Mordaunt Biographies

Robert Mordaunt, d. 1449, of Turvey, Bedfordshire
The detail in this biography comes from the History of Parliament Online: the House of Commons 1386-1421.

Family and Education - son and heir of Robert Mordaunt (c. 1355-by 1396) of Turvey by Agnes, daughter and heiress of John Lestraunge of Walden, Essex and Timworth, Suffolk. Married by Sept. 1421, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Holdenby of Holdenby, Northants., at least 1 son and 2daughters.

Biography - One of the oldest and most distinguished families in Bedfordshire. Their chief residence at Turvey was acquired by marriage at the beginning of the 13th century; and over the next five generations a steady expansion occurred during which estates in Yardley (Northamptonshire), Hinton, Fulbourn, Teversham and ‘Mallots’ (Cambridgeshire), Ardres in Turvey and Knotting (Bedfordshire) and Amersham, Brayfield, Burston, Chesham, Chicheley, Clifton, Ellesborough, Hardwick, Newton Blossomville, Weedon and other parts of Buckinghamshire were added to the existing nucleus. On the death of his father, in, or just before, 1396, one third of these properties was assigned as dower to Robert Mordaunt’s mother, Agnes, but he was, none the less, sure of a substantial income from land. Robert Mordaunt the elder had, moreover, followed the established family custom of marrying a wealthy heiress, whose brother and sister both died without children, leaving her in sole possession of extensive holdings in Walden, Essex, and the three Suffolk villages of Ampton, Brockley and Timworth. Although for most of his life the MP was merely heir presumptive to these estates, he and his mother remained on close terms and he was thus able to benefit from her influence as a landowner.2 Mordaunt was heir not only to land, but also to a longstanding tradition of service in local government. His great-grandfather, Sir Robert Mordaunt, held office as coroner of Bedfordshire for several years and subsequently represented the county in the Parliament of 1341. Of Sir Robert’s two sons, William†, the younger, proved far more distinguished, since, like his father, he spent a long period as coroner and also sat in the House of Commons. Edmund, the elder, our Member’s grandfather, is now chiefly remembered for the bout of insanity which led him to murder his wife and immediately afterwards drown himself at his manor of Turvey. Perhaps as a reaction to these tragic events, his son, who was then under age, passed the rest of his life quietly, out of the public eye. He made a general settlement of his property upon feoffees in 1391; and it seems likely that when he died shortly afterwards his heir, the subject of this biography, was still quite young. The widowed Agnes Mordaunt remarried almost immediately. In November 1397 she and her second husband, Thomas Fotheringay, were involved in litigation for the recovery of land in Buckinghamshire which she claimed as dower, but little else is known about them for the next 15 Years.3

Relations between Fotheringay and his stepson were evidently fairly cordial throughout this period, as at the beginning of June 1412 Mordaunt chose him to be a feoffee of some of his Buckinghamshire estates. He was then anxious to set his affairs in order before taking part in the duke of Clarence’s expedition to France as a retainer of one of the captains, Edward, duke of York, with whom he entered formal indentures of service a few days later. He and another esquire named Thomas Mirfield contracted to provide York with a combined force of 24 archers for an initial period of half a year beginning on 6 July. Before setting off to join the army at Southampton, Mordaunt made yet another enfeoffment of his estates, choosing his stepfather to be a trustee as before, together with his neighbour, William Bosom. The attempted invasion proved a dismal failure, and Mordaunt soon returned to England where he spent the next few years in virtual retirement. In March 1417 he completed an exchange of land in Turvey with a local man named John Bagge, but otherwise he then had little to do with the property market. His marriage to Elizabeth Holdenby, the daughter of a Northamptonshire landowner, took place in or before September 1421, when John Ardres agreed to lease his manor of Ardres in Turvey to the couple for an annual rent of ten marks. (This transaction seems rather puzzling, since Mordaunt’s father had already acquired the manor in 1375 from another member of the Ardres family, although we may perhaps be dealing either with two distinct properties or arrangements for a mortgage.)4 Meanwhile, in November 1420, Mordaunt took part in the Bedfordshire parliamentary elections. He was himself returned to the next Parliament, which met in the following May; and, although he does not appear to have sat more than once in the House of Commons, he again witnessed the return of Members in 1421 (Dec.), 1425, 1426, 1429, 1432, 1433, 1437 and 1442.5 Somewhat surprisingly in view of his prominence as a landowner, he never held any kind of administrative post, nor is he much in evidence as a party to the property transactions of friends or neighbours. As far as we know, he only once acted as a feoffee, being appointed, in August 1428, to hold land in the Hinxworth area of Hertfordshire. There is some reason to believe that for part of his life, at least, he faced serious financial problems, and was, as a consequence, obliged to sell off part of his estates. This is certainly the view adopted by Halstead, who describes him as ‘a great alienator of many noble Lordships and possessions that descended to him from his ancestors’. We may safely dismiss the antiquary’s suggestion that his impecuniosity was the result of participation ‘in the civil broils of his own country as an asserter of the claim and interest of the House of York’ (a mistake possibly arising from his earlier association with Duke Edward), although he must have had very pressing needs to dispose of so much valuable farmland. The sales began in February 1428, when he and his mother put the manor of Timworth on the market. About four years later his land in Ellesborough was sold, and shortly afterwards Edmund Brudenell acquired his manor of Chesham. Two more purchasers came forward in 1439 to buy, respectively, certain tenements in Buckinghamshire and all his possessions in Cambridgeshire.6

So little is known about Mordaunt’s private affairs that the cause of his apparent indebtedness must remain a matter of conjecture. He may even have been captured during the course of the wars with France, since the problem of raising ransom money led many Englishmen to resort to such extreme measures. No such speculation arises from his association with Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, one of the most important landowners in Bedfordshire and the feudal overlord of some of his property in Turvey. Although Mordaunt was among the local gentry who were required, in May 1434, to take the general oath that they would not assist persons breaking the peace, this did not prevent him from becoming involved, as one of Grey’s most prominent adherents, in the riots which broke out at Bedford some five years later. The escalating rivalry between Grey and the parvenu John, Lord Fanhope, was already a cause of concern to the government when, on 12 Feb. 1439, a violent confrontation took place in the court house at Bedford before the local bench, which was then actually in session and itself split into opposing factions. Together with John Enderby*, (Sir) Thomas Waweton* and many others, Mordaunt was said ‘to have appeared ... with a multitude assembled from divers counties to the number of 800 and more, for the most part girt with swords’, but despite its evident concern at the collapse of law and order the royal council proved too weak to discipline either party. On 30 May 1439, some weeks after the award of royal pardons to their rivals, the supporters of Lord Grey were also excused their part in the fracas. Mordaunt evidently remained close to the Greys, for in February 1444 he and Edmund, Lord Grey (Reynold’s grandson and heir), witnessed a conveyance of land in Bedfordshire which had, paradoxically, belonged to their enemy, the late Lord Fanhope.7

One of Mordaunt’s last acts was to arrange the marriage of his only surviving son, William, to Margaret, the daughter of John Peake of Cople, Bedfordshire, upon whom, in April 1449, he settled an annual rent of £10 from land in Turvey and Brayfield. He was dead by 30 July following, when his widow agreed to let the arrangement stand. We are told that William Mordaunt strove ‘by a provident and frugal proceeding to repair those breaches the over-liberal ways of his father had made in the Fortunes of his Family’; and he did, indeed, die a wealthy man, leaving a son, Sir John (d.1504), who became Speaker of the 1487 Parliament and sometime chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. Later generations of the Mordaunt family did even better for themselves, so that by the 18th century they had acquired an impressive range of titles, including the earldoms of Peterborough and Monmouth, and the viscountcy of Avalon.8

Author: C.R. Notes 1. G. Lipscomb, Bucks. iv. 110-14; R. Halstead, Succinct Gens. 485-8; VCH Beds. iii. 110; CIPM, xiii. no. 270. 2. Lipscomb, iv. 110-14; J. Copinger, Suff. Manors, vi. 345; VCH Beds. iii. 112; VCH Bucks. iii. 333; Feudal Aids, i. 40. 3. Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. xxix. 63-65; Halstead, 475-7; CCR, 1396-9, p. 187; CIPM, xiii. no. 270. 4. Halstead, 477-86. 5. C219/12/4, 6, 13/3, 4, 14/1, 3, 4, 15/1, 2. 6. Halstead, 486; VCH Bucks. iii. 212; Lipscomb, iv. 114; CCR, 1422-9, p. 454. 7. R.I. Jack, ‘Greys of Ruthin’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1961), 339; CPR, 1429-36, pp. 373-4; 1436-41, p. 282; CCR, 1441-7, p. 223. 8. Halstead, 487-91; VCH Beds. iii. 110. Go To Section

Mordaunt Biographies

Henry Mordant, d. 1421/22?, of Hastings, Sussex
The detail in this biography comes from The History of Parliament Online 1386-1421.

Constituency: Hastings
Dates: 1399, 1406, May 1413

Family and Education:

Offices Held: Bailiff, Hastings Apr. 1404-6, 1411-14, 1421-?


Mordant held land at Ore, Wilting, Guestling and Fairlight, on which, as a Portsman, he claimed exemption from taxation in the early years of the 15th century. During part of the Parliament of 1406 he acted for Rye as well as for Hastings, being paid 25s.2d. for so doing. He may have died during his year of office as bailiff in 1421-2, for Simon Lymbergh had replaced him before the end of the term.

Author: A.P.M. Wright

Mordaunt Biographies

Sir John Mordaunt, d. 1504
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

Sir John Mordaunt, (d. 1504), lawyer, administrator, and speaker of the House of Commons, was the son of William Mordaunt (d. 1481) of Turvey and his wife, Margaret (d. after 1481), daughter of John Peeke of Cople. Both his parents came from Bedfordshire, where the Mordaunts had been long established. No independent evidence survives to support the family tradition that John Mordaunt was an officer of Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, and in 1471 was wounded fighting for the earl at Barnet, and he is first reliably recorded only in 1483, as a JP and then as a commissioner to assess a subsidy, on both occasions in Bedfordshire. Legal practice was his first source of advancement and wealth, and he became a member of the Middle Temple. But he was also summoned by Richard III to serve against the Scots in 1484, and fought for Henry VII at Stoke in 1487.

As his fighting at Stoke shows, Mordaunt made the transition from York to Tudor without difficulty, and advanced rapidly under the new regime. In 1486 he was appointed to an important commission investigating concealed lands and royal rights in Bedfordshire. He had been MP for an unidentified constituency in the parliament of 1485–6. In 1487 not only was he again returned (and again, his constituency is unidentified), but he was also elected speaker of the Commons. That a substantial grant of taxation was made perhaps owed something to skilful management by Mordaunt, who afterwards received (as was customary) a grant of £100 from the king. MP for Grantham in 1491–2, he sat for Bedfordshire in 1495. In the same year he became both a serjeant-at-law and a king's serjeant. His appearances as a pleader are reported with some frequency in the year-books, which show him acting for the crown in some important lawsuits, for instance Stonor's case (1495–6), concerned with the king's rights of wardship. Regularly a JP for Bedfordshire, during the 1490s he became a justice of assize and gaol delivery, and consequently also a JP, for several other counties, principally in the south and south-west.

