RUSSELL, Francis, mq. of Tavistock (1788-1861), of Oakley, Beds. and 18 Arlington Street, Mdx.

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



14 Mar. 1809 - 1812
1812 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 13 May 1788, 1st s. of John Russell†, 6th duke of Bedford, and 1st w. Hon. Georgiana Byng, da. of George, 4th Visct. Torrington; bro. of Lord George William Russell* and Lord John Russell*. educ. by Dr. Moore, Sunbury; Westminster 1801; by Rev. John Smith at Woodnesborough, nr. Sandwich 1805-6; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1807. m. 8 Aug. 1808, Lady Anna Maria Stanhope, da. of Charles Stanhope†, 3rd earl of Harrington, 1s. summ. to the Lords in his fa.’s barony as Lord Howland 15 Jan. 1833; suc. fa. as 7th duke of Bedford 20 Oct. 1839; KG 26 Mar. 1847. d. 14 May 1861.

Offices Held

PC 6 July 1846.

Ld. lt. Beds. 1859-d.

Lt. Beds. militia 1806-9, lt.-col. 1809; capt. Woburn yeoman cav. 1807.


With his friends Lords Althorp* and Milton* - like himself the heirs of prominent Whig grandees - Tavistock was one of the ‘Young Whigs’, who, inspired by a strong sense of moral purpose, with Evangelical overtones, an awareness of the obligations of their rank and the tenets and spirit of liberalism, sought to co-operate with and harness moderate progressive opinion in order to promote change. Imbued with a deep detestation of all that Pittism had come to stand for, they espoused parliamentary reform as a means of forging an alliance between the landed interest and the commercial and industrial middle classes: government and aristocratic predominance in it, they believed, could only rest safely on the confidence and attachment of the governed.1 Tavistock, though less intellectually inclined than the other two, was further to the left politically: he had been a supporter and advocate of parliamentary reform since the time of the ‘Talents’ ministry; had acted with the Whig ‘Mountain’ in the House, to the dismay of some of the party hierarchy; and had flirted with the Burdettites during their electoral struggles with the Whigs in Westminster in 1818-19, though his innate Whiggism had ultimately proved to be stronger than his radical leanings. Yet, for all his undoubted cerebral interest in politics, his active participation had been spasmodic, with bursts of zeal and energy (as when he campaigned vigorously for inquiry into the Peterloo massacre and opposed the subsequent repressive legislation in 1819) punctuating periods of indolence and indifference. The same was true of his parliamentary and political career in this period, when wretchedly poor health, together with his passionate love of hunting (he was a dedicated but accident prone master of the Oakley, 1822-9) and the Turf, frequently removed him from the centre of affairs. While he could speak forcefully when necessary, he was not a natural or gifted orator, being basically diffident, as well as handicapped by the characteristic Russell lisp. He had his share of his family’s oddity. He was something of a cold fish, apparently without humour, ‘feeble’ as a social conversationalist, and capable of inducing numbing boredom in those who did not share his enthusiasms. Miss Eden, a victim on one occasion, wrote, without rancour, of ‘that slightly damaged article, his mind. It is a good old mind, too, in its little bald shell’.2 His friend and Cambridge contemporary John Cam Hobhouse, Burdett’s protégé as Member for Westminster, whose sometimes prickly relationship with him grew easier during the 1820s, noted in 1827 that Tavistock ‘does not like company, but he does not like solitude either. He is a good man, but not a happy man. Who is?’ He added that ‘he every now and then appears above himself, and gives proofs of a vigorous mind’.3 He was, as Denis Le Marchant† observed, ‘remarkable for the soundness and coolness of his judgement’, which gave him a useful role as a political negotiator, conciliator and adviser.4

At the general election of 1820 Tavistock stood again for Bedfordshire on the powerful family interest, declaring himself to be a ‘friend to religious freedom, an advocate for parliamentary reform, and an enemy of corruption’. A second Whig started in opposition to the ministerialist sitting Member, precipitating an expensive contest. In his nomination speech, Tavistock denied that reformers were the promoters of ‘sedition, rebellion and assassination’, denounced the massive tax burden which Pittism had imposed on the country as the price of military victory and condemned ministerial endorsement of the authorities’ actions at Peterloo. Althorp feared that he might be defeated, but he topped the poll comfortably enough, with the Tory in third place.5 Before his own election came on, he had seconded the nomination of the Whig Robert John Smith* for Buckinghamshire, where part of the Russell estates lay.6 At the levee in early May 1820 he was, according to Althorp, ‘received very graciously’ by the new king.7 Tavistock was reported to be, like his father and Lord Holland, one of the Whigs ‘most inclined to high popular principles’ who were ‘determined not to consent’ to Henry Brougham’s becoming party leader in the Commons.8 He voted against government on the civil list, 5, 8 May, and the appointment of an additional Scottish baron of exchequer, 15 May 1820. He presented a petition from Bedfordshire agriculturists praying for relief from distress, 16 May.9 He resisted Hobhouse’s pressure on him to attend the meeting in support of the jailed demagogue Henry Hunt* later that month, pleading that he was ‘so little in the habit of taking a lead in public matters’ that it would not be congenial.10 He may have been in the minority against the appointment of a secret committee on the conduct of Queen Caroline, 26 June. According to Sir James Mackintosh*, Tavistock’s aunt Lady Bath

expostulated very warmly with ... [him] on Lady T[avistock] leaving her name with the queen ... [Tavistock] first defended himself by urging the numerous presents and favours which Lady T. when going had accepted from the queen; but on being pressed about the queen’s bad character, he said, ‘I can no longer bear this sanctimonious morality. Is not Lady Charlotte Greville who is your most intimate friend known to be the duke of Wellington’s mistress?11

He divided for economies in revenue collection, 4 July, and against the aliens bill, 7 July 1820.

At the Bedfordshire county meeting got up by his father to express support for the queen and petition for parliamentary reform, 12 Jan. 1821, Tavistock declared that

nothing but meetings like the present could bring about any change in a system so long and so fatally pursued ... For the sake of their offices ... [ministers] were content to sacrifice their queen. They had now goaded the people almost to despair and risked a revolution ... It had long been his persuasion that no good could arise from a mere change of men without a temperate but effectual reform of Parliament.12

In a public exchange of letters with the lord lieutenant, Lord Grantham, he refused to sign the loyal declaration got up by the county Tories because it was ‘of a party nature, intended as an indirect support of the king’s ministers, and may be interpreted as a covert approbation of the late and present measures against the queen’.13 When he presented the county meeting’s petition, 26 Jan., he accused ministers of skulking away from the force of public opinion and exhorted them to ‘pause before they drove the people to the last extremity of despair’. He voted for restoration of the queen’s name to the liturgy, 23 Jan. He proposed to move a series of resolutions criticizing the proceedings against her, which most leading members of the Whig party felt should take precedence over Lord Archibald Hamilton’s planned motion for an address calling on the king to restore the queen’s name. Hamilton insisted on going first, but reluctantly agreed to move resolutions instead of an address. Tavistock gave him silent support, 26 Jan.14 He brought on his own censure motion, 5 Feb., when he said that he would take office under no administration and called for a mass petitioning movement for ‘such a change in the representation as might make the House of Commons no longer the obedient instrument of the servants of the crown, but render it the legitimate and invariable organ of public opinion’. After the resumed debate, 6 Feb., the motion was humiliatingly crushed by 324-178. Thomas Creevey* thought that Tavistock’s performance had been ‘infinitely below himself’, but Lady Granville heard that he ‘did pretty well’.15 The Tory backbencher Henry Bankes reckoned his speech was ‘feeble and embarrassed’, but the ‘Mountaineer’ Henry Grey Bennet judged it ‘good’, with ‘parts of it ... forcible and eloquent’.16 He again voted with opposition on the liturgy question, 13 Feb. He only paired for Catholic relief, 28 Feb., though he presented a Bedfordshire petition in favour of the bill, 19 Mar.17 He voted for repeal of the additional malt duty, 21 Mar., and paired in the same sense, 3 Apr. At the Cambridgeshire reform meeting of 13 Mar., which he attended with his father, who advocated triennial parliaments and the enfranchisement of unrepresented large towns, he moved the resolutions, reiterated his support for reform and condemned the high taxation which financed the spoils system keeping ministers in power, but argued that it was now ‘perfectly useless’ to persist with the queen’s cause. His father told Lady Holland, 16 Mar., that his ‘manly declaration ... pleased me much, and if all our Whig reformers would follow his example, some good might be done’.18 Tavistock was listed as a steward of the City reform dinner, 4 Apr., but, after his outburst at Cambridge, he saw no point in attending, as he told Hobhouse:

