George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Lyttelton
PC
George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton from NPG.jpg
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
25 November 1755 – 16 November 1756
Monarch George II
Prime Minister The Duke of Newcastle
Preceded by Hon. Henry Bilson Legge
Succeeded by Hon. Henry Bilson Legge
Personal details
Born (1709-01-17)17 January 1709
Hagley, Worcestershire
Died 22 August 1773(1773-08-22) (aged 64)
Hagley, Worcestershire
Nationality British
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) (1) Lucy Fortescue (d. 1747)
(2) Elizabeth Rich
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford

George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton PC (17 January 1709 – 22 August 1773), known as Sir George Lyttelton, Bt between 1751 and 1756, was a British statesman and patron of the arts from the Lyttelton family.

Background and education[edit]

Lord Lyttelton was the son of Sir Thomas Lyttelton, 4th Baronet, by his wife Christian, daughter of Sir Richard Temple, 3rd Baronet. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.

Political career[edit]

He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Okehampton from 1735 to 1756; in 1741 he was also elected for Old Sarum, but chose to continue to sit for Okehampton.

He was one of the politicians who opposed Robert Walpole as a member (one of Cobham's Cubs) of the Whig Opposition the 1730s, he served as secretary to Frederick, Prince of Wales, from 1737,[1] and as a Commissioner of the Treasury in 1744. After Walpole's fall, Lyttelton became Chancellor of the Exchequer (1755); in 1756 he was raised to the peerage as Lord Lyttelton, Baron of Frankley in the County of Worcester.

Arts patronage[edit]

Lord Lyttelton was a friend and supporter to Alexander Pope in the 1730s and to Henry Fielding in the 1750s. James Thomson addresses him throughout his poem The Seasons, and Lyttelton arranged a pension for Thomson. He wrote Dialogues of the Dead in 1760 with Elizabeth Montagu, leader of the bluestockings, and The History of the Life of Henry the Second (1767–1771). The former work is part of a tradition of such dialogues. Henry Fielding dedicated Tom Jones to him. Lyttelton spent many years and a fortune developing Hagley Hall and its park which contains many follies, the hall itself, which is in north Worcestershire, was designed by Sanderson Miller and is the last of the great Palladian houses to be built in England.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1744. [2]

Dialogue with Gilbert West[edit]

Lyttelton and his friend, Gilbert West, are the subject of a popular inspirational story of doubtful provenance.

In 1848, the American Tract Society published a book, "Circulation and Character of the Volumes of the American Tract Society." On page 83, the Society passed on an anecdote allegedly told by a Church of England minister.,

It is stated by Rev. T. T. Biddolph, that Lord Lyttelton and his friend Gilbert West, Esq., both men of acknowledged talents, had imbibed the principles of infidelity from a superficial view of the Scriptures. Fully persuaded that the Bible was an imposture, they were determined to expose the cheat. Lord Lyttelton chose the Conversion of Paul and Mr. West the Resurrection of Christ for the subject of hostile criticism. Both sat down to their respective tasks full of prejudice; but the result of their separate attempts was, that they were both converted by their efforts to overthrow the truth of Christianity. They came together, not as they expected, to exult over an imposture exposed to ridicule, but to lament over their own folly and to felicitate each other on their joint conviction that the Bible was the word of God, their able inquiries have furnished two of the most valuable treatises in favor of revelation, one entitled 'Observations on the Conversion of St. Paul' and the other 'Observations on the Resurrection of Christ.'

No evidence exists to support this story, the story is apparently false because West states in the introduction that he wrote his book in reply to "The Resurrection of Jesus considered, in Answer to the Trial of the Witnesses" by Peter Annet, an English Deist and freethinker. Instead of challenging Christianity, West wrote his book because he was offended that someone else questioned the Gospels' reliability.

Family[edit]

Lord Lyttelton married firstly Lucy, daughter of Hugh Fortescue, in 1742,[3] after her death in 1747 he married secondly Elizabeth, daughter of Field Marshal Sir Robert Rich, 4th Baronet, in 1749. He died in August 1773, aged 64, and was buried in Christ Church Cathedral,[4] he was succeeded by his eldest son from his first marriage, Thomas.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Office holders
  2. ^ "Fellow details". Royal Society. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Lucy Fortescue biography, access date 3 December 2015
  4. ^ Memorial there.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
William Northmore
Thomas Pitt of Boconnoc
Member of Parliament for Okehampton
1735 – 1756
With: Thomas Pitt of Boconnoc to 1754
Robert Vyner from 1754
Succeeded by
Robert Vyner
William Pitt (the Elder)
Political offices
Preceded by
James Pelham
Secretary to Frederick, Prince of Wales
1737–1744
Succeeded by
Henry Drax
Preceded by
The Earl of Lincoln
Cofferer of the Household
1754–1756
Succeeded by
The Duke of Leeds
Preceded by
Henry Bilson Legge
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1755–1756
Succeeded by
Henry Bilson Legge
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Lyttelton
1756–1773
Succeeded by
Thomas Lyttelton
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Thomas Lyttelton
Baronet
(of Frankley)
1751–1773
Succeeded by
Thomas Lyttelton