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Richard Plantagenet Temple Nugent Brydges Chandos Grenville, second Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1797-1861)

This article was written by George Clement Boase and was published in 1890


Richard Plantagenet Temple Nugent Brydges Chandos Grenville, only child of Richard T. N. B. C. Grenville, first duke of Buckingham, was born at Buckingham House, Pall Mall, London on 11 February 1797, and as Lord Cobham entered Eton in 1808. From 1813 to 1822 he was known as Earl Temple, and under that name matriculated from Oriel College, Oxford on 25 October 1815. He was M.P. for Buckinghamshire from 22 June 1818 to 17 January 1839.

From the date of his father's elevation to a dukedom in 1822 he was known as Marquis of Chandos. He introduced into the Reform Bill in 1832 the tenant-at-will clause, known as the Chandos clause, which extended the franchise in counties to £50. It is the only part of the Reform Bill which is identified with any one's name, and Lord John Russell said that it destroyed the symmetry of the whig measure, and frustrated whig expectations in the counties.

In 1836 Chandos obtained a select committee ‘for the consideration of the grievances and depressed state of the agriculturists.’ He was gazetted G.C.H. in 1835, and on the death of his father on 17 January 1839, succeeded as second Duke of Buckingham.

He had become captain of the 2nd Bucks regiment of yeomanry on 15 June 1813, and was named colonel of the royal Bucks regiment of yeomanry, 22 September 1839. On Sir Robert Peel coming into office he was named lord privy seal on 3 September 1841, but when the premier proposed to deal with the corn laws he retired in January 1842, and did not again join any ministry.

He was sworn a privy councillor on 3 September 1841, made a knight of the Garter on 11 April 1842, and became a D.C.L. of Cambridge in the latter year. Popularly known as ‘The Farmer's Friend,’ he was presented on 18 May 1842 at Aylesbury with a testimonial by his admirers. Although at the time he spoke of this as the last scene in his political life, he again spoke in Buckinghamshire against the repeal of the corn laws on 31 December 1845 and 7 February 1846.

On the death of his father in 1839 the duke succeeded to a rent-roll of £100,000 a year; the estates, however, were very heavily encumbered, and he himself much increased the liabilities. One of his expensive habits was purchasing land with borrowed money, regardless of the fact that the interest of the money he borrowed was much heavier than the rental he recovered from the land. In 1844, on his eldest son coming of age, the entail to some of the estates was cut off, leaving intact the Chandos estates, which were entailed upon female heirs. Although it was known that the duke was in financial difficulties, the queen and Prince Albert paid him a visit at Stowe Park, Buckinghamshire, where they stayed from 15 to 18 January 1845. This visit cost a large sum of money, and helped to precipitate the impending catastrophe. On 31 August 1847 the effects at Stowe and other residences were taken possession of by the bailiffs, and on 12 September the duke left England with liabilities estimated at upwards of a million. Some of his estates in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, and Northamptonshire were sold on 10 May 1848 for £262,990. A forty days' sale of the pictures, china, plate, furniture, &c., at Stowe commenced on 15 August 1848, and was attended by dealers from all parts of the world, producing £75,562.

The ‘Times’ wrote with great severity of the duke as ‘a man of the highest rank, and of a property not unequal to his rank, who has flung away all by extravagance and folly, and reduced his honour to the tinsel of a pauper and the baubles of a fool.’ His conduct, however, was looked on in a more favourable light by other critics. The first portion of the library at the conclusion of the sale, 20 January 1849, brought £4,581l. 11s. 6d.; the engravings on 14 March sold for £2,359 10s. 6d.; and the Stowe manuscripts passed to Lord Ashburnham on 1 May for £8,000.

The duke married on13 May 1819, Lady Mary Campbell, youngest daughter of John, first marquis of Breadalbane. She now in the consistory court, on her own petition, obtained a divorce from her husband, 19 January 1850. Henceforth the duke occupied himself as an author, and the many historical works which he produced, founded on his own manuscripts and journals, have served to throw much light upon the inner political history of modern times. He died at the Great Western Hotel, Paddington, London, 29 July 1861. The duchess, who was born 10 July 1795, died at Stowe, 28 June 1862.

Buckingham published the following works:

  1. ‘Agricultural Distress; its Cause and Remedy,’ 1835.
  2. ‘The Ballot discussed in a Letter to the Earl of Devon,’ 1837, two editions.
  3. ‘Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George III,’ 1853-5, 4 vols.
  4. ‘Memoirs of the Court of England during the Regency,’ 1856, 2 vols.
  5. ‘Memoirs of the Court of George IV,’ 1859, 2 vols.
  6. ‘Memoirs of the Courts and Cabinets of William IV and Victoria,’ 1861, 2 vols.
  7. ‘The Private Diary of Richard, Duke of Buckingham and Chandos,’ 1862, 3 vols

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