If the Whigs are determined not to give the country some pledge about reform, I for one shall feel very much disposed to give up politics altogether. The events of the last few years have made me indifferent to almost every other subject of a public nature.

He voted for his brother Lord John Russell’s parliamentary reform motion, 9 May, and, with Milton, later had what Bedford described as ‘an unsatisfactory interview’ with Lord Grey ‘on a plan of promoting the measure by the Whigs’.19 He presented a petition for mitigation of the penal code, 7 May,20 and voted for repeal of the Blasphemous and Seditious Libels Act, 8 May, in censure of the delay in the commission of judicial inquiry, 9 May, against sending the printer of John Bull to Newgate, 11 May, to reduce the ordnance estimates, 14, 31 May, for inquiry into Peterloo, 16 May, for a reduction in the number of placemen in the House, 31 May, and against including arrears in the duke of Clarence’s grant, 18 June. Seconding Hume’s motion for an address to the king for economy and retrenchment, 27 June, he praised Hume’s efforts to reduce public expenditure, but regretted that he had been forced by ministerial intransigence to resort to

bringing all these minute details of the estimates before the House. This was a new feature in ... [their] proceedings ... They appeared to be deviating widely from the common and ancient usage of Parliament; and he was not one of those who wished to see that House assume the functions of the executive government.

He told Hume that he was wasting his time, and made a personal declaration that after witnessing the drunken excesses which had marked the last Bedfordshire election, ‘he should not consider himself as acting either an honest or consistent part, if he ever again spent a single shilling to obtain a seat in that House’.21 He acknowledged that ministers had recently slightly softened their tone on the question of economy, but ended with a denunciation of the large standing army and the plans to ring London with troops for the impending coronation. Grey Bennet thought he had adopted ‘too desponding a tone’.22 He felt that Tierney and other party leaders had ‘abandoned him’ on this subject, and ‘suffered Lord Londonderry to browbeat and misrepresent him’, and he therefore returned to the charge, 10 July 1821, when he tried unsuccessfully to get Londonderry to say when the army, even more unnecessarily large in view of the death of Buonaparte, was to be reduced.23

He divided for more extensive tax reductions to relieve distress, 11, 21 Feb. 1822, but his next recorded vote of that session was for remission of Hunt’s sentence, 24 Apr. He attended the Cambridgeshire reform meeting, 4 Apr., when his father spoke at length but he remained silent. At the Bedfordshire reform meeting, 20 Apr., he spoke in his usual terms, but admitted that so hopeless was it to attempt an opposition to ministerial majorities ... he [had] ceased to give a constant attendance in the House, since it was only in waste of time and health, but only on all great questions he felt it his duty to appear in his place.24 When he presented the petition, 25 Apr., he conceded that ‘as long as government, through the medium of taxation, retained its present extent of patronage, so long it might set public opinion at defiance’, but insisted that among the ‘respectable, intelligent and suffering middle classes of the community’ there was ‘a total want of confidence in Parliament, and a firm belief in the necessity ... of parliamentary reform’.25 Later that day he voted for his brother’s reform scheme. He was present to vote for abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 2 May, and cuts in diplomatic expenditure, 15, 16 May; against the aliens bill, 14 June; in condemnation of the influence of the crown, 24 June, and of the conduct of the lord advocate towards the Scottish press, 25 June; for inquiry into chancery delays, 26 June, and for repeal of the salt, 28 June, and window taxes, 2 July. He was in the minority of 36 against the revised corn duties, 9 May 1822. That month he approached Hobhouse with his fanciful notion of having Sir Francis Burdett installed as Whig leader in the Commons. Burdett professed to Hobhouse willingness to take on the role, and Tavistock claimed to have secured influential support for the scheme, but it came to nothing.26

Early in 1823 Tavistock fell seriously ill with a digestive complaint, which kept him away from Parliament for the entire session. He paired for his brother’s reform motion, 24 Apr., and may well have done so for other divisions. In March Hobhouse, who wrongly thought that he had persuaded him to give up hunting, found him in ‘a very precarious state of health indeed’, and the following month his brother Lord George William Russell was shocked to find him ‘a perfect skeleton’. He rallied with the arrival of spring and summer, though he remained, to the distress of his father, ‘sadly wasted in bulk’.27 In August, however, he suffered a relapse, and was for some weeks so ill that many gave him up for dead, as they did his father, who was also in a bad way.28 With the aid of a milk diet, he recovered and put on weight, and by November 1823 was considered to be out of danger and on the mend. Lord George William observed that he ‘will be an invalid for a long time, and will probably be obliged to give up hunting, or at least to take it in moderation’. Lady William reported to Tavistock’s uncle, old Lord William Russell*:

He weighs more, he loses no more, he sleeps better, he has an appetite, his spirits have returned - that he must look lean and haggard for a long time to come is but natural, mais voila ou nous en sommes apres en avoir ete quittes pour la peur for everyone thought him dying ... Although he is by no means an agreeable member of society he is an honest one - a good Whig - a good sportsman - a good landlord in prospective ... I felt very sorry ... though not affecting to be frantic with grief as his demise would have made no vacuum in my affections, never having exchanged above a hundred words with him ... and having, of course, no ideas in common.

Lord John was ‘delighted’, ‘as he is the best, most kind-hearted, generous friend I have in the world’.29

Tavistock was hors de combat as far as Parliament was concerned for the whole of the 1824 session, from which the record of his pair for the division on Brougham’s motion condemning the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June, has survived. There were varying reports on the state of his health throughout the year, and in late October his father noted that he ‘seems much more feeble and languid than he ought to be’. A month later Tavistock himself told Hobhouse that ‘I have gained a little strength, and a little flesh since I saw you, but it is slow work’. He suffered a temporary setback in January 1825.30 He was a defaulter on a call of the House, 28 Feb., paired for Catholic relief, 1 Mar., was ordered to be taken into custody for non-appearance the following day, and formally discharged on the 3rd.31 He paired for the relief bill, 21 Apr., 10 May, but was present to vote against the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 6, 10 June 1825, when, leading the opposition to its third reading, he explained that while he could have swallowed a direct grant, he could not accept one which was notoriously to be used for a purpose other than that for which it was ostensibly granted. He concluded:

He had witnessed with pleasure the wise and liberal policy which had recently been adopted by ministers, and especially by ... [Canning]. He was, therefore, at a loss how to express the astonishment he felt at seeing them risking the great popularity they had so justly acquired, by making themselves parties to a juggle like the present.

