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Holles, Duke of Newcastle.
BORN A. D. 1694.-DIED A.D. 1768.
THOMAS, eldest son of Thomas, Lord Pelham, was born on the 21st of July, 1694, and succeeded to his father's honours in 1712. He subsequently came into possession of the large estates of his uncle, John Holles, duke .of Newcastle. He was distinguished as a young nobleman of an aspiring genius, towards the close of the reign of Queen Anne; and his large estates giving him extensive interest and influence, he was considered by the whig party, at this early stage of life, as a powerful friend. During the last year of the queen's reign, the duke--as he was called by courtesy-openly avowed his principles, and his attachment to George I., with whom he had the honour to correspond after the death of the electress Sophia, in 1714, when it became necessary for the court of Hanover to be apprized of all the motions of the English ministry, and to be well-assured who were their real friends.
Upon the demise of the queen, he exerted himself in promoting a loyal zeal towards the new family throughout Nottinghamshire, where his influence was universal. Pelham, however, was too young to expect any considerable share in the government, and the king had so many great men amongst the whigs to provide for, whose political abilities had stood the test of experience, that it was thought expedient at this time to reward his exertions in support of the house of Hanover, by new dignities and posts of emolument, rather than by any office in the departments of public business. In the month of October, 1714, he was created Viscount Pelham of Haughton in the county of Nottingbam, with remainder to his brother Henry Pelbam, and his heirs male, and Earl of Clare in the county of Suffolk ; he was also appointed lordlieutenant, and custos-rotulorum of the county of Nottingham. In November he was made custos-rolulorum of Middlesex, and lord-lieutenant of the said county, and of the city of Westminster. also constituted steward, warden, and keeper of the forest of Sherwood and park of Folewood.
By this time the disaffected party, known by the name of Jacobites, found it their interest to unite with the tories, who were now ripe for any mischief in revenge of the affront and inconvenience of having been dismissed from all employments of trust and emolument under the new government. This union formed a powerful opposition to all the measures of the whig administration. The press teemed with seditious pamphlets, and the populace assembled in a tumultuous manner in many parts of the capital, and proceeded to acts of open violence by breaking the windows of the houses of all persons who distinguished themselves by espousing the cause of government, and pulling down the meeting-houses of the protestant dissenters, who had been the early and zealous supporters of the protestant succession. The intelligence of the pretender's designs being conveyed to government by Earl Stair, proper measures were taken to frustrate his schemes; but the disaffected in all parts of the kingdom, buoyed up by false hopes, rose in different places, in formidable mobs, and committed great depredations, parti
cularly on the property of dissenters. As to the London mob, it increased daily, and now went by the name of the Ormond mob. In this situation of affairs, government was obliged to act with great delicacy; for employing the military to suppress these rioters would have weakened the interest of the house of Hanover, and have rendered administration unpopular. They took a measure, however, which could not be justified even under such particular circumstances. Whig mobs were secretly encouraged; and the duke of Newcastle soon distinguished himself as the chief of a mob, called after him, which had more effect in driving the duke of Ormond out of the kingdom, and in checking the insolence of the tories, than the riot-act, or any other interposition of the civil power.
The king now judged it proper to give this active supporter of his cause fresh marks of his royal favour, by creating him marquess and duke of Newcastle-under-line, in November, 1715.
In April, 1717, his grace, was appointed lord-chamberlain of the household, on the promotion of the duke of Bolton to be lord-lieutenant of Ireland : and the following year he was elected one of the knightcompanions of the Garter. In 1719 his majesty went to Hanover, and the duke of Newcastle was appointed one of the lords-justices, for the administration of the government during the king's absence. He enjoyed the same honour, upon similar occasions, at different times in the absence of George I. and George II. The duke held the post of lord-chamberlain till the month of April, 1724; when he resigned it, upon being appointed one of the principal secretaries of state, upon a change in the ministry. His
grace succeeded Lord Carteret, who was made lord-lieutenant of Ireland. At the same time, the duke's brother, Mr Henry Pelham, was appointed secretary at war; and from this period we may consider the two brothers as statesmen, whose united interest and abilities paved the way for their attainment of that plenitude of power which they enjoyed some years after. In 1726, his grace was chosen recorder of Nottingham, an honour at that time done to the duke ; though, when he became first lord of the treasury, his continuing to hold office was a return of the compliment to the county.
