Villiers, John Charles (DNB00)

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VILLIERS, JOHN CHARLES, third Earl of Clarendon of the Villiers (1757–1838), second son of Thomas Villiers, first earl of Clarendon [q. v.], was born on 14 Nov. 1757. He was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, whence he graduated M.A. 1776 and LL.D. on 30 April 1833, and was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 22 June 1779 (Registers). In January 1784 Lord Camelford (probably at Pitt's request) brought Villiers into parliament at a by-election for Old Sarum, and he represented that pocket borough till 1790, and then sat for Dartmouth 1790–1802, and for the Wick district of burghs from 1802 till 27 May 1805, when he accepted the Chiltern hundreds. He was afterwards member for Queenborough 1807–12 and 1820–4. Villiers did not make his mark in parliament as a debater, and was styled ‘a mere courtier, famous for telling interminable long stories’ (Sir George Jackson, Diaries and Correspondence). The ‘Rolliad’ notices him as ‘Villiers, comely with the flaxen hair,’ and likens him to the Nereus of Homer. Wraxall also (Posthumous Memoirs) styles him the ‘Nereus’ of Pitt's forces, and mentions him as a staunch supporter of that minister, to whose friendship entirely he owed his appointment for life in February 1790 to the lucrative sinecure of warden and chief justice in eyre of all the royal forests, chaces, parks, and warrens north of Trent. On 6 Feb. 1782 Villiers was made joint king's counsel in the duchy court of Lancaster by his father, who then was chancellor of the duchy. From 29 July 1786 till his succession to the peerage he was surveyor of woods south of the Trent of the duchy of Lancaster. He was added to the privy council and made comptroller of the king's household on 19 Feb. 1787. This position at court he filled for three years, and on 24 Feb. 1790 he was made a commissioner of the board of trade. He was recorder and under-steward of New Windsor from 1789 to 1806 (Tighe and Davis, Annals of Windsor). When the rise of the French republic caused apprehensions in this country, Villiers was appointed colonel of the first regiment of fencible cavalry on 14 March 1794, and was granted the rank of colonel in the army during service in the field (Royal Kalendar, Militia Lists). He was made first prothonotary of the common pleas in the county palatine of Lancaster in June 1804, and held the office until his death. From 27 Nov. 1808 to 10 Jan. 1810 Villiers was envoy to the court of Portugal. On the death of his eldest brother, Thomas, unmarried, on 7 March 1824, he succeeded him as third Earl of Clarendon and as a count of the kingdom of Prussia, but took little part afterwards in public life, devoting himself to religious and charitable works. He died suddenly at his residence, Walmer Terrace, Deal, on 22 Dec. 1838, and was buried at Watford on 29 Dec. By his marriage, on 5 Jan. 1791, with his cousin, Maria Eleanor, youngest daughter and coheiress of Admiral John Forbes (1714–1796) [q. v.], he had an only daughter, Mary Harriet, who died unmarried on 20 Jan. 1835. He was succeeded as fourth earl of Clarendon by his nephew, George William Frederick Villiers [q. v.]

[Foster's Peerage; Official Return of Members of Parliament; Haydn's Book of Dignities; Doyle's Official Baronage; Gent. Mag. 1839, i. 207.]

W. R. W.