On 17 Oct. 1825 Tavistock, who was now back in the saddle, issued an address to the freeholders of Bedfordshire stating that in fulfilment of his pledge of 1821, he would neither canvass nor spend any money to secure his return for the county at the next general election, when it was up to the electors to choose him or reject him, on grounds of political principle, as they saw fit. He was ‘full of eagerness’ for what he saw as a personal attempt to advance the wider cause of reform by promoting the moral regeneration of the electorate. His father approved, thinking that it would ‘have the most beneficial effect, ultimately’; but Tierney expressed reservations, ‘in his usual way of croaking’, and Lord John Russell commented that ‘to use a metaphor that is appropriate, he hunts a fox by himself very well, but he does not run with the pack’.32 Early in the new year Tavistock discussed prospects for the Catholic question with Althorp at Woburn Abbey. He was unsure whether to subscribe to James Silk Buckingham’s Oriental Herald, on which he consulted Hobhouse, but he was in the majority for his brother’s motion for inquiry into Buckingham’s petition for redress of his grievances against the East India Company, 9 May 1826.33 Tavistock, who complained of being ‘far less well since he left the country’, having ‘lost 7lb in weight’,34 also voted for reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr., and Lord John’s reform motion, 27 Apr., and resolutions condemning electoral bribery, 26 May 1826.

It had seemed for many months that Tavistock and Thomas Macqueen, a wealthy, anti-Catholic Tory, would walk over the course for Bedfordshire, for his Whig colleague Pym had announced his retirement in December 1825, and no replacement candidate could be found. At the last minute, however, the local Whigs in desperation subscribed to support Pym, who did not attend the election but indicated through his son that he would serve if returned. At the nomination Tavistock confirmed that ‘latterly he had supported the measures of ministers, in consequence of Mr. Canning adopting a more liberal policy’. He called for an ‘absolutely necessary’ reduction of taxation, but stated that much as he approved of free trade in principle, he believed that an adequate protecting duty on corn ‘could alone save the farmer from ruin’. He affirmed his support for Catholic claims and his determination to abide strictly by the terms of his October address. Widespread resentment of his refusal to spend any money led to angry scenes around the hustings, where he was so knocked about that he hardly appeared there after the first day, leaving friends and prominent supporters, including Althorp and Lord William Russell, to speak for him. He finished in second place, almost 250 votes behind Macqueen, with Pym a distant third.35 It was revealed after the election that when he issued his address of 1825, Tavistock had written to Dr. Joseph Thackeray pledging to give £2,000, which would otherwise have been spent on promoting ‘drunkenness and corruption’, towards the new buildings planned for the county infirmary.36 While the outcome of the election seemed to some, including Lord Holland, a humiliating rebuff for the ‘Tavistock principle’ (the more so as Lord John Russell was beaten into third place in Huntingdonshire, where he sought re-election on the same platform), Tavistock himself, as he told Hobhouse, considered that it had been ‘more than satisfactory’. His father, too, professed to believe that ‘the event will work well for Tavistock’s plan of internal election reform, though I may not live to see it’. To Bedford’s regret, Tavistock decided not to publish his election addresses and speeches: ‘I must be content to be misunderstood and misrepresented, which is certainly a bore, but it can’t be helped’. After further reflection on the election, he concluded that ‘if I had spent £20,000 I should not have polled ten more votes’, though he thought that a protracted canvass might have raised him in the poll. Yet he believed that a ‘quite disheartening ... decline of public principle’, whereby ‘people are ready to vote for any man who will seek places in the excise and customs, writerships and cadetships, promotion in the army and navy, and preferment in the church’, had been the main obstacle to the unqualified success of his experiment. Later in the year, refusing to be a party to a contemplated petition against Macqueen, he observed to Milton that if the electors were corrupt, the ‘fault of having corrupted them’ lay with himself and his former Tory colleague:

If I have seen my error only lately it is no wonder they should not yet be reformed. It is a satisfaction, however, to me to reflect that the result of the late election was a more constitutional, a less drunken contest than was ever before known, and thereby a great reform, and a great good has been effected.37

Tavistock had ‘a baddish fall’ in the hunting field in mid-November 1826, when he was exercised about the choice of university for his hypocondriachal only son, whose education he closely and fussily supervised, and who was a source of constant worry for him.38 On 19 Feb. 1827 he went to London in dreadful weather to speak and vote (to the annoyance of Holland) against the Clarence grant, ‘one of the most indecent and most ill-timed propositions he ever remembered during his parliamentary experience’.39 He was initially disinclined to go up to support Burdett’s motion for Catholic relief, arguing to Hobhouse that there was no reason for the Whigs to ‘take up that which is the business of government and ought to be a government measure’, and that ‘there can be no good reason for risking all our popularity and our chance of doing good, merely for the sake of keeping up a juggle between one set of ministers and another’. In the end, not wishing to be ‘obstinate in this matter, or to stand aloof from my friends’, he gave way, though he remained convinced that he was right, and that if Ireland was in ‘such a wretched state’ as Hobhouse claimed, it was ‘more than ever the business of the ministers to take a decided line, and let us support or oppose their measures as we find them to be good or bad’. He duly voted in Burdett’s minority, 6 Mar. 1827, but he subsequently wrote angrily to Hobhouse:

Having sacrificed my own opinions and consistency, and the decided policy of my constituents, in deference to the wishes of others ... I beg you will take an opportunity of informing Burdett that I must follow my own course another time, though I cannot think that he will ever meddle with the subject again, till His Majesty thinks fit to call to his counsels a cabinet united on the subject. The farce supported by us, has existed for sufficiently long to open the eyes of everyone. Our majorities have been gradually growing smaller and smaller, till at length we have been left in a minority, with the country more against us than at any former period ... Every trick, and every kind of corruption was made use of at the general election to procure a majority against the Catholics, and this was more than connived at by Canning ... I am glad we are beat, because it will open people’s eyes, and set the question at rest in its present shape.

He subsequently explained that while he did not doubt Canning’s sincerity in wishing to carry the Catholic question provided he could stay in place, ‘if he cannot have both, he had rather keep his place than lose both’.40

Tavistock, like Althorp and Milton, refused to join in the Whig coalition with Canning in April 1827, ‘solely on account of my reform principles’, as he told Holland, though he argued that ‘moderate Whigs might without any violation of principle join him, and let us radicals stand by, and see fair play between such a government and the Ultra Tory opposition’. Anxious that there should be no conflict or misunderstanding between himself and Althorp, he reviewed the situation towards the end of the month, seeking to steer a middle course between the keenness to support the new ministry shown by such as Brougham and Sir Robert Wilson, who were ‘so overjoyed at having got rid of the old high Tory faction, that they seem to be in great danger of losing sight of principle’, and the overt hostility of Grey, who was ‘perhaps too nice under all the circumstances of the case and expects too much’. As well as noting the fact that on the Catholic question the ‘same game is to be played, with a new set of players, and with this difference only, that the principal performer is better disposed to our side’, he argued that ‘when policy and expediency are forgotten, principle alone is the test of men and parties’. He reminded Althorp that Canning, whom he deeply distrusted, had been ‘the greatest enemy, the most violent libeller of parliamentary reform, and the sarcastic reviler of the Whigs and their principles’. He concluded:

Our course should be to stand aloof, and to support Canning’s measures when they are good, and in accordance with our own principles, but not to go one step further. No general support, no confidence in the minister, beyond the surface. Above all, let us avoid as much as possible doing anything that may give the least countenance to the Ultra Tory opposition ... I do not blame Lord Lansdowne, or any of our friends, for joining Canning ... and I am glad to have them in office instead of the intolerants ... All I wish is to be allowed to take my own line without quarrelling with my friends, or wishing to influence others.41

