Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Manners, John (1721-1770)

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MANNERS, JOHN, Marquis of Granby (1721–1770), lieutenant-general, colonel of the royal horse guards (blues), eldest son of John, third duke of Rutland, K.G. (1696–1779), by his marriage in 1717 with Bridget, only daughter and heiress of Robert Sutton, lord Lexinton [q. v.], was born 2 Aug. 1721, and was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He travelled some time on the continent with his tutor John Ewer [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Bangor. In 1741 he was returned to parliament for the borough of Grantham; and during the Jacobite rising four years later received his first military commission, dated 4 Oct. 1745, as colonel of a regiment of foot raised by the Rutland interest at Leicester. The 'Leicester Blues,' as it was called, was one of fifteen short-service regiments formed on a scheme proposed by the Duke of Bedford, which Horace Walpole declares to have been a gross job, as not six out of the fifteen were ever raised (Walpole, Letters, i. 890). Granby's regiment was one of the exceptions. It was in Lichfield camp in November 1745 when the Duke of Cumberland was marching on Carlisle, and, under Lieutenant-colonel John Stanwix, was with General Wade at Newcastle-on-Tyne and Gateshead in 1746 (see War Office Marching Books, 1745-6). Granby was then serving as a volunteer with Cumberland's army. His name is mentioned in a despatch in the 'London Gazette' of 22-5 March 1746, as having been present in an affair with the rebels at Strathbogie. In a letter to his father, dated Fort Augustus, 17 June 1746 (the earliest of Granby's letters among the family papers), he describes the devastation of the highlands after Culloden, in accordance with the duke's directions to destroy and burn all the country (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. pt. v., Rutland MSS. ii. 196-7). Granby's regiment, the men of which had been for some time clamouring for discharge (ib. pp. 197-8), was disbanded, 25 Dec. 1746. Granby retained his rank and seniority as colonel in the army.

On his first appointment a new writ had been issued, but he was re-elected for Grantham, and was again returned in the general election of 1747. Letter-books preserved at Belvoir Castle show that Granby and his brother, Lord Robert Manners-Sutton, made the campaign of 1747 with the army in Flanders. On 31 Sept. 1750 Granby married Frances, eldest daughter of Charles Seymour, sixth duke of Somerset. Horace Walpole writes to Mann of the marriage projects: 'The bride is one of the heiresses of old proud Somerset. . . . She has 4,000l. a year; he is said to have the same at present, but not to touch hers. He is in debt 10,000l.' The lady, 'who never saw nor knew the value of ten shillings while her father lived, and has had no time to learn it . . . squandered 7,000l. in all sorts of baubles and fripperies' just before her marriage; 'so her 4,000l. a year is to be set aside for two years to pay her debts. Don't you like this English management? Two of the greatest fortunes mating, and setting out with poverty and want' (Letters, ii. 223-4). Granby was returned for Cambridgeshire in 17o4, and represented it in successive parliaments up to his death. He became a major-general, 4 March 1755, and colonel of the royal horse guards (blues), 13 May 1758. He appears to have been in Germany (near Embden) in July 1758 (Rep. Rutland MSS. ii. 200), and in command at Cassel in May 1 759 (ib. p. 201). He had obtained the rank of lieutenant-general in February 1759, was at the head of the blues at the battle of Minden, 1 Aug. 1759, and had set his regiment in motion to follow the retreating French when he was peremptorily halted dv Lord George Sackville [see Germaine, George Sackville]. Granby and Sackville did not get on well together, but Sackville was confident Granby would readily acknowledge that the object of the halt was to carry out Prince Ferdinand's orders as to preserving the alignment (Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. pt. iii.) After the battle Granby was specially thanked by Prince Ferdinand. When Sackville resigned, Granby became commander-in-chief of the British contingent from 14 Aug. 1759 (Rep. Rutland MSS. ii. 201). The strength oi the British troops, after the arrival of the reinforcements in 1760, was thirty-two thousand men. In this position Granby acquired high reputation during the ensuing campaigns. He was a great favourite with Prince Ferdinand, a circumstance which his critics attributed to his pliant disposition and hard drinking; but the fact remains that the troops under his orders were always assigned the post of danger, and, with their commander, always proved themselves worthy of the honour. At Warburg in Westphalia, when the French were defeated, with the loss of fifteen hundred men and ten guns, on 31 July 1760, a brilliant charge of the British heavy cavalry led by Granby, in the words of Prince Ferdinand, 'contributed extremely to the success of the day.' Ferdinand testified to the 'unbeschreibende Tapferkeit' with which Granby's corps defended the wooded heights of Fellinghausen (Kirchdenkern) on 15 July 1761 , against the attack of the French under De Broglie, and on the morrow against the united efforts of De Broglie and Soubise, who were compelled to retreat in what turned into a flight to the Rhine. On 24 June 3762, at Gravenstein, where he commanded the right wing of the allies; at Wilhelmstahl next day, when he cut off the French rear-guard, and the elite of their grenadiers laid down their arms to the 5th foot, one of the regiments under his orders; on 6 Aug. of the same year, when he stormed the heights of Homburg, and so cut off the French from their base at Frankfort-on-Maine, Granby's services were as important as they were brilliant. He left a sickbed on an inclement night during the siege of Cassel, to head the cavalry in seizing a position of importance to the security of the army, declared by the other generals to be impracticable. Ligonier rallied him pleasantly in a letter of 7 Oct. 1762 on his new cure for fever (ib. ii. 369).

