Allen Bathurst, 1st Earl Bathurst
Bathurst was the eldest son and heir of Sir Benjamin Bathurst, and his wife, Frances Apsley, daughter of Sir Allen Apsley, of Apsley, Sussex, and Frances daughter of John Petre of Bowhay, Devon. He belonged to a family which is said to have settled in Sussex before the Norman Conquest. He was born in St James's Square, Westminster and christened at St James's Church in the precincts of the royal palace.
Bathurst matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford on 13 May 1700. He succeeded his father on 27 April 1704. In July 1704, he married his first cousin Catherine Apsley, daughter of Sir Peter Apsley and his wife Catherine Fortrey, daughter of Samuel Fortrey and sister of William Fortrey.
At the 1705 English general election Bathurst was caught up in a double return for Cirencester but was declared elected Member of Parliament for the borough in the Country Tory interest. At the 1708 British general election he was returned again for Cirencester but the election was declared void on 10 December 1709. He was returned again in the contested re-election on 23 December 1709. At the 1710 British general election he was returned in a contest without problems. He was highly active under the Tory administration. On 1 January 1712, with eleven others - the twelve apostles, so called - he was raised to the peerage by Queen Anne as Baron Bathurst, of Battlesden in the County of Bedford. He vacated his seat in the House of Commons to sit in the House of Lords.
As a zealous Tory he defended Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, and in the House of Lords was an opponent of Sir Robert Walpole. Careful never to engage in Jacobite plots, for example he condemned Sir John Fenwick's conspiracy, Bathurst remained largely aloof from the grubby business of politics. He was not a deeply religious man yet excelled, like Charles I in the collection of objets d'art. Traveling Europe on the Grand Tour of Italy he acquired furniture, paintings and precious stones. The mansion at Cirencester Park in the Cotswolds Hills became a centre for high culture, intellectual pursuits, and a haven for the excesses of the esoteric. he was one of the first of the fabulously wealthy aristocrats to landscape the gardens. Bathurst followed the plans of the foremost poet-philosopher in England, Alexander Pope. Pope was fluent in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic and Arabic, wrote episodic poetry, and plays for the theatre. He counted among his closest friends Sir Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele, the impresarios of the theatre land in London's Drury Lane. Bathurst paid for plays to be written and produced, patronised companies, and attended, but rarely the plays himself. Bathurst was liked and admired for his generosity; but behind the facade was an astute business acumen. Bathurst never overspent, yet invested heavily in his projects. He very nearly went bankrupt on several occasions, but always managed to survive. Towards the end of his life he remained in the country, never venturing to the gambling dens and capitals of vice.
After Walpole left office, he was made a Privy Councillor on 13 July 1742. He served as Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen Pensioners from 1742 to 1744. He was appointed Treasurer to the Prince of Wales when the unfortunate Frederick was already at the end of his life, had fallen out with his hated father, George II he was banned from Kensington Palace. Bathurst was responsible for the Prince's chaotic finances in his extravagant home in Leicester Square. He had moved several times to many different mansions with a large family. His eldest son who became George III was a Tory by inclination and farmer by occupation, but in his accession to throne Bathurst was removed from office. However he secured an annual pension from the new king of £2,000 on the heavily taxed Irish establishment.
In August 1772, 60 years after he was elevated to the peerage as Baron Bathurst, he was created Earl Bathurst, having previously received a pension of £2,000 a year chargeable upon the Irish revenues.
Apart from his political career Lord Bathurst is also known for his association with the poets and scholars of the time. Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Prior, Sterne, and Congreve were among his friends. His name is listed as a founding governor on the royal charter of the Foundling Hospital, granted by King George II in 1739. He is described in Sterne's Letters to Eliza; was the subject of a graceful reference on the part of Burke speaking in the House of Commons; and the letters which passed between him and Pope are published in Pope's Works, vol. viii. (London, 1872).
Later life and legacy
Lord Bathurst's wife, Catherine, died in 1768. He survived her by seven years and died in September 1775, aged 90. He was buried in Cirencester church. They had four sons and five daughters, including Frances, wife of the future MP William Wodehouse. His son Henry succeeded him in the earldom, having already been created Lord Apsley in 1771 on his appointment as Lord Chancellor.
Bathurst's sister was the mother of Admiral Sir Thomas Pye. His brother Henry Bathurst served as Bishop of Norwich and his niece was Caroline de Crespigny, a poet who some claim to be one of Lord Byron's many mistresses.
- "BATHURST, Allen (1684-1775), of Oakley Park, nr. Cirencester, Glos". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
- Chisholm 1911.
- Foster, Joseph. "Barrowby-Benn in Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714 pp. 79-105". British History Online. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
- Ernest Lovell Jr, Captain Medwin, Friend of Byron and Shelley, University of Texas, 1962 p 303-306
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bathurst, Earls". Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 520.
- Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1885). . Dictionary of National Biography. 3. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- G.E. Cokayne and P Vicary Gibbs (eds), The Complete Peerage of Great Britain and Ireland extant, abeyant, dormant and extinct, (1912), St Catherine's Press, London
- Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage New York: St Martin's Press, 1990
|Parliament of Great Britain|
| Member of Parliament for Cirencester
With: Henry Ireton 1705–1708
Charles Coxe 1708–1712
The Duke of Bolton
| Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners
The Lord Hobart
|Peerage of Great Britain|
|New creation|| Earl Bathurst
|New creation|| Baron Bathurst|