The accession of George II, in 1727, made no alteration in the cabinet; all the great officers of state were continued, and the system of politics established by George I. was strictly adhered to for some time. Sir Robert Walpole was continued at the head of the treasury, and Lord-viscount Townshend was considered as the chief manager of foreign concerns; his great knowledge in treaties and negotiations, acquired on embassies to different courts, qualifying him for this department in preference to the duke of Newcastle, of whom we find vers little notice taken in the annals of the first ten years of the reign of George II., except that he and his brother constantly and firmly supported Sir Robert Walpole until that statesman's power began to decline.
In the session of parliament in the year 1739, the duke of Newcastle was intrusted with a business of great importance. This was to lay before the house of peers a subsidy-treaty with the king of Denmark, by which his majesty had agreed to pay the Danish monarch £70,000 per annum, on condition that he should furnish Great Britain with a succour of 6000 men, at any time when they should be required. His
grace likewise undertook to deliver a message from the king, desiring the house would enable him to fulfil this engagement. This treaty, and the demand consequent to it, was violently attacked by the anti-ministerial peers, and particularly by Lord Carteret. But the duke exerted himself upon this occasion, and so forcibly pointed out the expediency of the measure the nation being upon the eve of a war with Spainthat the treaty was approved, after a long and animated debate, by a considerable majority. In the house of commons the treaty met with very rough treatment from Sir William Wyndham and Pulteney, the leading members in opposition against Sir Robert Walpole's administration ; but Henry Pelham supported it by plausible arguments, and the vote was carried.
Upon the resignation of Sir Robert Walpole, in 1742, a mixed administration was formed. The earl of Wilmington was made first lord of the treasury ; and Lord Carteret was appointed one of the principal secretaries of state, and had the greatest share of power in his department, so that this was called the Carteret administration. A ministry composed of some of the most violent members in the late opposition iu both houses, of a few friends of the discarded premier, and of others who were forming a new opposition, in order to bring the Pelhams into power,-in short, a medley of whigs and tories,-could not be expected to act in concert, and therefore its dissolution was foretold almost as soon as it was established. The earl of Wilmington succeeded Sir Robert as first lorid of the treasury; and Mr Sandys, his great opponent in the bouse of commons, filled his other office, being also appointed one of the treasury-board, and chancellor of the exchequer. The first measure of the new ministry was to gratify the popular wish, by setting on foot an inquiry into the conduct of affairs for twenty years past. A motion to appoint a committee for this purpose was brought into the house of commons on the 9th of March, by Lord-viscount Limerick, and was supported by Sir Johu St Aubyn, William Pitt, and Lord Percival. It was opposed by Sir Charles Wager, Henry Pelham, and Henry Fos; and, after a long debate, was rejected by a majority of two. However, on the 23d, a motion, varying only in its form, but having the same object in view, was carried by a majority of seven voices; and it was resolved, that a committee of secrecy should be chosen by ballot, to inquire into the conduct of Robert, earl of Orford, during the last ten years of his being first-commissioner of the treasury, and chancellor and under-treasurer of the exchequer. But the opposition given to these motions, by Mr Pelham in the lower house, and to similar proceedings in the upper house, by the duke of Newcastle, plainly demonstrated that there was no concord in the new cabinet; and in the session of parliament of the following year, an opposition was formed in both houses, as formidable as that which had made the earl of Orford resign. Carteret must have resigned at this period, so great were the dissensions in parliament and in the cabinet, if the unexpected news of an intended invasion by the pretender's eldest son had not called upon all parties to unite in the comnion defence of their sovereign, and of the nation. In the meantime, the Newcastle interest had been greatly strengthened by the advancement of Henry Pelbam to the head of the treasury, upon the death of the earl of Wilmington,.in July, 1743, with which office he likewise held that of chancellor of the ex
chequer. From this time the whig party in administration preponderated, and the tory interest, attached to Lord Carteret, declined ; so that towards the end of 1744, when the nation was settled, and all alarms about the pretender were over, the projected invasion having miscarried, Lord Carteret threw up his post, and the seals of his office were given to Lord Harrington, who being brought in by the Pelhams, acted under them.
The administration of the brothers now commenced, Henry Pelham being considered as prime minister, and the duke of Newcastle as the second person in power and office in the state. The following year afforded the new administration an opportunity of acquiring great popularity by the well-concerted measures taken to suppress the rebellion in Scotland; a perfect harmony prevailed in both houses,—there was no division upon any ministerial business during the whole session of parliament,—and the victory gained at Culloden by the duke of Cumberland strengthened the public opinion of the new administration, by whose recommendation the duke had been appointed generalissimo of all the king's forces, and cominander-in-chief against the rebels. The same entire approbation of the conduct of the Pelhams appeared in the succeeding session of parliament.
