LAMB, Sir Peniston, 2nd Bt., 1st Visct. Melbourne [I] (1745-1828), of Brocket Hall, Herts. and Melbourne Hall, Derbys.
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Family and Education
b. 29 Jan. 1745, o.s. of Sir Matthew Lamb†, 1st Bt., of Brocket Hall by Charlotte, da. and event. h. of Thomas Coke of Melbourne Hall. educ. Eton 1755-62; L. Inn 1769. m. 13 Apr. 1769, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Ralph Milbanke, 5th Bt.†, of Halnaby Hall, Yorks., 4s. 2da. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 6 Nov. 1768; cr. Baron Melbourne [I] 8 June 1770; Visct. Melbourne [I] 11 Jan. 1781; Baron Melbourne [GB] 11 Aug. 1815.
Gent. of bedchamber to Prince of Wales 1783-96; ld. of bedchamber 1812-d.
Melbourne belonged to the Prince of Wales’s circle. His only known speech in Parliament, 16 Jan. 1784, had been in defence of the Prince and he acted with the opposition to Pitt, meeting with the Portland Whigs at Burlington House, 11 May 1790. The party electoral managers noted that he was no longer to be returned for Malmesbury and was prepared to pay 4,000 guineas for a seat. He probably did so for his election at Newport on the Holmes interest, attending in person. On 12 Apr. 1791 he voted against Pitt on the Oczakov question, and was listed that month among supporters of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland. The same year he gratified the Duke of York by exchanging Melbourne House, Piccadilly for York House, Whitehall. His bargain was arranged by the Prince. In December 1792 when his name appeared on a list of Portland Whigs, the duke wrote against his name ‘Prince of Wales’. He was thought of by William Windham as a recruit for his ‘third party’ of Members prepared to support ministers during the war against France. That month he vacated his seat to let in his eldest son, the only one of his children allowed by contemporaries to be definitely his: Lady Melbourne had repaid his infidelities in kind.1 She was also very ambitious for her family and wished to see her husband made an earl.
In August 1794 the Duke of Portland failed in a bid to secure peerage promotion for Melbourne, diplomatically concealing the fact that the Prince of Wales was Melbourne’s sponsor. When in 1795 the Prince was obliged to economize and dispense with Melbourne’s Household services, Lady Melbourne assured him that her husband would serve him gratis, if so desired. The peerage quest continued and in August 1800 Pitt was informed that the Prince wished Melbourne to obtain an Irish earldom. The same wish was expressed to Lord Grenville in 1806, to no avail.2 In the end the Prince had to do it himself, as Regent, in 1815, when he made Melbourne a British peer, having previously restored him to his Household position. He died 22 July 1828.