BROWN, Lancelot (1748-1802), of Elsworth, Cambs.
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Family and Education
bap. 13 Jan. 1748, 1st s. of Lancelot Brown (‘Capability Brown’), head gardener to George III at Hampton Court, by his w. Bridget Wayet. educ. Eton 1761-5; Trinity, Oxf. 1766; L. Inn 1766, called 1772. m. c.1788, Frances, da. of Rev. Henry Fuller, sis. of John Fuller, of Rose Hill, Suss. suc. fa. 1783.
Lord Sandwich wrote to Lord Gower, 19 Nov. 1769:1
Your friend Mr. Brown is I see one of three persons pricked as sheriff for this county, he will naturally apply to you to be off ... it might not be amiss if you was to send Mr. Brown to apply to me, as it might occasion a beginning of a Huntingdonshire connexion between us; and the interest his estate will bring him is not contemptible.
And twenty years later, 19 Feb. 1789, Brown wrote to Sandwich, reviewing his political career:2
I flatter myself I need not repeat how long, how sincerely I have been attached to your Lordship, and that for a series of years I have consulted your interest more than my own; the best part of my life has been dedicated to your service, and my seats in Parliament, all taken at your request, have cost me much money.
Brown’s first attempt to enter Parliament was in 1774 through Sir James Lowther;3 his second, in December 1779, through Sandwich who recommended him to Lord Chesterfield for Aylesbury. ‘This last instance of your friendship and attention’, wrote Brown on 19 Dec.,4 ‘cannot but confirm me in the attachment I always had to your Lordship’s person and interest. I fear my father will think the sum rather too much ... your Lordship may perhaps see my father, and convince him that it will contribute very much to my advantage to close with the proposal.’ And on 22 Dec., when about to see his father: ‘I make no doubt that my persuasion added to your Lordship’s influence will make him see the affair in a proper light; did the business depend upon myself alone, I should not hesitate a moment in accepting the proposal.’ At the general election Brown stood for Totnes. Possibly his seat there was secured by Sandwich through John Buller, a lord of the Admiralty, uncle of Francis Yarde Buller, on whose interest Brown was returned. His election was unopposed, and he gave the corporation £1000 towards paying their debts.
There is no record of Brown having spoken in the House. He supported North’s Administration to the end, did not vote on Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, but was classed in Robinson’s list of March 1783 as a follower of Sandwich. He hoped for office during the Coalition, but waived his claims ‘because of the difficulties which attended its formation’.5 He voted for Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783.
In 1784 Yarde Buller put the seat at Totnes at the disposal of Pitt, which ruled out Brown, now in opposition. He was returned by Sandwich at Huntingdon; voted against Pitt’s Irish propositions, 13 May 1785; but in May 1787 resigned his seat, went abroad, and remained there at least two years. (‘I am very sorry’, wrote Lord Hinchingbrooke to Sandwich, 3 May, ‘that Mr. Brown’s determination to resign his seat in Parliament has got you under such difficulties.’)6 In February 1789, during the Regency crisis, while a change of ministry still seemed imminent, Brown wrote to Sandwich from Toulon reminding him of ‘the steady part’ he had always taken and asked for office:
Your Lordship has frequently told me that you had no person whom you wished to push forward in a political line except myself, your weight is now considerable; surely then this is the time that I should have the greatest expectations.
But at present I see nothing that will draw me towards England; and believe I shall pursue my former plan of staying in this place till the latter end of April, then go to Switzerland for the summer, and pass the ensuing winter in Italy. If I return home I have nothing to do, and here I find good climate, and amusement in seeing the various characters of different countries.
Brown died 28 Feb. 1802.