OSBORNE, Francis Godolphin D'Arcy, mq. of Carmarthen (1798-1859), of 16 Bruton Street, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1826 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 21 May 1798, 1st and o. surv. s. of George William Frederick, 6th duke of Leeds, and Lady Charlotte Townshend, da. of George Townshend†, 1st Mq. Townshend. educ. privately by John Page, fellow of Brasenose, Oxf.;1 Christ Church, Oxf. 1815. m. 24 Apr. 1828, Louisa Catherine, da. and coh. of Richard Caton, merchant, of Baltimore, USA, wid. of Sir Felton Elwell Hervey Bathurst, 1st bt., s.p. styled mq. of Carmarthen 1799-1838; summ. to the Lords in his fa’s barony as Lord Osborne 2 July 1838; suc. fa. as 7th duke of Leeds 10 July 1838; took name of D’Arcy before Osborne by royal lic. 6 Aug. 1849. d. 4 May 1859.

Offices Held

Cornet 10 Drag. 1817; ensign (half-pay) R.W.I. Rangers 1820; lt. (half-pay) 10 Drag. 1821, lt. (full-pay) 1823; capt. army 1825; capt. 2 Life Gds. 1826; ret. 1828.

Col. N. York militia 1846-d.


Carmarthen’s father, who was summoned to the Lords in his mother’s barony of Conyers in 1798 and succeeded as 6th duke of Leeds the following year, took little active part in politics, but he abandoned his father’s Foxite allegiance and went over to Pitt; his younger brother, Lord Francis Godolphin Osborne*, remained true to Whig principles. Leeds was a favoured crony and trusty drinking companion of George IV, and was sometimes the worse for wear in public: in March 1828, according to Thomas Creevey*, he and the king ‘got so drunk as to be nearly speechless’, and the following year Lady Granville encountered him in the royal entourage at Ascot races, ‘drunk as a fish [and] quite incoherent’, though she observed that ‘scarlet strawberries in private conversation are very agreeable to meet with occasionally’.2 Carmarthen travelled in France in the summer of 1816 and again in 1825, while his desultory army career took him to Ireland in 1824. In 1826 he was one of the young men who accompanied the duke of Devonshire on his lavish mission to represent Britain at the coronation of the new tsar.3 Two years later he ‘deeply mortified’ his father, so Lady Holland reported, by marrying the profoundly stupid American-born widow Lady Hervey Bathurst, sister of Lord Wellesley’s second wife, who was nine years his senior. Lady Williams Wynn had earlier commented of her that ‘never was there ... so great a Bicky, though some people say ... much of it is assumed as naivete’, and, according to Lady Holland, it was held that she ‘wanted six qualifications, youth, beauty, character, fortune, birth, sense’. Lady Holland thought the only consolations for the duke were the ‘improbability’ of his daughter-in-law producing any children and the fact that his younger son, Lord Conyers George Thomas Osborne, who in that event would inherit the title after Carmarthen, was ‘a very fine young man ... just what such a father would be proud of’.4

At the general election of 1826 Carmarthen had been returned for Helston on his father’s controlling interest, and he subsequently received a formal request for attendance from Canning, the leader of the Commons in Lord Liverpool’s ministry.5 He made no mark in the House, and is not known to have uttered a syllable in debate. He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and for the duke of Clarence’s annuity, 16 Mar. 1827. In May 1827 his father became master of the horse in Canning’s coalition ministry and, in keeping with an arrangement concluded before the demise of Liverpool’s government, received one of the three vacant garters; the duke remained in his post under Lord Goderich and the duke of Wellington.6 Carmarthen voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb. 1828. However, he and his father were at odds over Catholic relief: whereas he paired against it, 12 May, the duke voted for it in the Lords, 10 June. He divided with Wellington’s administration on the ordnance estimates, 4 July 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the patronage secretary, predicted that he would side ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, but in fact he voted or paired against it, 6, 18, 30 Mar. (His father gave his proxy to Wellington when he had to leave London in February and loyally voted for emancipation, 4, 10 Apr. 1829.)7 His only other known trace of parliamentary activity is his pairing against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830. He retired from the Commons at the dissolution that summer.8

Carmarthen, who subsequently gravitated towards the Whigs, succeeded to the dukedom in July 1838, only eight days after being summoned to the Lords in his father’s barony of Osborne. He inherited the settled family estates at Hornby Castle, near Bedale, Yorkshire, and in Cornwall. However, other real estate and the bulk of the personalty, which was sworn under £60,000, went to his brother-in-law, Sackville Walter Lane Fox*, whom the old duke had evidently treated almost as a son.9 As 7th duke of Leeds he joined Brooks’s Club in 1841 and supported repeal of the corn laws. He died of diphtheria in May 1859. It was reported that not long before his death he had been received into the Roman Catholic church, but that on his last evening he expressed a wish to be given Holy Communion by the local Anglican clergyman.10 His brother having been accidentally killed in 1831, aged 18, while wrestling at Christ Church, his title and estates devolved on his cousin, George Godolphin Osborne (1802-72), the eldest son of Lord Francis. The baronies of Darcy and Conyers passed to his nephew Sackville George Lane Fox (1827-88), who became 12th Baron Conyers.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Eg. 3508, f. 36.
  • 2. Creevey Pprs. i. 156; Countess Granville Letters, ii. 42.
  • 3. Eg. 3385B, ff. 167, 169; 3508, ff. 1, 3, 35, 36.
  • 4. Lady Holland to Son, 82; Williams Wynn Corresp. 200-1.
  • 5. West Briton, 9, 16 June 1826; Eg. 3508, f. 37.
  • 6. Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1273-4; Canning’s Ministry, 269; Colchester Diary, iii. 491; Wellington mss WP1/887/49.
  • 7. Wellington mss WP1/995/10; 996/6.
  • 8. West Briton, 16 July 1830.
  • 9. Gent. Mag. (1838), ii. 208; PROB 11/1903/706; IR26/1491/768; Add. 40406, f. 123; 40409, f. 79.
  • 10. Gent. Mag. (1859), i. 642-3.