LAMB, Matthew (?1705-68), of Brocket Hall, Herts. and Melbourne Hall, Derbys.
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Family and Education
b. ?1705, 2nd s. of Matthew Lamb of Southwell, Notts. educ. L. Inn 1726, called 1733. m. c.1740, Charlotte, da. of Thomas Coke of Melbourne Hall, vice-chamberlain to Queen Anne, sis. and h. of George Lewis Coke (d. 1751), 1s. 2da. suc. uncle Peniston Lamb 1735, cr. Bt. 17 Jan. 1755.
Solicitor to the Post Office 1738-d.; counsel for board of Trade 1746-d.; K.C. 1754.
The son of a Southwell attorney, who was legal adviser to the Cokes of Melbourne Hall,1 Lamb was trained in the law by his uncle, Peniston Lamb, a successful barrister, versed in ‘pleading and demurring, weaving settlements and ravelling threads of adverse wills’, who left him a fortune estimated at £100,000, together with his chambers in Lincoln’s Inn. Through his uncle, the executor of the will and guardian of the children of John, 2nd Earl Fitzwilliam, he became land agent, legal adviser and moneylender to many members of the aristocracy, including the Fitzwilliams, the 3rd Duke of Marlborough who, at one time, was paying him £9,000 p.a. in interest on loans, Lord Thanet, and Lord Ashburnham.2 He was one of the executors of the will of Edward Wortley Montagu, his fellow Member at Peterborough. As land agent to the Salisburys, he was entrusted with the negotiation for the marriage of Lady Catherine Cecil with Lord Perceval, later the 2nd Lord Egmont,3 who wrote in his electoral survey: ‘Lamb is very rich and is necessary to and consequently intimate with a great number of the nobility ... He can do most of any man with Lord Salisbury’. In 1746 he bought Brocket Hall, around which, according to his grandson, the 2nd Lord Melbourne, he ‘did the Salisburys out of some land’.4 The widow of the first Marquess of Salisbury used to declare that the rise of the Lamb family was from the plunder of the earls of Salisbury.5
In 1741, thinking ‘he could afford himself the luxury of a seat in Parliament’, he ‘agreed for one that stood waiting to be hired at Stockbridge’,6 showing himself a faithful government supporter. His appointment to be counsel to the board of Trade in 1746, and a report that he was to be made a K.C., though he ‘never was an hour in Westminster Hall as a counsel in his life’, excited great indignation in the legal profession.7 Transferring in 1747 to Peterborough, where he managed the Fitzwilliam interest, he attained the dignity of K.C. in 1754. He died 6 Nov. 1768, leaving a fortune estimated at over £1,000,000.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Ld. Melbourne's Pprs. (ed. Sanders) 1-2; W. Torrens, Mems. William, 2nd Visct. Melbourne, 11; Lond. Mag. 1735, p. 99.
- 2. Banks Pprs. (Lincoln Rec. Soc. xlv), 90; A. L. Rowse, Later Churchills, 53; Yorke, Hardwicke, i. 219-20; HMC Egmont Diary, i. 157, 172; ii. 367, iii. 131.
- 3. HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 323-4, 327, 334, 337-8, 347, 353.
- 4. A. Hayward, Sketches of Eminent Statesmen, i. 331-2.
- 5. GEC Baronetage, v. 100 n.
- 6. Torrens, i. 12.
- 7. HMC Polwarth, v. 186.