OFFLEY, John (?1717-84), of Wichnor, Staffs.
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Family and Education
b. ?1717, 1st s. of Crewe Offley, M.P., of Wichnor by Margaret, da. and h. of Sir Thomas Lawrence of Chelsea. unm. suc. fa. 28 June 1739.
Surveyor of the King’s private roads 1756-7; groom of the bedchamber 1757-62.
Offley was a man of fashion, prominent in gaming circles, and a friend of Lord Lincoln, Newcastle’s nephew and heir. Politically he was a Pelhamite, and in 1754 was returned for the Treasury borough of Orford. In 1756 he was appointed to the sinecure of surveyor of the King’s private roads, which seems to have been worth about £500 p.a.; to which was annexed an additional salary of £318 p.a., and in October 1756 a further £200.1 He lost this office in July 1757, but was appointed groom of the bedchamber at £500 p.a.; moreover from 1758 to 1762 he received a secret service pension of £400 ‘to make up the value of his place’.2
In October 1762 Offley was approached by Henry Fox about his attitude to Bute’s Administration. ‘Mr. Offley’s answer ... ’, wrote Newcastle to James Peachey,3 ‘was not such a one as I should have advised, viz. that he would support the King’s measures as long as he remained in the King’s service.’ It was believed at court that Offley had been won over, and he was even considered for a more lucrative office. The King wrote to Bute on 6 Nov.:4‘Mr. Offley was never so well with Lord Lincoln as with the Duke of Newcastle, therefore doubt whether his getting the comptroller’s staff would acquire strength to Government, and it would undoubtedly lower the office.’ In fact Offley seems to have had no intention of abandoning Newcastle. He resigned his office, voted against the peace preliminaries, and lost his secret service pension.
Though his character was never rated very high and he was irregular in attending the House, he was one of the very few who remained with Newcastle to the end. He was a member of Wildman’s Club (but he had disapproved of the idea of starting it),5 and in Newcastle’s list of 10 May 1764 was classed as a ‘sure friend’. Newcastle tried to obtain some office for him in the Rockingham Administration, and was more concerned than Offley at his failure. Offley seems to have been indifferent to office; although passed over, he gave the Rockingham Administration loyal support, and remained with Newcastle when he went into opposition to Chatham. In November 1767 he refused the place of master of the Household, ‘offered him in the handsomest manner by the Duke of Grafton’.6
At the general election of 1768 Offley was returned as the Pelham candidate at East Retford, supported by both Newcastle and Lincoln. ‘Mr. Offley is no party man’, wrote Newcastle to Mansfield on 7 Dec. 1767, ‘and has no particular attachment to any. He has constantly acted honourably with his friends, and will certainly continue to do so.’ He was classed by Robinson as ‘contra, present’ on the royal marriage bill, March and again as ‘contra’ in September 1774. In 1772 he was willing to retire from Parliament when a seat was required for Lord Lincoln (son of the 2nd Duke of Newcastle);7 and did not stand at the general election of 1774. There is no record of his having spoken in the House.
Offley died 3 Apr. 1784, aged 66.