From the early 1490s Mordaunt was also increasingly involved in government, perhaps thanks to the patronage of Sir Reynold Bray. He was appointed to hear cases in the court of requests, was concerned with the administration of the duchy of Cornwall, and became a member of the king's council ‘learned in the law’ when that came into being c.1500. Several times recorded as investigating charges of riotous behaviour, he sat in Star Chamber, and was among the king's councillors summoned to parliament in 1497 and 1504. On 23 February 1501 he was granted an annuity of £100 during good behaviour. Although he served the crown above all as a lawyer, Mordaunt is also often recorded as involved in the implementation of Henry VII's policy of using financial instruments to control his subjects, by receiving bonds and recognizances on the king's behalf. Moreover he became a councillor to the king's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, and attorney to Prince Arthur, and was retained by such magnates as the duke of Buckingham and the earl of Surrey. About 1499 he was made chief justice at Chester. On 18 February 1503 he was knighted, and on 6 April 1504 he was appointed high steward of Cambridge University. Shortly afterwards, on 24 June, Mordaunt was nominated to succeed Bray as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, with an annual salary of 200 marks.

Mordaunt's rise to great place would go no further, for what was probably a sudden sickness struck him down. He made his will on 5 September 1504, and died six days later, most likely at Turvey. To his inherited estates in Bedfordshire he had added property in Dorset and Somerset by his marriage, before November 1484, to Edith, coheir of Sir Nicholas Latymer. In the years that followed he also acquired estates not only in the home counties and south-east, but also in Northamptonshire and even in Northumberland. Shortly before his death he could afford to pay the king £1600 for the wardship of the heiress Jane Sayntmaur. His will records bequests to two sons and a daughter, and also the endowment of a chantry at Turvey, one of whose chaplains was to be qualified to teach grammar free of charge to all children coming there. However, the will also provided that should the chantry not be established within ten years, the endowment was to go to Mordaunt's heirs, as apparently happened. Mordaunt is nevertheless still commemorated by his effigy on his tomb in Turvey church, representing him in full armour. His wife survived him, and may afterwards have married a member of the Carew family. His eldest son, another John Mordaunt, would become first Lord Mordaunt.

Henry Summerson

Sources Chancery records · R. Halstead [H. Mordaunt, second earl of Peterborough], Succinct genealogies of the noble and ancient houses (1685) · CIPM, Henry VII, 3, no. 875 · Baker, Serjeants · R. Somerville, History of the duchy of Lancaster, 1265–1603 (1953) · E. W. Ives, The common lawyers of pre-Reformation England (1983) · J. S. Roskell, The Commons and their speakers in English parliaments, 1376–1523 (1965) · The Anglica historia of Polydore Vergil, AD 1485–1537, ed. and trans. D. Hay, CS, 3rd ser., 74 (1950) · I. S. Leadam, ed., Select cases in the court of requests, AD 1497–1569, SeldS, 12 (1898) · C. G. Bayne and W. H. Dunham, eds., Select cases in the council of Henry VII, SeldS, 75 (1958) · J. C. Wedgwood and A. D. Holt, History of parliament, 1: Biographies of the members of the Commons house, 1439–1509 (1936), 607–8 · C. Rawcliffe, The Staffords, earls of Stafford and dukes of Buckingham, 1394–1521, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, 3rd ser., 11 (1978), 202 · M. Condon, ‘An anachronism with intent? Henry VII's council ordinance of 1491/2’, Kings and nobles in the later middle ages, ed. R. A. Griffiths and J. Sherborne (1986), 228–53
Likenesses alabaster tomb effigy, All Saints' Church, Turvey, Bedfordshire

Mordaunt Biographies

John Mordaunt, 1st Baron
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

John Mordaunt, 1st Baron Mordaunt (c.1480x85–1562), landowner and administrator, was the eldest son of Sir John Mordaunt (d. 1504) and his wife, Edith Latymer. He was born in Bedfordshire, probably at the family seat of Turvey. His father's service to Henry VII gave him the entrée to court, and to the household of Prince Arthur, whose approximate contemporary he must have been. Between March and September 1499 he married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Sir Henry Vere of Great Addington, Northamptonshire, and his wife, Isabella (née Tresham). Mordaunt was made knight of the Bath when the future Henry VIII was created prince of Wales on 18 February 1503. On 3 July that year he was admitted to the Middle Temple, his father's inn, of which he was subsequently elected bencher.

(Webmaster's note: "A Calender of The Middle Temple Records," published in 1903, has the following intriguing extract from the minutes for 17th May, 1509: "The new Building where Arrowsmith dwelt within the great Gate is wholly granted to John Mordaunt, rent 33s. 4d. a year so that he chooses one member for himself, at his pleasure." If any reader can explain this entry I should be grateful to hear from them.)

Mordaunt succeeded to his father's estates in September 1504. On 1 November 1509 he was picked sheriff for Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and on 28 February 1513 he was granted arms. From the latter year he was increasingly employed in local government; he was also, in 1514, licensed to remain covered in the king's presence (probably because of some ailment). He attended many of the great public occasions of Henry VIII's reign, though never as more than one of the supporting cast. He was at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520, and was with the king at his meetings with Charles V later that year at Gravelines and in 1522 at Canterbury. By February 1526 he was of the king's council. In the same year he was appointed joint surveyor of woods in all crown lands. Following Wolsey's fall in 1529 he was among those who investigated the cardinal's possessions. In 1532 he was created (it is assumed by writ of summons) Baron Mordaunt of Turvey, taking his seat in the House of Lords on 4 May.

Mordaunt was one of two peers resident in Bedfordshire, where his chief interests lay. For a while he continued to travel further afield. In October 1532 he went with the king to France. He attended Queen Anne at her coronation in May 1533; he would have done likewise for Queen Jane, but instead bore a banner at her funeral. At the treason trial of Lord Dacre of Gilsland in 1534 Mordaunt, as junior peer, was the first to pronounce his (not guilty) verdict. He participated in several other state trials. When the north rose in 1536 he was seemingly too old for personal service, and was merely ordered to provide troops. In 1538 he came under suspicion after making his Lent confession to John Forest, a London Observant Franciscan soon afterwards executed. Mordaunt explained that the contact involved no discussion of public controversy. From 1538 he was regularly a commissioner of oyer and terminer on the East Anglian circuit. In 1539, following a fall, he was licensed to be absent from parliament; he was present there during 1540, but never again. Also in 1540 he attended in Star Chamber, though he was not a member of the newly defined privy council. In May 1546 he was a tax assessor for his county.

Mordaunt continued active as JP and on other commissions in the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I. At the start of Edward's reign he was again excused parliamentary attendance; the one record of his presence is probably a clerical error. In 1551 he was named to a commission inquiring into grain prices. His first duty on Mary's accession was to give a Bedford woman a ducking for speaking ill of the queen. In 1557 he was a commissioner for assessing the forced loan. Lord Mordaunt and his eldest son, Sir John Mordaunt, had co-operated in building up the family estates, but relations between them soured when Sir John attempted to compel his own son, Lewis, to marry his stepsister (whom he had, it seems, compromised). Lord Mordaunt took his grandson's side and sought to make him his direct heir. This feud was more or less composed by the time Mordaunt made his will on 1 August 1560. He died at Turvey on 18 August 1562 and was buried in the church there on 16 September following. He provided £60 for the erection of an alabaster monument to himself and his wife, who had predeceased him. Mordaunt's eldest son succeeded as second baron. His second son Edmund was MP for Bedford in three Marian parliaments. His other children were William, George, Edith, Margaret, Etheldreda (a nun of Barking, perhaps later married to John Broun), and Winifred.

Mordaunt has been instanced as typical of the backwoods peer who ‘retained the mentality of a country gentleman’ but on whom the crown could rely for performance of all manner of public duties (Graves, 38–9). Mordaunt himself had entertained larger aspirations. In 1528 he offered the king £100 and Wolsey 500 marks (towards the building of Cardinal College, Oxford) to secure the under-treasurership of England. In this and all other suits for office he was unsuccessful. In April 1539 he told Cromwell the king ‘never gave me nothyng’ (TNA: PRO, SP 1/150, fol. 191; new fol. 171). This was not quite true, since Mordaunt had acquired much property by crown grant; he had also been a keen collector of monastic land, and in late 1535 he and his eldest son allegedly browbeat the nuns of Harrold, Bedfordshire, in attempting to annex property of the house. But the Mordaunts were unsympathetic to further religious reform, which may have contributed to the first baron's failure to achieve the place he coveted in central government.

C. S. Knighton

Sources F. A. Blaydes, ed., The visitations of Bedfordshire, annis Domini 1566, 1582, and 1634, Harleian Society, 19 (1884), 40–2 · R. Halstead [H. Mordaunt, second earl of Peterborough], Succinct genealogies of the noble and ancient houses (1685), 525–603 · BL, Harley MS 6767, fols. 18v–21 (pp. 30–33); Cotton MS Cleopatra E.iv, fols. 161–161v; MS Titus B.i, fols. 326–326v · GEC, Peerage, 9.193–5, appx B, p. 18 [see also pp. 195–6, 2nd baron] · LP Henry VIII, 4/2.4452; 4/3, appx 67–8; 9.1005; 11.844; 13/1.880; 14/1.845 · State papers general series, Henry VIII, TNA: PRO, SP 1/150, fol. 191 · CPR, 1547–8, 75, 76, 80, 85, 87; 1549–51, 51; 1550–53, 140–41, 311; 1553, 351, 356; 1553–4, 17 (bis), 20, 22, 29, 343; 1554–5, 107; 1555–7, 375; 1557–8, 401, 428 · APC, 1552–4, 332; 1554–6, 66, 144; 1556–8, 320 · CSP dom., 1547–1580, 81, 85, 295 · M. A. R. Graves, The House of Lords in the parliaments of Edward VI and Mary I (1981), 38–9, 68, 84, 243 n.69 · H. Miller, Henry VIII and the English nobility (1986), 24–5, 45, 54–5, 66, 96–8, 125, 151, 157, 179, 203, 244 · J. A. Guy, ‘Privy council: revolution or evolution?’, Revolution reassessed, ed. C. Coleman and D. Starkey (1986), 81 · Y. Nicholls, ed., Court of augmentations accounts for Bedfordshire, 1, Bedfordshire Historical RS, 63 (1984), 70, 97, 107, 203, 209; 2, Bedfordshire Historical RS, 64 (1985), 94 · W. Jerdan, ed., Rutland papers: original documents illustrative of the courts and times of Henry VII and Henry VIII, CS, 21 (1842), 33, n. b · The diary of Henry Machyn, citizen and merchant-taylor of London, from AD 1550 to AD 1563, ed. J. G. Nichols, CS, 42 (1848), 292 · H. A. C. Sturgess, ed., Register of admissions to the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, from the fifteenth century to the year 1944, 1 (1949), 5, n.1 · N. M. Fuidge, ‘Mordaunt, Edmund’, ‘John Mordaunt’, HoP, Commons, 1509–58, 2.614; 614–16 [Edmund, 2nd son, and John, 1st son; 2nd Baron Mordaunt] · will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/45, sig. 22 · S. B. Chrimes, Henry VII (1972), 150, n. 3
Likenesses T. Kirby, alabaster effigy, c.1560, All Saints' Church, Turvey, Bedfordshire
Wealth at death land in Bedfordshire: will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/45, fols. 151–153v; Nicholls, ed., Court of augmentations

Mordaunt Biographies

John Mordaunt, 2nd Baron
The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament Online - The House of Commons 1508 - 1558.

