RUSSELL, Edward (1652-1727)

RUSSELL, Edward (1652–1727)

cr. 7 July 1697 earl of ORFORD

First sat 6 Dec. 1697; last sat 2 May 1725

MP Launceston 1689-90, Portsmouth 1690-5, Cambs. 1695-7

b.1652, 2nd s. of Hon. Edward Russell (d.1665) and Penelope, da. of Sir Moyses Hill of Hillsborough, wid. of Hon. Arthur Wilmot of Dublin and Sir William Brooke of Cooling Castle, Kent. educ. Tottenham, Mdx. (Mark Lewis’ sch.); St John’s Camb. 1666, LLD 1705. m. 12 Nov. 1691, cos. Margaret (1656-1702), yst. da. of William Russell, duke of Bedford, s.p. d. 26 Nov. 1727; will 2 Mar. 1727, pr. 3 Jan. 1728.1

Groom of the bedchamber to James Stuart, duke of York, 1682-aft. 1683; PC 1689-1702, 1709-d.; treas. of the navy 1689-99; commr. of the Admiralty 1690-1; first ld. of the Admiralty 1694-9, 1709-10, 1714-17; commr. appeals for prizes 1694-aft. 1695;2 ld. justice 1697-8, 1714; commr. Union with Scotland 1706.

Custos rot. Cambs. 1689-d.; dep. lt. Cambs. 1701-2;3 ld. lt. Cambs.1714-d.; asst. Mines Co. 1693;4 commr. Greenwich Hosp. 1694; freeman, Portsmouth 1695;5 conservator Bedford Level 1697, 1712-24;6 high steward, Camb. 1699-d.;7 master of king’s game, Newmarket 1715-aft. 1718;8 recorder and high steward, Harwich c.1715-d.9

Ent. RN 1666, lt. 1671, capt. 1672-82; adm. (blue) 1689; adm. of the fleet 1690-3, 1693-7.

Associated with: Chippenham, Cambs.

Likenesses: Sir G. Kneller, oils, National Maritime Museum.

Born into a cadet branch of the family of the earls (later dukes) of Bedford, Edward (known familiarly as ‘Cherry’ or ‘cherry-cheeked’) Russell was the second of five sons. He entered the navy as a midshipman in 1666, following a brief sojourn in Cambridge, and proceeded to build a reputation as a talented if somewhat irascible seaman.10 Russell himself admitted, ‘I am afraid I am thought an uneasy man’. Macky noted his other notorious shortcomings, ‘No gentleman was ever better beloved by the English sailors than he, when he had the first command of the fleet; but he soon lost all by his pride, and covetousness.’ Orford’s proud demeanour was again alluded to in a sardonic poem composed in the middle years of Queen Anne that exhorted its subject to be, among other things, as ‘humble as Orford.’11 Throughout his career Russell’s temper stood in the way of his preferment; more damagingly, he was also dogged by accusations of peculation and, while it seems fair to conclude that he probably indulged no more in siphoning off funds than others in his position, he told far from the truth when he reported that he had expended much greater sums than he had gained by his various offices.

Despite all this, Russell was far more than a bluff, foul-tempered, slightly crooked old salt, trading on an illustrious name. Although he was probably the Junto member who made the least impact as a parliamentary manager, he has been identified as its most significant member in the early years of the group’s existence.12 He was certainly a shrewd politician of the first rank and more malleable than often acknowledged. He survived three separate attempts by the Commons to shame him, served three monarchs over a period of more than 30 years and, in spite of his habitual grumbling, he remained a central figure in Whig politics throughout the period.

Naval career 1670s-1697

Gazetted lieutenant in 1671, Russell received his first command the following year when he was promoted captain of the Phoenix. Further commands followed in quick succession, and in 1677 he was appointed to the duke of York’s bedchamber. The execution of his cousin, William Russell, Lord Russell, in 1683 put a stop to Russell’s steady advancement. He resigned his places and retired from court.13 By 1687 he was a central figure in the opposition grouping, one of those called upon by William of Orange’s envoy, Dijkvelt, and a significant conduit between the principal conspirators and his friend Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham. When Nottingham withdrew from the conspiracy the following year, it was to Russell that he confided his resolution.14 Russell was in close communication with William of Orange, a correspondence that was no doubt facilitated by the presence of one of his sisters at Prince William’s court.15 One of the ‘immortal seven’ to sign the letter of invitation to the prince in June 1688, later that summer Russell quit England to join the Dutch invasion force. During the advance on London he served as William’s secretary.16

Russell was returned for Launceston to the Convention, where his ability to marshal a significant grouping within the Commons turned him into an influential broker, though the extent of his direct interest among the contingent of naval officers has perhaps been overstated. Only five of the 29 members sitting in the period 1690 to 1715 who possessed naval commissions appear to have owed much to his patronage. Three family members (Edward, James and Robert Russell) also followed his lead on occasions.17 So did Sir Thomas Tipping, who had been part of William of Orange’s invasion force in 1688 and later married Russell’s niece, and Sir William Ellys, whose daughter was married to Russell’s nephew. In 1689 Russell increased his interest in Cambridgeshire by purchasing the Chippenham Hall estate near Newmarket from a kinsman, having previously inherited an estate at Shingay from his uncle, Colonel John Russell.18 The purchase of Chippenham served to consolidate significantly the family interest in the county, already represented by the duke of Bedford, and in 1696 Russell augmented this with the addition of the nearby manor of Burrough Green.19

Although Russell was appointed to the Privy Council in 1689 and the following year replaced his arch rival Arthur Herbert, earl of Torrington, as admiral of the fleet, by 1692, in common with a number of his Whig colleagues, he appears to have become discontented with the Williamite regime. His disgruntlement may have led him to take part in desultory discussions with the Jacobite agent, David Lloyd (or Floyd), to whom it was believed he had been introduced by John Churchill, earl (later duke) of Marlborough. It is possible that such discussions were conducted with King William’s prior knowledge.20 Any intention he may have had to turn coat once more was quashed by the exiled king’s declaration that year. According to Macaulay, this prompted Russell to inform Lloyd that although, ‘I wish to serve King James. The thing might be done, if it were not his own fault. But he takes the wrong way with us. Let him forget all the past: let him grant a general pardon; and then I will see what I can do for him.’ Swatting away Lloyd’s subsequent offers of reward in the event of a restoration, Russell was then said to have warned him that,

I do not wish to hear anything on that subject. My solicitude is for the public. And do not think that I will let the French triumph over us in our own sea. Understand this, that if I meet them I fight them, ay, though his majesty himself should be on board.21

The accuracy of such an exchange is open to question, though Lloyd’s correspondence with the exiled court reflects realistically Russell’s impatience and quick temper.22 If such discussions did take place Russell was as good as his word and his victory over the French fleet at the battle of La Hogue confirmed his renewed loyalty to William and Mary. His success may also have earned him an offer of a peerage, which he is said to have declined lacking the funds to support the dignity.23 Despite the plaudits he received for his success at La Hogue, he was subsequently criticized for failing to follow this up amidst worsening relations with his former friend Nottingham, at whose administrative failures he was determined to level the blame for the navy’s inability to exploit their advantage.24 Although his Whig allies rallied to defend their admiral, Russell came off worst in the struggle, and he was replaced at the head of the admiralty commission early the following year by Nottingham’s nominees.25

During the summer of 1693 Russell received perhaps unlikely support from Robert Spencer,2nd earl of Sunderland, who laboured to convince the king to put Nottingham to one side and take up Russell again. Sunderland’s efforts on Russell’s behalf formed part of the former’s campaign to convince the king to work with the Whigs rather than the Tories and perhaps stemmed from support that he had received from other members of the Russell family. A series of meetings held between London, Winchendon and Althorp in August further emphasized the earl’s commitment to securing the Whigs’ return to power.26 That winter Sunderland’s efforts bore fruit when Russell was reappointed admiral of the fleet. The following spring Russell was also restored to his former place as first lord in succession to Anthony Carey, Viscount Falkland [S], who was compensated by being appointed envoy to the United Provinces.27 Two years later, though, Russell’s star looked set to plummet once more when he was one of several prominent Whigs to be named by Sir John Fenwick as having corresponded with the exiled court. Following a series of meetings between the Junto, Sunderland and prominent members of the Commons in October 1696, Russell was deputed to raise the matter of Fenwick’s confession before the Commons on 6 Nov., submitting a denial of Fenwick’s allegations. He was subsequently exonerated along with the other ministers named in Fenwick’s information, and Fenwick himself was attainted and executed. In the midst of this Russell was distracted by the sudden death of his brother, Colonel Francis Russell, governor of Barbados, the administration of whose estate preoccupied him and other members of the family over the ensuing months.28

