MANNERS, Lord Robert William (1781-1835), of Belvoir Castle, Leics.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Cornet, 10 Drag. 1798, lt. 1800, capt. 1803, maj. 1810; lt.-col. 2 Ft. 1811, 23 Drag. 1812, 10 Drag. 1814, half-pay 1819; brevet col. 1821; lt.-col. 3 Drag. 1825; maj.-gen. 1830.
Manners was predestined for a seat for Leicestershire on the family interest and in 1798 appeared at the county meeting in company with his locum tenens Sir Edmund Cradock Hartopp, but his path to it was not smooth. As a young cavalry officer he was trampled upon by part of his regiment after being thrown from his horse at the review at Ashford Common in 1801 and considered fortunate to escape with his life. In 1802, still not of age, he was put up by his brother on the family interest at Scarborough and was returned after a contest. In the House he followed the family line. A protégé, through his mother, of the Prince of Wales, he voted for inquiry into the Prince’s financial claims, 4 Mar. 1803, but did not otherwise oppose Addington. He was listed a Pittite in September 1804 and July 1805 and shared his brother’s reservations about the Grenville ministry.1 It was probably General Robert Manners and not he who voted against them on 30 Apr. 1806, but he appears to have done so, 17 June, on the American intercourse bill.
At the general election of 1806, after some difficulty in nudging out Cradock Hartopp, Manners came in for Leicestershire. He was reluctant to do so. Farington reported that the duke had obtained John Mansfield* the receiver-generalship of the county worth £3,000 a year on condition that his brother received half of it.2 Manners supported the Portland and Perceval administrations. Like his brother Charles, he preferred field sports and had to be dragooned into attendance in March 1810. He voted against the discharge of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr. 1810, and was listed ‘against the Opposition’ by the Whigs. His family did not attend the Regency debates. In August 1811 he set sail for the Peninsula, where he served during the remainder of the war. Listed a Treasury supporter in 1812, he appears to have been at home in 1813 when he took six weeks’ sick leave on 22 Feb. and recorded two votes against Catholic relief in May. In September his health was ‘precarious’, but he recovered.3 He was wounded at Waterloo and was back in the House by the end of March 1816, when Lord Liverpool appealed to the duke to get his Members up for the navy estimates. The duke believed that he had set out for London on 17 Mar., having hitherto paired with Sir Watkin Williams Wynn.4 He voted with ministers on the civil list questions of 6 and 24 May, paired in favour of the leather tax, 9 May, and supported the public revenue bill, 20 June 1816. He further voted for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817.
The contest for Leicestershire in 1818 was not directed against Manners, although there were ominous rumblings about ‘patrician influence’. In the ensuing Parliament he voted with ministers against Tierney’s censure motion and for the foreign enlistment bill, 18 May and 10 June 1819. No speech of his in debate is known. Indeed, he informed the duke in an undated letter, probably in March 1829: ‘I always told you I was not fit to represent the county of Leicestershire. You say in your letter you wish I had courage to speak, but you must first give me the ability.’ He died 15 Nov. 1835, ‘deservedly beloved by his family and his friends’.5
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: M. H. Port / R. G. Thorne
- 1. J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1808), 336; Prince of Wales Corresp. iii. 1398; viii. 3394; HMC Fortescue, viii. 392.
- 2. Farington, iv. 41, unless this refers to Lord Charles.
- 3. Add. 51661, Bedford to Holland, Sunday [4 Mar.]; Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lonsdale, 31 Mar. 1810; NLI, Richmond mss 64/727; Prince of Wales Corresp. viii. 3130; Gent. Mag. (1836), i. 88; Rutland mss, Prince Regent to Rutland, 30 Sept. 1813.
- 4. T.64/260, Rutland to Arbuthnot, 17 Mar. 1816; Add. 38262, f. 323; 38573, f. 84.
- 5. Rutland mss; Raikes Jnl. ii. 269.