Member of Parliament for Bedfordshire Oct. 1553, Apr. 1554, Nov. 1554, 1555. Brother of Edmund. Married 1st, settlement 26 Feb 1526, Ellen (d. 2 Jun 1543), daughter and heir of John Fitzlewes and had 4(?) sons, including Lewis, and 6 daughters; married 2nd, Licensed 3 Dec 1545, Joan, daughter of Richard Fermor of Easton Neston, Northants., widow of Robert Wilford (d. Sep or Oct 1545) of London. KB? 30 May 1533; succeeded father as 2nd Baron. Sheriff, Essex and Herts. 1540-1; bailiff, duchy of Cornwall, Newport Pound, Essex c. 1543; justice of the peace Essex 1544-47 or later, q. by 1554-64; commissioner relief, Essex 1550, musters, Essex, Herts? c. 1557, 1558, 1563, 1565, heresy 1557; steward, duchy of Lancaster, Olney, Bucks. 1552-8, Hertford and constable, Hertford castle 1554-58?; PC 1553-58?

The Mordaunts had been prominent in Bedfordshire since the 13th century. Their landed wealth had steadily increased and Sir John Mordaunt's father, besides acquiring much monastic land, had secured the wardship of the granddaughter of Sir Richard Fitzlewes and married her to his son and heir. At least until the 1st Baron Mordaunt died, Sir John Mordaunt seems to have lived most frequently on his first wife's property at West Horndon, and it was mainly in Essex that he served as a county official. But the family's long connection with Bedfordshire, together with his own Privy Councillorship, enabled him to secure the knighthood of that shire in the first four Parliaments of Mary's reign.

As a young man, Mordaunt had been introduced by his father into Henry VIII's court, created a knight of the Bath at the coronation of Anne Boleyn, and been among the courtiers present at the arrival of Anne of Cleves at Blackheath. During the closing years of Henry VIII's reign, and increasingly under Edward VI, however, both he and his father forfeited royal favour through their opposition to religious change. Although included in Cecil's list of gentlemen expected to transact 'affairs for Queen Jane', Mordaunt, whose second wife had formerly been in the service of Princess Mary, was one of the first prominent men to join the Marian forces. This promptitude earned him a place on Queen Mary's Council, and for some years from 22 Aug 1553, his first recorded appearance, he attended Council meetings regularly. He was present at Mary's coronation and at her wedding to Felipe (Philip) of Spain; at the time of Wyatt's rising against the marriage he had been one of those appointed to organize the supply of the Tower. He was also active in suppressing opponents of Catholicism- first as a justice of the peace, and from 1557 as a heresy commissioner in the diocese of London. During the last year of the reign he was prominent in levying Essex men for service at Calais. The accession of Elizabeth brought him into disfavour at court. By Apr 1561 his adherence to Catholicism had caused him to be imprisoned in the Fleet, 'a prisoner for the mass', but he probably did not remain there long. His religion did not prevent him from attending the Parliament of 1563 as a peer and in 1571 he named Edward, 3rd Lord Windsor, his proxy.

Mordaunt's public career had been set against a background of domestic discord. He and his elder son, Lewis, became estranged by the son's refusal to marry a daughter of his stepmother, Joan Fermor. According to the family historian, Lewis had at first been willing to marry the girl, whom he may have seduced, but his grandfather, the 1st Baron, forbade the marriage as one of disparagement. This led to a series of complicated manoeuvers. Mordaunt secured a recovery of the Fitzlewes lands to his own use, and drew up a will depriving Lewis of them if he continued to refuse the marriage, whereupon old Lord Mordaunt made arrangements virtually disinheriting Mordaunt himself in favour of Lewis, whom he ordered to leave his father's household and take up residence at Turvey. The Mordaunt estates still lay principally in Bedfordshire but included outlying manors in Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire and Somerset. There was also a large London house in St. Sepulchre without Newgate. After consuming much time and money in these disputes, Mordaunt and his father were officially reconciled, probably as late as 1562. Lewis inherited the Mordaunt estates in 1571, although his father's final will still appears designed to keep his son out of full enjoyment of the Fitzlewes lands for at least ten years after that date. It is probable that Lewis reached an agreement with his stepmother over these, to which, by the will of Sir Richard Fitzlewes, he was undoubtedly the heir on his father's death. This took place between 16 Apr, when Mordaunt drew up his last will, and 19 Oct 1571, when it was proved. His widow married Sir Thomas Kempe.

Author: N. M. Fuidge

Mordaunt Biographies

Edmund Mordaunt, 2nd Son of John, 1st Baron
The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament Online - The House of Commons 1508 - 1558.

Edmund Mordaunt 2nd Son of John, 1st Baron (Born by 1532 - 1556/62), of the Middle Temple, London. 2nd son of John, 1st Baron of Turvey, and Elizabeth Vere. Unmarried. Member for Bedford, 1553 (Oct), 1554 (Apr) and 1555. JP Bedford 1554. Edmund Mordaunt's elder brother was knight of the shire in all three of the Parliaments for which Edmund Mordaunt himself represented Bedford, proof enough that he owed his career in the House to his family's pervasive influence. Of the man himself little is known for certain. His record at the Middle Temple can barely be disentangled from that of at least one contemporary namesake there. Since Edmund Mordaunt 'gentleman' was apparently living in 1559 and had a son who was admitted during that year, it is likely that the Member (of House of the Commons), who did not marry, was the Edmund Mordaunt, described in the Middle Temple books from 1553 as 'senior, esquire' (a style appropriate to the son of a knight) who, on four occasions betweeen November 1551 and December 1554, was one of those from whom the inn's butler was chosen. In August 1556 a chamber there, 'late Mr Edmund Mordaunt's, deceased," was vacant: if this was the Member he died intestate and administration of his estate was not granted until 6 October 1562 when the 2nd Baron, 'brother of ..... Edmund Mordaunt, late of the Middle Temple, esquire' was declared adminstrator. Part of the delay could have been due to the misfortune attendant on his Catholicism which overtook the elder brother after Elizabeth's accession. Another grant, on 28 June 1592, was made to one of Edmund's creditors, the 2nd Baron having died in 1571 without completing the administration; perhaps his widow, who died in 1592, had acted for him until this date.

Mordaunt Biographies

Lewis Mordaunt, 3rd Baron
The details in this biography come from The History of Parliament - The House of Commons 1558 - 1603, ed. P. W. Hasler, 1981, published by the History of Parliament Trust, 1982, available from Boydell and Brewer.

Constituency - Bedfordshire 1563
Family and Education - Born 1538, 1st son of Sir John Mordaunt, 2nd Baron Mordaunt, by his 1st wife Ellen, daughter of John Fitzlewis, son and heir apparent of Sir Richard Fitzlewis of West Horndon, Essex, heiress to her god-mother Alice, daughter and coheiress of John Harleston of Shrimpling, Norfolk. Married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Arthur Darcy, sister of Thomas Lord Darcy, 1 son, 3 daughters, knighted 1568. Succeeded father as 3rd Baron 1571.
Offices Held - J.p.q. Bedfordshire from circa 1564; Northamptonshire from cerca 1583; sheriff, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire 1570-1; commissionaer for musters, Bedfordshire 1569, Northamptonshire 1577; trial of Mary Stuart 1586, to search for Jesuits, Northamptonshire 1591, to suppress recusancy, Bedforshire August 1592.2

The Mordaunts married heiresses of the Latimer, Vere and Fitzlewis families, and the 1563 Member inherited land in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Essex, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire and Somerset. He was for some time on bad terms with his father, owing to his refusal to marry a daughter of his stepmother Joan, daughter of Richard Fermor of Northamptonshire and widow of Robert Wilford, merchant tailor of London. An undated Chancery case shows father and son quarrelling over land in Stagsden, Bedfordshire, and the elder Mordaunt carried out a recovery of the Fitzlewis lands to his own use for life, after his death to be transferred for 92 years to ‘such as it pleased him to appoint’. This attempt to deprive the heir of the profits of a large part of his estates was countered by old Lord Mordaunt, father of John and grandfather of Lewis, who made another conveyance, ensuring his own lands to Lewis on the latter’s marriage to someone more suitable in rank. After succeeding to the estates in 1571, Mordaunt lived mainly at Turvey and on his grandmother’s property at Drayton, Northamptonshire, where he carried out extensive building, some of it financed by sales of land in Essex and the west country.

He was an active official in Bedfordshire and later in Northamptonshire. In April 1565 he was one of those asked by the Council to ‘take care in the good assessing of the [Bedfordshire] subsidy’; in 1580 he served on the Northamptonshire commission for breeding horses, and he was among the ‘principal nobles’ who in September 1586 advised the Queen ‘on the present state of the realm’, owing to the growing danger from Spain. On 23 July 1588, with the Armada excitement at its height, the Council instructed him to come to London, bringing such lances and light horsemen as he could raise. There is another reference to his attending the Queen with troops in 1599, when another attack by Spain was expected.

The family historian describes Mordaunt as

a person of great justice, nobleness and affability, very well parted, and ingenious. He was the idol of the province where he lived, and one that drew unto him more respect and love than all the great men of those parts. Though he was no courtier, yet he was much honoured by them all, and he had a near friendship with the Earl of Leicester and the Lord Chancellor Hatton,

a portrait not borne out by the scattered references to his private life. He was several times asked by the Privy Council to explain affrays resulting from quarrels between his servants and those of Adrian Stokes about unlawful hunting in Brigstock park, Northamptonshire, where Stokes was keeper; the justices of assize were suspected of partiality towards Mordaunt’s followers. On another occasion the Council advised him to show more generosity to a poor tenant over a disputed title to land.

Several members of his family were suspected of Catholicism, and, though described by his bishop as ‘earnest’ in religion in 1564, his name appears on a Catholic list of 1582 as one favourable to Mary Stuart. According to Camden, Mordaunt agreed most unwillingly to the sentence on Mary Stuart, whose funeral on 1 Aug. 1587 the government ordered him to attend. About November 1586 one of Walsingham’s spies reported that Mordaunt and the 4th Earl of Worcester had taken a wherry down the river to Ratcliff, where the Red Lion was a favourite haunt of the recusant Francis Brown. He was friendly with the Catholic (presumably 3rd) Lord Vaux, and stood surety for some debts of Sir Thomas Tresham, who defaulted, since his recusancy adversely affected his credit worthiness. Still, he must have conformed, and the government continued to trust him on religious matters, as in the 1590s he served on commissions to take oaths of supremacy, to prosecute recusants and to search out Jesuits and seminary priests. He died at Drayton 16 June 1601, and was buried 20 July at Turvey. By his will, dated October 1593, £80 was to be spent on an alabaster tomb with ‘pictures’ of himself and his wife, and £70 distributed to the poor at his burial. He left £2,000 each to his two unmarried daughters Katherine and Elizabeth, appointing two executors to administer lands for this purpose. The residuary legatee, and the sole executor for all other parts of the will, was his only son Henry, aged 33, the Lord Mordaunt arrested after the Gunpowder Plot.

Author: N. M. Fuidge

Mordaunt Biographies

Robert Mordaunt (d. 1602), of Westbury, Buckinghamshire, Litttle Massingham, Norfolk and Hempstead, Essex.
The details in this biography come from The History of Parliament - The House of Commons 1558 - 1603, ed. P. W. Hasler, 1981, published by the History of Parliament Trust, 1982, available from Boydell and Brewer.

Constituency - Newport Iuxta 1563, Launceston
Family and Education - 3rd son of Robert Mordaunt,of Hempstead, by his 1st wife Barbara, daughter and heiress of John Lestrange of Litttle Massingham. Married Jane, daughter and heiress of Henry Pyne, Of Ham in Morwenstow, Cornwall, widow of Walter Porter of Launcells, Cornwall. Succeeded brother in 1574.
Offices Held - Escheator, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, 1583 - 1584.