Earl of Orford 1697-1702

With Fenwick’s accusations safely dismissed, Russell’s services were at last rewarded in the spring of 1697 with his creation as earl of Orford. His acceptance of the peerage at this point presumably indicated an improved financial situation, but the creation was also timed to make clear the king’s particular support for him. His was the only new peerage of that month and it was not until December that John Somers, was also prevailed upon to accept promotion as Baron Somers. There appears to have been some uncertainty as to which title Russell would choose and at least one report of his elevation noted that he was not to be earl of Chichester as previously thought. It may not have been realized that this title was unavailable being one of the subsidiary honours held by Charles Fitzroy, duke of Southampton (later 2nd duke of Cleveland).29 The eventual choice of Orford presumably reflected his East Anglian interests. In the absence of male heirs a special remainder was added allowing the earldom to descend to his nephew, Edward Cheeke. Orford was characteristically grumpy about his peerage. He complained that he would have preferred to have been honoured with a garter but he was perhaps less disappointed than he pretended. Lady Russell offered only qualified confirmation of his apparent disinclination to accept the peerage by commenting that, ‘I believe so far what the town says, that Admiral Russell did not seek the title, or to be one of our Justices; but I do not like to say, “it was crammed down his throat”.’30 He does appear, though, to have refused a later offer of further promotion in the peerage as ‘it did not suit with his temper.’31

Orford’s bad humour was no doubt exacerbated by finding himself in a London devoid of company from at least the beginning of June 1697. During the month he wrote to Charles Talbot, duke of Shrewsbury, to inform him of Sunderland’s latest manoeuvrings to bring about a rapprochement between the Junto and Charles Mordaunt, earl of Monmouth (later 3rd earl of Peterborough). Monmouth had earned Orford’s undying contempt for encouraging Fenwick to substantiate his allegations. Orford seemed willing to bide his time and observe what the outcome might be noting to Shrewsbury how, ‘That peace maker, who values himself on that talent, thinks he fools me, and I am contented he should believe it for the present.’32 Orford was always suspicious of Sunderland and this latest evidence of his double-dealing left Orford in no doubt that he and Monmouth were ‘all knaves alike … God deliver honest men out of their hands.’33 His own presence in London ahead of the session appears for the most part to have been over the settlement of admiralty business, but he was also eager to resolve an ongoing dispute with John Sheffield, marquess of Normanby (later duke of Buckingham) over land in Covent Garden.34 In his letter to Shrewsbury outlining the negotiations Orford referred the betrayal of his colleagues by William Cavendish, duke of Devonshire in passing Fenwick’s confession onto the king without their knowledge (for which Orford never forgave him) and insisted:

I will venture to say not a Russell in England has ever spoke to Lord Chancellor [Somers] in relation to the house, nor does in the least trouble their heads who becomes master of it. For my own part, was I to determine the difference by affection, I swear Lord Normanby should have it. It is impossible he can use me worse than the duke of Devonshire has done.35

Orford was in Tonbridge later that summer, probably in company with Somers. He was expected back in Town at the end of August 1697. From there he wrote again to Shrewsbury in September to update him on the affair of the informers, Aubrey Price and William Chaloner, whose fanciful tales of Jacobite plots had been promoted by the self-appointed Jacobite-finder Sir Henry Dutton Colt and who (like Fenwick) had attempted to implicate Shrewsbury in their tales.36 Relieved that the matter appeared already to have run its course, he confessed to being:

very happy it appeared so early; for, though the matter is as foolish as false, had it lain working till the meeting of the Parliament, under the management of those that I believe are at the bottom of it, God knows what work they would have made for a month at least. But now, I think, it can do nobody but themselves any hurt; though I really think they have drawn in two or three of these foolish and zealous Jacobites, to trust them with enough to endanger themselves.37

James Vernon corroborated Orford’s reassuring appraisal of the situation, informing the duke how he had ‘come from my Lord Chancellor and Lord Orford, who are friendly affected with the impertinency your Grace is exposed to; but do not think this ought to be the occasion of any uneasiness to you.’ Orford’s mood of optimism quickly evaporated. That autumn he was preoccupied with a struggle with Sunderland over the disposal of the secretaryship. Orford (and the other Junto lords) wanted this to go to Thomas Wharton, 5th Baron (later marquess of) Wharton, in the event of Shrewsbury’s resignation while Sunderland insisted on Vernon. This and other developments helped convince Orford that the Whigs would soon be thrust aside by their opponents, but he professed by then not to be much interested in the matter, ‘not caring how soon they are rid of me.’38 By the close of the month an uneasy compromise had been arrived at whereby an increasingly sickly and despondent Shrewsbury remained in place, though he was not expected to fulfil any of his usual duties. Even this unsatisfactory solution was thrown into confusion with the announcement soon after that the other secretary, Sir William Trumbull, also intended to resign. Before the Junto lords were able to organize themselves to propose Wharton’s candidature, the king and Sunderland forestalled them with the announcement of Vernon’s promotion, leaving them with no option but to press for Shrewsbury to remain in place with him a while longer, rather than see their last remaining conduit with the court lost for ever.

It was, consequently, with a sense of foreboding that Orford took his seat in the House three days into the new Parliament on 6 Dec. 1697, introduced between the lord chamberlain (Sunderland) and Francis Newport, earl of Bradford (his brother-in-law and husband of his cousin, Lady Diana Russell). Present on 70 per cent of all sitting days, Orford was nominated to 30 committees during his first session in the House as well as being named a manager of several conferences. Away from the chamber briefly between 16 and 22 Dec., his absence was presumably connected with the by-election for Cambridgeshire triggered by his elevation, where he campaigned actively alongside his former rival John Cutts, Baron Cutts [I], on behalf of Sir Rushout Cullen, who was successful in spite of a spirited challenge by the Tory Granado Pigot.39

Orford’s return to the House coincided with the growing clamour in the Commons against Sunderland, who finally cracked under the strain and fled from London leaving his key of office with Vernon at the end of the month. The remainder of the session was dominated by a bitter turf war fought by Sunderland’s supporters and those of the Junto, resulting in the assault on Sunderland’s supporter Charles Duncombe by Charles Montagu, later earl of Halifax. Although Orford voted on 15 Mar. 1698 in favour of committing the bill for punishing Duncombe and entered his dissent when the motion to commit was defeated, he and Montagu subsequently advocated coming to terms with Sunderland. By then the fissure between the two camps was too great to be spanned.40 Other partisan squabbles featured in the remainder of the session. On 17 Mar. Orford entered his dissent at the resolution to allow James Bertie, son of the Tory James Bertie, earl of Abingdon, to have John Cary’s estate during the lifetime of his wife, following consideration of the case Bertie v Falkland, and on 24 Mar. he was nominated one of the managers of a conference with the Commons considering the libel circulated by Bertie’s brother, Robert, promoting his cause in the affair.

Orford was reported to have departed for Newmarket on 29 Mar. but he remained in the House for one more day before quitting London for the entertainments of Cambridgeshire.41 That spring, according to Vernon, he was rumoured to be appointed to the lieutenancy of Suffolk left vacant by the death of Charles Cornwallis, 3rd Baron Cornwallis, in April. Sir Thomas Felton and John Hervey, (later earl of Bristol) were both active in promoting Orford for the post, though he was said to have ‘no great mind to it’.42 The same month Orford entertained the king at his seat at Chippenham.43

Orford returned to the House at the beginning of May 1698, by which time he had resolved ‘absolutely’ not ‘to meddle with the lieutenancy of Suffolk’.44 On 10 May he was nominated a manager of the conference concerning the amendments to the Colchester almshouses act, the result of which was reported back to the House by Thomas Grey, 2nd earl of Stamford, and on 24 May he was nominated a manager of the conference for the bill for suppressing blasphemy, which was held the following day. On 2 July he was named a manager of that concerning the impeachment of a number of French merchants, communicating the Lords’ inability to proceed to the trial of one of their number, Longueville, the following Monday.

