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
Died 24 August 1773(1773-08-24) (aged 64)
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 – 24 August 1773), known as Sir George Lyttelton, Bt between 1751 and 1756, was a British statesman and patron of the arts.

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 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.

Dialogue with Gilbert West[edit]

In the 1740s, Lyttelton and Gilbert West went to Oxford. There, they agreed to research two key points of Christianity, with the aim of proving them false. Lyttelton set out to prove that Saul of Tarsus was never really converted to Christianity, and West intended to demonstrate that Jesus never really rose from the dead. Each planned to do a painstaking job, taking a year to establish his case. But as they proceeded, they eventually concluded that Christianity was true and became Christians.

West eventually wrote "Observations on the History and Evidences of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ". Lyttelton wrote a lengthy text titled "Observations on the Conversion and Apostleship of St. Paul. in a Letter to Gilbert West, Esq." West became convinced of the truth of the Resurrection, and Lyttelton of the genuine conversion of Saint Paul on the basis of it. For example, Lyttelton wrote to West in 1761,

"Sir, in a late conversation we had together upon the subject of the Christian religion, I told you that besides all the proofs of it which may be drawn from the prophecies of the Old Testament, from the necessary connection it has with the whole system of the Jewish religion, from the miracles of Christ, and from the evidence given of his reflection by all the other apostles, I thought the conversion and apostleship of Saint Paul alone, duly considered, was of itself a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity a divine revelation."[2]

Family[edit]

Lord Lyttelton married firstly Lucy, daughter of Hugh Fortescue, in 1742. 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.[3] He was succeeded by his eldest son from his first marriage, Thomas.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Office holders
  2. ^ American Antiquarian Society, Early American Imprints, No.8909 (1639-1800 A.D.), p.3
  3. ^ Memorial there.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

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