George Granville, 1st Baron Lansdowne
|The Right Honourable
The Lord Landsowne
|George Granville, 1st Baron Lansdowne|
|Secretary at War|
|Preceded by||Robert Walpole|
|Succeeded by||Sir William Wyndham|
|Born||Birdcage Walk, London
9 March 1666
|Died||29 January 1735
Hanover Square, London
Granville was the son of Bernard Granville, the third son of Sir Sir Bevil Grenville (1596-1643) of Bideford in Devon and Stowe in the parish of Kilkhampton in Cornwall, a heroic Royalist commander in the Civil War. (The family changed the spelling of its name in 1661 from "Grenville" to "Granville", following the grant of the titles Baron Granville and Earl of Bath). His uncle was John Granville, 1st Earl of Bath (d.1701) whose half first cousin was George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle, who both played leading roles in the Restoration of the Monarchy to King Charles II in 1660. These connections guaranteed that Granville began life as a staunch Tory and Jacobite.
His early interests were as much literary as political. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1677. Among his productions while there were poems welcoming Mary of Modena when she visited the university. He spent time in Paris and after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which brought down the Jacobites, he lived for a while in retirement in England. By the mid-1690s he had befriended John Dryden and begun to write plays. He wrote an undistinguished comedy of manners entitled The She Gallants, which was staged unsuccessfully in 1695. His adult plays bear the marks of Dryden's influence. The Heroick Love is taken from the first book of Homer's Iliad. Granville also followed Dryden in adapting Shakespeare and Granville's The Jew of Venice (1701) was a successful updating of The Merchant of Venice. Perhaps his greatest success was The British Enchanters (1705), a pseudo-operatic extravaganza staged by Thomas Betterton's company.
In the opinion of Samuel Johnson, Granville's non-dramatic poetry is slavishly imitative of Edmund Waller. However some of his poetry was popular in its day. Perhaps Granville's most useful act as regards poetry was the encouragement he gave to Alexander Pope, which Pope remembered with gratitude in his Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot.
The death of Granville's parents and of his uncle the 1st Earl of Bath in 1701 placed Granville in a position of power which the accession of Queen Anne in 1702 allowed him to employ. With the help of his uncle's family, he was elected MP for Fowey in 1702, and made Governor of Pendennis Castle the following year. In Parliament, he operated in the sphere of Harley, who was an indifferent patron at first. The height of his fame during the Godolphin-Marlborough administration came from his spirited defence of Henry Sacheverell in 1710.
After the fall of the Godolphin government, Granville became MP for Cornwall, and on 28 September 1710 he was made Secretary of War. In this capacity, he oversaw the passage of important bills on munitions and recruitment. However, his experience in the Tory government was marked by family and legal strife. He was the heir male to the senior line of the Granville family following the death without progeny in 1711 of his cousin William Granville, 3rd Earl of Bath. He was not in succession to the earldom and was in recognition raised to the peerage on 1 January 1712 as "Baron Lansdown of Bideford"  in the Peerage of Great Britain. He expended time and money in an ultimately futile effort to secure the title of Earl of Bath. Despite some success, his tenure in the War Office was marred by accusations of corruption and expensive contested elections. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1712.
In 1714 Queen Anne was succeeded by the Hanoverian King George I, who favoured the Whigs. Almost all the Tories who held office under Anne were dismissed, including Lord Lansdown. Embittered, he began a secret correspondence with the Jacobite Old Pretender "James III". On 3 November 1722 James, who refused to recognise his peerage "Baron Lansdown" bestowed by Queen Anne, created him "Duke of Albemarle", "Marquis Monck and Fitzhemmon", "Earl of Bath", "Viscount Bevil", and "Baron Lansdown of Bideford" in the Jacobite Peerage of England, which supposed titles had no legal validity in the Kingdom of Great Britain. One of these titles referred to his family's supposed descent (officially confirmed to the 1st Earl of Bath by warrant of King Charles II in 1661) from Richard I de Grenville (d.post 1142) of Neath Castle, one of the Twelve Knights of Glamorgan and a brother and follower of Robert FitzHamon the Norman conqueror of Glamorgan. The titles Monck and Albemarle referred to the fact that the 1st Earl of Bath had been granted reversion of his cousin Monck's Dukedom of Albemarle, should the Duke have died without male progeny. The title "Lansdown" referred to Lansdown Hill near Bath in Somerset where his grandfather Sir Bevil Grenville had met his heroic death at the Battle of Lansdown in 1643.
On 15 December 1711 in the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Westminster, London, he married (as her 2nd husband) Mary Villiers, the daughter of Edward Villiers, 1st Earl of Jersey (1656–1711). He left no male progeny, and thus at his death his title became extinct.
Death & burial
He died in London on 29 January 1735, his wife having predeceased him by a few days, and was buried with her in the Church of St Clement Danes on 3 February 1735. His title became extinct on his death.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: George Granville, 1st Baron Lansdowne|
- J. Horace Round, Family Origins and Other Studies, ed. Page, William, 1930, p.164, The Granvilles and the Monks, p.130
- "Grenville, George, Baron Lansdowne (GRNL677G)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Haydn, Joseph, Book of Dignities (London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longman, 1851), p. 190.
- Round, p.141
- The new patent referred to him as "George Granvill, commonly called Lord Lansdown..." (Round, p.141)
- Round, p.140
- Round, p.140