Accordingly Tavistock made a declaration of qualified support for Canning’s ministry, on the basis of measures not men, 11 May.42 He deplored the rancour of its opponents, who were exhibiting ‘Toryism in its most hideous shape’, and singled out Peel for criticism; but when Peel protested, and denied that he planned to raise any ‘factious opposition’, he readily withdrew his remarks. He voted for the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May. At the county meeting to petition the Lords to reject the new corn bill, 23 May, he defended the measure and asked the agriculturists ‘whether it was not better now to adopt it, than to wait until it was forced upon them by the ferment of discontent among the manufacturing and commercial interests’. His father was in the Lords majority which threw it out, but at the dinner of the Bedfordshire Agricultural Society in the autumn they portrayed their difference of opinion on this subject as one of ‘degree’ only.43 Tavistock presented county petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 15 June 1827.44

When he heard, amid a gathering of jubilant Tories at Goodwood, of the appointment of the anti-Catholic Tory John Herries* as chancellor of the exchequer in the Goderich ministry, ‘at the express desire of the king’, he wrote angrily to Althorp’s father that in his opinion it had ‘completed the downfall of Lord Lansdowne as a political leader, and the downfall of the Whigs, as a party’. It was widely reported that he, Althorp (who thought that Tavistock, normally a man of ‘excellent judgement and certainly quite sane’, was ‘mad to think that I could be thought of as leader of the House of Commons’) and Milton would ‘go into decided opposition’. Lord John Russell, who met him at Goodwood, divined that he would not do so, but would ‘think it his duty to watch the conduct of the government with ‘the utmost jealousy and suspicion’.45 Tavistock was evidently courted by Holland and other Whigs favourable to the new ministry, but Bedford, who felt that they were in basic accord, warned that ‘you will none of you get Tavistock over. He is too firmly fixed in the principles of his family, which are pure Whig without any admixture of Toryism, to be easily shaken’. In mid-September Tavistock, who had been lately ‘engaged in politics so much more than I like’, wrote to his brother Lord William:

It so happens that from being one of the few neutrals, I have been talked to, or written to, by all parties. My father is more determined than ever against the government. I can see however no reason to change the course which I had determined to take at first. There have been faults on all sides ... Althorp takes the right line ... My father thinks I am taking Lord Grey’s line. Certainly we both stand aloof to watch, but I suspect with very different dispositions - his hostile, and mine indulgent - he ready to strike a blow whenever he can, I willing to avert it if possible.46

He acted as a broker in abortive negotiations between Tierney and Althorp, and was one of the Whigs consulted by Lord John Russell before he sent Tierney a list of requirements for their neutrality, which the cabinet rejected. He was in favour of Althorp’s accepting the chairmanship of the finance committee, provided he was allowed a free hand.47 He broke his collar bone in a hunting fall in early December 1827, but spurned Hobhouse’s renewed advice to give it up and was not out of action for long, claiming that ‘my general health has suffered from the confinement’.48

Tavistock, who was reported to have declined a ministerial approach for him to ‘propose a property tax’ in the Commons and to have upset Brougham with a remark at Althorp’s at the beginning of the new year, explained to his brother Lord William, 1 Jan. 1828, the principles on which he and the self-styled ‘watchmen’ were acting in relation to the present ‘wretched administration’:

I can hardly think that they will stand a fortnight ... In your dread of a Tory administration (which I always considered as a bugbear so long as we were true to ourselves) you have set up a Court administration, the most completely subservient to the crown which has existed for a century and a half ... When I decided to form a little party with Althorp, I said to Tierney that it would serve to keep minds and principles together, that if matters turned out well there could be no harm done, that we should be of use to the government by giving our disinterested support, and service to the public by keeping a watchful lookout. But if on the other hand matters should take an unfavourable turn, those who too joined the administration would find us a rallying point to fall back on, and would be received with open arms. We have now reason to rejoice at having taken this course, and you will see that people will be flocking to our little standard every day.49

On the collapse of the ministry, which led to the cancellation of the meeting which he and Althorp had planned to organize the ‘watchmen’, he initially hoped that ‘we may now all get together again (although Lord Lansdowne’s blunders can never be quite repaired)’ and ‘the prospect is not encouraging’. But as the Wellington ministry was being formed, he told Hobhouse:

Our course ... is clear, and always will be so long as we continue in the path of public principle. We have only to continue our offices as watchmen, and to guard the House not merely from the imbecility of ‘hysterical housemaids’, but also from the assaults of Tory commanders-in-chief, and the intrigues of subtle and wily lawyers. Whether it would be worthwhile to lend a hand in rallying the beaten army is another matter. For my part, I am sick of party, and when I reflect upon who and what our leaders were, and how they have treated us, I am not disposed to make any efforts to bring them back to us. The king and Canning (the natural and avowed enemies of the Whigs) have divided us and defeated us. If we go to the wars again it must be in guerilla parties.

He saw Brougham as ‘the stumbling block’ to any satisfactory reunification of the party: ‘Let us wash our hands of the whole set ... I am more and more for acting alone, at least till we can find a leader in whom we can place confidence’.50 In a correspondence with Holland on the rights and wrongs of the conduct of the Lansdowne Whigs during the previous nine months, he took a high moral line:

It is better that the Tories should come back than that we should do wrong. The only safe course in politics (and I wish that it was more attended to) is to do what one thinks right, let the consequences be what they may. By following this course one always gets home at last, but if we are tempted by consideration of policy and expediency (however plausible they may appear) to deviate from the straight path of public principle, measures abandoned, and pledges unredeemed, will one day or other rise up in judgement against us (to the prejudice of public men, and the distrust of all political professions) when the objects which have tempted us astray are lost sight of, or forgotten. This is the rule which I have ventured to lay down for my own conduct, and it has hitherto kept me out of difficulties. At the same time I must agree with you that politics, at least practical politics, can only be considered as a choice of evils.51

Despite another fall on 21 Jan. 1828, he was, to his father’s chagrin, ‘hunting almost every day’ at this time.52 He had nothing to say for himself in the House that session, when he presented petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., before voting for his brother’s successful motion to that effect. He paired in favour of Catholic relief, 12 May, but voted in person against the provision for Canning’s family the following day. A fortnight later Lord John reported to Lord William that Tavistock was ‘full of good sense, good feeling, and indolence about politics. The pulverem Newmarkham Colligere occupies much more of his thoughts than the state of the nation’.53 He divided against the salary of the governor of Dartmouth, 20 June, and to reduce that of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July, and presented a Luton petition for the abolition of slavery, 30 June 1828. Two months later he observed to Lord William that while Wellington would probably ‘carry us through our present difficulties’ in foreign affairs ‘with safety and honour’, the basic corruption of the political system urgently required drastic reform:

I started in life a reformer, and every year’s experience has confirmed me more and more in the opinion of my early days ... surely the conduct of our friends in Bedfordshire at the last election proved that public virtue is not extinct amongst the people.54

When attempting to persuade Lord William to return to England to fulfil his duties as Member for Bedford instead of idling away his time on the continent, Tavistock wrote:

There are a set of discontented spirits, who will allow no merit to their native country ... I have no patience with them. Are we sent into this world merely to enjoy ourselves? to discharge no duties? to pass our time in ease? to degrade ourselves into selfish and sensual beings? making no exertions for the good of others and spending what we have among those who care not for us, our families or our country, so long as we spend amongst them those resources from whence we derive all the comforts and enjoyments we possess?55

