John Manners, Marquess of Granby

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Marquess of Granby
Born2 January 1721
Died18 October 1770
(aged 49)
Alma materEton College
University of Cambridge
SpouseLady Frances Seymour (m. 1750)
Military career
Allegiance Great Britain
Service/branch British Army

Lieutenant-General John Manners, Marquess of Granby PC (2 January 1721 – 18 October 1770) was a British Army officer, politician and nobleman. The eldest son of John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland, as he did not outlive his father and inherit the dukedom, Manners was known by his father's subsidiary title, Marquess of Granby. He served in the military during the Jacobite rising of 1745 and the Seven Years' War, being subsequently rewarded with the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Forces. Manners was popular with the troops who served under him and many British pubs are still named after him today.

Early life[edit]

John Manners was born in Kelham, Nottinghamshire on 2 January 1721. He was the eldest son of John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland and his wife, Lady Bridget Manners (née Sutton). Manners was educated at Eton College, graduating from there in 1732 before attending Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1738.[1] In 1740, Manners travelled through Europe as part of the Grand Tour, visiting Italy and the Ottoman Empire befoore returning in 1742.[2]

Political career[edit]

In 1741, he was elected as member of parliament for the pocket borough of Grantham. Though the municipality was a market town, its electorate was relatively small and the affairs of Grantham's council was during the Georgian era sponsored alternately by the Manners, Cust, Thorold and Heathcote families whose family seats were all nearby.[3]

Military career[edit]

The Jacobite rising[edit]

In 1745, Manners assisted his father in establishing up a volunteer regiment in Rutland to assist in suppressing the Jacobite rising of 1745. Although the regiment was limited to garrison duty at Newcastle upon Tyne, it was the only one of its type that raised the full quota of 780 recruits.[4] Manners received a commission as colonel of the regiment.[3] Even though the regiment was never moved northwards beyond Newcastle, the young Marquess of Granby went to the front as a volunteer on the Duke of Cumberland's field staff and saw active service in the last stages of the insurrection, being present at the Battle of Culloden. In Newcastle the regiment mutinied because they had not been paid but Granby paid the money owed out of his own pocket before they were due to be disbanded. Thereafter he left England for Flanders as Intelligence Officer to Cumberland.[4]

Military positions[edit]

In 1752, the Government suggested to George II that Granby be appointed colonel of the prestigious Royal Horse Guards (Blues), in order to secure the parliamentary support of his family.[3] The king initially refused to make the appointment.[3] In the meantime, Granby advanced his parliamentary career, and was returned for Cambridgeshire in 1754.[5]

The king came to view him more favourably as he defended the Newcastle ministry in the House of Commons. He was promoted major-general on 18 March 1755,[6] and was at last made Colonel of the Blues on 27 May 1758.[7] On 21 August, Granby arrived at Munster as second in command to Lord George Sackville, as the aged Duke of Marlborough had recently died. The British cavalry were divided into Heavy and Light cavalry and drilled under the strong influence of George Elliot and Granby himself. Accredited as the greatest colonel since the Earl of Oxford, Granby was both courageous and competent as a soldier.[8] He was then appointed overall commander of the expedition, replacing Sackville on 21 August 1759.[9] He became Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance on 15 September 1759.[10]

He was one of the first who understood the importance of welfare and morale for the troops. The character of British soldiering improved and, properly led, the army was unbeatable in war. Nearly all the portraits show him mounting a horse or helping the wounded.[11] On 7 June 1760 he wrote to Viscount Barrington, Secretary at War, receiving a reply ten days later making enquiries as to the Hospital Board accommodation for his wounded men.[12]

Seven Years’ War[edit]

Granby was sent to Paderborn in command of a cavalry brigade.[3] While leading a charge at the Battle of Warburg, he is said to "have lost his hat and wig, forcing him to salute his commander without them". This incident is commemorated by the British Army tradition that non-commissioned officers and troopers of the Blues and Royals are the only soldiers of the British Army who may salute without wearing headdress.[13] He was promoted to lieutenant general in 1759[14] and later that year fought at the Battle of Minden as commander of the second line of cavalry under Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.[3]

Granby's success in commanding the allied cavalry required courage, control and communication, as well as skill in bringing the horse artillery to bear. The victory at the Battle of Warburg in July 1760 over an army three times the size distinguished his generalship, and marked him as a genuine British military hero. His opponent, the duc de Broglie, was so impressed that he commissioned a portrait of Granby by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Further successes came at the Battle of Emsdorf in July 1760, the Battle of Villinghausen in July 1761 and at the Battle of Wilhelmsthal in June 1762.[3]

