BOSCAWEN, Hugh (c.1680-1734).
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Family and Education
b. c.1680, o. surv. s. of Edward Boscawen, M.P., of Tregothnan, nr. Truro, Cornw. by Jael, da. of Sir Francis Godolphin, sis. of Sidney Godolphin, M.P., 1st Earl of Godolphin, ld. high treasurer. m. 23 Apr. 1700, Charlotte, da. and coh. of Charles Godfrey, master of the jewel office, by Arabella, da. of Sir Winston Churchill, sis. of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, 5s. suc. fa. 1685; cr. Visct. Falmouth 9 June 1720.
Capt. of St. Mawes castle 1696-1710, 1714-34; groom of the bedchamber to Duke of Gloucester 1698-1700; groom of the bedchamber to Prince George of Denmark 1702-8; warden of the stannaries 1708-10, 1714-34; comptroller of the Household 1714-20; P.C. 12 Oct. 1714; jt. vice-treasurer of Ireland 1717-34; recorder Penryn, Penzance and Tregony.
Boscawen had an extensive electoral interest in Cornwall, controlling both seats at Truro, sometimes both at Penryn, and one each at St. Mawes and Tregony. ‘A zealous man for the succession in the house of Hanover’, he led the Whig opposition against Harley in the Cornish elections of 1710 and 1713. After George I’s accession, he became the electoral manager for the Government in Cornwall. He is said to have ‘much hurt’ his estate, which was not above £3,000 a year, in elections.1
Regarded in 1715 as one of the ‘chief men in place’ in the House of Commons, Boscawen took a prominent part in the prosecutions of the late Queen’s ministers, seconding the impeachment of Ormonde. On the outbreak of the rebellion he and Carteret went post to Cornwall, from which Sir Nicholas Morice reported (7 Oct.):
I was mightily surprised when I found so many of my friends taken up, but the same infection spreads as far as this since the great Bos. came down. Sir Richard Vivian [M.P.] with many others being confined without knowing the crime alleged to their charge, or so much as permitted to see the warrant by which they were committed, no bail being taken ... This county is in great confusion, and all business at a stand by reason of those confinements, every person thinking the arrogance and pride of Boscawen will carry his resentment so far as to take up all those leading gentlemen that voted against him.
The Cabinet resolved ‘to refer the information sent by Mr. Boscawen to the attorney [general] in order to have indictments prepared against as many as there are two witnesses against for high treason’. Speaking on the septennial bill in 1716, he said in reply to Lord Finch that it was ‘his Lordship’s being guilty of disappointments that made him so angry with the ministry; at which blunder they all laughed very heartily’.2
During the split in the Whig party, 1717-20, Boscawen adhered to the Administration. In an altercation between Walpole and Stanhope, 20 May 1717, he
acted the part of a common friend ... saying that it was melancholy to see that any differences should happen between these two worthy members, unbecoming their own characters, and the dignity of that assembly; but that ’twould still be a greater misfortune if they should go out with any resentment, and therefore he moved that the House should lay their commands upon them, that no further notice be taken of what had passed,
which was agreed unanimously. He defended Cadogan against the charge of corruption brought against him by the Whig opposition on 4 June 1717. In December 1717 he was mentioned as a possible successor to Addison as secretary of state, and as in favour with George I, who
supped last week with the comptroller Boscawen, there was no Englishmen, and only His Majesty, a Hanoverian, a favourite of the King’s, Abbot Dubois, with the Duchesses of Munster and Kent, and Mrs. Dunch, sister to Mr. Boscawen.
He was one of the chief speakers for the peerage bill in December 1719. But his contemporaries had no great opinion of him. On being granted a peerage as Lord Falmouth he was ‘maliciously nicknamed Lord Foulmouth’. Egmont calls him ‘a blundering honest man’ and Hervey ‘a blundering blockhead’.3
On the accession of George II, Boscawen’s wife tried to obtain a place of lady of the bedchamber, asking Mrs. Clayton (see under Clayton, William) to lay before the Queen
the vast obligation it would be to Lord Falmouth, and if he could be happy enough to go into the country with this mark of favour, it would be such a countenance to his interest at the next election that I may without vanity say, that there is not one subject in England that can do half the service ... It is impossible for anybody to be more entirely devoted to both their Majesties’ service than he is.
She offered a bribe to Mrs. Clayton, who was offended and never spoke to the Queen. In the Lords he continued to act with the Government until 1733. In the debate on a proposed inquiry into the South Sea Company on 2 June 1733, Lord Hervey wrote,
Lord Falmouth ... in the two most material questions in this affair, spoke on one side and voted on the other, which gave occasion to some laughers to say that Lord Falmouth was determined to do the ministers all the hurt he could, for he spoke for them and voted against them.
With other discontented peers, he became connected with the ‘Rump Steak Club’, a club which, the 1st Lord Egmont wrote, ‘had its name from an expression of my Lord Falmouth, who, coming up to town and going to the King’s levee, was not spoke to, whereupon he said the King had turned his rump to him’. Before the general election of 1734, Walpole stripped him of his power ‘by making Mr. Edgcumbe the disposer of the Government’s money for buying the Cornish elections for members of Parliament’, whereupon, in April, he resigned his post of joint vice-treasurer of Ireland, worth £3,000 p.a.4
He died 25 Oct. 1734 ‘of an apoplexy fit as he came downstairs’, so that it was observed,
what was facetiously said of him many years ago upon a foolish speech he made in Parliament Procumbit humo Bos is now literally true.5
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 131; HMC Portland, iv. 646; v. 57.
- 2. Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, i. 138; HMC Townshend, 162-3; Morice mss at Bank of England; A. Corbière to Horace Walpole, 27 Apr. 1716, Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss.
- 3. HMC Polwarth, i. 264; HMC Portland, v. 549, 551; Coxe, Walpole, ii. 171; HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 131; Mems. 188.
- 4. Lady Sundon, Mems. i. 316-19; Hervey, Mems. 188; HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 14, 33, 53, 132.
- 5. HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 131.