The Mordaunts had accumulated extensive lands through marriages with heiresses. Mordaunt’s grandfather was a younger son of the Mordaunts of Turvey, Bedfordshire, from whom descended the Lords Mordaunt and the earls of Peterborough: Lewis Mordaunt was thus a distant cousin. The younger branch of the family had settled at Hempstead, and Mordaunt’s father had made a fortunate marriage with Barbara Lestrange, who brought him land at Little Massingham in Norfolk and Westbury in Buckinghamshire, which was added to the Essex property at Great Sampford, Roding Berners, Wood Hall and Hempstead. Though a younger son, Mordaunt inherited all this. His father was succeeded at his death in 1572 by a grandson, but the boy died less than two years later and was succeeded by his uncle James, Mordaunt’s elder brother. A few months later he too was dead.

However, though the list of Mordaunt’s manors is impressive, he never attained a place on the commission of the peace, perhaps because of Catholic religious views. His Cornish borough seat in Parliament came to him through his wife’s family connexions, the Grenvilles of Penheale, patrons of the borough of Newport. Mordaunt himself was described in the 1559 pardon roll as ‘late of Morwenstow, Cornwall’ where he had apparently been living on his wife’s property, situated in that north-eastern portion of Cornwall which also contained the Grenvilles’ seat at Penheale and Newport itself.4

Mordaunt died apparently intestate 29 May 1602. His wife made her will a few months after his death;

    "I protest from my harte renouncing all False schismes and heresies, I doe firmeely and without all doubt hold and believe the Christian faith and every parte and pointe thereof, as our mother the holie Catholique church, instructed by the promised spirite of trueth, hath taughte and declared."

Author: Irene Cassidy

Mordaunt Biographies

John Mordaunt, 1st Earl of Peterborough
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

John Mordaunt, first earl of Peterborough, was baptized on 18 January 1599 at Lowick, Northamptonshire. Margaret Compton (d. c.1645) was his mother.

The Mordaunt family had been prominent Northamptonshire Roman Catholics, and John Mordaunt's father, Henry, fourth Lord Mordaunt (c.1568–1609), was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot. As a result, in 1610 James I handed his son John (then fifth Lord Mordaunt) as a ward to Archbishop Abbott to ensure that he received a protestant education. Educated at Oxford, he enjoyed success at court, becoming a knight of the Bath in 1616, and he accompanied the king on his Scottish progress in 1617. Known in Northamptonshire as an ally of the first duke of Buckingham, he was prominent in local affairs, raising loans for the crown, and serving as a deputy lieutenant and as forester of part of Rockingham Forest. He had married Elizabeth Howard (1603 - 1671), daughter of William, Lord Howard of Effingham, by 7 April 1621.

In March 1628 he was raised to the earldom of Peterborough. Peterborough's relations with Charles I were complicated, however; after Buckingham's death he seems to have lost some favour at court, though he continued to serve loyally in the lieutenancy and on the bench, and was appointed lord lieutenant of Northamptonshire in 1640. He was fined £5000 for encroaching on Rockingham Forest, and resisted calls to contribute to the king's service in the bishops' wars. He refused to pay ship money and in January 1642 protested the Lords' defeat of the House of Commons' demand for control of the militia.

Though suspicious of his religious background, parliament confirmed him as lord lieutenant of Northamptonshire in 1642 and gave him command of a regiment of foot as well as its army's artillery train. However, his military career was brief, for, already in ill health, he died of consumption on 19 June 1643; he was buried five days later at Turvey. His son Henry, second earl of Peterborough, said of him that ‘he was not born for the advancement of his house’, and criticized him for ‘a humour he had, which was averse to constraint, and indulgent to all his passions’ (Halstead, 404).

Webmaster's additional note:
Some very reputable sources reproduce a remarkable piece of fiction that John Mordaunt was a fervent Catholic until he attended a public disputation in 1625 between the Protestant Archbishop Armagh, James Ussher (he who computed the date of Creation as the night preceeding 23rd October 4004 BC), and a Jesuit priest. The story is given some credence, in a more realistic and modified form, by the Oxford Biography of National Biography, but it still seems unlikely. To shelter a priest, and especially a Jesuit, was treason punishable by death and it is so unbelievable that John Mordaunt would have so blatently compromised his and his family's position and estates in such a way. Besides, of course, John had been forcibly removed from his mother at a young age and raised as a Protestant under the tutelage of the Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury. The basis for this tale comes only from Ussher or, after his death, from his chaplain Nicholas Bernard - there is no authentification from the Mordaunt family. What is true is that James Ussher was a close friend of the Countess Mordaunt and died on a visit to her home in Reigate, Surrey

Mordaunt Biographies

Henry Mordaunt, 2nd Earl of Peterborough
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

Henry Mordaunt, second earl of Peterborough (bap. 1623, d. 1697), nobleman, was baptized at St Ann Blackfriars, London, on 18 October 1623, the son and heir of John Mordaunt, first earl of Peterborough (bap. 1599, d. 1643), and his wife, Elizabeth Howard (1603–1671), daughter of William, Lord Howard of Effingham; Henry was the brother of John Mordaunt, first Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon (1626–1675).

Mordaunt succeeded to his father's title only two months after abandoning the captaincy of his father's horse troop in parliament's army for a command under the king. Educated at Eton College (1635–8) and in France, where his tutor, Thomas Raymond, described him as a ‘noble and hopefull … cavalier’ (GEC, Peerage, 10.497), his defection to the royalist cause earned him command of a regiment of horse. He was seriously wounded at the first battle of Newbury in September 1643, but retained his command, serving at Cropredy and Lostwithiel (both 1644). He submitted to parliament after the battle of Naseby in 1645, and compounded for his estate, but a 1647 interview with the captive Charles I inspired him to join the earl of Holland's ill-fated uprising in July 1648. Peterborough escaped capture, but was ultimately forced to compound a second time. During the 1650s he lived quietly in the country, attempting to pay his debts.

Peterborough's reward after the Restoration was the governorship of Tangier, a prize of dubious value. Appointed on 16 September 1661, he took possession of the city in January 1662. While there he struggled against hostile Berbers and, he claimed, disloyal subordinates. He was recalled in December 1662 and compensated with a £1000 pension—which, however, was rarely paid. Commenting on the earl's recall, Pepys wrote ‘though it is said [it] is done with kindness, yet all the world may see it is done otherwise’ (Pepys, 3.283).

Although in 1667 Pepys commented that the earl's wife complained ‘how they are forced to live beyond their estate and do get nothing by his [Peterborough's] being a courtier’ (Pepys, 8.459–60), Peterborough's growing friendship with James, duke of York, offered brighter prospects. Probably thanks to James's patronage, in 1665 he served as a volunteer aboard the second rate Unicorn in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and in 1678 he commanded a troop in York's regiment of horse. In 1666 he became lord lieutenant of Northamptonshire, a post he held until 1688; under James II he was colonel of the 2nd dragoon guards. Though his military experience undoubtedly endeared him to James, it was his service as a courtier and political ally that cemented their relationship. As early as 1663 he announced that ‘old notions of mixed governments’ were obsolete, and he advocated an expansion of the crown's authority (P. Seaward, The Cavalier Parliament and the Reconstruction of the Old Regime, 1989, 23). His connection with the duke became closer still in 1673 when Charles II appointed him ambassador-extraordinary, charged with arranging James's second marriage. Princess Mary of Modena, though not the duke's first choice, emerged as the successful candidate, and Peterborough stood as James's proxy in the royal wedding, which took place on 30 September 1673. He escorted the duchess back to England, where he took his seat as a privy councillor in 1674. Peterborough's close association with James resulted in accusations that he played a role in the Popish Plot. He was dropped from the council in 1679, and he and his wife took shelter in Brussels. He was back in England by 1680, and he worked passionately against moves to secure the exclusion of James from the succession in the House of Lords and as a lord lieutenant. He played a role in the uncovering of the Rye House plot in 1683, and was restored to the council in February 1683.

Peterborough carried the sceptre at James II's coronation and the king awarded him the Garter in June 1685. He was also appointed groom of the stole and first gentleman of the bedchamber and in 1686 he became Queen Mary's high steward and chief bailiff. In March 1687 he converted to Catholicism. A reliable supporter of James's policies, he assisted in the king's purges of the bench and lieutenancy, and added the lieutenancy of Rutland to his other places in January 1688. He was a witness at the birth of the prince of Wales in June 1688, and at the revolution he fell with his mentor. His home in Northamptonshire, Drayton, was sacked by a mob, and in December he was captured at Ramsgate attempting to flee the kingdom.

Imprisoned in the Tower from December 1688 to October 1690, Peterborough was impeached by the Commons in October 1689, though the proceedings were dropped. Although he rejoined the established church in 1692 he remained a Jacobite; in March 1692 he showed John Evelyn a portrait of the prince of Wales ‘newly brought out of France’ (Evelyn, 4.92), and in April he asked permission of the secretary of state to visit the exiled king. Past seventy, he was held under house arrest from February to March 1696 suspected of involvement in the assassination plot against William III. An illness occasioned by ‘too liberal feeding on oysters’ nearly killed him in September 1696, and thereafter his health declined. He died on 19 June 1697 and was buried ten days later in the parish church at Turvey, Bedfordshire. His wife, Lady Penelope O'Brien (b. c.1622), daughter of the fifth earl of Thomond, whom he married in 1644, survived him and died in 1702. They had two daughters: one, Elizabeth, never married, and a second, Mary (later Mary Howard), became duchess of Norfolk, and was divorced from her husband in 1700. No less passionate a man than his father had been, Peterborough ‘used his wife ill, … taking his pleasures elsewhere’, but in his later years, after his many reverses, he was described as behaving himself ‘humbly and sadly’ (Fitzherbert MSS, 268; Rutland MSS, 2.127) . With his chaplain, Richard Rands, he compiled a collection of Succinct Genealogies (1685), published under the pseudonym Robert Halstead. At his death his title passed to his nephew, Charles Mordaunt, third earl of Peterborough.

Victor Stater

The biography of Anne Wharton (née Lee) (1659 - 1685), poet, also in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, refers to "the unreliable autobiography of Goodwin Wharton (her brother-in-law) which said she had been "debauched when very young by Henry Mordaunt, second earl of Peterborough."

Sources GEC, Peerage · R. Halstead [H. Mordaunt, second earl of Peterborough], Succinct genealogies of the noble and ancient houses (1685) · Pepys, Diary · Evelyn, Diary · P. R. Newman, The old service: royalist regimental colonels and the civil war, 1642–1646 (1993) · E. Cope, The life of a public man: Edward, first Baron Montagu of Boughton, 1562–1644 (1981) · The manuscripts of Sir William Fitzherbert … and others, HMC, 32 (1893) · Calendar of the manuscripts of the marquess of Ormonde, new ser., 8 vols., HMC, 36 (1902–20) · The manuscripts of his grace the duke of Rutland, 4 vols., HMC, 24 (1888–1905) · The manuscripts of S. H. Le Fleming, HMC, 25 (1890) · The manuscripts of the House of Lords, 4 vols., HMC, 17 (1887–94), vols. 2–3 · Report on the manuscripts of Allan George Finch, 5 vols., HMC, 71 (1913–2003) · C. Russell, The fall of the British monarchies, 1637–1642 (1991)
Archives BL, Egerton MS 2538 | BL, Governership of Tangier MSS

Mordaunt Biographies

John Mordaunt, Viscount Avalon of Peterborough
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

John Mordaunt, first Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon (1626–1675), royalist conspirator, was born on 18 June and baptized on 20 June 1626 at Lowick, Northamptonshire, the second son of John Mordaunt, fifth Baron Mordaunt and later first earl of Peterborough and his wife, Elizabeth (1603–1671), daughter of William, first Baron Howard of Effingham. He was educated privately in France and Italy and it is unclear when he returned from the continent. However, he was in England by July 1648 when he joined his elder brother Henry Mordaunt, second earl of Peterborough, in a royalist uprising. John raised 200 horsemen for the king, but the rising failed and he, along with his brother, fled into exile, staying for a time at The Hague.

