CHETWYND, Walter (?1677-1736), of Ingestre, nr. Stafford.
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Family and Education
b. ?1677, 1st s. of John Chetwynd, M.P., of Ingestre, and bro. of John and William Richard Chetwynd, 2nd and 3rd Viscts. Chetwynd [I]. educ. Westminster c.1692-6; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 28 May 1696, aged 18 m. 27 May 1703, Mary, da. and coh. of John Berkeley, M.P., 4th Visct. Fitzhardinge [I], s.p. suc. fa. 1702; cr. Visct. Chetwynd of Bearhaven [I] 29 June 1717 with spec. rem. to his bros. John and William.
Master of the buckhounds to Prince George of Denmark and subsequently to the Queen 1705-11; ranger of St. James’s Park 1714-27; high steward, Stafford 1717-d.
Chetwynd came of an old Staffordshire family, who usually held at least one seat at Stafford. Succeeding his father for Stafford, he obtained a court place, which he lost when the Tories came to power. Appointed ranger of St. James’s Park (£360 p.a.) at George I’s accession, he adhered to the Sunderland government during the split in the Whig party in 1717, when he was rewarded with an Irish peerage.
In 1719 and 1720 Chetwynd took a leading part in the foundation of the London Assurance Company, known at the time as ‘Chetwynd’s bubble’, heading the list of subscribers with a sum of £15,000, sponsoring the petition for a charter, and becoming the first governor of the Company. He showed himself a capable man of business, but on the expiry of his term he did not stand for re-election as a director, and his name thenceforth disappears from the Company’s records.1 His eclipse in the business world may have been due to the disclosure of the South Sea committee of the House of Commons that he had accepted stock from the South Sea Company without paying for it.2
Chetwynd lost his seat in 1712 but recovered it on petition in 1725 after being defeated at a by-election. During the hearing of the petition it came out that the sitting Member, Francis Elde, had come to an agreement with Chetwynd to resign his seat to him for a sum of money, stated to be 1,500 guineas. Elde was expelled the House, but Chetwynd escaped a similar fate, having ‘managed so well his affairs with the German ladies’, i.e. the King’s mistresses, that Walpole was induced to intervene in his favour.3 At George II’s accession he and his brothers aligned themselves with Walpole’s opponents, with the result that they were all dismissed as ‘Sir Robert Walpole’s declared ill-wishers’.4 Shortly after their dismissal Lady Chetwynd appealed to Lady Suffolk (29 July 1727):
I cannot help expressing my sorrow for the news I hear that my Lord Chetwynd is not continued to serve his present Majesty as he had the honour to serve the late King, not from the benefit that accrued to him from that post, but because (he having been always zealous for the interest of the present Royal family in this county where the general bent runs another way, and he and his family have constantly been disturbed in all their measures for that cause only) I say because they being laid aside now, the joy of the party is shocking, to a degree inexpressible and unless their Majesties, by your kind intercession, shall show us some mark of their royal favour to convince mankind here we are not in the utmost disgrace (which I hope we have not in the least degree deserved) we shall be obliged by necessity to find some other corner of the world to pass our days in. To show their spite they have done all they could to oppose him in his election, but it was impossible for anybody to have such an interest there as my Lord.5
Lady Suffolk’s influence proving useless, Chetwynd went with his brothers into opposition. He did not stand again, dying 21 Feb. 1736.