Vernon alluded to rumours of a renewed attempt to attack Orford as well as Arnold Joost van Keppel, earl of Albemarle, in a letter to Shrewsbury of May that year. Vernon conceived that Orford was the person most particularly aimed at, though nothing appears to have come of it. Orford was expected to spend most of the summer in the country, but he was the only one of the ‘leading men’ noted to meet with Sunderland following the session’s close. The meeting was a response to the king’s desire for an accommodation to be arrived at between Sunderland and the Junto, but Orford nevertheless struggled to conceal his pleasure at seeing his old foe out of office and marginalized from court.45

Once again his optimism soon gave way to despondency. Concerned by the progress of the war, in August Orford confided his fears to Shrewsbury informing him that,

Here is no news, but that we daily expect to hear the king of Spain is dead. What will become of us then, God knows! I do not see that the king has made any provision for such an accident, though often pressed to it, the neglect of which, in my poor opinion, will prove very fatal to England; and those people in business blamed, who could not help it.46

Unbeknown to him, steps had been taken to address such an eventuality and, shortly after drafting his letter to Shrewsbury, Orford was one of a select group of ministers to be informed of the secret negotiations in train between William and the French that resulted in the First Partition Treaty.

Orford seems to have struggled to develop his interest in the town of Orford. According to Nathaniel Gooding, one of the borough’s portmen, the earl was subjected to a poor reception there when he visited ‘with a slender attendance’ and ‘was entertained only by Uncle [Hastings], and the rabble’.47 Nevertheless, he was successful in securing the return of his protégé, Sir Charles Hedges there at the 1698 general election.48 He was also successful with the re-election of Cullen for Cambridgeshire, though he was unable to secure the return of his friend and old navy comrade, Henry Priestman, who had been defeated at New Shoreham, either to a seat on the Isle of Wight or at Saltash.49

Orford took his seat at the opening of the new Parliament on 6 Dec.1698 after which he was present on 62 per cent of all sitting days. On 27 Jan. 1699 he was nominated a manager of the conference considering amendments to the bill for prohibiting the exportation of corn for a year, which was held the following day.50 The session was dominated, though, by the Commons’ enquiry into the naval accounts. A little over a week into the session, on 15 Dec. 1698 Vernon reported ‘talk as if some had a mind to have a fling at my Lord Orford’ either over the Kidd affair or (more probably) over the navy accounts. Such rumours encouraged Orford and Somers to convene a meeting at Somers’ London residence to concert their response to the expected attack.51 By 20 Dec. the mood in the Commons for ‘having a fling’ at Orford had gained momentum, with Robert Harley, (later earl of Oxford) and Paul Foley the driving forces behind establishing a grand committee to investigate Orford’s management of the admiralty. Although criticisms lodged against the manner in which Orford had distributed prize money seized in the Mediterranean were answered by his friends, who submitted that he had not benefited from any prizes captured and that he had seen to it that everything was handed over to the consul at Cadiz, such blandishments failed to satisfy the Commons. Pressure resulting from the enquiry no doubt further inflamed Orford’s normally short temper. By 29 Dec. Vernon perceived Orford, ‘grows weary of being the mark, of being so often shot at, and talks of quitting as soon as he has justified himself.’ The enquiry rumbled on into January 1699 and the following month Orford was involved in a heated quarrel with Peterborough, the cause of which appears to have been aspersions made by Peterborough, accusing Orford of being a coward and of ‘something very gross’.52 On 9 Feb. 1699 the House was forced to intervene to prevent the two men from settling the matter in a duel.53 In March Orford had another ‘very narrow escape’ when he was finally acquitted by just one voice following the Commons’ examination of the navy victualling accounts for the period 1694-5, out of which Orford had been estimated to have made a profit of £15-20,000.54 Although Harley attributed the failure to censure Orford to the ‘unfortunate behaviour’ of the Tories, according to Sir Richard Cocks Orford actually owed his reprieve on this occasion to Harley’s support in alliance with that of the Foley and Winnington groupings who, despite having set the action in motion, were keen to assist Thomas Foley, the younger (later Baron Foley) who was then actively courting Orford’s niece, the sole unmarried daughter of Sir William Harbord, and whose portion was rumoured to be £30-40,000.55 The marriage failed to transpire but the damage to the Tory cause had already been done and Vernon’s account of the proceedings supported Cocks’ interpretation, noting that Harley withdrew before the vote.56

In spite of his exoneration, the affair encouraged speculation that Orford intended either to resign his place as first commissioner of the admiralty following an order from the Commons that it was contrary to good practice for him to hold both that place and the treasurership of the navy concurrently, or to resign all his places (out of pique).57 Orford certainly appears to have resolved to resign one of the places fairly early on as in April he wrote to the Speaker (Sir Thomas Littleton) to excuse himself from being proposed as treasurer, having already recommended another candidate to the king (probably William Cavendish, marquess of Hartington (later 2nd duke of Devonshire), but the following month he opted for the more drastic course of action of resigning all of his offices.58 Vernon speculated that it was a decision that he had long had in mind, ‘ever since the Parliament begun to make him uneasy with their enquiries’ and surmised further that Orford’s failure to prevent the appointment of Sir George Rooke to the Admiralty Board had finally decided him in favour of resignation.59 Orford’s personal difficulties made him a more than usually tetchy colleague as was reflected in a letter from Marlborough to Shrewsbury informing him of barbed comments made by Orford about Marlborough’s subservient relationship to Sunderland. Exasperated at Orford’s behaviour, Marlborough complained, ‘I have too much reason to take some things ill of Lord Orford, but I have not, nor shall not, say anything to him of it, which I should have done if he had stayed in, for I do flatter myself that I have deserved better from him.’60 Sunderland was less forgiving and by now refused to have anything to do with Orford. He warned Shrewsbury in advance of a meeting between the two men that Orford had taken to railing ‘excessively, and personally at the king, which I hope is not true.’61 The extent to which the Junto had lost ground by this time and that Orford’s interest had been diminished was perhaps reflected in the appointment of Littleton, rather than Devonshire, to the vacant treasurership and of John Egerton, 3rd earl of Bridgwater, as first lord of the admiralty, though Orford professed himself pleased with the selection of Bridgwater.62

In spite of reports suggesting that he was likely to be present, Orford refused to take part in a gathering of Whig grandees at Boughton in August 1699.63 He did play host to his Junto colleagues, Somers, and Charles Montagu, at Chippenham, before heading for Suffolk towards the end of the month, where he was noted as having entertained several of the county’s corporations.64 Family affairs appear to have been uppermost in his mind that summer. In July it was reported that Orford’s heir, Edward Cheeke, was to marry Catherine Jones (though this match did not transpire), and in September his attention was taken up by reports that his young cousin (and wife’s nephew) Wriothesley Russell, marquess of Tavistock (later 2nd duke of Bedford) had converted to Catholicism while travelling in Italy.65 Orford wrote to Tavistock’s mother, Lady Russell, reassuring her that ‘the more I thought of it the less I credited the report’ but he advised even so that:

should there be the least tendency [that] way in him, he ought not to stay abroad, but return home where it may be more effectually shown him how much danger he runs… and how impossible it is to live in England with the load of that religion upon his back as duke of Bedford ought to do.66

Orford took his seat in the new session on 16 Nov. 1699, after which he was present on 45 per cent of all sitting days. The following month, he was again to the fore during debates over the controversial support given to William Kidd: Orford having been involved as one of the backers of Kidd’s expedition against the pirates, which had been commissioned in the autumn of 1695.67 Somers had warned Shrewsbury the previous year that members of the old East India Company were intent on exploiting the Kidd affair but he had been reasonably confident that provided the various backers of the scheme (Orford, Shrewsbury, Henry Sydney, earl of Romney, and himself) were honest they would be cleared of any serious wrongdoing, ‘though perhaps we may appear somewhat ridiculous.’68 In spite of the ministers’ confidence that they would be able to ride out the Kidd enquiry, reports again circulated in December that the Commons intended to ‘renew their attack upon particular persons’ and, in particular, on Orford, who was now under the spotlight over the disbursement of treasure retrieved from wrecks in the West Indies by the Dolphin.

