SHERARD, Bennet, 3rd Baron Sherard of Leitrim [I] (1677-1732), of Stapleford Hall, Leics.

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



Dec. 1701 - 1702
1713 - 19 Oct. 1714

Family and Education

b. 9 Oct. 1677, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Bennet, 2nd Baron Sherard of Leitrim [I]*.  m. lic. 30 Apr. 1696, Mary (d. 1702), da. and coh. of Sir Henry Calverley† of Eryholme, co. Dur., 1s. d.v.psuc. fa. as 3rd Baron Sherard 15 Jan. 1700; cr. Baron Harborough of Harborough 19 Oct. 1714, Visct. Sherard of Stapleford 31 Oct. 1718, Earl of Harborough 8 May 1719.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. Rutland 1700–12, 1715–d.; warden and c.j. in eyre, N. of Trent 1719–d.


Sherard made an advantageous early marriage to the heiress of Sir Henry Calverley whose widow arranged the sale of several northern manors and estates in order to raise the bride’s portion. On his father’s death in January 1700, Sherard inherited considerable estates in Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Rutland, and a major interest among Leicestershire’s freeholders. He was also appointed to his father’s old office of lord lieutenant of Rutland. Thus, despite the handicap of youth, he was well suited to enter the political arena at the earliest opportunity. By October 1700 he had already emerged as Lord Stamford’s candidate for the next election, and in January 1701 was subjected by the Tories to the narrowest of defeats.1

Sherard preserved the family reputation for hospitality. One of his guests in the summer of 1701, Sir John (later Viscount) Perceval, 5th Bt.†, noted that ‘the entertainment we met with here was singularly good, for the family pique themselves upon eating and drinking well . . . the old Lord Sherard has been dead about a year, and left a son who is very much a gentleman’. During the campaign for the second 1701 election Sherard, in partnership with Lord Roos (John Manners*), presented the electorate with a strong aristocratic ticket. Writing to the latter’s father, Lord Rutland (John Manners†), George Ashby confided, ‘I cannot think anyone will be so ill-advised as to oppose [them]’. In spite of this, it was felt in Tory circles that if elected the young Sherard ‘may be prevailed upon partially to vote right’. Returned though he was, these hopes were never realized: shortly before the new Parliament met, Lord Spencer (Charles*) counted Sherard’s return as a ‘gain’ for the Whigs. His only recorded intervention in debate was on 24 Mar. 1702 when, during the discussions following the report on the civil list bill, he unsuccessfully introduced a clause for confirming grants made under the privy seal by the late King. A grant of this sort had been made to his father in 1697 of Windmill Fields in St. James’s.2

Shortly after Sherard began canvassing for the approaching election in the spring of 1702, his wife died, having a short while previously given birth to his heir. He remained in the contest up to polling in July, but was defeated. The following month he suffered the loss of his son. He was no stranger to the usual aristocratic gatherings: in mid-April 1705 there is a glimpse of him attending the Newmarket races in company with other Whig peers and being received at Cambridge University where a doctorate of laws was conferred on him. He contemplated standing in the December 1707 by-election, but withdrew before the campaign was much under way, his replacement George Ashby explaining, ‘My Lord Sherard having extraordinary business that obliges him to leave the county before the election’.3

In the summer of 1709 Sherard was expected to marry one of the daughters of Sir John Brownlow, 3rd Bt.*, a match urged upon him by his drinking partner the Earl of Exeter who had married Brownlow’s eldest daughter. The marriage never took place, however. In January 1713 the marriage of Sherard’s sister Lucinda to the Duke of Rutland (John Manners, Lord Roos) cemented the already strong political affinity between the Whig Sherard and Manners families. The significance of the union was drily inferred in the Tory Lord Fermanagh’s (John Verney*) quip to his son Ralph†, ‘Lord Sherard is to marry Lady Rutland’. At the beginning of 1713 the Tories were under an impression that Sherard would stand in the election later in the year, but his prospects appeared more attractive in Rutland where he stood successfully with Lord Finch (Daniel*) with the assistance of the latter’s father, the Earl of Nottingham (Daniel Finch†). Sherard’s ‘eagerness to succeed’ and his ill-judged tactics irritated the Earl almost beyond endurance, though Nottingham was not slow to acknowledge that Sherard ‘acted very justly and honourably towards my son’.4

Sherard’s return to the Commons after an interval of 11 years proved shortlived, though he demonstrated his continuing attachment to the Whig cause with his vote on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele. On the eve of George I’s coronation in October he was given an English barony, entitling him to a seat in the Lords, with special remainder to his second cousin Philip Sherard*. Promotions in the English peerage followed in 1718 and 1719, the latter an earldom, again with special remainder to his cousin. He died on 16 Oct. 1732 and was buried at Stapleford. Under the terms of his will a small hospital was established in the vicinity of his seat ‘for six poor men of the Church of England’.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. CSP Dom. 1696, p. 137; HMC Cowper, iii. 161, 418–19.
  • 2. Add. 47057, f. 24; HMC Rutland, ii. 168; HMC Cowper, ii. 440; Cocks Diary, 255.
  • 3. HMC 10th Rep. IV, 140; Rutland mss at Belvoir Castle, G. Lavallade to Duke of Rutland, 17 Apr. [1705]; BL, Verney mss mic. 636/53, Sir Thomas Cave, 3rd Bt.*, to Ld. Fermanagh (John Verney*), 10 Nov. 1707; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 234; Bodl. mss Eng. hist. c.478, f. 251.
  • 4. Wentworth Pprs. 95, 99, 137; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 312; Leics. RO, Finch mss, box 4969, Nottingham to Ld. Guernsey (Hon. Heneage Finch I*), 13 Sept. 1713.
  • 5. Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 325; Nichols, Leics. ii. 335.