ii. 182–6; Collins's Peerage (1812), ii. 449, 450–2; Doyle's Official Baronage (1886), iv. 395–6; Burke's Peerage (1886), p. 1305; Foster's Alumni Oxonienses (1888), pt. ii. 546; Gent. Mag. lxxiii. pt. ii. 1089, 1250, vol. lxxv. pt. ii. p. 1782; Haydn's Book of Dignities (1851); Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. 90, 101, 102, 116.]

G. F. R. B.