The renewal of pressure on Orford may have made him more willing to entertain overtures for a further reconciliation with Sunderland, which appears to have been brokered by Lady Sunderland and Lady Orford, in the first instance, and then taken up by Sir James Forbes. As Vernon related, ‘if my Lord Orford were not already disposed towards it, I think Sir James would not be so forward in offering his mediatorial offices.’ Dissatisfied with their failure to humble him in the previous session, some members of the Commons appear to have resolved by February 1700 on reviving their enquiry into the navy accounts. Once again Orford slipped through the net.69

Hostility to Orford among those associated with the East India Company in the Commons no doubt encouraged his opposition to the continuation of the company’s charter. On 23 Feb. 1700 he voted against adjourning into a committee of the whole to discuss amendments to the East India Company bill. He then entered his dissent at the resolution to pass the bill for continuing the company as a corporation. Other matters predominated later in the session. Orford and Ford Grey, earl of Tankerville, were both noted as having been consistent in their support of the forfeited estates in Ireland bill that came before the House in April, though Vernon reported that the Whigs were ‘suspected to have encouraged the opposition underhand’. When the king assured Orford the following month that his party should not be apprehensive of being dismissed, Orford rejoined bitterly that ‘he did not know he had any Whigs remaining in his service.’70

Following the close of the session, Orford was marked ‘X’ on a list of Whig lords, probably denoting him (unsurprisingly enough) as one of the Junto peers. The same month (July) his heir, Edward Cheeke, married the eldest daughter of the former exclusionist and Junto supporter, Sir William Ellys.71 Aware of the damage he had caused to his relations with Shrewsbury over the past few months, Orford made some effort that summer to heal their rift. He lamented that he believed he was the object of Shrewsbury’s displeasure and that he would be unable to join the by now traditional gathering at Boughton in August. Shrewsbury responded, insisting on his continued friendship, but it was clear that relations between the two men had been strained enormously.72 Shrewsbury’s subsequent decision to quit England in search of a cure abroad undoubtedly confirmed Orford’s worst suspicions about his commitment to the party. Although Somers wrote to Shrewsbury in August 1701 to assure him that both Orford and Halifax ‘know how very obligingly you interested yourself for them’ in reality, Shrewsbury’s abandonment of his former colleagues at this time provoked in Orford a deep and lasting resentment.73 It was only after Shrewsbury’s marriage to Countess Paleotti in the autumn of 1705 that Orford’s anger with his old friend finally abated. He wrote to Somers in response to the news asserting that, ‘I have now forgiven him all I have taken amiss from him’, considering Shrewsbury’s marriage to be ‘revenge sufficient for more injuries than I have received. ’ Orford’s teasing of Shrewsbury’s choice of bride is evidence, however slight, of a warmer, more humorous side than is generally observed.74

Soon after taking his seat in the new Parliament on 6 Feb. 1701 (of which he was present on almost 84 per cent of all sitting days) it became clear that Orford and his Junto colleagues were to be subjected to a prolonged assault. The session came to be dominated by the Tory-majority Commons’ investigation into the Partition Treaties, with which Hans Willem Bentinck, earl of Portland, Orford, Somers and Halifax, were closely identified, and also with the examination of Captain Kidd (who had been incarcerated in Newgate since the spring of the previous year).75 Orford was thought to be especially vulnerable to Kidd’s revelations. It was believed that he had participated in a conversation with the buccaneer before his departure, in which Kidd had predicted that the want of regular wages for the sailors would force the expedition to turn to piracy.76

Portland proved to be the first to be subjected to the Commons’ scrutiny and on 1 Apr. articles of impeachment were brought up against him. The Lords responded to the Commons’ attack on their members in characteristically bullish fashion and on 2 and 10 Apr. Orford, Somers and Halifax were among those nominated to act as managers of the conferences investigating the treaties. Shortly after, on 14 Apr., Orford was impeached by the Commons for his role in negotiating the first Partition Treaty, along with Somers and Halifax. While Somers’ friends in the Commons rallied to his defence, limiting those in favour of drawing up articles of impeachment to a narrow majority of ten, Orford was able to call on fewer allies allowing the motion to impeach him to pass by a majority of 45.77 Two days later (16 Apr.) the Commons received an address for the four impeached lords to be removed from the king’s council, and on 8 May Sir Bartholomew Shower presented the articles of impeachment at the Commons’ bar. The following day, the articles were brought up to the Lords, where Orford’s erstwhile friend Nottingham and Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, led the assault.78 Orford responded with his answers to each of the ten points laid against him on 14 May. He refuted claims that he had benefited unreasonably from royal grants and denied that he had embezzled public funds or received gifts from the king of Spain. To the accusation that he had used his influence to bar the East India Company from fitting out ships to counter pirate vessels threatening their own, while at the same time profiting from Kidd’s expedition, he again strenuously denied any wrongdoing or knowledge that Kidd was ‘of ill fame and reputation’. To the allegation made that he had advised the king to enter into the partition treaty, he entered a spirited denial, insisting in conclusion that he had discharged his ‘offices and employments with loyalty, faithfulness, and zeal to his majesty and his people’. Following a brief adjournment while the House debated the correct way to respond to the Commons’ articles, Orford requested that he be permitted to employ counsel, which was granted accordingly.

Orford’s answers were considered by the Commons on 16 Apr. 1701. At least one Member ‘thought he cleared all objections’ while another (Maurice Thompson, later 2nd Baron Haversham, acting in concert with his father, John Thompson, Baron Haversham) moved for the impeachment of Edward Villiers, earl of Jersey as well, arguing that ‘it would reflect upon the justice of the house to have some punished and others as great criminals escape without notice.’ Despite this, a commanding majority refused to be sidetracked and remained intent on seeing Orford humbled. On 20 May Orford pressed for a date to be set for his trial and the following day the Lords sent to the Commons urging that the process be hastened. Irritated by the Lords’ continuing efforts to hurry them, the Commons dragged their feet over the following week and when Hartington moved for their reply to be sent up on 27 May he was opposed by Sir Edward Seymour, who insisted that no progress could be made until relevant witnesses, some of them then at sea, could be examined. Moreover, it was argued that Somers needed to be tried first. In an effort to break the deadlock, on 30 May Orford moved once more that a date be set for his trial, but when the Lords communicated this to the Commons the following day they received a peremptory denial and vigorous complaint at their continued efforts to rush the Commons’ business.79 With relations between the Houses thoroughly fractured, the Lords at last proceeded to try the impeached peers with or without the Commons’ approval and on 17 June Somers was tried and acquitted by 56 votes to 32. As a minor sop to the lower House, Orford and the other impeached peers were granted permission to withdraw during their colleague’s trial: the move was intended to conciliate the Members of the Commons who had objected to the impeached peers voting. Three days later the Lords informed the Commons of their intention to try Orford on 23 June, when he was also acquitted following a unanimous vote in his favour from the 43 peers then present (Vernon reported the number to have been 44).80 None of those who had voted to convict Somers bothered to attend the second trial, while some 27 peers and one bishop present in the House that day failed to make their way to Westminster Hall for the proceedings.81 Following Orford’s acquittal the House resolved that those absent members who failed to make their excuses for not attending should be considered ‘guilty of a great and wilful neglect of their duty.’82

Orford presumably retreated to his estates over the summer and in November he presented the king with a loyal address from Cambridge.83 The same month he worked with Somers and Halifax to secure Sir Henry Colt’s return for Westminster.84 He took his seat in the new Parliament (the second of 1701) on 30 Dec., after which he was present on just ten per cent of all sitting days in the session. Missing from the House from the middle of January until the close of March 1702, the loss of his countess early in the year (‘of a fever of the spirits’) was presumably the reason for his long absence. Lady Orford’s death left him both a widower and heirless.85 Reports of an earlier marriage contracted prior to the Revolution are almost certainly mistaken.86 Orford’s personal tragedy clearly made no impact on his enemies and in March he and the other three impeached peers were struck out of the council book, shortly after Queen Anne’s ascession.87