Mordaunt had returned to England by 1652, when a challenge to a duel from Brian Cockayne ended in a brief stay in the Tower. He was on the fringes of royalist conspiracy throughout the early and mid-1650s; in 1654 Sir Edward Hyde wrote to him, accepting his offer of service. But he did not play an important role until after his marriage, on 7 May 1657, to Elizabeth (1632/3–1679), daughter of Thomas Carey, second son of Robert, earl of Monmouth. That year he promised 400–500 men for Charles II, and in 1658 he plotted with the marquess of Ormond, in England on a secret visit. A royalist turncoat, John Stapley, betrayed Mordaunt and he was arrested on 1 April 1658. Closely questioned by Cromwell himself he was released and rearrested on 15 April, charged with treason. Mordaunt's trial, before a special commission of forty, began on 1 June, and he avoided the block by a mixture of judicious bribery and blind luck. After first refusing to accept the court's jurisdiction he finally pleaded not guilty. A key witness, one Morley, escaped—possibly through Elizabeth Mordaunt's means—and one of the judges, Colonel Thomas Pride, who was expected to favour a conviction, was taken ill and did not vote. There were nineteen votes for acquittal and nineteen for conviction; the president of the court, John Lisle, spared Mordaunt with his casting vote.

Released shortly afterwards Mordaunt immediately returned to his work for the king. His career as a royalist plotter was difficult: though he had the support and trust of the king, Ormond, and Hyde, many royalists disliked and resented him. Through his mother, a devout presbyterian, he had connections with discontented peers and gentlemen, once parliamentarians, who now favoured a restoration. The exiled court hoped that he could forge an alliance between presbyterians and royalists. Older royalists, particularly members of the devoted, if ineffectual, Sealed Knot, refused to co-operate with Mordaunt, who did not make matters any easier by his headstrong impatience. Hyde expected Mordaunt to be the acknowledged leader of the royalist cause in England and in March 1659 Charles named Mordaunt, along with several members of the Knot, to a ‘Great Trust and Commission’ whose charge was to effect a restoration. The members of the Knot refused to act, and by July 1659 the commission was a largely presbyterian body, dominated by Mordaunt. A mark of the king's favour came in March 1659, when he signed a warrant for Mordaunt's viscountcy as Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon. Despite this, however, bitter divisions among the royalists continued.

About June 1659 Mordaunt returned from a trip to Brussels prepared to lead a new rising. The confused political situation after Richard Cromwell's fall in April offered new hope for the royalist cause. But continuing bickering among royalists and the efficiency of the government's intelligence doomed Mordaunt's plans. Originally planned for July, the uprising was delayed several times, and on 28 July the council of state ordered his arrest, though he was not taken. The Sealed Knot once again refused to lend any assistance, and when Mordaunt finally appeared for the king near Barnstead Down in Surrey in early August only thirty men turned up. He and his followers narrowly avoided capture, and Mordaunt hid in London until he could make his escape to France. He landed at Calais on 7 September 1659.

By the time Mordaunt arrived in France the only serious royalist uprising, led by Sir George Booth in Cheshire, had been put down. This left the erstwhile royalist general kicking his heels in Calais, assigning blame for the disaster to others, though his own poor planning undoubtedly played a role in the defeat. In the following weeks Mordaunt nursed hopes of a falling out between parliament and the army. When General Lambert expelled the Rump on 13 October 1659 Mordaunt prepared his return to England, and was in London by 22 October. Indefatigable as ever he worked to advance the king's fortunes, plotting a French invasion and yet another uprising. But during these months Mordaunt's credit was on the wane at court. Perceived as a creature of Hyde's, his attempt to distance himself from Sir Edward did him no good with any faction. Sir John Grenville, a kinsman of General George Monck, overshadowed Mordaunt during the winter of 1659–60. The viscount's effectiveness was further reduced as his relations with the presbyterians frayed over their insistence upon a conditional restoration.

Despite these setbacks Mordaunt remained among the most active and well-known royalist conspirators. He was again in France in November 1659, consulting with the king and arguing fruitlessly for a French invasion. He was still in France when the Rump was restored on 26 December, but he had returned to London by 13 January 1660, still pleading for French intervention and warning the court against trusting Monck. Mordaunt remained in the dark about Grenville's negotiations with the general; his days of leadership were now over, and he became a spectator more than an actor in the events leading up to the Restoration. In March he failed in his desire to obtain a vacant secretaryship of state, a sign of his waning influence. The post went to William Morice, a client of Monck's. Mordaunt was among the thousands who welcomed Charles II to Dover on 25 May, and Charles knighted him there, along with his rival, the general.

Although Mordaunt devoted a dozen years to the king's cause—he was certainly among the most active, if not the most successful, of royalist conspirators—his rewards were comparatively modest. Charles named him lord lieutenant of Surrey and gave him command of a regiment of horse. The king also appointed him governor of Windsor Castle and ranger of the forest there, and gave him the keepership of the Great Park of Windsor. He did at least obtain a partial share of the Newcastle coal farm, which must have provided a steady income. His lack of success at the Restoration court must in some part be due to his personality: he was clearly difficult to deal with at times. In 1664 he served as a volunteer in the Royal Navy, provoking Samuel Pepys to complain bitterly about ‘gentlemen reformadoes’ who were ‘good for nothing while they serve but to impoverish their captains and enslave them … as my Lord Mordaunt in particular did do’ (Tangier Papers, 120). Pepys even disliked Mordaunt's literary efforts, writing about some of the viscount's poetry, ‘But lord they are but sorry things, only, a lord made them’ (Pepys, Diary, 5.352).

Clarendon believed that his friend was unjustly treated, but when Mordaunt was attacked in the parliamentary session of 1666 many hoped to see him punished. William Taylor, surveyor of Windsor Castle, complained to the Commons that in 1661 Mordaunt had turned him out of his lodgings, imprisoned him, and attempted to rape his daughter. The truth of the most sensational charge was questionable, but it is clear that Taylor had provoked Mordaunt to act precipitately by standing for the Commons from New Windsor against the governor's wishes. Parliament duly impeached Mordaunt on 18 December 1666. He responded to the charges in January 1667 in a written answer, but the Lords never heard witnesses in the case. The king prorogued the session in February, and pardoned Mordaunt in July, before proceedings resumed. The case was briefly a cause célèbre; Pepys's friend Captain Cocke claimed that people were so incensed about Mordaunt's escape that a new civil war threatened. An attempt to revive the charges in the next session fizzled out, but by summer 1667 rumours circulated that Mordaunt would lose his offices. In fact he retained his Windsor offices until September 1668, when he did resign, keeping only his lieutenancy of Surrey. The fall of his friend and protector, Clarendon, probably played a part in his retirement; he never took any significant part in politics afterwards. In 1668 Mordaunt joined his wife in Montpellier, France, where she had gone for her health, and which was also Clarendon's home in exile. The Mordaunts remained in France until 1669, when they returned to their house at Parson's Green, Middlesex. Mordaunt died of a fever at Parson's Green on 5 June 1675 and was buried in All Saints' Church, Fulham, on the 14th. He left eleven children; the eldest was Charles Mordaunt, third earl of Peterborough, the famous general of the War of the Spanish Succession.

Victor Stater

Sources The letter-book of John, Viscount Mordaunt, 1658–1660, ed. M. Coate, CS, 3rd ser., 69 (1945) · GEC, Peerage · Clarendon, Hist. rebellion · The life of Edward, earl of Clarendon … written by himself, new edn, 3 vols. (1827) · Calendar of the Clarendon state papers preserved in the Bodleian Library, ed. O. Ogle and others, 5 vols. (1869–1970) · D. Underdown, Royalist conspiracy in England, 1649–1660 (1960) · Evelyn, Diary · Pepys, Diary · The Tangier papers of Samuel Pepys, ed. E. Chappell, Navy RS, 73 (1935) · Tenth report, HMC (1885); repr. (1906), 188–216 · DNB · Northamptonshire, Pevsner (1961)
Archives Berks. RO, letters to Sir Nicholas Carew · Bodl. Oxf., Clarendon papers
Likenesses W. Faithorne the elder, line engraving, c.1661, BM, NPG · J. Bushnell, statue on marble funeral monument, c.1676, All Saints' Church, Fulham, London · line engraving, pubd 1796 (after unknown artist), BM, NPG · W. Faithorne the elder, engraving (after A. Hanneman, 1648), BM

Mordaunt Biographies

Charles Mordaunt, 3rd Earl of Peterborough
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

Charles Mordaunt, third earl of Peterborough and first earl of Monmouth (1658?–1735), army officer and diplomatist, was the eldest of the eleven children of John Mordaunt, first Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon (1626–1675), royalist conspirator, and Elizabeth (1632/3–1679), daughter and sole heir of the Hon. Thomas Carey (d. 1634) and granddaughter of Robert Carey, first earl of Monmouth.

Charles Mordaunt was probably born in early 1658, as his mother is known to have been pregnant in 1657 and then had a second son in April 1659. Unlike his three younger brothers, who went to Eton, he was educated at Westminster School under its headmaster Richard Busby. In March 1674 he went to Oxford, where he matriculated at Christ Church on 11 April, at the age of sixteen. On his father's death on 5 June 1675 he succeeded to the peerage as the second Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon and Baron Mordaunt of Ryegate, although the bulk of his father's properties reverted to his uncle, Henry Mordaunt, second earl of Peterborough. The diarist John Evelyn, an intimate friend of his mother, became a trustee for the young Lord Mordaunt and his siblings and was later also a trustee under his mother's will.

Early career
Having left Oxford in February 1676, Mordaunt went to France; then in May 1677, perhaps with assistance from his mother's stepbrother Captain Arthur Herbert, later earl of Torrington, he entered the navy as an unpaid volunteer. In 1678, about the age of twenty, he privately married his relative Carey (c.1658–1709), maid of honour to Queen Catherine from 1674 to 1680, and daughter of Sir Alexander Fraizer, first baronet, physician to Charles II. The marriage was kept secret until May 1680, when an observer wrote, ‘It is said the marriage between my lord Mordaunt and Mrs. Fraizer will now be speedily consummated, the lady being discovered with child and my lord seeming to own something of a contract’ (Ormonde MSS, 6.325). Even then it seems it was not until December 1681 that Mordaunt ‘brought out as well as owned his lady’ (Rutland MSS, 2.62). They had two sons, John and Henry Mordaunt, and a daughter, Henrietta.

On 29 September 1678 Mordaunt joined as a volunteer the 48-gun ship Bristol, captained by Anthony Langston, bringing six servants with him. The ship's chaplain, the Revd Henry Teonge, recorded Mordaunt's irritating presence in his diary, noting, on an occasion when he was ill, how Mordaunt presumed to take his place and deliver a sermon. ‘I found the zealous lord with our captaine,’ Teonge wrote, ‘whom I did so handle in a smart and short discourse that he went out of the cabin in a great wrath’ (Diary, 227). Upon arrival at Cadiz in late November Mordaunt moved into the Rupert, commanded by Arthur Herbert. With his mother's death in early April 1679 he inherited Villa Carey, later Peterborough House, at Parson's Green, Fulham, Middlesex, which his grandmother Margaret Carey, daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Smith, had bequeathed to his mother.

