CONCANNON, Lucius (c.1764-1823).
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Family and Education
b. c.1764, ?nephew of Andrew Concannon, tobacconist, of College Green, Dublin. educ. ?Eton 1779-82. m. 10 May 1790, Sarah Anne Richmond, spinster of St. Marylebone, Mdx., s.p.
Lt. Sussex militia 1780; ensign 40 Ft. 1782; cornet 17 Drag. 1783, half-pay 1783.
‘Mr Lucius Concannon’ appeared in 1779, without further explanation, at the tail of a list compiled by Fanny Burney of the guests at a soirée she attended at which Arthur Murphy, the Irish playwright, was ‘the life of the party’. By 1796 he was fully blown and Farington the diarist reported (spelling his name Concannen):
Mr Concannon, who keeps the fashionable gaming house in Grafton Street, is an Irishman, and is nephew to a person who kept a great snuff shop in Dublin. This young man came to England, and married the daughter of a person reputed to have a great fortune, while to the young lady he passed for a man in an affluent situation. The deception was mutual. Neither side had a fortune. Thus circumstanced the young couple went to Paris where agreeable to the mode which prevailed before the revolution, they took an hotel, saw much company, who were entertained at petit-soupers, and gaming went forward, by which Mr and Mrs Concannon were maintained. In London they have established a similar plan. Mr Concannon’s wine and entertainments are the best and most expensive, yet his profits are such that he is supposed to be worth £25,000.
Presumably the ‘great snuff shop in Dublin’ was that of Andrew Concannon, whose will was proved in 1793; and Luke Concannon, grocer, of Thomas Street, Dublin (1762) may have been Lucius’s parent. By January 1792 he and his wife were launched in London. According to the Morning Post (12 Jan. 1792) ‘The horns at Mrs Concannon’s Sunday concerts are spoken of in terms of rapture, by the female cognoscenti’. In June 1795 a footman attempted to steal the takings of Concannon’s ‘faro bank’. In March 1797, together with some ladies of fashion, he was fined £50 for illicit faro playing. Conant, the magistrate, reproved him when he pleaded not guilty: ‘As to your oaths, which you have now so strongly urged in favour of your innocence, O Lucius! Lucius! swear less and sin less, and you may obtain forgiveness for your past wicked ways’. Only three months later, ‘Pharo never held his head higher than at Mr Luke Concannon’s’.1
Cosseted by metropolitan society, Concannon joined the Whig Club, 7 May 1793. In 1796 he was an unsuccessful candidate at Milborne Port with another Whig. In May 1797 he toasted Irish Catholic emancipation at the Whig Club and was a steward of the Friends of Parliamentary Reform meeting at the Crown and Anchor, where he delivered himself of ‘pieces of unaffected eloquence’. On 5 Dec. 1797, again at the Whig Club, he ‘made a warm and animated speech on the deplorable state of the sister kingdom’. On 21 Dec. 1797 he wrote to William Adam*, on the report that Michael Angelo Taylor was dead, about the disposal of the latter’s seat:
I have still the foolish itching hanging about me, and it seems truly Irish, to wish to get in in order to keep out—but seceding won’t last forever I suppose.
It would really be politic in you to get me some seat or other to put an end to my eternally bothering you.2
He had recently fixed upon a country residence in Glynde, Sussex, where his mode of living was calculated to make him ‘a bad neighbour’ to a country town: but it was at Brighton that he entertained his fashionable friends, including the Prince of Wales. Lord Archibald Hamilton described the Concannons’ house there as ‘a receptacle of all those who wish to come together—I mean properly, together’. In 1800 he had hopes of a seat for Canterbury. Later that year he was on the managing committee of the Irish Union Club. In 1802 he contested Seaford unsuccessfully. Before his petition could be heard, he went off to France where, in partnership with Lord Cholmondeley, he set up a faro bank in Paris. Detained in France on the resumption of hostilities in 1803, he was ‘the life and soul of all the gaiety and fun that reigned at Verdun’.3 His writing songs and prologues for the theatricals performed under his direction before the détenus would explain the description of him in The Black Book (1823) as ‘a poet’.