Reign of Anne, 1702-1714

Orford returned to the House for the new Parliament on 20 Oct. 1702, after which he was present on almost 70 per cent of all sitting days. Early in the session the Commons pressed once more for him to be tried along with Somers, though this time without success.88 Free from the persecution of the Commons, Orford’s attention was instead taken up with countering a legal action. The case, which had first been brought against him two years previously, involved him as one of the executors of Charles North, Baron North and Grey, whose widow had subsequently married Orford’s brother, Francis, the former governor of Barbados.89 On 21 Oct. Orford lodged a petition to overturn a decree in chancery in the case and, a month later, on 21 Nov., following a series of delays, the case was heard by the Lords. The former judgment, which had been made in favour of one of the plaintiffs, Richard Daston, was reversed to Orford’s benefit.90 Legal actions continued to be lodged in the suit over the next few years, during which Orford employed George Tooke on a number of occasions at the rate of 6s. 8d. per day to attend the House to keep an eye of the progress of the case.91 On 17 Dec. he was nominated one of the managers of a conference for the occasional conformity bill and the following month, he was estimated by Nottingham to be an opponent of the measure. Nominated a manager of a further conference on 9 Jan. 1703, on 16 Jan. Orford voted in favour of adhering to the Lords’ amendment to the penalty clause. The same month, during a hearing of the committee investigating naval affairs chaired by Charles Powlett, 2nd duke of Bolton, Torrington and Orford were prominent in demanding answers from Sir George Rooke.92 Orford attracted the ire of the queen on 19 Jan. when he was one of the peers to oppose the bill of settlement for Prince George, of Denmark, duke of Cumberland, subscribing the protest at the resolution not to agree with the committee in leaving out a clause allowing the prince to serve on the Privy Council.93 On 26 Jan. he reported from the committee for Giles Lone’s bill, reporting it fit to pass though with a number of amendments.

During the recess, Orford’s niece, the reputedly fabulously wealthy Letitia Harbord, was reported to have secured an influential match with Sir Rowland Gwynne, though Narcissus Luttrell (the retailer of the information) appears to have mistaken the former exclusionist for the Yorkshire magnate, Sir Rowland Wynn, to whom she was married at that time.94 Having returned to the House on 10 Nov. 1703, Orford was forecast as an opponent of the occasional conformity bill in two estimates drawn up by his Junto colleague, Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, that month and on 14 Dec. he again (in all probability) voted against the measure.

Present on just under three-quarters of all sitting days in the session, in January of the following year Orford was again the subject of investigation following the report of the commissioners for navy accounts. On this occasion, although even Halifax acknowledged that Orford’s accounting had been sloppy, he was cleared of any suspicion of peculation following two months of careful examination by the Lords, who then voted not to continue the commission. Orford was present at a gathering at Sunderland’s on 21 Mar. 1704, and the same day he entered his dissent at the resolution not to give a second reading to a rider to the bill for raising recruits for the army and marines. Two days later he was present at a dinner in company with a number of his Whig colleagues, among them Somers and Wharton, and the following day he subscribed the protest at the resolution not to put the question whether the information contained in the examination of Sir John Maclean was imperfect.95

On 24 Oct. 1704 Orford took his seat in the following session (of which he again attended in excess of 80 per cent of all sitting days). Three times during the session (18 Jan., 2 Feb. and 5 Mar. 1705) he reported from the committee considering the papers delivered to the House by the admiralty commissioners, revealing the navy’s £364,977 overspend, although it was also acknowledged that the service had failed to receive the whole of the £6,194,149 subsidy voted for its use by Parliament. On 27 Feb. 1705 he was nominated to the committee to draw up heads for a conference over the Aylesbury men and on 7 Mar. he was nominated a manager of the conference for the bill for the prevention of traitorous correspondence. Five days later (on 12 Mar.) he was named one of the managers of the conference for the militia bill, and the following day he was again named a manager of a subsequent conference considering amendments to the militia bill. The same day (13 Mar.) he registered his proxy with Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun, which was vacated by the close of the session.

Listed a supporter of the Hanoverian succession in April, that month the queen visited Orford at Chippenham during her progress to Cambridge in support of Francis Godolphin, styled Viscount Rialton (later 2nd earl of Godolphin).96 Orford probably lent his support to John Bromley, who was returned for one of the county seats at the general election, following which he wrote to Somers in support of William Bromley, (knight of the shire for Worcestershire) who he was assured would prove ‘honest in every particular’ over the question of the speakership. According to Orford, Bromley was not only warm in his support of John Smith (the Junto’s candidate), ‘but flaming against his namesake’ (the Member for Oxford University).97 Although Orford reported that the Cambridgeshire Members would be in town early to attend the opening of Parliament, Orford himself was less inclined to rouse himself from the country. He grumbled to Somers:

sure there is no occasion for my being there [in Town], for I signify nothing anywhere much less at the opening of a Parliament, but if you would have me come I will not affect to be so fond of the country as to stay longer than Lord Somers would have me.98

Somers was presumably able to prevail on him to change his mind, as Orford took his seat at the opening of the new Parliament on 25 Oct. 1705, though he attended just two days before registering his proxy with Mohun again to cover a fortnight’s absence. He resumed his seat on 12 Nov. after which he was present on over 55 per cent of all sitting days. On 1 Dec. he received Bolton’s proxy (which was vacated by Bolton’s resumption of his seat on 6 Dec.) and on 7, 11, 14 and 17 Dec. he was one of the managers of a series of conferences held to discuss the resolution that the church was in danger. He later voted, unsurprisingly, with those concluding that it was not. Nominated a manager of further conferences on 7, 11 and 19 Feb. 1706 concerning the bill for the security of the queen’s person and the Protestant succession, in the midst of these (on 16 Feb.) he again lodged his proxy with Mohun, which was vacated three days later. Nominated a manager of the conference concerning Sir Rowland Gwynne’s Letter to Stamford on 11 Mar. (along with all other peers present in the House at the time) the following day he was listed among a number of other peers and members of the Commons who had subscribed towards the loan of £250,000 for the Holy Roman Emperor. Orford was noted as having undertaken to pay £2,500.99

Orford wrote to Somers from Newmarket that October, apparently in response to a request for him to employ his interest concerning either the governorship of Brussels or Guernsey, but he was unable to do more than offer a brief negative as the places had long been intended for Marlborough’s brother, Charles Churchill. Unable to curb his growing annoyance with the Churchills’ dominance, Orford gave vent to his frustration and declared, ‘I wish both the brothers [Charles and george] had governments in some remote part of the world that we might never more hear of them.’100 Orford may have been unable to fulfil his desire of bringing the Churchill family low, but later that month he was able to vent his spleen over the prosecution of a Mr Hyde, the disgraced rector of Eversholt, of whose advowson he was the patron.101 Hyde had previously sought to escape being indicted at Bedford for fathering an illegitimate child by seeking service aboard the Weymouth. On his return to England, both Orford and Thomas Tenison, archbishop of Canterbury, were eager to see the church rid of ‘so ill a man’. 102

Orford returned to the House for the second session on 3 Dec. 1706, after which he was present on 59 per cent of all sitting days. Family concerns continued to make demands on his attention at this time, in particular the ongoing question of an annuity due to his sister, Lady Russell, payable out of the Irish estates of the countess of Dorchester (Katherine Sedley). On 14 Dec. the Russell family’s agent at Dublin, Samuel Ogle, reported the ‘infinite deal of trouble’ he had experienced in attempting to settle the account but he was by then hopeful that matters would be resolved in Lady Russell’s favour. In the event wrangling over payment of the pension continued for at least ten more years.103

In addition to family matters, Orford remained active in the Junto’s deliberations, and towards the end of January he was present at a meeting held at Sunderland’s attended by a number of other Junto and ministry peers, to consider text of the act for securing the Church of England prior to its introduction into the House a few days later.104 Absent from the House for a fortnight in the middle of March, Orford covered his absence by registering his proxy with Mohun on 11 Mar. 1707, which was vacated by his resumption of his seat on 24 March. On 8 Apr. he was nominated one of the managers of a conference for the vagrants bill. He took his seat in the ensuing session on 14 Apr. 1707, of which he attended six out of nine days, before resuming his place fon 30 Apr. to hear the proclamation that the present Parliament would constitute the first Parliament of Great Britain. The following month it was rumoured that he was to be appointed vice admiral.105

