FURNESE, Henry (aft.1688-1756), of Gunnersbury House, Mdx.
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Family and Education
Sec. to Treasury, July-Nov. 1742; ld. of Treasury 1755-d.
Furnese, whose father died insane,2 was apprenticed to a well-known London merchant, Moses Berenger, and became a member of the Lisbon factory.3 Returned for Dover with government support in 1720, he bought Lathom Hall, near Wigan, in 1722. At the general election that year he declared himself a candidate for Wigan, but gave up before the poll.4 Re-elected for Dover, he joined Lord Morpeth in attacking the directors of the South Sea Company at a meeting of the shareholders in 1723.5 In 1723 and 1729 he obtained contracts for remitting money to the garrisons in Gibraltar and Minorca.6 In the next Parliament, like his cousin, Sir Robert Furnese, he went into opposition, losing his seat in 1734. He re-entered Parliament in 1738 for the seat vacated by his friend, Lord Morpeth, on succeeding to the peerage. In 1739 he bought Gunnersbury Park from Lord Hobart.7 Attaching himself to Pulteney, he voted with the Opposition against the Spanish convention in 1739 and for the place bill in 1740. In 1741 he was returned on the Furnese interest for New Romney, which he represented for the rest of his life.
On Walpole’s fall Furnese was included in Pulteney’s list of nominees to the secret committee, to which he was elected. He was one of the ten personal followers who went over with Pulteney to the Administration, all of them receiving places, in his case the joint secretaryship of the Treasury vice Henry Legge, who complained that his livelihood was being taken away and an important office of business converted into a sinecure merely to add ‘to the superfluities of one who is already possessed of a large estate’.8 The appointment figures prominently in the contemporary libels and satires on Pulteney, now Earl of Bath, and his associates. One lampoon by Hanbury Williams suggests that Furnese was required to pay half his fees as secretary ‘to Bath’s ennobled doxy’, i.e. Lady Bath; another taunts him with his low extraction:
And see with that important face
Berenger’s clerk to take his place
Into the Treasury come;
With pride and meanness act thy part
Thou look’st at the very thing thou art
Thou Bourgeois Gentilhomme.9
When in the next session Bath declared himself opposed to a revival of the secret committee, Furnese took the opportunity to resign, inspiring a press statement to the effect that, his eyes having been opened to the true character of his colleagues and to the terms on which his ‘lucrative post’ had been given him, ‘with a noble abhorrence of both he ... made haste to quit a fellowship he thought injurious to his virtue’.10 Though twice recommended to Newcastle by Chesterfield as a man who would be ‘of infinite use to you, not only in ... office, but in many other ways’,11 he remained in opposition, voting against the Government in all recorded divisions. In the next Parliament he attached himself to Dodington, through whom he secured from the Prince of Wales a promise of a seat at the Treasury board in the next reign. After Frederick’s death he acted as intermediary in Dodington’s abortive attempts to conclude a political deal with Pelham.12 In 1753 he wrote to his friend, Sir Francis Dashwood, that he was ‘obliged to live in a constant painful regularity, not sick enough to draw pity or compassion ... not well enough to do any one thing I have a mind to’.13 After a brief term of office under Newcastle, he died 30 Aug. 1756.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: A. N. Newman
- 1. PCC 234 Barnes.
- 2. Wm. Boys, Colls. Hist. Sandwich, i. 486.
- 3. SP For. Portugal, 89, f. 86.
- 4. Bull. Rylands Lib. xxxvii. 150; VCH Lancs. iii. 252.
- 5. Evening Post, 23 Nov. 1723.
- 6. Cal. Treas. Pprs, 1720-8, p. 238; 179-30, pp. 54, 90, 152.
- 7. HMC Lothian, 147.
- 8. Bedford Corresp. i. 2.
- 9. Walpole to Mann, 29 July, 11 Sept. 1742.
- 10. Gent. Mag. 1742, pp. 642, 659.
- 11. Private Corresp. Chesterfield and Newcastle (R. Hist. Soc. Cam. 3rd ser. xliv), 36, 101.
- 12. Dodington Diary, 6, 132, 225.
- 13. 13 Aug. 1753, Bodl. Dashwood mss.