Mordaunt returned to England in the autumn of 1679. In March 1680 he was wounded in a duel with Lord Cavendish but had recovered by June, when he sailed again for the Mediterranean, this time as a volunteer to serve ashore at Tangier. During the September 1680 siege by the Moors, Mordaunt was a prominent member of a group of young noblemen who were all ‘(covetous of Honour and ambitiously emulous of Glory) to be partakers of this pleasant (though dangerous) Sport, where they had almost lost their lives’ (Ross, 14). Mordaunt's stay at Tangier was brief, but it made an impact. In a conversation about the need to raise professional standards, the diarist and naval clerk Samuel Pepys noted that

    these gentlemen reformados are good for nothing … doing dishonour to the service and themselves by running and keeping ashore, borrowing money of our merchants and running on the score to everybody, as my lord Mordaunt in particular did do, and committing villainies of all sorts and debauching the poor seamen. (Chappell, 120)

Back in England Mordaunt settled in the house at Parson's Green. On 31 December 1680 he took his seat in the House of Lords and became actively engaged in whig politics in association with the earl of Shaftesbury. Mordaunt was one of the sixteen peers who signed the January 1681 petition against parliament meeting at Oxford in March, and then in March protested against the Lords' rejection of the proposal to impeach the informer Edward Fitzharris. In the same month the king directed Sir Leoline Jenkins to persuade Mordaunt to apologize for breaking windows at Prince Philip of Monaco's house on the occasion of a challenge. Five months later, in August 1681, James Hamilton, Lord Arran, wounded Mordaunt in the arm and body during a duel with pistol and sword.

That summer, at his own expense, Mordaunt built at Deptford a 46-gun privateer, Loyal Mordaunt. It was unclear what he planned to do with this ship, and when it was ready to sail reports circulated that he might either enter the service of the elector of Brandenburg or sail to the Mediterranean. Fearing the ship might be used to attack Spanish shipping, the Spanish ambassador complained to the king, who, being at that moment on bad terms with Mordaunt, ordered it stopped for more than six weeks. By the end of August Mordaunt was back in favour and on one occasion in early October kept the king up until midnight fruitlessly attempting to reconcile him with the duke of Monmouth. A month later, in November 1681, the king dined on board with him. Mordaunt's departure did not materialize and eventually, in 1683, the navy purchased the ship from him.
(Webmaster's note - Drawing by Willem van de Valde the Elder, courtesy of Wikipedia. She was renamed HMS Mordaunt and classified as a 4th rate ship, not a derogatory term but referring to her size and the number of guns. From September 1688 she was commanded by John Tyrell who, coming from Oakley, Buckinghamshire, would have known the Mordaunt family there. He was commander when she was part of a fleet that fought an engagement with 12 French warships on 4th October 1689. In 1693 she was on station in the West Indies as described in a dispatch from the Lieutenant Governor, but came to an ignominious end off Jamaica in 1694 as described in a further dispatch. All the dispatches cast an interesting light on the war England was dragged into by its new king, the Dutchman Willam of Orange, that do not usually get a mention in our history books).

Following the murder of the wealthy whig politician Thomas Thynne in February 1682, Mordaunt had to be restrained by a royal writ from crossing the channel to Nieuwpoort to act as Lord Cavendish's second in a duel with Count Königsmarck, who was widely believed to be behind Thynne's death. Mordaunt continued his association with radical whigs, but his involvement, if any, in the 1683 Rye House plot to assassinate the king is unclear. He was granted a passport to go to Holland in September 1683 and to Flanders in March 1684.

After the accession of James II in 1685 Mordaunt made a speech in the House of Lords supporting Lord Cavendish's motion against a standing army as a danger to civil liberties. Thereafter he actively opposed the king. Visiting the Netherlands in 1686 he was apparently the first English nobleman openly to suggest to William, prince of Orange, that he succeed to the English crown, but, as Bishop Burnet explained, Mordaunt had ‘represented the thing [as] so easy, that all this appeared extremely romantical to the prince’ (Foxcroft, 287). Mordaunt left England again in August 1687 and later that month a newsletter reported that Mary, princess of Orange, had appointed Lady Mordaunt her groom of the stole and it was expected that Mordaunt would receive a regiment in the Dutch army. By then Mordaunt had already begun to suggest an expedition to William, and in November 1687 plans were laid for him to join Captain Gerard Callenburg, commanding the Dutch naval squadron in the West Indies. The motive for the voyage may have been to discover the strength of loyalty towards James II that might be expected from the English colonies there and from Admiral Sir John Narbrough, whom Mordaunt visited at the site of a Spanish wreck off the coast of Hispaniola.

Revolution and politics, 1688–1704
After his return to Holland, Mordaunt was closely associated with Arthur Herbert and Edward Russell, all three attending William during the invasion. Immediately after the landing at Torbay William ordered Mordaunt to raise a regiment of horse, with which Mordaunt occupied Exeter on 8 November 1688. In advance of the main army Mordaunt raised support for William in Dorset and Wiltshire and by 13 December he was in London. He was among the peers who attended William at Windsor on 17 December, when he was directed by the prince to transcribe a fair copy of their resolution ordering James II to leave Whitehall. Shortly afterwards the earl of Clarendon complained that on one occasion he could not see the prince as ‘he was shut up a long time with Lord Mordaunt’ (State Letters of … Clarendon, 2.130). In January 1689 Mordaunt took a tour of the north to observe the state of the defences and the consolidation of William's power. On his return, Clarendon reported that the earl of Lincoln, ‘to confirm the opinion several had of his being half mad, declared that he had come to do what ever my Shrewsbury and Mordaunt would have him’ (ibid., 165). Mordaunt was one of the lords who attended the private meeting with William, probably held on the evening of 3 February 1689, when William first announced that he would settle for nothing less than the crown in his own right, with Mary as queen, and preference to Anne as their successor.

William quickly rewarded Mordaunt, making him a privy councillor on 14 February 1689, gentleman of the bedchamber on 1 March, colonel of a regiment of foot on 1 April, lord lieutenant of Northamptonshire, and first commissioner of the Treasury on 9 April. With no prior experience of Treasury affairs, Mordaunt reportedly believed that he ‘would understand the business of it as well as Lord Godolphin in a fortnight’ (Horwitz, 19). On 28 March a warrant had been prepared to create him earl of Chichester, but when it was passed on 9 April he was instead created earl of Monmouth, a title that had been given to his great-grandfather Robert Carey in 1626 and had become extinct in 1661. During this period Monmouth sought employment for the philosopher John Locke, with whom he had developed a close relationship before the revolution in Holland, using his influence to have him appointed commissioner of appeals.

On 10 May 1689 Monmouth was appointed a commissioner for reforming abuses in the army, and on 9 August water bailiff of the Severn. In March 1690 he was replaced at the Treasury but was granted the manor of Dauntsley, Wiltshire, along with other forfeited lands formerly belonging to the regicide Sir John Danvers, in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, and Yorkshire. When William III left for Ireland on 2 June 1690, Monmouth was among the last-minute additions he made to the council of nine to advise Queen Mary. When Monmouth's uncle, the earl of Torrington, faced the prospect of the French fleet off Beachy Head, Monmouth and others proposed going to the fleet as volunteers and taking command if Torrington should be killed. With the queen's assent, Monmouth set out for Portsmouth on 28 June, but before he could take ship the battle of Beachy Head took place and he returned to London on 2 July.

On Monmouth's return to the council, he continued to raise similarly impetuous plans, which the queen resisted, noting privately, ‘Lord Monmouth is mad, and his wife who is madder, governs him. I knew him deeply ingaged in Scotland and not much trusted, yet must know all’ (Doebner, 30). Mary sharply rebuked Monmouth in early July for his repeated attempts to discredit the tory earl of Nottingham. Then, as the Treasury's resources grew scarce, Monmouth presented the queen with a scheme that offered a £200,000 loan from his friends in the city, provided that the queen dissolve parliament. Mary refused to accept, unless the money could be raised on other terms. Mary's reservations about Monmouth were based not only on his impetuosity, but also on suspicion of his involvement in a series of secret reports written in lemon juice to a French agent at Antwerp revealing the proceedings of the council of nine. Although they touched only on matters considered in meetings when Monmouth had been present, he successfully denied any participation in the affair.

From January to March 1691 Monmouth was in Holland with the king. After returning to England he went briefly to Ireland in September. In early 1692 he commanded a regiment on Guernsey and Jersey and, during the absence of the governor, Lord Hatton, was in overall command there when the opposing fleets were engaged off Barfleur and La Hogue. In June he was in Flanders with the king and returned to London in mid-July 1692. Despite his support of William, Monmouth could not reconcile himself with the king's tory advisers. In December 1692 in the House of Lords Monmouth was one of the eighteen peers who entered their protests at the defeat of a motion to inquire into the conduct of the war by means of a committee of both houses of parliament. In the following session, on 30 November 1693, he introduced a bill for a triennial parliament which was nearly identical to the one that the king had rejected the previous March. Consequently, in February 1694 the king dismissed him as a gentleman of the bedchamber, gave his regiment to his brother Henry Mordaunt, and no longer summoned him to the privy council. These actions only served to increase Monmouth's support of the opposition. In July 1694, following a Jacobite-motivated disturbance in Northamptonshire, Lord Shrewsbury attempted to assuage the king's suspicions by telling him that, even if Mordaunt had made peace with James II, he preferred loyalty to William. Nevertheless, Monmouth's repeated political opposition to the ministry marked the end of the close personal trust that the king had earlier confided in him and William removed him from his inner circle.

In early 1695 Monmouth was shown favour by the king in an apparent attempt to win him over. He resumed his post as gentleman of the bedchamber in late March 1695 and was subsequently appointed one of the first trustees of Greenwich Hospital, to which he contributed £200, and became a commissioner of appeals for prize cases. Monmouth, however, continued to cause trouble. In April 1695, in connection with a series of parliamentary inquiries into corruption, he moved to censure Lord Normanby for his activities, and lost by only four votes. He angered the king the following year when he indiscreetly let it be known in early 1696 that the king had privately discussed his intention to dissolve parliament on his return from the continent. On the king's departure, Monmouth was not appointed one of the lords justices, as had been expected, and he refused to serve as an Admiralty commissioner when it became clear that he would not replace Russell as first commissioner.

Monmouth strongly supported the attainder of the Jacobite Sir John Fenwick for treason in November 1696, although many had doubts about the procedure. When it emerged that he had encouraged Fenwick and the informer Matthew Smith to incriminate men such as the duke of Shrewsbury and the earl of Marlborough, he was called before the Lords and made a rambling two-hour speech in his own defence, ‘as if he designed to make them weary of hearing him again’ (James, 164). In the event Fenwick had not followed Monmouth's advice, but the subsequent investigation into the matter condemned Monmouth for having ‘a share and part in the contrivance of the papers … and for the undutiful words spoken by him of the king’ (ibid., 173). On 16 January 1697 the Lords ordered Monmouth to the Tower, removed from all his places, and his name struck from the privy council list. After a three-month imprisonment, he was released on 30 March 1697.

On the death of Monmouth's uncle on 19 June 1697 he became third earl of Peterborough, styling himself as earl of Peterborough and Monmouth. He retired from public life for some time, coming into public notice momentarily in November 1697, after a French protestant shopkeeper in Soho created a stir, claiming that he had recognized James II's son, the duke of Berwick, in his shop purchasing a hat and stockings, ‘dressed in old clothes, and his face very much covered up by his cloak with an old fair peruke on’ (CSP dom., 1697, 165), but the customer proved to have been Peterborough.