Orford roused himself to join those present at the Whig meeting at Althorp in August 1707.106 He then took his seat in the new Parliament on 6 Nov., after which he was present on 64 per cent of all sitting days. In November he was one of several peers to second a proposal moved by Wharton for a committee to be established to consider the damage to trade being caused by the limitations of the convoy system.107 On 5 Feb. 1708 he joined with the majority voting in favour of the dissolution of the Scots Privy Council in May rather than delaying to the following October, and on 17 Feb. he supported Wharton’s motion for an address to be drawn up in response to a critical report from the committee examining the admiralty.108 Orford was present in the House two days later when his sister, Letitia, her daughter, Essex Cheeke, and her daughter-in-law, Anne Cheeke, submitted a petition to the House for leave to bring in a bill to vest lands in Somerset in trustees following the death of Anne Cheeke’s husband (and Orford’s heir) Edward Cheeke earlier that year.109 Their petition was referred to the judges, who reported back favourably nine days later. The bill received its first reading on 1 Mar. and the following day was committed (Orford being one of those named to the committee on this occasion). On 3 Mar. Orford reported from the committee for the estate bill of the recently deceased William Bromley, which was ordered to be engrossed with one amendment, and on 17 Mar. Stamford reported from that considering the Cheeke estate bill as fit to pass with some minor amendments.

Unsurprisingly listed as a Whig in May 1708, Orford divided his time that summer between Chippenham and Woburn.110 He was pleased with his nephew Bedford’s management of his household and estate at the latter, though he expressed his concern to Lady Russell that the duke was more concerned to settle his debts and live with economy than was strictly speaking necessary.111 Orford was successful in employing his interest with Sunderland through the mediation of Sunderland’s under-secretary, Thomas Hopkins, to persuade ‘the Bug’ (Henry Grey, marquess (later duke) of Kent) to swear in one of his servants as a messenger at that time.112 Their friendly collaboration continued when Orford was visited by Sunderland at Chippenham in October.113 That month the death of Prince George of Denmark resulted in rumours that either Orford or Thomas Herbert, 8th earl of Pembroke, would succeed him as head of the admiralty.114 To the Junto’s disappointment, and despite last minute reports that Pembroke had refused the post leaving Orford to head the new commission and be awarded a garter, once again, Orford was unsuccessful.115

Orford took his seat in the new Parliament on 16 Nov. 1708, after which he was present on 47 per cent of all sitting days, and on 21 Jan. 1709 he voted against permitting Scots peers with British titles from voting in the elections for representative peers. Although still lacking any reward out of the redistribution of offices in favour of the Whigs, Orford’s interest remained of crucial significance. This was reflected in a letter written by Marlborough to his duchess in February 1709 discussing various Whig peers and their affiliations, in which he remarked of Devonshire that he was ‘certainly a very honest man but Orford has too much power with him.’116

In spite of Marlborough’s concerns about Orford’s influence and his character, the duchess employed her interest diligently that summer and autumn to attempt to secure the admiralty for him.117 Her efforts formed part of a lengthy negotiation between the queen, Sidney Godolphin, earl of Godophin and members of the Junto over the running of the navy. The queen heartily resented Orford’s former criticisms of her late husband and was supremely reluctant to admit him to the place, raising paltry objections to his suitability such as his age.118 The discussions continued throughout October, the process lengthened indubitably by the queen’s reluctance to admit a man she found trying and by Orford’s notorious prickliness. Sunderland at one point complained that he had been so troubled by the ongoing negotiations, ‘that I did hardly sleep a wink last night for thinking of it’. Even the normally even-tempered Godolphin was said to be ‘extremely in the spleen’ over the constant obstacles met with in attempting to finalize arrangements.119

By the close of the month, the queen had given way sufficiently to allow Godolphin to write to Orford to summon him to Windsor, where he was escorted on 29 Oct. by William Cowper, Baron Cowper.120 On 2 Nov. he was admitted to kiss hands, introduced by Sunderland. Even so, and in spite of reports confidently predicting Orford’s imminent appointment as first lord, continuing wrangling over the composition of the admiralty commission threatened to undo all the careful diplomacy of the previous month.121 Orford insisted that admirals Sir George Byng, the future Viscount Torrington and Sir John Jennings should join him on the board, while the queen resolved not to sign a commission with their names in it. According to the duchess of Marlborough, the true author of this latest obstacle was Godolphin. The only explanation she could arrive at for this latest hiccough was that it had been ‘determined not to let [Orford] have a good commission.’122 On 5 Nov. Sunderland appealed to the duchess to intervene with Godolphin to resolve the situation. He explained how:

These delays do really put Lord President [Somers] out of all patience and is a treatment that certainly never was used towards people that were designed to be in their service, especially after Lord Orford has been easy in every point they could desire in the commission, except that of these men, whom before this matter came to bear Lord Treasurer [Godolphin] always said he thought the properest of any other.123

Orford took his seat in the new session on 15 Nov. 1709 with matters still unresolved. The compromise that was eventually arrived at whereby only Byng was appointed pleased no one but as far as his own fortunes were concerned, Orford’s brinkmanship paid off. Later that month he was admitted to the Privy Council, and in December it was rumoured that he would be granted a garter (though this last failed once more to transpire).124 For the Junto, Orford’s readmission to government was a significant victory, leaving only one of their number, Halifax, still without a place. Orford’s success no doubt encouraged him to make the most of his reinvigorated interest, and in December he expressed his satisfaction at Thomas Jervoise’s intention to stand at the next election, assuring him of his intention to ‘promote his interests in any way possible.’125

Present on some 61 per cent of all sitting days during the session, Orford attended a meeting at Sunderland’s in January 1710.126 On 20 Mar. (unsurprisingly) he found the Tory cleric, Henry Sachveverell, guilty of high crimes and misdemeanours. Ten days later (30 Mar.) he was nominated one of the managers of a conference concerning amendments to the Edistone lighthouse bill. In April there was further talk of a garter, but Orford was irritated to see the honour go to John Campbell, duke of Argyll [S] instead (who attended the House as earl of Greenwich).127 By the middle of the month he was openly demonstrating his discontent with the admiralty commission.128 In a letter to Marlborough, congratulating him on his latest victory, Orford revealed his disquiet at the direction affairs were taking at home. While he assured him that:

nobody can be more rejoiced at your present good success than I am… I can but think, the present posture of affairs at home did require something of this kind, not only for your grace’s own service, but for all of us, that are upon the same bottom. But I won’t pretend to enlarge on that subject, only in my poor opinion, things have a very odd appearance.129

By then disagreements within the Junto were also starkly in evidence. In May 1710 Orford’s Junto colleague, Wharton, gave vent to his ire over Orford’s treatment of William Bodens, who had been put out of his place in the admiralty when Orford assumed control. Writing to Sunderland from his lieutenancy in Ireland, Wharton expostulated that, ‘the earl of Orford ought to hide his head in the cellar, when he considers the barbarity that he has been guilty of upon this occasion.’130

By August 1710, with the Junto fragmenting under pressure, rumours began to circulate that Orford was to be replaced at the admiralty by Peterborough.131 The following month he joined the remainder of his colleagues in resigning from office.132 Despite their differences, a series of Junto conferences ensued hosted by Orford and Sunderland intent upon raising funds for the forthcoming elections.133 The head of the new ministry, Robert Harley, listed Orford as an opponent in October.

Orford took his seat in the new Parliament on 25 November. Thereafter, he was present on 42 per cent of all sitting days. On 11 Jan. 1711 during the debates concerning the war with Spain, he moved that the House should adjourn to consider the petitions of the commanders then being examined, but he was opposed by his Cambridgeshire rival, William North, 6th Baron North and Grey, and by Buckingham (as Normanby had since become), both of whom suggested that such a move looked like a delay.134 On 11 Jan. 1711 Orford subscribed the protests at the resolution to reject the petitions of Henri de Massue de Ruvigny, earl of Galway [I], and Charles O’Hara, Baron Tyrawley [I] and at the resolution to blame the defeat at Almanza upon the decisions of Galway, Tyrawley and General James Stanhope, later Earl Stanhope. The following day he subscribed the protest at the resolution to censure the conduct of the ministers for approving an offensive war in Spain. The same day he received the proxy of Charles Cornwallis, 4th Baron Cornwallis, which was vacated by Cornwallis’ return to the House seven days later. Orford subscribed further protests on 3 Feb. first at the resolution to agree with the committee that the two regiments in Spain were not properly supplied and second at the resolution to agree with the committee that the failure of ministers to supply the deficiencies of men amounted to a neglect of the service. On 8 Feb. he entered his dissent first at the resolution to present the queen with the representation concerning the war with Spain and second at the resolution to retain the words ‘and the profusion of vast sums of money’ in the representation. On 9 May he was nominated one of the managers of a conference for the amendments to the act for repairing highways. The following day he was nominated a manager of the conference concerning the amendments to the act for the preservation of pine trees (possibly of naval interest). Absent from the session from 14 May, the following day he registered his proxy with Sunderland.