When Fox took office in 1806, Concannon looked to him to help him find a seat in Parliament, in conjunction with Parsons, his agent at Seaford in 1802. On 25 July 1806 he wrote to Adam from Verdun, admitting that he could not afford £2,000 for a Treasury seat and explaining that ‘two things depend on my being in Parliament viz. paying those to whom I owe and being paid by those who owe me’. In short, he could not pay for a seat until at least a month after his being returned for it and, if that failed, he must be sure of compensation on vacating it. He now wished for his exchange for another prisoner. (His wife had already returned to England.) He was allowed to go to Vienna on parole, joining his friend Robert Adair*. Learning of Fox’s death en route, he solicited and obtained the assurance of the Prince of Wales’s goodwill, but from William Adam nothing for his comfort. In fact the Duke of Bedford, hearing of his plight, entreated Adam to ‘keep me clear of Concannon’ in the disposal of his borough seats (7 Oct.). On 16 Oct. Concannon assured Adam: ‘If the Whigs continue to be true to each other, they may govern Europe, and the world; be assured no other description of persons can do it.’ This was a prologue to a reminder of his wish to be in Parliament and to a claim, to Viscount Howick, that his ‘thorough knowledge of the continent and discretion and love of those in whose hands our government is now’, might be employed at home or on the Continent. Repeating this application on 16 Feb. 1807 he informed Adam, ‘I am a legacy of Adair’s to you, and may I say of Fox’s too’. He was willing to forego Parliament if employed diplomatically abroad, having been too delicate to suggest to Adair that he act as locum tenens for Adair’s seat, paying £500 a session to Adair’s estranged wife. A week later, in ‘a sort of duplicate’, he referred to his past expenses in quest of a seat and his never having asked a favour of the Prince of Wales, adding ‘I care not three farthings about salary’. In December 1808 he was complaining of his ‘abandoned state’ in Vienna. In 1812 he was plying Lord William Cavendish Bentinck* in Sicily with information about ‘the organized state of the north of Italy, Switzerland and the Tyrol’, and when warned by Earl Bathurst to treat his reports cautiously, Bentinck replied:
But he was trusted by all the archduke’s party at Vienna and they had great confidence in him. He remained at Vienna for three years and completely succeeded in deceiving them if he was dishonest. If he could be relied upon his information would be of the first kind, for in knowledge of the world and acuteness, he excels.
Before leaving Vienna, he found a missing portrait of Sheridan ‘in a chandler’s shop’ and rescued it.4
Concannon’s return to England and to Parliament in 1818 raised eyebrows. He was brought in by Lord Thanet for Appleby. When asked for his residence on the hustings, Thanet’s agent replied ‘I neither know nor care’. Lord Sefton inquired of Brougham (22 July 1818): ‘Is Thanet mad to have returned Concannon? What can he mean by it?’. The Duke of Bedford, who thought that Lord Darlington was returning Concannon (which he did for the next Parliament) commented:
I should like to hear what Lord Egremont says on Lucius Concannon becoming a British senator. I recollect one of the most entertaining speeches I ever heard, at the Lewes agricultural meeting, from Lord Egremont on the said Lucius Concannon.
Robert Adair, who also described him as Darlington’s protégé, commended him to Lord Holland because he has ‘great means of influencing Lord D.’s conduct in doubtful moments’, and despite temptations to change sides in politics had no intention of doing so: ‘All he is anxious about is not to be forced on some questions which may occur directly personal to the Regent’.5
Concannon signed the requisition to Tierney to lead the opposition in the House and voted silently with them in his first Parliament. After doing so on the Bank committee, 2, 8 Feb. 1819, and on the Windsor establishment, 22, 25 Feb., he paired in favour of criminal law reform, 2 Mar. Between bouts of illness he voted for Ridley’s motion to reduce the Admiralty board, 18 Mar. He voted for burgh reform, 6 May, for Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and in five minorities in June. In the second session, he voted with opposition on 24 and 30 Nov. and for the limited duration of the seditious meetings bill, 6 Dec. 1819, after which Darlington’s Members were supposed to desist from further opposition. On 27 Feb. 1820 he was admitted to Brooks’s Club, the Whig Pantheon. He died 29 Jan. 1823.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: J. M. Collinge / R. G. Thorne
- 1. Diary of Madame d’Arblay ed. Dobson, i. 218; Farington, i. 135; Oracle, 1 July 1795, 23 Mar.; The Times, 22 Mar., 17 June 1797.
- 2. Morning Chron. 3 May, 6 Dec.; The Times, 13 May 1797; Blair Adam mss.
- 3. B. Connell, Whig Peer, 410-13; Add. 33130, f. 74; 47569, f. 127; 51570, Hamilton to Lady Holland, Thurs. [?1798]; 51795, Upper Ossory to same, 26 Dec.; Blair Adam mss, Adair to Adam, Sat. [11 Dec. 1802]; The Times, 4 Mar., 23 Oct. 1800, 9 Sept., 16 Dec. 1802; [J. H. Lawrence] Picture of Verdun, i. 104-9, 233-48.
- 4. Leveson Gower, ii. 200; Blair Adam mss, Adair to Adam, 17 May, Bedford to same, 7 Oct., Concannon to same, 16 Oct., 10 Nov. 1806, 16 Feb. 1806 [recte 1807], 23 Feb. 1807; NLW, Pitchford mss, Jenkinson letter bk. 2 Dec. 1808; HMC Bathurst, 218, 223; Add. 51609, Adair to Holland, Sat.
- 5. The Late Elections (1818), 3; Brougham mss 15299; Add. 51609, Adair to Holland, 22 Aug.; 51662, Bedford to same, 29 July 1818.