Lord John, who wanted him ‘to give up the fox with a small "f" to the Fox with a large one’, reported that he was ‘warm and right’ as to the course to be taken on the Catholic question; and, indeed, Tavistock, who thought that ‘on the whole’ Wellington was ‘the best minister we have had’, suggested to his brother ‘a plan to be adopted and pursued by us when Parliament meets’, which he wished to be communicated to ‘the big guns’. By early January 1829 he, Althorp and Brougham were ‘quite decided’ to ‘call urgently [and] perpetually on the government for measures to settle Ireland’.56 He did not go up for the meeting of Parliament, but was present on 10 Feb., when he ‘warmly praised ministers’ for their decision to concede Catholic emancipation, though he could have wished that it had ‘not been introduced on terms which may tend to lessen its grace and dignity’.57 Illness prevented him from taking any further share in the parliamentary proceedings on the question, for in late February he began to spit blood, to the alarm of his father, who could not ‘but remember how frequently his poor mother had these haemorrhages, and how fatally they terminated’. He remained unwell for several weeks, and in the spring gave up the mastership of the Oakley. Lord William, who had come to England, found him ‘in a precarious state and much worried about his hounds and the conduct of his neighbours’. There was talk of his going abroad in search of a warmer climate.58 He paired for the third reading of the Catholic relief bill, 30 Mar. He was fit enough to present a petition from the magistrates and clergy of Redbournstoke detailing the desperate condition of local agricultural labourers, 25 May, having earlier drawn the problem to the attention of Peel, the home secretary, in a personal interview.59 He was ‘shut out’ of the division on Lord Blandford’s reform motion, 2 June 1829.60

Tavistock decided against going abroad and settled for a winter in Devon. In September 1829 he told Lord William that unless his health greatly improved, he would probably retire from Parliament before the next general election. On politics he wrote:

It is easy, certainly, to find fault with the present government, but what is your alternative? Surely anything is better than the people with whom we are threatened [the Ultras] ... I am always more disposed to be an opposition than a ministerial man, but I cannot so soon forget what we owe to the duke. He has done for us and for Ireland what others have only talked of, and what no other man upon earth would have done. We owe him something for this, at least.61

He sold his London house in Arlington Street (soon afterwards he bought one in Carlton Terrace) and in November went with his wife to Torquay, with the intention of moving to Bedford’s cottage at Endsleigh, near Tavistock, in the spring. Lord John reported on the 27th:

Tavistock says he must as yet keep aloof [from the ministry, which his father wished to support]. Poor fellow, he must keep aloof the greater part of the session. Everyone says he looks very ill, but he is pleased with the climate of Torquay, and though he has been ailing has no fresh discharge from the lungs. It remains to be seen what is his strength of constitution.62

Tavistock, who was one of the Whig politicians named by Colonel Leslie Jones as potential leaders of his projected Reform Society, and commented to Hobhouse that ‘nine tenths of our evils have sprung from the quackery and obstinacy of Pitt and George III’, only gradually rallied and regained his strength, experiencing a number of setbacks.63 He told Hobhouse that had he been present, he would have ‘deserted Althorp for once’ and been one of the opposition Members who voted with ministers against the amendment to the address: ‘Political parties seem to have been strangely jumbled by the events of the last two years’, he observed. Like his father, he thought Wellington’s was ‘the best administration we are likely to have under existing circumstances’. He would not, however, give it his confidence, though he thought that it ought to be supported when it produced ‘good’ measures:

He must work them with miserable tools, but we have seen mischief enough done by strong governments ... Our rulers must now look to public opinion for support. They have no longer the power of carrying bad measures, even if they have the will ... I am for the duke, with his wings clipped, because I see nothing better to look to, but I should like to weed the stable, and to see some better cattle put into it.

When he learnt that Hume planned a motion for the abolition of the lord lieutenancy of Ireland, he passed on through Hobhouse his father’s opinion, based on his own experience in 1806-7, that it was ‘a useless office for all purposes of good, and of course mischievous and powerful for objects of corruption’, and also drew Hume’s attention to the ‘great jobbery’ of the Irish pension fund.64 When he left Endsleigh at the beginning of April he was, according to Bedford, who had joined him there, ‘full as well as I expected to find him, though very thin’. Lord John found him ‘looking tolerably well’: ‘his strength and spirits seem quite returned’. Later in the month he was at Newmarket, looking ‘surprisingly well’, according to Lord John, but ‘wretchedly ill’ in the eyes of Mrs. Arbuthnot. On 28 May he made a point of attending the House to vote for his brother’s parliamentary reform motion.65 He paired for abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June, and reduction of the consular services grant, 11 June. He presented a Bedfordshire petition calling for the poor to be provided with small allotments, 5 July 1830. Three days later, in a letter to Milton, he reflected on the ‘very unsatisfactory, and to me, most painful state’ of politics, in which he was trying to steer ‘a middle line’ between his father’s support for the government and Lord John’s overt hostility:

You and I have seen evils enough done by strong administrations, and if we now have one that is too weak for evil, and yet strong enough to carry through any good measure that may be forced upon [them], we have surely changed for the better, although we may not admire the men who are so ready to lay their principles aside whenever they find that others of an opposite character are likely to be forced upon them.66

He claimed that he wished to retire ‘on the plea of health’ at the 1830 dissolution and actually drafted a letter announcing this, but he was prevailed on by his leading supporters to stand again. He told them that he would ‘stay quietly at home, take my chance of being returned, and spend no money, or retire if they can find a more able-bodied candidate’. There was no opposition to his return with a new Tory, before which, resting again on his ‘purity of election’ principle, and denying the charge that his father sought to ‘enslave’ the county, he boasted that ‘he never had given a vote which infringed on public liberty, caused the shedding of a single drop of blood, or added one shilling to the burdens of the people’. He felt that he had no option but to advise his wife to accept the queen’s ‘flattering’ offer of a place in her household, even though it would ‘interfere sadly with my habits of life’.67

Tavistock, who took his share in the task of trying to make the resentful Lord William see sense over his removal from the Bedford seat (which Lord John, his replacement, lost by one vote), visited Ireland in August 1830. From Newmarket in early October he wrote:

I shall not be surprised at the duke of Wellington’s proposing parliamentary reform, or anything that may be called for by circumstances of the times. There are two or three events for which we may bless our stars. First, that George IV is not on the throne of England. Secondly, that the duke of York is not alive to succeed him, and thirdly that the Catholic question was carried last year ... We shall have a strange, and I fear, a very stormy session of Parliament. Alas! I can look with perfect confidence on none of the present parties.68

He had ‘another spitting of blood’ in late October, and did not attend the opening of Parliament, but readied himself to go up for the anticipated showdown on reform, as he told Lord William:

The times are serious, and it was my anxious wish to have given all the support in my power to the government, but alas, the duke of Wellington’s determination to resist all reform, and to stand by the present corrupt representation at all hazards, makes it impossible to go with him. The boroughmongers have made earnest and successful remonstrances to him on this subject and he has taken his stand against the people. I dread the consequences of continued resistance to just demands: witness Ireland, and the two revolutions in France ... I have been satisfied for some time that the duke had no thoughts of moving reform or making it a cabinet measure ... From the neutrality I have hitherto observed ... both sides, the duke’s and Lord Grey’s, have written confidentially to me since the close of the last session ... In answer to your remarks on the unpopularity of the Whigs, I have only to observe that whenever they have appeared before the people in counties and cities they have been universally at the head of the poll.69

