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Francis (Ingram) Seymour, second Marquis of Hertford (1743-1822)

Francis (Ingram) Seymour, second Marquis of Hertford was born in London on 12 February 1743. He was eldest son of Francis Seymour Conway, first marquis of Hertford by Isabella, youngest daughter of Charles Fitzroy, second duke of Grafton. After being educated at Eton he matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 2 February 1760 and was created M.A. on 15 June 1762. As Viscount Beauchamp he represented Lisburne in the Irish House of Commons between 1761 and 1768. In 1765 he was made a privy councillor for Ireland, and for one year, 1765-6, was chief secretary to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland; on resigning that post he was appointed constable of Dublin Castle.

In 1766 he entered the English House of Commons, sitting from 1766 to 1768 as member for Lostwithiel, and for Oxford from 1768 to 1794. He was a lord of the treasury in Lord North's administration from 11 March 1774 to 31 January 1780, and was appointed cofferer of the household on 1 February 1780, and a privy councillor for Great Britain, 2 February 1780. From 1774 to 1788 he was a frequent speaker in the House of Commons, speaking whenever he addressed the House, ‘if not with eloquence, at least with knowledge of the subject’.

He opposed in April 1774 the motion for the repeal of the American tea duty, declaring himself by no means prepared to cede the mother country's right of taxing colonies and in December 1777 he moved the previous question on Wilkes's motion to repeal the American Declaratory Act. But although a member of Lord North's administrations, his political sympathies were largely with Fox. In May 1778 he declared himself strongly in favour of the repeal of the penal acts affecting Roman Catholics in Ireland and throughout his parliamentary career showed himself in favour of religious toleration.

He introduced an act for the relief of debtors with respect to the imprisonment of their persons in February 1780, when he was highly complimented by Burke, who supported the bill. On Fox's motion for the repeal of the Irish Declaratory Act, on 16 April 1782, he declared that the simple repeal would not satisfy Ireland unless a counter declaratory clause of Irish parliamentary independence was inserted in the repealing act. These views he emphasised in a pamphlet, ‘A Letter to the First Company of Belfast Volunteers,’ published in Dublin, 1782. On 4 February 1784 the House of Lords resolved ‘that an attempt in any one branch of the legislature to suspend the execution of law by assuming to itself the direction of discretionary power is unconstitutional.’ Beauchamp proposed, a few days later, six counter resolutions, which he carried against the ministers by a majority of thirty-one. When the subject of commercial union between England and Ireland was before the house in May 1785, Beauchamp unsuccessfully opposed Pitt's fourth proposition, which bound Ireland to adopt such regulations as Great Britain should enact and expressed himself as opposed to any idea of compulsion of the Irish parliament, his opinion being that ‘the only lasting connection between the two countries can be of freedom and common interest, not of power’ (Letter to the First Company of Belfast Volunteers). Although a warm advocate of the independence of the Irish parliament, he regarded the interests of the two countries as inseparable and their political connection as indissoluble.

After 1788 Beauchamp ceased to take so prominent a part in the House of Commons, but in 1793 he gave strong support to Pitt in the matter of the alien bill, and during the debate on the king's message asking for the augmentation of the forces. On his father being created Marquis of Hertford in 1793 he took the title of Earl of Yarmouth, and was employed as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Berlin and Vienna, 1793-4. He succeeded to the peerage as second Marquis of Hertford on his father's death, 23 June 1794, but in the debates of the House of Lords on political matters he took no part.

Hertford was appointed master of the horse 11 July 1804, holding that office till 12 February 1806. He was invested knight of the Garter 18 July 1807, and appointed lord chamberlain of the household 7 March 1812, and held that office till 11 December 1821. In February 1822 he was created vice-admiral of Suffolk. He died on 17 June 1822 at Hertford House, Manchester Square, and was buried in the family vault at Ragley in Warwickshire. He married, in February 1768, Alicia Elizabeth, second daughter and coheir of Herbert, first viscount Windsor; she died on 11 February 1772, aged 22.

On 20 May 1776, at the age of 34, he married for the second time. His new wife was the sixteen-year old Isabella Anne Ingram Shepherd (born in 1760), the daughter and coheir of Charles, ninth and last viscount Irvine (d. 1778), by his wife Frances Gibson (born Shepherd).

The Marchioness was tall, handsome, and elegant but a little portly. Late in 1806 her husband suddenly took her to Ireland to keep her away from the Prince Regent, but this clumsy attempt only increased his ardor. By the summer of 1807 he was a regular guest of the Hertfords in their London mansion Manchester House and Ragley Hall, the family seat in Warwickshire. She was influential in the Prince's turn to the Tories. The Prince was particularly fond of the Hertford's dissolute son the Earl of Yarmouth.

Upon the death of his father-in-law on 20 November 1807, leaving a ‘very large fortune,’ Hertford and his wife took the name of Ingram before that of Seymour. The Marchioness of Hertford, who survived her husband until 12 April 1836, was a lady of great wealth and possessed of great personal charms; for many years she exercised considerable influence over the Prince Regent and was his mistress from 1807 to 1819.

The only son (by the second marriage) was Francis Charles Seymour-Conway, third Marquis of Hertford 1777-1842.

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Last modified 12 January, 2016

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