As a divisional leader Granby was unquestionably a splendid soldier. He was brave to a fault, skilful, generous to profuseness, careful of his soldiers, and beloved by them. When the troops in Germany, through no fault of his, were in bad quarters, he is stated to have procured provisions and necessaries for the men at his own cost; his table was at the same time always open to the officers. The sick and wounded of all ranks found in him a constant friend. In the days of his political power he warmly opposed the principle of dismissing military officers for their political opinions.

Granby's order-books in Germany are in the British Museum (Add. MS. 28855), together with a proposal by him to raise a regiment of light dragoons (ib. 32903, f. 23). The regiment, known as the 21st light dragoons or royal Windsor foresters, was raised in the neighbourhood of London early in 1761. Granby was colonel, and his brother, Lord Robert Manners-Sutton, lieutenant-colonel commanding. It was said to be one of the finest corps in the service. It was disbanded at Nottingham, 3 March 1763 (see Sutton, Nottingham Date Book). Granby, who was long dangerously ill with fever at Warburg during the latter part of 1762, returned home early in 1763 His popularity was then unbounded. Fox [see Fox, Henry, Lord Holland, 1705-1774] wrote asking his political support in October 1 762 (Rep. Rutland MSS. ii. 360), and special messengers awaited his return at all the principal ports to offer him a choice of the ordnance or the horse guards (cf. Jesse, Memoirs of the Reign of George III, i. 146-370). Granby was made master-general of the ordnance on 1 July 1763, and became twelfth commander-in-chief, 13 Aug. 1766. In this position he was savagely assailed three years later by 'Junius,' who declared that he 'had degraded the office of commander-in-chief to that of a broker in commissions.' Sir William Draper [q. v.] replied in a letter to the 'Public Advertiser,' defending Granby, which provoked 'Junius' to further attacks. As the object of 'Junius' was to overthrow the Grafton ministry, he doubtless thought it necessary to use extra pains to damage the reputation of those who stood highest in public opinion. After Granby's death 'Junius' declared that he bore him no ill-will — that his (Granby's) 'mistakes in public conduct did not arise from want of sentiment or judgment, but, in general, in the difficulty of saying no to the bad people who surrounded him' (ib.) Walpole speaks of him as having sunk (in public estimation) by changing his views so often (Letters, v. 214-16). Early in 1770 Granby made a public recantation of the views he had previously expressed at the Middlesex election, and declared that he should always lament his vote on that occasion as the greatest misfortune of his life. Shortly afterwards he cut short his public career by resigning all his appointments, the colonelcy of the blues excepted. His latter days appear to have been much harassed by creditors.

Granby was made P.C. in 1760, lord-lieutenant of Derbyshire in 1762, and LL.D. Cambridge in 1769. He died at Scarborough, of gout in the stomach, 18 Oct. 1770, aged 49, and was buried at Bottesford, Leicestershire. His unsecured debts at his death are stated at 37,000l. (Rutland MSS. ii. 316). By his marriage he had issue, John, lord Roos, born on 27 Aug. 1751, died in 1760; Charles, afterwards Marquis of Granby and fourth Duke of Rutland; Lord Robert Manners [q. v.], and three daughters.

Granby was twice painted by Reynolds, and one of these portraits, showing him on horseback, is now in the National Gallery.

[Foster's Peerage, under 'Rutland' and 'Somerset;' H. Walpole's Letters; Parl. Hist. under dates; Bonn's Letters of Junius, ed. by Wade; Calendar Home Office Papers, 176&-70; Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. pt. v. Rep. on Rutland MSS.; Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 28855, G. O. in Germany, 28553; Letters from Prince Ferdinand, 32864-955; Correspondence (copies) with Holies, duke of Newcastle, and other letters; Home Office, Mil. Entry Books, and Ordnance Records in Public Record Office. The originals of the Secretary of State's instructions to the Marquis of Granby in Germany are at Belvoir, only entries existing in the Public Records; while the originals of the marquis s despatches home are in the Record Office (Foreign Office Papers). The extracts printed by the Hist. MSS. Commission (Ruthtad MSS.) are from the copies at Belvoir, not from the originals.]

H. M. C.