He was absent from the division on the civil list which brought down the ministry, 15 Nov. 1830. He told Hobhouse that he had defended him against criticism at Brooks’s for pressing ministers to resign immediately afterwards; but Hobhouse noted privately that ‘I know friend Tavistock very well, and am aware that, with all his good qualities, he is not ill read in the "school for scandal"’.70 Tavistock, who presented Bedfordshire petitions for the abolition of slavery, 17 Nov., was consulted by Grey as to what office Lord John, in Devon for his election for Tavistock, would like in his ministry; and Wellington later told Lord Ellenborough that Tavistock and other prominent party men had ‘overruled’ Grey ‘in almost every appointment he wished to make’. Yet Hobhouse noted, 21 Nov., that he was ‘not pleased at ... John being left out of the cabinet’ and had ‘remonstrated with Althorp on the impropriety of appointing Lord Anglesey to Ireland instead of abolishing the office’ of viceroy. A fortnight later, according to Hobhouse, Tavistock told him that he was ‘going to Lord Althorp to propose that not less than 100 seats shall be remodelled by the proposed reform. He says that Althorp wants encouragement, as he stands almost alone in the cabinet’.71 He also ‘lost no time in speaking to Althorp, amongst other matters, about the game laws’, and told Lord William, 6 Dec. 1830:

My part has been to keep matters right and straight as well as I could, and in some respects I have succeeded. In Althorp I have an admirable coadjutor, and I think we have been of great assistance to each other. ... If the ministers act as I think they will, forced by Althorp and backed by Lord Grey, they will stand upon a rock. Otherwise they will be kicked out, with the execrations of all the country ... They are surrounded by difficulties, the most appalling on all sides, both at home and abroad, in Ireland and even in Scotland. I think they will reduce their own salaries, and abolish all useless offices ... We are in a dreadful state, on the eve, I fear, of a revolution, which would have broken out before this time if the people had not been pacified by the overthrow of the Wellington administration. You and I have long foreseen and foretold this state of things, for which we have been called radicals, theorists, alarmists and atheists.72

He was summoned by his father to Oakley to help deal with the ‘Swing’ disturbances later in the month, when he wrote to his brother:

Eighteen months ago I told Sir Robert Peel that matters would soon come to this pass and that we should be obliged to establish night watches for the protection of our property. And he held me cheap at that time, and thought me I believe a croaking alarmist. This is the state to which England has at length been brought by a long course, half a century, of Tory misgovernment and extravagance and corruption, but this is not the worst, for it is not only the schoolmaster who is abroad but the revolutionists also, and we shall have a hard matter to escape anarchy. If the ballot is forced upon the legislature by the people, which I think more than probable, farewell to rational and peaceable liberty ... I am for the ballot and always have been ... but I never wished to see it come thus.73

At the Bedford reform meeting, 17 Jan. 1831, Tavistock spoke for change and defended his family against allegations that they had tried to impose an electoral tyranny on the borough. In particular, he challenged John Pulley, the prime mover of the opposition which had overturned their interest at the last election, to substantiate or retract slurs on the conduct of Bedford and his late brother, the 5th duke, made on the hustings and in print. He was forced to leave the room by the onset of another haemorrhage, but returned to advocate the ballot, for which he presented petitions, 7, 26 Feb. He was quite badly affected by his Bedford exertions.74 He presented a Bedfordshire coal merchants’ petition for repeal of the coal duties, 11 Feb. He thought that Althorp’s budget had ‘damaged him as a financier’, but concluded that ‘although it will shake his influence, it is a mere measure and not a principle’. He anticipated a significant measure of reform, and was contemptuous of the Tories who were now ‘crying out for John’s moderate reform (the large towns) after having made their stand against all such imposition in the East Retford case only last year’. He was in his place to hear his brother detail the reform bill to an astonished House, 1 Mar. In his last known speech in the Commons, 3 Mar., he indignantly repudiated Alexander Baring’s assertion that the bill had been framed to preserve the Russell family interest, stating that he would personally support any motion for the disfranchisement of their pocket borough of Tavistock, even though it had a larger population than that of Bedford, and his father (so he expected the House to believe) had never interfered with the votes of his tenants there. He went on:

The government of this country has for years been carried on on principles of most unjustifiable and wasteful extravagance ... Patronage has been kept up for the purpose of maintaining the influence of the crown, and that which was known by parliamentary influence, for the purpose of carrying on measures against the sense of the country. The people feel now, more fully than at any former period, that they have not their just influence in the legislative councils of the nation, and they naturally seek for that change which will give it to them ... I sincerely hope and believe that the measure will have that effect ... I hope it will curb the monopoly so long maintained by the higher orders, and give a fair expression of the sense of the middling classes.75

Poor health forced him to pair for the second reading of the bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. According to the Tory Charles Arbuthnot*, Tavistock admitted that ‘the Irish part of the question was a very difficult one’, and that dependence on Daniel O’Connell’s* fulfilment of his promise ‘not to agitate Ireland’ if the bill passed was ‘a very sorry security’.76 He was earmarked for elevation to the Lords in his father’s barony, but no action was taken before the general election of 1831, when he stood again for Bedfordshire and was returned with a second reformer after a contest. On the hustings, where he asked to be allowed to keep his hat on because of his habitual cold, he declared that ‘it was no longer a question between Whigs and Tories, but it was a question of reform, or consultation of the rights of the British nation, or of the continuance of corrupt power’. At the victory dinner, he proclaimed that ‘reform is coming peaceably from within, and not with a vengeance from without’.77 He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and divided fairly steadily for its details (taking pairs for the divisions on St. Germans, 26 July, and Rochester, 9 Aug.) until mid-August, when he paired off until the third reading. Holland noted that he was ‘disposed to lament though not to oppose the changes in county elections, and to approve though not to support Lord Milton’s crotchets of either giving all leaseholders or none votes for the counties’.78 He voted for the passage, 19 Sept., and third reading of the bill, 21 Sept., and for Lord Ebrington’s motion of confidence in the ministry, 10 Oct., when Greville was at a loss to understand how he, Althorp and Milton, with their ‘great stake in the country’, could be so ‘extreme’ in support of reform.79 Later that month he worked enthusiastically for the reformers in the hard-fought Cambridgeshire by-election, which he considered to be ‘the most important election that ever occurred’. He was only a nominal chairman of the London committee, as he stayed in the country throughout the successful campaign.80

Tavistock, who was wrongly expected to be called to the Lords when Parliament reassembled, voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and a week later told Arbuthnot, with whom he had developed a friendship:

I have long ceased to take a very active part in politics, on account of my health, and it matters very [little] to anybody except my constituents and myself what I think and what course I pursue. I have been a reformer all my life, but I see that the question has now brought us into a position of no ordinary difficulty and danger.81

When Hobhouse was appointed secretary at war in February 1832 Tavistock, as well as advising him to preserve his health under the press of official business by ‘taking a trot on the roughest bone-shaker you can get, for an hour, at least, every morning’, encouraged him to make the economies in the administration of the army which the public expected:

Whilst Ireland and the continent remain in this unsettled state I don’t suppose that it will be possible to reduce the amount of the army - nay it may even be necessary to increase it - but surely there must be some way of simplifying the mode of managing it, and of making it less of a jobbing concern. All the departments have been hitherto made subservient to the interests of the few for the sake of parliamentary patronage, and the army has not escaped the curse. Reform, it is to be hoped, will put an end to that ... I would not bother with little penny-wise savings, which will only create discontent, make you many enemies, and do no good ... Therefore I say begin with your grand scheme, by which both the army and the country may be really benefitted.82

He told Hobhouse at the beginning of the month that he had ‘paired till the third reading’ of the reform bill; but he was listed in the ministerial majority for the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb. He duly paired for the third reading, 22 Mar. He voted for the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the measure unimpaired, 10 May, and with government on a clause of the Scottish bill, 15 June. He paired on their side on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July, and went up to vote with them on the same issue, 16 July 1832. A week later Tavistock, whose elevation to the Lords was now fixed for the dissolution, announced his retirement from the county seat in a long retrospective address. He later told Lord William that he had turned down ‘a most flattering and gratifying requisition’ to stand again:

