HERBERT, Hon. Henry (aft.1678-1738), of Ribbesford, Worcs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1708 - 22 Jan. 1709

Family and Education

b. aft. 1678, o. s. of Henry Herbert*, 1st Baron Herbert of Chirbury.  educ. Westminster 1695; privately (Abel Boyer) 1699.  m. 12 Dec. 1709, Mary (d. 1770), da. of John Wallop of Farley Wallop, Hants, and sis. of John Wallop, 1st Earl of Portsmouth, s.psuc. fa. as 2nd Baron Herbert 22 Jan. 1709.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Worcester 1705, steward, Bewdley 1708–d.2


The son of a staunch Whig, Herbert had a difficult time living up to paternal expectations. His school reports from the master of Westminster, William Knipe, noted that his ‘idle and careless’ fits put his father into a ‘passion’. The more charitable Abel Boyer noted slow progress and an aversion to books, which was fortified by Herbert’s love of rural sports, although he did study when ordered to do so by his father. Lord Herbert was keen to secure useful employment and some official status for his son, pressing the lord lieutenant of Worcestershire, the Duke of Shrewsbury, to recommend Henry in October 1699 for a place in the county lieutenancy, only to suffer a rebuff on the grounds of his youth.3

As Herbert moved towards his majority, his father became more interested in the state of affairs in Bewdley corporation, thinking of his son’s possible entry into Parliament. Herbert first stood for election in 1705 against the outgoing Tory Member, Salwey Winnington. Defeated, he petitioned the House, and his father made strenuous efforts to obtain the Court’s support for him, but to no avail. The contested nature of the seat may explain his inclusion on a list of 1705 which classed him as a ‘Churchman’. By 1708 Lord Herbert had secured control of the borough through procuring a new charter and Herbert was duly returned. He followed his father’s politics, a fact recognized in a list of 1708 which classed him as a Whig, and by the Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) who noted his election as a ‘gain’. He sought patronage for a ‘Mr Bludworth’ from Prince George through Robert Walpole II*. However, Herbert sat for only a brief period, succeeding his father to the peerage in January 1709. In that short time he faced a challenge to his election from Salwey Winnington, which he continued to contest even after his elevation to the Lords, in order to defend the new charter. Thus a new writ was delayed until the Commons confirmed his election on 8 Feb. 1709, much to the outrage of the Tories.4

The financial legacy of the struggle for Bewdley left the new Lord Herbert in dire straits. Such were his difficulties that by 1713 he had abandoned the Whigs to serve the ministry of Lord Oxford (Robert Harley*) who liberally supplied him with money from his own pocket to enable him to stay in London and vote. After 1714, with the Whigs in control of the purse-strings, Herbert reverted to his original allegiance in the hope of securing financial aid. His case, as outlined to an unknown peer, consisted of a recital of his father’s services in the Revolution and subsequent ill rewards, together with his own expenditure in the Whig cause, not just at Bewdley (over £6,000), but in the county and town of Worcester, in Shropshire and at Bridgnorth. Although he received a pension in 1717, his real ambition was to retrieve the family’s fortunes by securing a post outside England. He died on 19 Apr. 1738, reputedly by his own hand, a plausible explanation given his desperate finances. His will, made in 1735, left most of his estates in trust to pay his debts, with the specific instructions that they were not to be used to pay off his father’s debts, other lands having been left for that purpose. The remainder went to his cousin Henry Morley, who changed his name to Morley Herbert.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. Epistolary Curiosities ed. Warner, iii. 176, 171–2; Add. 37157, ff. 80–81.
  • 2. List of Hon. and Gratis Freemen of Worcester 1748; Birmingham Univ. Hist. Jnl. i. 96.
  • 3. Epistolary Curiosities, 163, 171–2, 176.
  • 4. Bull. IHR, xlv. 48; Cambridge Univ. Lib. Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss 648, Herbert to Walpole [1708].
  • 5. Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. i. 179; Add. 70283, Herbert to Oxford, 7, 15 Aug., 21 Oct. 1713, 3 May 1714; 70241, same to same, 10 May 1714; Epistolary Curiosities, 38–40; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxi. 301; PCC 262 Brodrepp; VCH Worcs. iv. 264.