[Gent. Mag. 1836 pt. i. p. 95, 1839 pt. i. pp. 309-10; Doyle's Official Baronage, i. 264.]
GRENVILLE, RICHARD PLANTAGENET TEMPLE NUGENT BRYDGES CHANDOS, second Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1797–1861), only child of Richard T. N. B. C. Grenville, first duke of Buckingham [q. v.], was born at Buckingham House, Pall Mall, London, 11 Feb. 1797, and as Lord Cobham entered Eton in 1808. From 1813 to 1822 he was known as Earl Temple, and under that name matriculated from Oriel College, Oxford, 25 Oct. 1815. He was M.P. for Buckinghamshire from 22 June 1818 to 17 Jan. 1839. From the date of his father's elevation to a dukedom in 1822 he was known as Marquis of Chandos. He introduced into the Reform Bill in 1832 the tenant-at-will clause, known as the Chandos clause, which extended the franchise in counties to 50l. It is the only part of the Reform Bill which is identified with any one's name, and Lord John Russell said that it destroyed the symmetry of the whig measure, and frustrated whig expectations in the counties. In 1836 Chandos obtained a select committee ‘for the consideration of the grievances and depressed state of the agriculturists.’ He was gazetted G.C.H. in 1835, and on the death of his father, 17 Jan. 1839, succeeded as second Duke of Buckingham. He had become captain of the 2nd Bucks regiment of yeomanry, 15 June 1813, and was named colonel of the royal Bucks regiment of yeomanry, 22 Sept. 1839. On Sir Robert Peel coming into office he was named lord privy seal, 3 Sept. 1841, but when the premier proposed to deal with the corn laws he retired, January 1842, and did not again join any ministry. He was sworn a privy councillor 3 Sept. 1841, made a knight of the Garter 11 April 1842, and became a D.C.L. of Cambridge in the latter year. Popularly known as ‘The Farmer's Friend,’ he was presented on 18 May 1842 at Aylesbury with a testimonial by his admirers. Although at the time he spoke of this as the last scene in his political life (Times, 19 May 1842), he again spoke in Buckinghamshire against the repeal of the corn laws on 31 Dec. 1845 and 7 Feb. 1846.
On the death of his father in 1839 the duke succeeded to a rent-roll of 100,000l. a year; the estates, however, were very heavily encumbered, and he himself much increased the liabilities. One of his expensive habits was purchasing land with borrowed money, regardless of the fact that the interest of the money he borrowed was much heavier than the rental he recovered from the land. In 1844, on his eldest son coming of age, the entail to some of the estates was cut off, leaving intact the Chandos estates, which were entailed upon female heirs. Although it was known that the duke was in financial difficulties, the queen and Prince Albert paid him a visit at Stowe Park, Buckinghamshire, where they stayed from 15 to 18 Jan. 1845 (Times, 16-20 Jan. 1845; Illustr. London News, 18 and 25 Jan. 1845). This visit cost a large sum of money, and helped to precipitate the impending catastrophe. On 31 Aug. 1847 the effects at Stowe and other residences were taken possession of by the bailiffs, and on 12 Sept. the duke left England with liabilities estimated at upwards of a million. Some of his estates in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, and Northamptonshire were sold on 10 May 1848 for 262,990l. A forty days' sale of the pictures, china, plate, furniture, &c., at Stowe commenced on 15Aug. 1848, and was attended by dealers from all parts of the world, producing 75,562l. (Times, 14 Aug. to 24 Sept. 1848; Illustrated London News, 19 Aug. to 23 Sept. 1848; Athenæum, 1848, pp. 344, 776, 829, 860, 912, 939, 965, 1033, 1333). The ‘Times’ wrote with great severity of the duke as ‘a man of the highest rank, and of a property not unequal to his rank, who has flung away all by extravagance and folly, and reduced his honour to the tinsel of a pauper and the baubles of a fool.’ His conduct, however, was looked on in a more favourable light by other critics. The first portion of the library at the conclusion of the sale, 20 Jan. 1849, brought 4,581l. 11s. 6d. (Athenæum, 1849, pp. 42, 70, 142); the engravings on 14 March sold for 2,359l. 10s. 6d. (ib. pp. 281, 307, 337); and the Stowe manuscripts passed to Lord Ashburnham on 1 May for 8,000l. (ib. pp. 380, 463). The duke married, 13 May 1819, Lady Mary Campbell, youngest daughter of John, first marquis of Breadalbane. She now in the consistory court, on her own petition, obtained a divorce from her husband, 19 Jan. 1850 (Times,21 Jan. 1850, p. 7). Henceforth the duke occupied himself as an author, and the many historical works which he produced, founded on his own manuscripts and journals, have served to throw much light upon the inner political history of modern times. He died at the Great Western Hotel, Paddington, London, 29 July 1861. The duchess, who was born 10 July 1795, died at Stowe, 28 June 1862.
Buckingham published the following works:
- ‘Agricultural Distress; its Cause and Remedy,’ 1835.
- 'The Ballot discussed in a Letter to the Earl of Devon,’ 1837, two editions.
- ‘Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George III,’ 1853-5, 4 vols.
- ‘Memoirs of the Court of England during the Regency,’