Proby, John Joshua (DNB00)

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PROBY, JOHN JOSHUA, first Earl of Carysfort (1761–1828), born on 12 Aug. 1751, was the only son of John, first baron Carysfort [q. v.], by his wife the Hon. Elizabeth Allen, elder daughter of John, second viscount Allen. He was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated M.A. in 1770. He succeeded his father as second Baron Carysfort on 18 Oct. 1772, and took his seat, on 12 Oct. 1773, in the Irish House of Lords, where he soon became a prominent debater (Journals of the Irish House of Lords, iv. 684).

On 18 Dec. 1777 Carysfort signed a strongly worded protest against the embargo, and on 2 March 1780 he joined with Charlemont and others in protesting against the address (ib, v. 24-5, 102). In February 1780 he wrote a letter 'to the gentlemen of the Huntingdonshire committee,' which was subsequently printed and distributed by the Society of Constitutional Information, advocating the shortening of parliaments, a fuller representation of the people, and 'a strict œconomy of the public treasure.' He appears to have formed the intention of contesting the university of Cambridge at the general election in this year, but he did not go to the poll (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. viii. 648). Though Carysfort had supported Grattan in his agitation (Froude, English in Ireland, 1872-4, ii. 267), he was elected a knight of St. Patrick on 6 Feb. 1784, and installed in St. Patrick's Cathedral on 11 Aug. 1800 (Nicolas, History of the Orders of Knighthood, 1842, vol. iv. (P.) p. xxii). On 16 Feb. 1789 he protested against the address to the Prince of Wales requesting him to exercise the royal authority in Ireland during the king's illness (Journals of the Irish House of Lords, vi. 233-4). As a reward for his support of the lord-lieutenant's policy he was appointed, on 15 July, joint guardian and keeper of the rolls in Ireland, was sworn a member of the Irish privy council; and, on 20 Aug., was created Earl of Carysfort in the peerage of Ireland (ib, vi. 317). In February 1790 he was elected to the British House of Commons for East Looe. He was returned for Stamford at the general election in June 1790, and continued to represent that borough until he was made a peer of the United Kingdom. In April 1791 he supported Wilberforce's motion for the abolition of the slave trade (Parl. Hist. xxix. 333-4). During the debate on the address in December 1792 Carysfort warmly advocated the claims of the Irish Roman catholics, who had 'the same interests as the protestants, and ought to have the same privileges' (ib. xxx. 78-9). He cordially supported the address to the king in November 1797, and maintained that the French government was founded on 'a system hostile to the re-establishment of tranquillity' (ib. xxxiii. 1017-18). On 21 April 1800 Carysfort spoke in favour of the union with Ireland, and declared that the measure was 'wise, politic, and advantageous to the two countries' (ib. xxxv. 83). He was appointed envoy-extraordinary and minister-plenipotentiary to the court of Berlin on 24 May 1800 (London Gazette, 1800, p. 499), a post which he retained until October 1802 (see De Martens, Supplément au Recueil des principaux Traités, 1802, ii. 424-36). He was created Baron Carysfort of Norman Cross in the county of Huntingdon on 21 Jan. 1801, and took his seat in the House of Lords on 27 Nov. following (Journals of the House of Lords, xliii. 418). On 20 Jan. 1805 Carysfort attacked the foreign policy of the ministry, and moved an amendment to the address, but was defeated by a majority of fifty-three votes (Parl. Debates, 1st ser, v. 461-5, 482). On the formation of the Ministry of all the Talents in February 1806 Carysfort was sworn a member of the privy council (12 Feb.), and appointed joint postmaster-general (20 Feb.) On 18 June he was further appointed a member of the board of trade, and on 16 July he became a commissioner of the board of control. He resigned these three offices on the accession of the Duke of Portland to power in the spring of the following year. He signed a protest against the bombardment of Copenhagen on 3 March 1808 (Rogers, Complete Collection of the Protests of the House of Lords, 1875, ii. 389–92). On 31 Jan. 1812 he spoke in favour of Lord Fitzwilliam's motion for the consideration of the state of Irish affairs (Parl. Debates, 1st ser. xxi. 454–6). Though he supported the second reading of the Preservation of the Peace in Ireland Bill, he spoke at some length against the Irish Seditious Meetings Bill in July 1814 (ib. 1st ser. xxviii. 822, 856–7). He spoke for the last time in the House of Lords on 23 Nov. 1819 (ib. 1st ser. xli. 33–5). He died at his house in Grosvenor Street, London, on 7 April 1828, aged 76. A tablet was erected to his memory in Elton Church, Huntingdonshire.

Carysfort married first, on 18 March 1774, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Rt. Hon. Sir William Osborne, bart., of Newtown, co. Tipperary, by whom he had three sons—viz. (1) William Allen, viscount Proby, a captain in the navy, who died unmarried off Barbados on 6 Aug. 1804, while commanding the frigate Amelia; (2) John, a general in the army, who succeeded as second Earl of Carysfort, and died unmarried on 11 June 1855; and (3) Granville Leveson [q. v.]. who succeeded as third earl—and two daughters. His wife died in November 1783, and on 12 April 1787 he married, secondly, Elizabeth, second daughter of the Rt. Hon. George Grenville [q. v.], and sister of George, first marquis of Buckingham, by whom he had one son—George, who died on 19 April 1791—and three daughters. Lady Carysfort survived her husband several years, and died at Huntercombe, near Maidenhead, on 21 Dec. 1842, aged 86.

Carysfort was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1779. He was created a D.C.L. of Oxford University on 3 July 1810, and an LL.D. of Cambridge University on 1 July 1811. Portraits of Carysfort and of his first wife were painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. A portrait of his second wife was painted by Hoppner.

He was author of:

  1. 'Thoughts on the Constitution, with a view to the proposed Reform in the Representation of the People and Duration of Parliaments,' London, 1783, 8vo.
  2. 'The Revenge of Guendolen' [a poem], anon., privately printed [1780?], 8vo.
  3. 'Polyxena' [a tragedy in five acts and in verse], anon., privately printed [London, 1798], 8vo.
  4. 'Dramatic and Narrative Poems,' London, 1810, 8vo, 2 vols.
  5. 'An Essay on the proper Temper of the Mind towards God: addressed by the Earl of Carysfort to his Children. To which is added a Dissertation on the Example of Christ,' privately printed, London, 1817, 12mo.

[Annual Register, 1828, App. to Chron. pp. 229–30; G. K. C.'s Complete Peerage, ii. 171–2; Foster's Peerage, 1883, p. 133; Collins's Peerage of England, 1812, ix. 140–2; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, 1789, vii. 70–1; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886, iii. 1155; Grad. Cantabr. (1823), p. 382; Alumni Westmon, (1852), p. 547; Gent. Mag. 1791 pt. i. p. 586, 1805 pt. i. p. 84; 1843 pt. i. p. 218, 1855 pt. ii. pp. 313–14; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. v. 247, 335; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. pp. 176, 191, 204; Haydn's Book of Dignities, 1890; Baker's Biogr. Dramatica, 1812, vol. i. pt. ii. p.584; Biogr. Dictionary of Living Authors, 1816, p. 58; Martin's Catalogue of privately printed Books, 1854; Watt's Bibl. Brit. 1821; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.