Robert Henley, 1st Earl of Northington

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Northington
Robert Henley, 1st Earl of Northington by Thomas Hudson
The Earl of Northington by Thomas Hudson.
Lord Keeper
Lord High Steward for the trial of The Earl Ferrers
In office
30 June 1757 – 16 January 1761
MonarchGeorge II, George III
Prime MinisterThe Duke of Newcastle
Preceded byin commission, last held by The Earl of Hardwicke (as Lord Chancellor
Succeeded byhimself (as Lord Chancellor)
Lord Chancellor
Lord High Steward for the trial of Lady Kingston
In office
16 January 1761 – 30 July 1766
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Duke of Newcastle, The Earl of Bute, George Grenville, The Marquess of Rockingham
Preceded byhimself (as Lord Keeper)
Succeeded byThe Earl Camden
Lord President of the Council
In office
30 July 1766 – 22 December 1767
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Chatham
Preceded byThe Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham
Succeeded byThe Earl Gower
Personal details
Died(1772-01-14)14 January 1772
Political partyWhig Party
Spouse(s)Jane Huband
ParentsAnthony Henley

Sir Robert Henley, 1st Earl of Northington, PC (c. 1708 – 14 January 1772) was the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain. He was a member of the Whig Party in the parliament and was known for his wit and writing.[1]


Born the second son of Anthony Henley, Robert Henley was from a wealthy family in Hampshire. His grandfather, Sir Robert Henley, had been Master of the Court of the King's Bench, essentially a defence counsel.

Henley's father Anthony Henley was educated at Oxford and interested in literature. When he moved to London, he became the friend of the Earls of Dorset and Sunderland, as well as a friend of Swift, Pope, and Burnet. After becoming a married man, Anthony Henley had been the Member of Parliament for Andover in 1698. He died in August, 1711 and was succeeded in turn by his eldest son, Anthony and his second son, Robert.[2]

Early life[edit]

The Grange, Northington

Henley was educated at Westminster School and attended St. John's College in Oxford.[1] He gained a fellowship at the All Souls College in 1727, entered the Inner Temple to study law in 1729 and was called to the bar on 23 June 1732. He succeeded his elder brother in 1746, inheriting The Grange, Northington in Hampshire which had been built for his grandfather by Inigo Jones.


He was elected a Member of Parliament for Bath in 1747 and became Recorder of the town in 1751. He was appointed Attorney General and knighted in 1756 and promoted the next year to Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, the last person to receive this title. Although as Lord Keeper he presided over the House of Lords, he was not made a peer until 1760 when he became Baron Henley of Grange in the County of Southampton.[3] When George III ascended to power, Henley was appointed Lord Chancellor in 1761 and made Earl of Northington in 1764.[4][1]

The delay in raising him to the peerage was due to the hostility of George II, who resented Henley's former support of the Prince of Wales's faction, known as the Leicester House party; and it was in order that he might preside as Lord High Steward at the trial of the Earl Ferrers for murder in 1760 that he then received his patent. He resigned from his position in 1767 and died at his residence in Hampshire on 14 January 1772.

Personal life[edit]

In 1743, Henley had married Jane Huband who was the daughter of Sir John Huband of Ipsley of Warwickshire. He had three sons and five daughters. The names of his daughters were: Lady Catherine Henley (d. 9 Jan 1779),[5] Lady Bridget Henley (d. 13 March 1796),[6] Jane Henley (d. February 1823),[7] Lady Elizabeth Henley (d. 20 August 1821),[8] Mary Henley (1753–1814).[9][10]

He was succeeded by his son Robert Henley, 2nd Earl of Northington.


  • Vernon v Bethell (1762) 28 ER 838, "necessitous men are not, truly speaking, free men, but, to answer a present exigency, will submit to any terms that the crafty may impose upon them."
  • Shanley v Harvey (1763) 2 Eden 126, 127, as “soon as a man sets foot on English ground he is free.”
  • Brown v Peck (1758) 1 Eden 140, provisions discouraging cohabitation were void against public policy, as where a will promised £5 a month to a beneficiary to split up from her husband, or £2 otherwise. She was entitled to the £5.
  • Hussey v. Dillon 2 Amb 603, 604, testament and meaning of "grandchildren"
  • 1 Eden 5, “The Court has always in cases of this nature considered the question of consent with great latitude, adhering to the spirit and not the letter. The maxim Qui tacet satis loquitur has therefore been respected, and constructive consents have been looked upon as entitled to as much regard as if conveyed in express terms.”
  • Earl of Buckinghamshire v Drury
  • Pike v Hoare, 2 Eden, 182; Amb. 428, on conflict of laws, a will affecting lands in the Colonies “is not triable” in this country.
  • Burgess v Wheate 1 Eden, 251


  1. ^ a b c "Robert Henley, 1st Earl of Northington". WordiQ. WordiQ. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  2. ^ Henley (2nd Baron), Robert (1831). A memoir of the life of Robert Heneley, earl of Northington, lord high chancellor of Great Britain. Oxford: Oxford University. p. 162.
  3. ^ "No. 9986". The London Gazette. 29 March 1760. p. 1.
  4. ^ "No. 10418". The London Gazette. 19 May 1764. p. 4.
  5. ^ Cokayne, G.E. (1910–1959). The Complete peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdoms, Extant, Extinct or Dormant. Glouester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing. p. 474.
  6. ^ Mosley, Charles (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.: Burke's Peerage. p. 1248.
  7. ^ Maubois, Caroline (2008). re: Penancoet Family.
  8. ^ Cokayne, George Edward (1983). Complete Baronetage. Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing. p. 49.
  9. ^ Mosley, Charles (1867). Burke's Peerage and Baronetage.
  10. ^ "Robert Henley, 1st Earl of Northington". A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe. Peerage. Retrieved 30 January 2011.


  • A memoir of the life of Robert Henely, earl of Northington, lord high chancellor of Great Britain
  • The Complete peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdoms, Extant, Extinct or Dormant
  • Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage
  • re: Penancoet Family
  • Complete Baronetage
  • Burke's Peerage and Baronetage
  • A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe
Legal offices
Preceded by
William Murray
Attorney General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Pratt
Political offices
Preceded by
In Commission
Lord Keeper
Succeeded by
The Lord Camden
(Lord Chancellor)
Lord Chancellor
Preceded by
The Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
The Earl Gower
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Marquess of Carnarvon
Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire
Succeeded by
The Duke of Chandos
Peerage of Great Britain
New title Earl of Northington
Succeeded by
Robert Henley
New title Baron Henley