Peterborough returned to politics in February 1699, when, in response to the king's speech on the broad political situation in Europe, he supported denunciation of France and voted to authorize the king to enter into a broad alliance. Later that year he was actively involved in working to discredit Shrewsbury and Admiral Edward Russell, now Lord Orford. The secret agent John Macky reported that Peterborough was a co-author, with Dr Charles Davenant, of Matthew Smith's book Memoir of Secret Service (1699), recounting information associated with the Fenwick affair. In 1701 Peterborough took a very active role in the motion to impeach Lord Somers, which was managed in the House of Commons by his 21-year-old son John, Lord Mordaunt, MP for Chippenham (1701–8). About this time, Peterborough was described as one who ‘affects Popularity and loves to preach in Coffee-Houses, and publick Places; is an open enemy to Revealed Religion; brave in Person; hath a good Estate; does not seem Expensive, yet always in Debt, and very poor. A well shaped thin man, with a very brisk Look’ (Memoirs of the Secret Services, 66).

Following the death of William III and the accession of Anne in 1702, Peterborough returned to favour at court, having been reconciled with the earl of Marlborough and having gained the support of his wife, the powerful countess of Marlborough. On 15 June 1702 he was returned to one of the places he had lost in 1697 as lord lieutenant of Northamptonshire. By autumn he was actively engaged in planning to command an Anglo-Dutch expedition to protect trade in America and to attack Spanish settlements, and in October 1702 he was appointed governor of Jamaica. Following the failure at Cadiz, the Dutch found themselves unable to supply ships and troops, and Peterborough wrote to John Locke, ‘Our American Expedition is fallen as a mushroom rises in the night … I refus'd to goe to the other world loaded with empty titles and deprived of Force’ (Correspondence of John Locke, 7.740–41).

In January 1703, as these plans fell, Peterborough was actively engaged in the House of Lords as a manager in rejecting the first Occasional Conformity Bill, working closely with Lord Somers, the duke of Devonshire, and Bishop Burnet. In December 1703, at the time of the vote on the second bill, Peterborough told Swift ‘that if he had the least suspicion the rejecting of this bill would hurt the Church or do kindness to the Dissenters, he would lose his right hand rather than speak against it’ (Correspondence of Jonathan Swift, 1.39).

War in Spain, 1705–1707
On 31 March 1705 Peterborough was appointed commander-in-chief of the troops in the fleet. In addition, on 1 May he and Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell were appointed ‘joint admirals and Chief Commanders of her [Majesty's] fleet, & in case of Death, or in the absence, or inability of either of you, the other of you Admiral & Chief Commander’ (TNA: PRO, ADM 6/8, fol. 172v). With identical commissions, both were authorized and empowered ‘to wear the Union Flagg at the Maine Top mast head aboard such ship of her [Majesty's] Fleete, where you shall happen at any time to be’ (ibid., fols. 172v–173r). Although joint commissions were not unprecedented, Peterborough's commission was an exception to the practice since 1660 of restricting such naval appointments to those who had risen by regular service in the fleet.

The fleet of twenty-nine ships of the line sailed from St Helen's on 23 May and reached Lisbon on 11 June. Peterborough's preference for an attack on the French base at Toulon in support of the duke of Savoy was set aside when the allies' candidate for the Spanish throne, Charles III, demanded the fleet sail to Barcelona, where the Catalans might support him. Peterborough landed with the troops without opposition on 12 August, accompanied by Charles and Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt. Finding the approach to the fortifications difficult and having intelligence that the Spanish outnumbered the allies, Peterborough and others favoured re-embarking the forces and withdrawing, while Shovell strongly dissented. There was considerable debate over the next step, but on the basis of newly received intelligence, Peterborough proposed to Prince George an attack on Montjuich, an unimproved fortification two-thirds of a mile south-west of Barcelona. Prince George and Peterborough joined the attacking forces, which broke through the outer defences on 3 September. When the defending forces made a sally against the attackers, they killed Prince George and forced the attackers back, but Peterborough personally rallied the troops to hold the outer positions. After mortars were brought in, Montjuich surrendered on 6 September.

Now turning their attention to nearby Barcelona, the Anglo-Dutch fleet landed heavy guns and after two weeks of bombardment Barcelona's governor capitulated on 23 September. The following day riots broke out on the streets and, putting himself at great personal risk, Peterborough personally took charge to restore order in the city. With the city fully pacified, Charles III entered Barcelona on 13 October and, for the first time on Spanish soil, was proclaimed king of Spain. When news of this reached London, Peterborough received full credit for the victory.

In England, Peterborough's cousin Mary, the divorced dowager duchess of Norfolk, died on 17 November 1705 and by her death Peterborough became eighth Baron Mordaunt of Turvey, while Drayton House, her seat in Northamptonshire, passed to her second husband, Sir John Germain. Peterborough twice instituted legal proceedings to obtain Drayton and only dropped his suit after Germain's death in 1718, when it passed to Germain's second wife, Lady Elizabeth Germain.

(Webmaster's note: It must also be remembered that Charles's triumph, with the victory of William of Orange, was his uncle's ruin, who went from one of the most powerful men in England under James II to imprisonment in the Tower and impeachment for high treason under William. Little wonder Henry's daughter was unwilling to give her cousin any more than she had to, especially the family's main seat and manor. It was a heavy financial blow and from then on the family were always living beyond their means)

During the winter of 1705 the allied army under Peterborough was distributed in quarters throughout Catalonia at Barcelona, Lérida, Gerona, and Tortosa. As preparations began for the coming campaign season, Peterborough increasingly became involved in quarrels with the various allied commanders and with the court of Charles III. He complained to officials in London particularly about the incompetence and unreliability of Charles's first minister, Prince Anton-Florian of Liechtenstein. They, on the other hand, found Peterborough tactless and overbearing. To solve the disputes with others, Peterborough repeatedly demanded to be made sole commander of the fleet and even vice-admiral of England, an honorary title, which he believed had been promised to him. He complained in November 1705 that unless he received the new titles he would resign, but officials took little notice.

With no appropriate winter base in the Mediterranean for the fleet, Shovell left Peterborough at Barcelona and returned to England, leaving a small squadron at Lisbon under Vice-Admiral Sir John Leake to return to Catalonia in the spring. During the winter Spanish troops in the province of Valencia had defected from the Bourbon Philip V and declared for the Habsburg Charles III. In the face of this the Bourbon government in Madrid acted swiftly to try to recover the province before Charles III and the allied army could consolidate the position in Valencia. Moving quickly, Philip V's forces were able to seize the mountain passes between Valencia and Catalonia before the allies could bar their way. In the process they forced an allied force of thirty English dragoons with 1000 Catalan irregulars and Valencian militia under Colonel John Jones to retire to San Mateo in late December 1705, where they were surrounded.

On 29 December 1705 Charles III appointed Fernando, conde de Cifuentes, as viceroy of Valencia, a man with whom Peterborough repeatedly quarrelled. The following day Charles agreed to allow Peterborough to proceed with about 1500 men to relieve San Mateo and drive the Bourbon forces out of Valencia, a task that Charles III and Cifuentes saw as an easy mission, with bands of partisans ready at hand. Arriving on the scene, Peterborough quickly found that Charles's court had been misinformed. There were no local partisans in sight and Peterborough faced a Bourbon force numbering nearly 7000 men. Quickly assessing the situation, Peterborough divided his force into small units that operated separately from Tortosa, Lérida, and Gerona, and he employed them like guerrilla fighters, using unorthodox methods, ruses, and local spies. Early in January 1706 he sent out couriers to the besieged troops at San Mateo with false documents that suggested a huge reinforcement was on its way. As planned, the enemy captured the messengers and were misled by the false information. The Bourbon commander evacuated his positions and retreated. With a second ruse Peterborough convinced his enemy that he was still in great danger and motivated him to withdraw further, allowing Peterborough's force to get to Albocácer.

At Albocácer, Peterborough received a letter from Charles reporting that three Bourbon armies were about to attack Catalonia. Without positive and direct orders, Peterborough was reluctant to relinquish his independent command for the frustrations he had earlier experienced in Barcelona. Instead, he continued to move south, pursuing the retreating conde de las Torres and his Bourbon forces, taking Nules by bluffing the magistrates into thinking that he had artillery, then Castillón de Plana, both places furnishing horses to mount his troops and to relieve the besieged city of Valencia. In the process he drew troops from Tortosa, that might have been used to support Catalonia, to gather a total force of 3000 regulars and 3500 irregulars, and marched to Murviedro, where Brigadier Daniel Mahoni with 800 Irish dragoons in Bourbon service held the castle and bridge that barred further passage. Without strength for a pitched battle, Peterborough used ruse, bluff, and deceit to inveigle Mahoni, a distant relation on his mother's side, into a meeting and to convince him successfully to retreat from his strategic position. With this obstacle removed, Peterborough and his troops entered Valencia on 4 February 1706, having, in defiance of conventional wisdom, relieved the city with an inferior force that repeatedly avoided battle. From there Peterborough quickly took troops that prevented Bourbon forces from besieging the key positions of Sueca and Alcira, which controlled the supply routes into Valencia.

By early March, Marshal Tessé had moved 20,000 Bourbon troops to besiege Barcelona by land and the French fleet under the comte de Toulouse blockaded it with twenty-eight ships of the line. To save his position Charles III needed both Peterborough's army and the Anglo-Dutch fleet. Peterborough, however, remained reluctant to leave Valencia and thought of a variety of alternatives, suggesting, among other possibilities, that Charles withdraw from Catalonia and form an army to attack from Portugal. Then Peterborough wrote to Admiral Leake, ordering him to support Valencia with the troops he carried, not Barcelona, where the French fleet were in force. Learning of Peterborough's order, Charles III urgently asked Leake to disregard it and bring his fleet directly to Barcelona. Finally, with great reluctance, Peterborough moved north towards Barcelona with his army, leaving only a small force to hold Valencia. Leake meanwhile obeyed Charles III and sailed for Barcelona, arriving on 8 May off Sitges. There Peterborough embarked some of his men in transports and then boarded Leake's flagship, Prince George, unfurling the Union Flag at the main topmast as joint commander-in-chief of the fleet with Shovell, a commission that had been renewed in March 1706. Leake made no protest and he and Peterborough ignored each other. Leake had already dispatched Rear-Admiral Sir George Byng to sail ahead of the main fleet, and on sight of it the French fleet under Toulouse withdrew towards Toulon. While Marshal Tessé continued to bombard the city, Leake landed troops from the fleet. With the departure of the French fleet, Tessé lost his main lines of supply, and the Bourbon army was forced to withdraw on 11 May.

In the aftermath of Leake's relief of Barcelona, Peterborough continued his tense relationship with the court of Charles III. At a general war council in Charles's presence on 18 May the allied commanders decided that they would march on Madrid by way of Valencia. On 29 May Peterborough embarked in Leake's fleet transports and sailed for Valencia, where he arrived on 4 June to prepare for the king's march on Madrid. If Charles was to make good the Habsburg claim, he urgently needed to appear in Madrid, yet Charles repeatedly delayed his march as Peterborough reported needing more supplies and equipment to facilitate it.

Irritation with Peterborough, along with the delays, eventually led the king to make an independent attempt on Madrid through Aragon rather than depend on Peterborough in Valencia. Charles's courtiers, moreover, suggested that Peterborough had been withholding and using English funds intended for Charles. Typically, Peterborough had not accounted for funds received or spent and could not substantiate his denials. Seeing the king tending towards the Aragon route, Peterborough hastened to open the road to Madrid, but when he reported the way open, the king in Zaragoza ignored him. Meanwhile, Lord Galway and an Anglo-Portuguese force had arrived in Madrid from the west, after marching across Portugal. Peterborough took personal offence that Galway addressed his reports to the king and not to him but finally Peterborough and Galway joined forces at Guadalajara on 6 August.