I am satisfied with my decision. It is always something to time one’s affairs well. I have the satisfaction now of making my bow, and taking leave of the country with the good feeling, and kind expressions of all, after having seen all our measures carried amidst the buffeting I have met with when they were less fashionable than they are now.83

He got himself into a minor scrape by voting at the Bedford election in December 1832, not being aware that the gazetting of his elevation to the Lords (which did not actually take place until the following month) had been published; the second reformer’s margin of victory was three votes.84

He was never very active in the Upper House, but his close and affectionate relationship with his brother Lord John, to whom he acted as confidant, adviser and financial supporter, together with his equable and conciliatory temperament, gave him a role of sorts in high politics. He turned down offers of the Irish lord lieutenancy in 1839 and of cabinet office when Lord John was trying to form an administration in December 1845.85 Perhaps his greatest achievement as duke of Bedford was his transformation, largely by dint of his own dedicated work, of the fortunes of the family’s vast English estates, which he consolidated and rescued from the debt and decay which had spread under his sybaritic and negligent father. He was an agricultural improver and notably enlightened landlord. He made Woburn Abbey, which received a royal visit in 1841, a social centre for the Whigs. After staying there in 1842 Greville recorded that Bedford was

well and wisely administering his estate and improving his magnificent palace in every way. I never saw such an abode of luxury and enjoyment, one so full of resources for all tastes. The management of his estates is like the administration of a little kingdom. He has 450 people in his employment on the Bedfordshire property alone, not counting domestic servants. His pensions amount to £2,000 a year. There is order, economy, grandeur, comfort, and general content.86

In 1850 the 4th earl of Clarendon wrote to his sister, who had recently been a guest at Woburn:

I am sure by his letters he [Bedford] feels the ‘greateth rethpecth’ for you ... His appearance at your early breakfast was a compliment that I never heard of his paying to anybody, for at that hour he is always in a very old dressing gown, scribbling the illegible letters that will be the death of him ... He loves to think himself the centre to which information tends and from which advice radiates, and I have no doubt that in the course of a twelvemonth he does a great deal of good by smoothing down political and social asperities ... He never intentionally made an ounce of mischief in his life; but this vanity of good-nature and self-importance amount to mania, and will kill him. No man at his age, with a slender stock of health, can keep getting up through the winter at 4 or 5 in the morning, lighting his own fire and writing till 10 or 11 upon an empty stomach.87

He survived for another decade, dying at Woburn in May 1861, four years after his wife.88 By his enormously long will, dated 7 May 1861, he left Lord John his Irish estates, plus a life interest in £15,000, and £1,000 for his wife. He was succeeded in the main family estates and the dukedom by his eccentric and reclusive only son.89

