RIGBY, Richard (1722-88), of Mistley Hall, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. Feb. 1722, o.s. of Richard Rigby of Paternoster Row, London and Mistley Hall, Essex by his w. Anne Perry. educ. Corpus Christi, Camb. 1738; M. Temple 1738; Grand Tour. unm. suc. fa. 1730.
Ld. of Trade Dec. 1755-Jan. 1760; sec. to ld. lt. [I] Jan. 1757-Mar. 1761; master of the rolls [I] Nov. 1759-d.; P.C. [I] June 1760; jt. vice-treasurer [I] Dec. 1762-July 1765, Jan.-June 1768; paymaster gen. June 1768-Mar. 1782.
The son of a woollen draper, who became factor to the South Sea Company, Rigby inherited as a minor an estate in Essex, with a rent roll of £1,100 a year.1 Coming of age in 1743, he joined White’s in 1744, at the same time as his great friend, the younger Horace Walpole, whose brother, the 2nd Earl of Orford, brought him into Parliament in 1745, in spite of being asked by Oxford university not to do so, as a punishment for assaulting a proctor. His political mentor was Thomas Winnington, who, according to Horace Walpole, taught him
to think it sensible to laugh at the shackles of morality, and having early encumbered his fortune by gaming he found his patron’s maxims but too well adapted to retrieve his desperate fortunes.2
After Winnington’s death in 1746, Rigby, like Horace Walpole, went over to the Prince of Wales, who
promised to assist him with £1,000 if he would go down to stand for Sudbury on his interest, which he did, and though so populous a town, and in which he did not know one man, he carried his election3
against a government candidate, much to Pelham’s annoyance.4 When a petition was brought against him, accusing him of carrying the election by bringing down a party of prize fighters to intimidate the returning officer and the electors, he defended himself with such vigour that the matter was allowed to drop.
In addition to the £1,000, of which only £900 was paid, Frederick had promised to make Rigby a groom of his bedchamber, but, after keeping him waiting for two years, gave the post to William Trevanion in 1749.5 On this Rigby broke with the Prince, transferring his allegiance to the Duke of Bedford, who lent him money to pay his debts.6 His and Horace Walpole’s names were struck out of a Leicester House list, dated 29 Apr. 1749, of persons to receive office on the Prince’s accession, in which Rigby had figured as a clerk of the Green Cloth.7 Thenceforth he became Bedford’s accredited representative in the House of Commons, sitting for the Duke’s pocket borough of Tavistock till his death, 8 Apr. 1788.