Eager to secure the lieutenancy of Cambridge from Tory incursions, Orford wrote to John Holles, duke of Newcastle, in June 1711 requesting that he would take the place on, assuring him that it would ‘not give you any trouble, and if you don’t, it must fall to that worthless creature, Lord North [North and Grey], for we have no other peer in the county’.135 Although North was a Tory and Orford’s principal rival in the county, it was a peculiarly ungrateful description of someone who had voted to acquit both Orford and Somers in 1701. To Orford’s disappointment, Newcastle proved unwilling to shoulder the burden offered him and forwarded the letter to Oxford (as Harley had since become), not (as he was at pains to inform him) ‘that I have any inclination to the lieutenancy of Cambridge for I will assure I would not meddle with it upon any account’ but rather to recommend that the place should go to Orford, who was already custos rotulorum of the county.136 Oxford ignored Newcastle’s advice and Orford’s opinion and the lieutenancy went to North.

Writing in November to warn Oxford of the ‘mischief’ intended by the Whigs, Sir Robert Davers informed the lord treasurer of a meeting hosted by Orford that month at his seat in Suffolk attended by 17 of his party, ‘almost all lords … and I find by some words that dropped from some lords of this country that they will be up the first day’.137 He returned to the House on 7 Dec. 1711 (after which he was present on 59 per cent of all sitting days) and the following day was noted as a likely supporter of presenting the Address complete with the clause advocating ‘No Peace without Spain’. On 15 Dec. he received the proxy of Henry Howard, 6th earl of Suffolk, which was vacated by Suffolk’s return to the House in March of the following year, and on 19 Dec. he was forecast as being opposed to allowing James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamilton [S], to take his seat in the House as duke of Brandon. Suffolk presumably intended his vote to be employed to prevent Hamilton from taking his seat and the following day; Orford obliged by voting to bar Scots peers with post-Union British titles from sitting in the House. There was clear evidence of Junto co-ordination during the session as Orford received Somers’ proxy on 14 Feb. 1712, which was vacated on 12 Apr. only for him to return the favour and register his own with Somers three days later. This was vacated by his resumption of his seat on 6 May. Shortly after (on 18 May) Orford received Sunderland’s proxy, which was vacated by the session’s close. Orford played host to a Whig conclave on the morning of 28 May in preparation for the heated debates that took place in the House later that day over the restraining orders issued to James Butler), 2nd duke of Ormond.138 He then voted for an address to the queen to request her to order an offensive war and protested at the failure to do so. Orford registered his proxy with Richard Lumley, earl of Scarbrough, on 9 June, which was vacated by his return to the House for one day at the close of the session on 13 June.

Orford attended four of the prorogation days between January and March 1713 before taking his seat in the new session on 9 Apr. 1713. In advance of the session he attempted to employ his interest with the Bristol member, Thomas Edwards, offering him a place as a commissioner of the excise in return for his support. Present on 47 per cent of all sitting days in the session, on 13 June Oxford forecast that he would vote against ratifying the 8th and 9th articles of the French commercial treaty, should the bill reach the House.

Orford returned to the House at the opening of the new session on 16 Feb. 1714 (after which he was present on approximately 63 per cent of all sitting days). On 11 Mar. he entered his dissent at the resolution not to amend the address requesting a proclamation for the discovery of the author of The public spirit of the Whigs. On 25 Mar. he received the proxy of John Manners, duke of Rutland, which was vacated by the close and on 16 Apr. that of Devonshire, which was vacated on 30 April. Absent from the session for almost a month after 7 May, that day he registered his own proxy with Hugh Cholmondeley, earl of Cholmondeley. At the end of May or beginning of June Orford was reckoned by Nottingham to be an opponent of the schism bill. On 1 June he was entrusted with the proxy of John Sydney, 6th earl of Leicester, though this would not have been valid as Orford still had his own proxy lodged with Cholmondeley. According to the Lords Journal, Orford did not resume his seat (and thus vacate his proxy) until 4 June, so Leicester’s proxy should be considered void. On 11 June Orford received the proxy of Francis Godolphin, 2nd earl of Godolphin, which was vacated by his return to the House on 23 June, and on 15 June he subscribed the protest at the resolution to pass the schism bill. He subscribed a further protest on 8 July at the resolution not to make a representation to the queen complaining about the Assiento.

Orford attended just three days of the 15-day session that met in August 1714 following the queen’s death. Even so, on 9 Aug. he received Sunderland’s proxy (which was vacated by the session’s close). The death of Queen Anne offered Orford and his colleagues a reprieve from opposition. In September 1714 Orford was accordingly reappointed to the admiralty commission. He remained in place until 1717 when he followed Robert Walpole into opposition. He also replaced his rival North and Grey as lord lieutenant of Cambridgeshire. On 24 Jan. 1716 in the aftermath of the suppression of the Jacobite rebellion of 1715, Orford was granted permission to visit one of the captured rebel lords, William Nairne, Lord Nairne [S] (at Nairne’s particular request) during his imprisonment in the Tower. Nairne’s connection with Orford is uncertain but may have sprung from their mutual service in the navy during the 1680s.

Orford continued to attend the House until May 1725, though poor health appears to have curbed his activity and premature reports circulated of his demise in 1723. Full details of the latter part of his career will be considered in the second part of this work. On those occasions when he was unable to attend in person he lodged his proxy with Bradford in June 1716, James Saunderson, Viscount Castleton [I], (sitting as Baron Saunderson) in February and December 1718 and April 1720, Devonshire in March 1720 and Charles Fitzroy, 2nd duke of Grafton, in May 1723. He remained a frequent holder of proxies as well, being entrusted with those of Scarbrough, Rutland, Cornwallis, Castleton, Sunderland and Devonshire at various points. In June 1717 he voted in favour of the motion that the Commons should proceed with the articles of treason against Oxford and in November of the following year spoke in the House on the familiar topic of the security of the fleet.139 His final appearance on 20 May 1725, one of only two days during the third session of the 1722 Parliament that he was fit enough to attend, coincided with the debate on the bill to reverse the attainder of Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke. Carried to the House, in spite of his declining health, he sat with his old friend, Devonshire, and with Charles Seymour, 6th duke of Somerset, all three ‘giving distinguished noes’ though the motion to pass the bill was ultimately carried by 79 votes to 27.140

Orford died just over two years later in November 1727. He devised his estate to his niece, Lady Anne Tipping, and made bequests totalling in excess of £4,000 including an annuity of £20 to a schoolmaster to be appointed at Chippenham, ‘provided always… that the Latin tongue or any other language besides English, be not taught’. A bequest of £1,000 was made to Sir Paul Methuen to buy pictures to be known as ‘Old Orford’s Legacy’. Lady Anne Tipping only survived her brother by a matter of months and administration of the estate was later granted to her daughter, Laetitia, Baroness Sandys.141 In the absence of a male heir the peerage became extinct. The earldom of Orford was later revived for Robert Walpole.


