GRIMSTON, William (c.1683-1756), of Gorhambury, nr. St. Albans, Herts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1683, 2nd s. of Sir William Luckyn, 3rd Bt., of Little Waltham, Essex by Mary, da. of William Sherington, alderman of London, and gt.-nephew of Sir Samuel Grimston, 3rd Bt., M.P. m. 14 Aug. 1706, Jean, da. of James Cooke of London, 10s. 3da. suc. gt.-uncle 1700, taking name of Grimston; cr. Visct. Grimston [I] 29 May 1719; suc. bro. Sir Harbottle Luckyn, 4th Bt., 4 Feb. 1737.
As a minor, William Luckyn inherited the estates of his great-uncle, Sir Samuel Grimston, whose name he assumed. The estates included Gorhambury, formerly the seat of the Bacon family, carrying an important electoral interest at St. Albans. Returned for St. Albans as a Whig, with the support of the Marlborough interest, he made his first and only reported speech on 4 Apr. 1717, when he was ‘one of the courtiers’ who opposed a vote of credit for defence measures against Sweden. Otherwise he acted with the Government, securing an Irish peerage in 1719. By this time he had fallen out with Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, who, rejecting his proposal that they should join interests at the next general election as ‘insolent, saucy, and foolish’, joined with the corporation to defeat him in 1722. With her acquiescence, he recovered his seat in 1727, but, provoked by his refusal to support her grandson, John Spencer, at a by-election for the borough, she once more co-operated with the corporation to oust him at the general election of 1734.1 Later that year he was pilloried by Pope in the couplet:
Shades, that to Bacon could retreat afford,
Become the portion of a booby Lord.2
The justification for calling him ‘a booby Lord’ was a play which he had published in 1705 but subsequently endeavoured to suppress by buying up and destroying all the copies of it. In 1736 it was reprinted with derisive notes and a frontispiece depicting a coroneted ass eating a thistle. The reprint was generally regarded as the Duchess’s revenge on Grimston for opposing her at St. Albans.3
Grimston’s feud with the Duchess continued till her death in 1746. In 1741 he did not stand but thwarted her attempt to secure the return of John Spencer by supporting James West. She retorted in 1743 by helping Hans Stanley to defeat Grimston’s son at a by-election. He did not put up a candidate in 1747, soon after which the 2nd Lord Egmont in his electoral survey described the Grimstons as ‘totally belonging to the Duke of Newcastle’. At last successful in returning his son in 1754, he died 15 Nov. 1756.