VILLIERS, George Bussy, Visct. Villiers (1735-1805).
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Family and Education
b. 9 June 1735, o. surv. s. of William, 3rd Earl of Jersey, by Anne, da. of Scroop Egerton, 1st Duke of Bridgwater, wid. of Wriothesley Russell, 3rd Duke of Bedford. m. 26 Mar. 1770, Frances, da. and h. of Rt. Rev. Philip Twysden, bp. of Raphoe, 3s. 7da. suc. fa. as 4th Earl of Jersey 28 Aug. 1769.
Ld. of Admiralty 1761-2; P.C. 11 July 1765; vice-chamberlain 1765-9; ld. of bedchamber 1769-77; master of the buckhounds Apr. 1782-May 1783; capt. of the gentlemen pensioners May 1783-1790; master of the horse to Prince of Wales 1795-1800.
Villiers was returned at Tamworth on Lord Weymouth’s interest in succession to his uncle, Thomas Villiers. He may have been abroad at the time: Gibbon met him at Lausanne in November 1756, and found him a ‘good, sensible, modest young man’.1 By 1759 he had returned to England, and on 13 Nov. moved the Address, ‘going through every part of the Speech and motion very clearly’.2
He was a great friend of the Duke of Grafton, who in the autumn of 1762 was active in opposing Bute’s Administration. Yet the court believed they could win over Villiers, and in November he was offered the place of comptroller of the Household. ‘Lord Villiers’, Fox wrote to Bute on 18 Nov.,3 ‘... will be entirely guided by Lord Spencer.’ But Villiers refused, and on 18 Nov. Shelburne informed Bute: ‘It is since confirmed by another authority—Lord Villiers among others to resign [his seat at the Admiralty]. I have endeavoured to get Lord Weymouth, to whom alone he owes his election, to speak strongly about it to him.’ Weymouth promised to do so, but Villiers voted against the peace preliminaries and was dismissed.
Villiers was one of the ‘zealous young men’ who pressed upon Newcastle the need for vigorous opposition and for collaboration with Pitt. He was among the founders of Wildman’s Club, appears in every minority list 1763-5, and was classed by Newcastle as a ‘sure friend’. At the meeting at Claremont on 30 June 1765 he disapproved of taking office without Pitt, yet accepted a place—probably because Grafton did so. Weymouth, who adhered to the old Administration, refused to re-elect him at Tamworth and he was returned by Newcastle for Aldborough. Naturally he supported the Chatham and Grafton Administrations; and in 1768 was returned for Dover on the Government interest.
As a peer he continued to follow Grafton, supported the court until the outbreak of the American war, and in 1777 was dismissed for opposition. He voted for Fox’s East India bill, and, although in office, against Pitt over the Regency.
He died 22 Aug. 1805.