CAPEL CONINGSBY, George, Visct. Malden (1757-1839), of Hampton Court, Herefs.
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Family and Education
b. 13 Nov. 1757, o.s. of William, 4th Earl of Essex, by 1st w. Frances, da. and coh. of Sir Charles Hanbury Williams† of Coldbrook, Mon. educ. Westminster 1766-74; Corpus, Camb. 1775. m. (1) 6 June 1786, Sarah (d. 16 Jan. 1838), da. of Henry Bazett of St. Helena, wid. of Edward Stephenson of E.I. Co. service, s.p. legit.; (2) 14 Apr. 1838 Catherine, da. of Edward Stephens, carver and gilder, of Park Street, Mdx., s.p. suc. gdmo. Lady Frances Hanbury Williams (née Coningsby) 20 Dec. 1781 and took additional name of Coningsby; fa. as 5th Earl of Essex 4 Mar. 1799.
Ld. lt. Herefs. 1802-17; recorder and high steward, Leominster 1802-5, chief steward 1805-8.
Capt.-lt. Herefs. militia 1781, capt. 1793, maj. 1796, lt.-col. 1796-9, col. 1802-5.
Viscount Malden, in his youth a friend of the Prince of Wales, had supported Lord North and Fox, joined the Whig Club, 6 Mar. 1787, and opposed Pitt in Parliament until 1789. In April of that year he informed his kinsman and parliamentary patron the Duke of Bedford that he ‘intended changing his way of acting as to politics’ and offered up his seat at Okehampton. In the summer, Malden assured Sir George Cornewall that he was ‘as firm a friend as ever to the Duke of Portland and Charles Fox, and would never act against them’, but was disgusted with the Prince of Wales, disliked Sheridan and ‘did not like to be summoned to town whenever it should please certain persons to order him to attend’. Cornewall gathered that Malden’s ‘ill humour towards the Prince’ proceeded ‘partly from the old affair of Mrs Robinson, partly from his dispute two years ago with Weltje, and very much from his living much with Tom Onslow, and being greatly under his influence’. As Malden claimed to have written a reassuring letter to Portland, the Whigs thought that ‘a little courtship would still fix him’, but they were soon disappointed.1
With no adequate electoral interest of his own, he did not find a seat in 1790. He advertised for Hertfordshire, ‘to assert that little right to attention which I conceived our family were entitled to have shown to them’, so he informed Pitt, to whom he now professed ‘a zealous attachment’, 3 July 1790, and in deference to whose wishes he claimed to have postponed his pretensions in favour of William Hale.2 He subsequently built up an interest at Leominster in competition with his erstwhile ally the Duke of Norfolk; it secured him one Member there in 1796, after a bloodless duel with the duke, but he was discouraged by the expense and gave it up in 1802, afterwards selling his property in Herefordshire. He had been found a seat in 1794, coming in on a vacancy for New Radnor Boroughs on the interest of Edward, 5th Earl of Oxford, whose uncle Thomas Harley* arranged his unopposed return, thereby disposing of Malden’s pretensions to a county seat for Herefordshire. The vacancy occurred just when Malden had applied to Pitt to succeed to the office of vice-chamberlain to the King. He did not obtain it, in any case. Nor did he obtain the command of the Herefordshire militia when Lord Bateman resigned it in May 1796, despite the King’s good wishes. Portland pacified him with an assurance that he might look to the lord lieutenancy of the county.3 This he obtained in due course.
Malden supported administration and succeeded to the title in 1799. His interventions in debate were brief: on 25 May 1797 he brought up the Queen’s reply to the House’s congratulations on her daughter’s marriage; on 22 Feb. 1798 he provided evidence of French prisoners being well treated, from his experience with his regiment at Bristol; on 24 Apr. he suggested that there were too many French émigrés concentrated in London and that they should be dispersed for security reasons; and on 20 June 1798 he vouched for his militia regiment’s willingness to serve in Ireland and acted as government teller on the question.
As Earl of Essex, he continued friendly to Pitt, but unfriendly to Addington and to the ‘Talents’, thinking that Lord Grenville should have included some of Pitt’s friends in the government. In 1810 he reverted to the Whigs and entertained them at Cassiobury, for he was (to quote Charles Long) ‘the Prince of Gossips’. Described as ‘an amiable unaffected nobleman’, he died 23 Apr. 1839.4