Political offices[edit]

Granby returned to England as a hero: a painting by Edward Penny, The Marquess of Granby Relieving a Sick Soldier, showed him acting as a man of charity rather than as a soldier and this assured his appeal to the people. He sought to steer a path independent of party politics but supported the Treaty of Paris. He trusted George Grenville who promptly appointed him Master-General of the Ordnance under his ministry on 14 May 1763.[15] Granby was also made Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire on 21 February 1764.[16]

Master-General of the Ordnance[edit]

Granby supported the government's issue of general warrants and prosecution of Wilkes, but in 1765 spoke against the dismissal of army officers for voting against the government in Parliament. In May 1765, Lord Halifax attempted to persuade George III to appoint Granby Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, in the hopes that his popularity would help quell the riot of the London silk weavers. The king refused, having promised the reversion of the post to the Duke of Cumberland, but obtained Granby's retention as Master-General of the Ordnance in the new Rockingham ministry, although Granby did not co-operate with the ministry and voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act.[3]

Under the Chatham Ministry, Granby was appointed commander-in-chief on 13 August 1766. Despite rumours of his retirement, he vigorously electioneered during the 1768 season, and increased the Rutland interests seats to seven, at some expense. With the resignation of Chatham, he found himself somewhat isolated in the Grafton Ministry. While he had opposed the attempts of the government to expel Wilkes from his seat in Middlesex, his personal dislike of Wilkes overcame his principles, and he voted in favor of the expulsion on 3 February 1769 and for the seating of Henry Luttrell afterwards. It was to prove a serious political mistake. Junius, a political writer, attacked the ministry accusing Granby of servility towards the court and personal corruption. Granby's great popularity might have let him ride out the affair, but his reversal on Wilkes provided new ammunition. Worse still, a reply to Junius by his friend Sir William Draper, intended in his defence, essentially validated the charge that the hard-drinking and personable Granby was easily imposed upon by less scrupulous acquaintances.[3]


Ultimately, it was not the attacks of Junius, but the return of Chatham that brought about his departure from politics. Granby had always respected Chatham, and through the mediation of John Calcraft, was eventually persuaded to break with the ministry. On 9 January 1770, he announced that he had reversed himself once more on the propriety of expelling Wilkes, and shortly thereafter resigned as commander-in-chief and Master-General of the Ordnance, retaining only the colonelcy of the Blues.[3]

An inn in Lincolnshire, one of many named after him

Once out of office, Granby found himself hard-pressed by his creditors, and the loss of his official salaries had weakened his financial position. In the summer of 1770, he unsuccessfully campaigned for George Cockburne at the Scarborough by-election.[3]


Granby died in Scarborough, North Yorkshire on 18 October 1770.[3] The outpouring of grief was real and sustained.[17] His friend and associate Levett Blackborne, a Lincoln's Inn barrister and Manners family adviser who frequently resided at Belvoir, was away at the time, visiting a family relation of Manners' and received the disturbing news on his return to Belvoir. He wrote to George Vernon at Clontarf on 12 February 1771, bemoaning Granby's proclivities that had brought him to ruin:

"You are no stranger to the spirit of procrastination. The noblest mind that ever existed, the amiable man whom we lament was not free from it. This temper plunged him into difficulties, debts and distresses; and I have lived to see the first heir of a subject in the Kingdom have a miserable shifting life, attended by a levee of duns, and at last die broken-hearted."[18][19]

He is probably best known today for being popularly supposed to have more pubs named after him than any other person — due, it is said, to his practice of setting up old soldiers of his regiment as publicans when they were too old to serve any longer.[20]


He had two illegitimate children by an unknown mistress:[21]

He married Lady Frances Seymour (1728–1761), daughter of Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, on 3 September 1750. According to Horace Walpole, "She has above a hundred and thirty thousand pounds. The Duke of Rutland will take none of it, but gives at present six thousand a-year."[23] They had six children:[24]