Such was the happy situation of affairs at home; but the bad success of our military operations in Flanders in the campaign of 1747, particularly by the defeat of the duke of Cumberland at the battle of Val, gave a handle for opposition at the next meeting of parliament, which was a new one. The king, in his speech from the throne, had mentioned that a congress would speedily be opened at Aix-la-Chapelle, for the purpose of a general pacification between all the belligerent powers. The congress accordingly took place in March, 1748 ; and had to surmount a variety of difficulties and obstructions, which the jarring interests of the contending parties had produced in the course of the negotiation ; but these being finally adjusted, the preliminary articles of peace were signed on the 19th of April
, and the definitive treaty on the 7th of October following. It was soon discovered, however, by the discontented at home, that the British ministers had been too precipitate in signing, and they were charged with aiming rather at acquiring a reputation for address and despatch, than endeavouring to render their work firm and durable. It was found, that no provision had been made by the treaty to secure the right of the British subjects to navigate the American seas, without being subject to search from the Spanish guarda-costas: and the disgraceful measure of sending two British uoblemen to the court of France, to remain there as hostages for the restitution of Cape Breton, threw the nation into such a ferment, that if the Pelhams had not made themselves secure by forming a powerful interest gradually, before they took the lead in administration, they must have thrown up their posts, as many of their predecessors had done, in order to put a stop to the popular clamour which prevailed against then without doors. When the house proceeded to the estimate of the supply for the service of the year 1749, though a reduction had been made both of the land and sea forces upon the peace, they found that the sums absolutely necessary would amount to £8,000,000. The Pelhams, upon this occasion, showed the strength of their connecLions; for the expediency of granting the above mentioned supply was
maintained by Pitt, afterwards earl of Chatham, and Murray, afterwards Lord Mansfield, whose speeches contributed, in a great measure, to turn the scale, and prevent any division upon the question. This struggle being got over, and the people beginning to be inore reconciled to the peace, the brothers turned their attention to a very popular measure, the cultivation and improvement of the long-neglected settlement of Nova Scotia. Though the settlement of this colony swelled the estimate of the supply for 1750, yet Mr Pelham met with no opposition in parliament.
He bad now brought to maturity a scheme which had often been attempted, but had always miscarried, namely, a reduction of interest on the national debt, without violating the faith of parliament, or affecting public credit. No opportunity could be more favourable than that in which he carried into execution this great financial operation. A great number of individuals at home had amassed princely fortunes by the war; and vast numbers of foreigners, during the troubles of Europe, had kept their money locked up, not knowing how to employ it to advantage with any degree of security. These all showed an eagerness to invest their property in the English funds, and increased the number of purchasers so considerably, that the stocks rose; and money came in so fast from all quarters, that the interest of it upon the best security was little more than 3 per cent. Mr Pelham, judiciously availing himself of this crisis, moved for leave to bring in a bill for reducing the interest of the 4 per cent. annuities to 3} per seven years certain, and afterwards to 3 per cent. The minister took upon himself the whole stress of the debate upon this important subject; and he so fully convinced the house of the public advantages to be derived from the measure, that it was carried without much opposition. The few who refused to subscribe were paid off their principal and interest out of the sinking-fund; and thus this great national saving was happily effectrd; and an addition of near £600,000 per annum was made, after 1750, to the produce of the sinking-fund.
Iu the month of May, 1751, another public event took place, which does honour to the administration of the brothers : this was the alteration of the style,-a scheme projected by the earl of Macclesfield, but which, from the selfishness and prejudices of individuals, could never have been carried into execution, if the duke of Newcastle and Mr Pelham had not exerted the whole weight of their influence and interest in its support. The advantages to the trading part of the king's subjects, in their correspondence with foreign merchants, were self-evident; but the landed gentlemen were at first apprehensive of difficulties with regard to the expiration of leases, the payment of rents, &c. The framers of the bill, having obviated every objection of this nature, by the great perspicuity of the provisions in the act, it passed with general approbation, and took place from the 1st of January, 1752: from which time, it was enacted, that that day should be deemed the first of every ensuing year, throughout all bis majesty's dominions, and not the 25th of March, which had hitherto been considered as the first day of the year of most covenants and contracts, as well mercantile as others. By this new law it was also decreed, that the eleven intermediate nominal days, between the second and fourteenth days of September, 1752,