MANNERS, Lord William (1697-1772), of Croxton Park, Lincs.
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Family and Education
Gent. of the bedchamber to Prince of Wales ?1722-7; ld. of the bedchamber to the King 1727-38.
Manners sat for Leicestershire, which his father had represented, voting with the Administration in all recorded divisions, till 1734, when he declined to stand again for the county ‘to the great annoyance of his friends’.1 Throwing up his post in 1738,2 he was returned for Newark by his brother, the 3rd Duke of Rutland, whom he followed into opposition, voting against the Government on the Spanish convention in 1739 and the place bill in 1740, but with them on the motion for the dismissal of Walpole in February 1741. In the next Parliament he was absent from the division on the chairman of the elections committee, 16 Dec. 1741, but voted with the Administration on the Hanoverians in December 1742. In 1743 Henry Pelham, his brother-in-law, offered him a post on the Treasury board, which he refused.3 He voted against the Hanoverians in 1744, but for them in 1746, when he was classed as ‘doubtful’. Listed as Opposition in 1747, he attached himself to Frederick, Prince of Wales, figuring as comptroller of the Household in the 2nd Lord Egmont’s lists of office-holders in the next reign. In 1751 Pelham suspected him of restraining his brother the Duke, over whom he had great influence, from joining the Administration.4
Portrayed by Hogarth in the gambling scene of ‘The Rake’s Progress’,5 Manners was reputed to have been the only nobleman to have made a considerable private fortune as a professional gamester. Horace Walpole describes him as ‘better known in the groom-porter’s annals than in those of Europe’, in which resort of court gamblers he won 1,200 guineas in one evening during the New Year festivities in 1728. He spent much of his time looking after the Belvoir foxhounds and his extensive racing studs.6 By the daughter of a Shrewsbury apothecary he had seven illegitimate children, four sons and three daughters, to whom he left over £100,000 in cash, as well as other property.7 The eldest of them, John Manners, succeeded him in his seat at Newark in 1754.
He died of a fall from his horse 23 Apr. 1772.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. HMC Hastings, iii. 19.
- 2. Stuart mss 207/68.
- 3. Pelham to Devonshire, 1 Dec., and Hartington to Devonshire, 13 Dec. 1743, Devonshire mss.
- 4. F. G. Stephens, Cat. Prints and Drawings in the Brit. Mus. iii (1), p. 162.
- 5. Walpole, Mems. Geo II, ii. 2; Pelham to Devonshire, 4 July 1751, Devonshire mss.
- 6. To Mann, 28 Mar. 1754; W. E. Manners, Life of Granby, 7, 39.
- 7. PCC 186 Taverner; Recs. Cust Fam. (ser. 3), 4-5.