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/619.
  • 2 CSP Dom. 1694-5, p. 204; 1695, p. 112
  • 3 CSP Dom. 1700-2, p. 225; 1702-3, p. 395.
  • 4 CSP Dom. 1693, p. 207.
  • 5 R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 271.
  • 6 S. Wells, Drainage of Bedford Level, i. 469, 481, 485.
  • 7 Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iv. 41
  • 8 CTB, xxx. 552; xxxii. 471.
  • 9 HMC Egmont Diary, i. 16; S. Dale, Harwich and Dovercourt, 222
  • 10 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. v. 4; J. Ehrman, Navy in War of William III, 271.
  • 11 Macky Mems. 76; Bodl. ms Eng. misc. c. 116, f. 6.
  • 12 E.L. Ellis, ‘The Whig Junto’, (Oxford D.Phil 1962), i. 91, 108.
  • 13 Wiffen, Hist. Mems. of the House of Russell, ii. 292.
  • 14 Horwitz, Rev. Pols 53.
  • 15 Wiffen, ii. 292.
  • 16 Ehrman, 270; Eg. 2621, f. 35.
  • 17 HP Commons 1690-1715, i. 720; v. 321.
  • 18 VCH Cambs. viii. 124-7; x. 375.
  • 19 Ibid. vi. 141-7.
  • 20 Macpherson, Orig. Pprs. i. 481; Wiffen, ii. 321.
  • 21 Macaulay, History, v. 2183-4.
  • 22 Macpherson, i. 482.
  • 23 HP Commons 1690-1715 v. 326.
  • 24 Horwitz, Rev. Pols. 132-3.
  • 25 Kenyon, Sunderland, 254.
  • 26 Ibid. 260-1.
  • 27 CSP Dom. 1694-5, pp. 114, 144.
  • 28 SCLA, DR37/2/98/475, 478, 482-4, 503.
  • 29 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 217.
  • 30 Wiffen, ii. 323.
  • 31 Evening Journal, 1 Dec. 1727.
  • 32 Shrewsbury Corresp. ed. Coxe, 482-3.
  • 33 Kenyon, Sunderland, 286-7.
  • 34 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, i. 272, 291-3, 295, 308.
  • 35 Kenyon, Sunderland, 281; HMC Buccleuch, ii. 478.
  • 36 CSP Dom. 1697, p. 332; Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, i. 319; HP Commons 1690-1715, iii. 655-6.
  • 37 Shrewsbury Corresp. 487-8.
  • 38 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, i. 322, 386; Shrewsbury Corresp. 502-3.
  • 39 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 43-44.
  • 40 LJ, xvi. 234-5; Kenyon, Sunderland, 303.
  • 41 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 28.
  • 42 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 374; Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 68-69.
  • 43 CSP Dom. 1698, pp. 185-6, 193.
  • 44 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 72.
  • 45 Ibid. 85, 104, 122; Kenyon, 306.
  • 46 Shrewsbury Corresp. 552.
  • 47 W. Suss. RO, Winterton mss (Ac. 454 ser.) no. 974, N. Gooding to Sir E. Turnor, 17 Oct. 1698.
  • 48 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 564; iv. 319.
  • 49 Ibid. 45, v. 215-16; Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 146-7.
  • 50 LJ, xvi. 367-8.
  • 51 R.C. Ritchie, Captain Kidd and the War against the Pirates, 187.
  • 52 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 233, 238-9, 241, 264.
  • 53 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 481; Bodl. Carte 228, ff. 282-3.
  • 54 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 494; Bodl. Tanner 22, f. 6; Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss, 47/157; Cocks Diary, 4.
  • 55 Cocks Diary, 165-6.
  • 56 Somerville, King of Hearts, 163.
  • 57 Carte 228, f. 293; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 498.
  • 58 Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss, 47/175, 181; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 516.
  • 59 CSP Dom. 1699-1700, p. 176; Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 280-1.
  • 60 HMC Buccleuch, ii. 622-3.
  • 61 Shrewsbury Corresp. 589, 591.
  • 62 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 292.
  • 63 NUL, Portland mss PwA 1498; Kenyon, Sunderland, 312.
  • 64 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 549; Carte 228, f. 317.
  • 65 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 317.
  • 66 Chatsworth, Devonshire mss 98.1.
  • 67 Ritchie, 51-54.
  • 68 Shrewsbury Corresp. 570.
  • 69 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 398, 399, 424.
  • 70 Ibid. iii. 17, 63.
  • 71 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 665; HP Commons 1690-1715, iii. 971.
  • 72 Shrewsbury Corresp. 627, 629.
  • 73 HMC Buccleuch, ii. 654.
  • 74 Add. 34521, f. 63.
  • 75 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 32.
  • 76 Vernon Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 126-7.
  • 77 Burnet, iv. 492n.
  • 78 LJ, xvi. 671-6.
  • 79 Cocks Diary, 129-30, 152-3, 155-6.
  • 80 Vernon Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 149.
  • 81 Cocks Diary, 183.
  • 82 LJ, xvi. 765-7.
  • 83 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 48.
  • 84 Vernon Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 160-1.
  • 85 Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 22 Jan. 1702; S. Barker, A Sermon Preach’d at the Funeral of the Right Honourable The Countess of Orford, (1702).
  • 86 Eg. 2621, f. 77.
  • 87 Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 14 Mar. 1702.
  • 88 Verney ms mic. M636/52, C. Gardiner to Sir J. Verney, 7 Nov. 1702.
  • 89 SCLA, DR37/2/98/535, 539; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 227.
  • 90 Nicolson, London Diaries, 130.
  • 91 SCLA, DR37/2/98/527.
  • 92 Add. 70075, newsletter, 26 Jan. 1703; Nicolson, London Diaries, 187.
  • 93 LJ, xvii. 247.
  • 94 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 338.
  • 95 TNA, C104/116, pt. 1.
  • 96 Stowe 224, ff. 330-1; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 542.
  • 97 HP Commons 1690-1715, iii. 338; Add. 34521, f. 63.
  • 98 Add. 34521, f. 63.
  • 99 Add. 61602, ff. 3-4.
  • 100 Add. 34521, f. 53.
  • 101 VCH Beds. iii. 375-8.
  • 102 Christ Church, Oxf. Wake mss 1, f. 83.
  • 103 SCLA, DR37/2/98/170, 185, 222, 325, 337.
  • 104 LPL, ms 1770 (Wake’s diary), f. 35.
  • 105 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 173.
  • 106 Wake mss 17, f. 174.
  • 107 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 236.
  • 108 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss fc. 37, vol. 13, no. xvii, Addison to Manchester, 6 Feb. 1708; Nicolson, London Diaries, 453.
  • 109 PA, HL/PO/JO/10/6/144/2452; HL/PO/PB/1/1707/6An62.
  • 110 Add. 64928, f. 81; Wiffen, ii. 306.
  • 111 Chatsworth, Devonshire Pprs. 98.2, Lord Orford to Lady Russell, 2 Sept. [1708].
  • 112 Add. 64928, f. 73; Add. 61596, ff. 40-42.
  • 113 Add. 61128, ff. 162-3.
  • 114 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 367.
  • 115 Churchill Coll. Cambs. Erle mss 2/12, James Craggs to [Erle], 15 Nov. 1708.
  • 116 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1217.
  • 117 Add. 61460, f. 74.
  • 118 HLQ, xxxv. 323-42.
  • 119 Add. 61443, ff. 27-28, 30-31.
  • 120 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 505.
  • 121 Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 46, f. 157.
  • 122 Add. 61460, f. 101.
  • 123 Add. 61443, ff. 36-37.
  • 124 Thynne pprs. 46, ff. 185-6.
  • 125 Hants RO, Jervoise pprs. 44M69/G2/264/10, Orford to Jervoise, 8 Dec. 1709.
  • 126 LPL, ms 1770, f. 91.
  • 127 Add. 61443, ff. 50-51.
  • 128 Add. 61460, f. 214.
  • 129 Add. 61367, f. 143.
  • 130 Add. 61634, f. 191.
  • 131 Thynne pprs. 47, ff. 19-20; Warws. CRO, CR1368/iii/24.
  • 132 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 633.
  • 133 HMC Portland, iv. 590.
  • 134 Timberland, ii. 308.
  • 135 Add. 70242, Orford to Newcastle, 12 June [1711].
  • 136 Ibid. Newcastle to Oxford, 21 June 1711.
  • 137 HMC Portland, v. 106.
  • 138 Verney ms mic. M636/54, Sir T. Cave to Fermanagh, 29 May 1712.
  • 139 Tory and Whig ed. Jones and Taylor, 201; HMC Portland, v. 571.
  • 140 HMC Portland, vi. 6.
  • 141 Daily Post, 28 Nov. 1727.