  1. ^ "Manners, John Marquess of Granby (MNRS738J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ "The British Sale: Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours" (PDF). Sotheby's. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Massie, Alastair W. (2004). "John Manners, Marquess of Granby". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17958. Retrieved 29 April 2012. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ a b White-Spunner, p.232
  5. ^ "No. 9370". The London Gazette. 7 May 1754. p. 1.
  6. ^ "No. 9459". The London Gazette. 15 March 1755. p. 2.
  7. ^ "No. 9794". The London Gazette. 23 May 1758. p. 1.
  8. ^ White-Spunner, p. 229
  9. ^ "No. 9924". The London Gazette. 21 August 1759. p. 2.
  10. ^ "No. 9930". The London Gazette. 11 September 1759. p. 1.
  11. ^ Brumwell & Speck, p. 166-7
  12. ^ Granby to Barrington, 7 June, and Barrington to Granby, 17 June 1760; Shute Barrington, p. 58
  13. ^ Interpretive sign at the Household Cavalry Museum in London.
  14. ^ "No. 9871". The London Gazette. 17–20 February 1759. p. 1.
  15. ^ "No. 10312". The London Gazette. 10 May 1763. p. 5.
  16. ^ "No. 10393". The London Gazette. 18 February 1764. p. 1.
  17. ^ The Manuscripts of His Grace the Duke of Rutland, Preserved at Belvoir Castle, Charles Manners Rutland, Richard Ward, John Horace Round, Robert Campbell. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London. 1889. p. 213. Retrieved 29 April 2012. thomas thoroton marquess of granby.
  18. ^ Some Account of the Military, Political and Social Life of the Right Hon. John Manners, Marquis of Granby, Walter Evelyn Manners. Macmillan & Co. Ltd., London. 1899. p. 350. Retrieved 29 April 2012. levett blackborne.
  19. ^ Blackborne had served Granby's father during the Duke of Rutland's term as Lord Steward of the Household as his Steward of the Court of the Board of Green Cloth.
  20. ^ "What's in a pub name?". This is Kent. 5 August 2011. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  21. ^ This mistress was likely connected to Lincoln's Inn barrister Levett Blackborne, grandson of Sir Richard Levett, Lord Mayor of London, who was one of John Manners's closest advisers, as well as frequently in residence at Belvoir Castle.(see The Manuscripts of His Grace the Duke of Rutland) Following the Marquess of Granby's death, Levett Blackborne wrote to Lord George Vernon, brother of the deceased Marquess of Granby: "Indeed my dear Sir this hath been a terrible stroke to the family.... I had been spending a week with my sister Chaplin at Tathwell when an itinerant clergyman... mentioned at dinner news of what happened at Scarborough the preceding Thursday.... The next morning brought me a letter from Tom Thoroton (Col. Thomas Thoroton, Levett Blackborne's stepbrother) confirming the whole and insisting on my speedy return to Belvoir, where I arrived the night after poor Lord Granby's remains had been deposited at Bottesford." (see again The Manuscripts of His Grace the Duke of Rutland) Other observers also confirmed that a close relationship existed between the families of Thoroton and the Manners, Dukes of Rutland. In her diary, Abigail Gawthem of Nottinghamshire commented that the woman-in-question was "mistress to the old John, Duke of Rutland, and mother to old Mrs. Thoroton of Screveton." The unexplained conjugal connection helps explain the close relationships between the Suttons, Manners, Thorotons, Levetts, Chaplins and other families. Who the woman-in-question was remains to be solved. Contemporary legal accounts confirm the illegitimacy of at least one of the Manners offspring.(see The Revised reports: being a republication of such cases in the English courts of common law and equity, from the year 1785, as are still of practical utility. 1785-1866, Volume 10) And the subsequent lawsuit of Thoroton v. Thoroton, which arose over disputed rights of illegitimate heirs, was a landmark of case law in the field.
  22. ^ George was born on 4 June 1747 and baptized the next day at St James, Westminster (now St James, Piccadilly). The entry in the register of baptisms reads, "George BB of John Manners Marq.s of Granby & Ann Mompesson". Source: The Register of Births and Baptisms in the Parish of St James within the Liberty of Westminster. 1741-1760.
  23. ^ Horace Walpole's correspondence volume 20 p91
  24. ^ Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003.


External links[edit]

"Manners, John (1721-1770)" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Grantham
With: Sir Michael Newton, Bt 1741–1743
Sir John Cust, Bt 1743–1754
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Cambridgeshire
With: Viscount Royston 1754–1764
Sir John Hynde Cotton, Bt 1764–1770
Succeeded by
Military offices
New regiment Colonel of the 21st Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Royal Forresters)
Succeeded by
Preceded by Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance
Succeeded by
Preceded by Master-General of the Ordnance
Title next held by
The Viscount Townshend
Title last held by
The Viscount Ligonier
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
Title next held by
The Lord Amherst
Honorary titles
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire
Succeeded by