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. On the ‘Young Whigs’ see E.A. Wasson, ‘Coalitions of 1827 and Crisis of Whig Leadership’, HJ, xx (1977), 587-606; ‘Great Whigs and Parl. Reform’, JBS, xxiv (1985); and Whig Renaissance (1987). They are also examined in P. Mandler, Aristocratic Government in Age of Reform (1990), 30-31, 87-96.
  • 2. Creevey Pprs. ii. 321; Blakiston, Woburn and the Russells, 189.
  • 3. Broughton, Recollections, iii. 166; G. Blakiston, Lord William Russell, 23.
  • 4. Le Marchant, Althorp, 257-8.
  • 5. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 26 Feb., 18, 25 Mar. 1820; Althorp Letters, 103.
  • 6. Add. 51662, Bedford to Holland, 10 Mar. [1820].
  • 7. Althorp Letters, 108.
  • 8. Add. 52444, f. 110.
  • 9. The Times, 17 May 1820.
  • 10. Add. 36458, f. 311.
  • 11. Add. 52444, f. 163.
  • 12. Add. 51662, Bedford to Holland, 1 Dec. [1820]; The Times, 13 Jan. 1821.
  • 13. Northampton Mercury, 27 Jan., 3 Feb.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 3 Feb. 1821.
  • 14. Creevey Pprs. ii. 5; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 65.
  • 15. Creevey Pprs. ii. 12; Countess Granville Letters, i. 205; A. Mitchell, Whigs in Opposition, 156-7.
  • 16. Dorset RO D/BKL, Bankes jnl. 123; HLRO, Hist. Coll. 379, Grey Bennet diary, 12.
  • 17. The Times, 20 Mar. 1821.
  • 18. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 17 Mar. 1821; Add. 51667.
  • 19. The Times, 4 Apr. 1821; Add. 47223, f. 34; 51663, Bedford to Holland, 14 June [1821].
  • 20. The Times, 8 May 1821.
  • 21. Wasson, Whig Renaissance, 147, unaccountably states that Tavistock made this declaration during the debates on the Queen Caroline affair. He may well have spoken in the same sense at the Cambridgeshire meeting in Mar. 1821, but the press reports do not notice it.
  • 22. Grey Bennet diary, 106-8.
  • 23. Add. 51667, Bedford to Lady Holland, 10 July; The Times, 11 July 1821.
  • 24. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 6 Apr.; The Times, 22 Apr. 1822.
  • 25. The Times, 26 Apr. 1822.
  • 26. Add. 56545, ff. 5-7.
  • 27. Russell Letters, i. 13, 16, 17, 25; Broughton, iii. 18; Blakiston, Lord William Russell, 82, 84, 90, 96-100; Add. 51586, Tierney to Lady Holland, 6 June; 51667, Bedford to same, 28 Mar., Fri. [20 June]; 51679, Lord J. Russell to same [?Aug. 1823].
  • 28. Blakiston, Lord William Russell, 106, 108; Add. 51586, Tierney to Lady Holland, 24 Aug., 23 Sept.; Bessborough mss, Brougham to Duncannon, Sat. [18 Oct. 1823].
  • 29. Blakiston, Lord William Russell, 110-11; Add. 51564, Brougham to Lady Holland, Thurs. [6 Nov.]; 51676, Lord G.W. Russell to same, 9 Nov., to Holland, Thurs. [Nov.]; 51679, Lord J. Russell to Lady Holland [24 Nov. 1823].
  • 30. Russell Early Corresp. i. 236; Russell Letters, i. 30b; ii. 41, 47; Creevey Pprs. i. 79; Add. 36460, f. 348; 51668, Bedford to Lady Holland, 26 Oct. [1824], Fri. [28 Jan. 1825].
  • 31. Wasson, ‘The Old Whigs: Bedford, Fitzwilliam, and Spencer in the House of Lords, 1833-1861’, Lords of Parliament ed. R.W. Davis, 117, incorrectly places this episode in 1824.
  • 32. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 2 Oct., 19 Nov.; Herts Mercury, 29 Oct., 5 Nov.; Add. 36461, ff. 281, 317; 51586, Tierney to Lady Holland, 24 Oct.; 51663, Bedford to Holland, 28 Oct.; 51679, Russell to Lady Holland, 9 Nov. [1825].
  • 33. Add. 36461, f. 385.
  • 34. Add. 51668, Bedford to Lady Holland, 27 May [1826].
  • 35. Herts Mercury, 10, 17, 24 June, 1, 8, 15 July 1826; Althorp Letters, 130.
  • 36. Add. 51663, Bedford to Holland, Fri. [June]; Herts Mercury, 15 July 1826.
  • 37. Add. 36462, f. 311; 36463, f. 243; 51663, Bedford to Holland [2 July], 6 Oct.; 51675, Tavistock to Holland, 1 Aug.; 51784, Holland to C.R. Fox, 30 June; Russell Letters, i. 47, 49; Fitzwilliam mss, Tavistock to Milton, 3 Dec. [1826]; Wasson, Whig Renaissance, 147.
  • 38. Add. 36463, ff. 42, 189, 243.
  • 39. Add. 51663, Bedford to Holland, Tues. [20 Feb.]; 51784, Holland to C.R. Fox, 21 Feb.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 24 Feb. 1827.
  • 40. Add. 36463, ff. 247, 260, 304, 307, 315; Canning’s Ministry, 46, 49.
  • 41. Add. 36463, ff. 361, 378; 51675, Tavistock to Holland, 13, 22 Apr.; Add. 76380, Tavistock to Althorp, 25 Apr. 1827; LMA, Jersey mss 510/416; Canning’s Ministry, 112, 143; Wasson, Whig Renaissance, 137, 147-8, 150, and HJ, xx. 597-600.
  • 42. Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1328.
  • 43. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 26 May, 9 June, 7 July, 13 Oct. 1827.
  • 44. The Times, 16 June 1827.
  • 45. BL, Althorp mss, Tavistock to Spencer, 15 Aug.; Russell Early Corresp. i. 258; Arbuthnot Corresp. 89; Add. 51677, Russell to Holland, 16 Aug.; Lansdowne mss, Holland to Lansdowne, 22 Aug., Tierney to same, 5 Sept. 1827.
  • 46. Add. 36464, f. 95; 51663, Bedford to Holland, 9 Sept. [1827]; Russell Letters, i. 75; ii. 104-5.
  • 47. Hants RO, Tierney mss 61b, c; Add. 51724, Duncannon to Holland, 10 Oct. [1827]; Wasson, Whig Renaissance, 152-3; Le Marchant, Althorp, 226.
  • 48. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 15 Dec.; Add. 36464, f. 112; 51569, Burdett to Holland, 6 Dec. 1827; Russell Letters, ii. 222.
  • 49. Greville Mems. i. 194; Broughton, iii. 232; Russell Letters, ii. 222-3. See also his letter to Holland, 8 [Jan. 1828] in Add. 51675.
  • 50. Add. 36464, ff. 166, 176, 182; 51675, Tavistock to Holland, 10 Jan. [1828]; Wasson, Whig Renaissance, 155.
  • 51. Add. 51675, Tavistock to Holland, 13, 15 Jan. [1828].
  • 52. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 26 Jan.; Add. 51669, Bedford to Lady Holland, 6 Feb. [1828]; Blakiston, Lord William Russell, 153, 156.
  • 53. Russell Letters, ii. 87. Mandler, 61 (giving the reference incorrectly as i. 87), wrongly associates this comment with Tavistock’s attitude to politics in 1827 and implies that his professed scruples over parliamentary reform as an obstacle to supporting Canning were bogus.
  • 54. Russell Letters, ii. 137-8.
  • 55. Blakiston, Lord William Russell, 176.
  • 56. Ibid. 174; Russell Letters, i. 105, 115-16; ii. 170; Add. 36464, f. 461; 51677, Lord J. Russell to Holland, Mon. [Jan.]; 76369, Althorp to Brougham, 2 Jan. 1829.
  • 57. Add. 51677, Lord J. Russell to Holland, Tues. [3 Feb. 1829]; Russell Letters, ii. 182. Wasson, Lords of Parliament, 118, erroneously states that this was Tavistock’s ‘last speech in either House of Parliament’.
  • 58. Herts Mercury, 28 Feb., 4 Apr.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 7 Mar.; Add. 51669, Bedford to Lady Holland, Fri. [27 Feb. 1829]; Oakley Hunt ed. J. Godber (Pubs. Beds. Hist Rec. Soc. xliv), p. xii; Russell Letters, i. 118; ii. 179, 191, 194, 204; Blakiston, Lord William Russell, 189.
  • 59. J. Godber, Hist. Beds. 417; Herts Mercury, 25 July 1829.
  • 60. The Times, 4 June 1829.
  • 61. Add. 51669, Bedford to Lady Holland, 11 Aug. [1829]; Russell Letters, 128.
  • 62. Add. 36466, f. 69; 47223, f. 47; Russell Letters, i. 132, 134-5; Blakiston, Lord William Russell, 202-3.
  • 63. Fitzwilliam mss, Jones to Milton, 8 Dec. 1829; Wasson, Whig Renaissance, 162; Add. 36465, f. 349; 47223, f. 38; 51670, Bedford to Lady Holland, Wed. [? 6 Jan.], 14 Feb. [1830].
  • 64. Add. 36466, ff. 12, 23, 31; 47223, f. 38; 51670, Bedford to Lady Holland, 20 Feb. [1830]; Arbuthnot Corresp. 157.
  • 65. Add. 51670, Bedford to Lady Holland, 1 Apr., Sun. [? 2 May]; 51680, Russell to same, 20 Apr. 1830; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 350.
  • 66. Fitzwilliam mss.
  • 67. Ibid. Tavistock to Milton, 5, 8 July; Devon RO, Earl Fortescue mss, Tavistock to Ebrington, 15 July; Russell Letters, i. 141-2; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 7, 14 Aug. 1830.
  • 68. Blakiston, Lord William Russell, 220-1; Russell Letters, i. 145-7, 148-50, 152-5; Add. 47223, f. 41.
  • 69. Add. 47223, ff. 43, 45; 51670, Bedford to Lady Holland, Tues. [26 Oct. 1830]; Russell Letters, i. 151, 155-7; Blakiston, Lord William Russell, 222; Arbuthnot Corresp. 157, 200.
  • 70. Broughton, iv. 70.
  • 71. Walpole, Russell, i. 159-60; Greville Mems. ii. 68; Three Diaries, 42; Add. 56555, f. 62; Broughton, iv. 90.
  • 72. Russell Letters, i. 161-3.
  • 73. Ibid. ii. 299.
  • 74. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 22 Jan. 1831; Add. 51670, Bedford to Lady Holland, 20 Jan. [1831].
  • 75. Russell Letters, i. 166-8; Add. 51675, Tavistock to Holland [1 Mar. 1831]; Broughton, iv. 90.
  • 76. Add. 40340, f. 261.
  • 77. PRO NI, Anglesey mss D619/27A/14, 15; Add. 36466, ff. 327, 368, 370; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 30 Apr., 7, 14, 21 May 1831.
  • 78. Add. 47223, f. 47; Holland House Diaries, 29.
  • 79. Greville Mems. ii. 207.
  • 80. Beds. RO, Russell mss R766, W. Russell to C. Hardy, Wed. [19 Oct.], Lord J. Russell to same, 18, 19 Oct., Tavistock to W. Russell, 21, 23, 25 Oct. 1831.
  • 81. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 3 Dec. 1831; Arbuthnot Corresp. 157.
  • 82. Add. 47223, ff. 49, 52, 57.
  • 83. Earl Fortescue mss, Grey to Ebrington, 19 Aug.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 28 July 1832; Russell Letters, iii. 25.
  • 84. Jersey mss 510/451, 452; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 22 Dec. 1832.
  • 85. See Wasson, Lords of Parliament, 117-18, 122-4, 125-6, 130-3 for a slightly exaggerated estimate of his political significance as a peer.
  • 86. Ibid. 120-1; D. Spring, English Landed Estate in 19th Cent. 35ff.; Godber, 465, 469; Blakiston, Woburn, 194-6; Lady Lyttelton Corresp. 312-15; Greville Mems. v. 39, 347.
  • 87. Maxwell, Clarendon, i. 320.
  • 88. Gent. Mag. (1861), i. 697.
  • 89. The Times, 10 Aug. 1861.