During the month and a half delay the duke of Berwick had been able to reinforce the enemy Bourbon forces. At the same time the allied armies in Portugal and Spain, now brought together for the first time, were paralysed by disputes over who should command. Galway offered Peterborough the supreme command, but his Portuguese colleague, the marquis das Minas, refused to accept him. Peterborough suggested they split into national groups, leaving him to command the Spanish troops. When this and every suggestion for his participation was rejected, Peterborough decided to leave Spain, taking up his earlier orders to assist the duke of Savoy and attempt to arrange a loan in Genoa for Charles III.

Peterborough left on 11 August for Valencia. En route he learned that Bourbon forces had plundered the fifty mules and sixteen wagons carrying his personal baggage. Meeting with Leake at Valencia, he decided against an attack on Minorca and sailed instead for Italy, in the 70-gun Resolution, commanded by his second son, Captain Henry Mordaunt. He met the duke of Savoy at Turin and Prince Eugene at Pavia to discuss future allied operations against Toulon. After raising a loan of £100,000 at Genoa, at 1 per cent above the normal rate and on the credit of Charles III, the marquis das Minas, and the English Treasury, Peterborough returned to Barcelona on 27 December and went on to Valencia, where he arrived on 10 January 1707. Meeting allied commanders during January and February, he participated in war councils, advising them to remain on the defensive while the fleet, Prince Eugene, and the duke of Savoy undertook the major offensive on Toulon.

Recall and public debate
Back in England people had begun to question Peterborough's activities. William Walsh wrote to the poet Alexander Pope expressing a sentiment that Pope adopted as his own, ‘it was impossible that a man with so much Wit as he shew'd, cou'd be fit to command an Army, or do any other Business’ (Correspondence of Alexander Pope, 1.22). A steady stream of complaints reached London from Charles III as well as from Austrian officials. Ministers in London were aware of the lack of skill among Charles III's Austrian courtiers and were reluctant to place all the blame on Peterborough, but they could not continue to ignore the situation. Godolphin summarized the problem for Marlborough when he wrote, ‘in a word he is both useless and grieving there, and is preparing to be troublesome, whenever he is called home’ (Marlborough–Godolphin Correspondence, 2.650). Peterborough's own decision to withdraw from command eased the dilemma in London, and in December 1706 the secretary of state the earl of Sunderland recalled him. This letter apparently went astray and Sunderland repeated the order in January 1707. This instruction reached Peterborough on 22 February 1707, but he did not leave Spain until 13 March, when he took passage for Italy in the Resolution. Attacked en route by French warships, Peterborough transferred to the Enterprise and landed safely at Leghorn.

From there Peterborough took eight months to cross Europe, visiting Turin from the end of May 1707 until 25 June for further discussions with the duke of Savoy and then Vienna for discussions at the imperial court. Having passed through Bohemia and Dresden, he went to Leipzig in early July for discussions with the Swedish chancery, then forced himself into a meeting with King Charles XII on horseback near Altranstädt, in which he suggested that Sweden could act as a war mediator. From there he went to Hanover, where he spent several days in mid-July insisting that a member of the electoral house take up residence in England to ensure the succession. From 29 July he spent ten days with Marlborough in his camp at Soignes, where Peterborough explained his views at length. Disturbed by reports of these initiatives, officials in London quickly advised foreign governments that Peterborough was not on an official mission. He eventually arrived in London in late August 1707, out of favour with the queen and the government.

Peterborough's delay in returning home allowed events in Spain to justify his actions. The failure of allied commanders to agree on strategy and their rejection of Peterborough's recommendations to remain on the defensive appeared to have led to the allied defeat at Almanza in April 1707. With this in mind Peterborough commissioned his physician John Freind to publish a laudatory account of his actions, The Conduct of the Earl of Peterborough in Spain (1707), gaining him a widespread popular following that soon translated into political support from the tories. Only one pamphleteer, Richard Kingston, who had attacked Matthew Smith's pamphlet in 1699, wrote a rebuttal in Impartial Remarks on Dr. Freind's Account (1707).

On 19 December 1707 the House of Lords opened debate on the conduct of the war in Spain. With the queen present incognito, tories criticized whigs for not rewarding Peterborough's successes. After the debate an official inquiry opened on 8 January 1708. Charges against Peterborough failed to pass, but no vote of thanks was proposed. The inquiry placed Peterborough in a difficult position. Having failed to keep proper public or private accounts, he could not prove his claim that he had spent large sums of his own money on the war effort or that he had not misspent public funds. The Treasury pursued the matter for more than two years and ordered his property attached until he could prove his innocence of misappropriating funds. On 30 July 1708 Peterborough waited on the queen, for the first time since his return from Spain nearly a year before. While many predicted his disgrace, it was reported that the queen had offered him the governorship of Jamaica, which he refused. He suffered more misfortune when his wife died of quinsy on 13 May 1709 and his two sons, John and Henry, both died of smallpox in 1710.

After the fall of the whig ministry in 1710, the new tory government under Robert Harley quickly moved to use Peterborough against the whigs, capitalizing on his personal and professional antipathy towards Marlborough and Godolphin. In September 1710 it was rumoured that he would be first commissioner of the Admiralty, but in fact he was appointed general of marines on 2 November 1710 and ambassador-extraordinary to Vienna in December. In October Peterborough renewed his acquaintance with the writer Jonathan Swift and the friendship soon became a warm one, Swift describing Peterborough affectionately as ‘the ramblingest lying rogue on earth’ (Swift, Journal to Stella, 102).

On 5 January 1711 the war in Spain was debated in the House of Lords as a committee of the whole, and the generals were examined on their decisions in 1706–7. As a result, Galway, Tyrawly, and Stanhope were censured for advising an offensive campaign in 1707, while Peterborough was praised for having given advice that, if taken, would have averted the disasters that followed. Sir Simon Harcourt, lord privy seal, addressed the thanks of the house to Peterborough, to which he modestly replied, ‘No service can deserve such a reward. It is more than a sufficient recompense for any hardships, and to which nothing can give an addition’ (Cobbett, Parl. hist., 6, 1702–14, 982). Supporting the government position, Swift wrote in The Conduct of the Allies (1711),

    the only General who, by a Course of Conduct and Fortune almost miraculous, had nearly put us into Possession of the Kingdom, was left wholly unsupported, exposed to the Envy of his Rivals, disappointed by the Caprices of a young inexperienced Prince, under the Guidance of a rapacious German Ministry, and at last called home in Discontent: By which our Armies, both in Spain and Portugal, were made a sacrifice to avarice, Ill conduct, or Treachery. (Swift's Political Tracts, 1711–13, 21)
Subsequently, the Lords ordered the attorney-general to proceed against Richard Kingston for libel against Peterborough in his Impartial Remarks on Dr. Freind's Account (1707).

Diplomatic mission, 1711–1714
Peterborough departed for Vienna on 13 January 1711, having agreed with Swift to become ‘mighty constant correspondents’ (Swift, Journal to Stella, 1.152). His diplomatic mission was to attempt to bring about more cordial relations between the emperor and the duke of Savoy. He was in Vienna from 28 February until about 23 April 1711, and Turin from late April to 8 May. While there he received the news that Emperor Joseph I had died. This provided the opportunity for him to revive his idea to improve the allied position in Spain by persuading the duke of Savoy to become the allies' new candidate for the Spanish throne. While the duke thought this idea fanciful, Peterborough's further suggestions that Savoy acquire Sicily as a block to Habsburg ambitions and that the prince of Piedmont marry a Habsburg both foreshadowed post-war diplomacy. On his return to Vienna in June he received notice from London censuring him for exceeding his instructions. He immediately returned to England, scattering straggling servants and baggage along the route in his haste. He arrived in late June, and was graciously received by the queen and immediately appointed ambassador-extraordinary to the imperial diet. From 17 September to mid-December 1711 he resided at Frankfurt and Augsburg. While he was away from England, Peterborough authorized his friends to make occasional use of his home and garden at Parson's Green. On a visit in November 1711 Swift wrote, ‘It is the finest garden I have ever seen about this town; an abundance of hot walls for grapes, where they are in great plenty, and ripening fast’ (ibid., 1.349).

Given further diplomatic credentials, throughout 1712 Peterborough shuttled between Venice and Turin, also visiting Genoa, before returning to England on 9 January 1713. During his absence, on 19 November 1712, he had been appointed to succeed Lord Rivers as colonel of the Royal regiment of horse guards. Swift, who saw him on the day after his return, commented,

    He left Engld with a Bruise by his Coach overturning, that made him spitt Blood, and was so ill, we expected every Post to hear of his Death: but he outrode it, or outdrank it, or something: and is come home lustyer than ever, he is at least 60 & has more Spirits than any young fellow I know in Engld,
and added, ‘I love the hangdog dearly’ (Swift, Journal to Stella, 2.600). Soon Peterborough became a regular diner with the Saturday Club, whose members included Lord Bolingbroke and Swift.

Made a knight of the Garter on 4 August 1713, in November Peterborough was appointed ambassador-extraordinary to the duke of Savoy, now king of Sicily, and to the other Italian states. He took with him as his chaplain George Berkeley, later bishop of Cloyne, whom Swift had introduced to him. He arrived in Paris on 29 November 1713, where he discussed the plight of the Catalans. He left Paris on 14 December, and passed through Lyons, Toulon, and Genoa before going incognito to Palermo, Sicily, where he remained in February and March to present the queen's compliments to the new king. While there, in March 1714, he was appointed governor of Minorca, but before he could reach his new post the queen died and the new ministry immediately recalled him. On his return journey he stopped in Paris and had an interview with Louis XIV at Marly on 6 August 1714.

Final years, 1715–1735
With his diplomatic and military career at an end, Peterborough returned to London and was instructed not to appear at court. Nevertheless, he attended the House of Lords frequently until 1731, where he had a reputation as a witty speaker. On 13 May 1715 the duke of Argyll replaced him as colonel of the Horse Guards. In 1717 he made a private visit to Italy and was mistakenly arrested and detained for a month in Bologna on suspicion of being involved with a conspiracy to kill the Pretender, then living in Urbino. In 1719 he returned again to Italy on a private visit to the duke of Parma. He was in France in 1720. On 24 May 1722 he was appointed general of all the marine forces.

From 1722 stories began to circulate about Peterborough's relationship with the singer Anastasia Robinson (d. 1755), the daughter of the portrait painter Thomas Robinson, whom he had seen that year in the role of Griselda in Buononcini's opera. Peterborough secretly married her. The exact date of the marriage is not known, but in August 1723 Peterborough made a brief visit to the continent, and temporarily settled her, along with her stepmother, in a house at Fulham near his own at Parson's Green. The marriage is believed to be the first between a peer and an actress, singer, or dancer. Sometime later he rented for her a cottage and property named Bevis Mount overlooking the River Itchen at Padwell, Southampton.

From about 1723 Peterborough became an intimate friend of the poet Alexander Pope, who often came to lodge with him at his London residence in Bolton Street and at Parson's Green. He too shared Peterborough's love of gardening and described him at the centre of five friends: ‘He, whose Lightning pierc'd the Iberian Lines, / now forms my Quincunx, and now ranks my Vines’ (Imitations of Horace, 2.2.29–30). Peterborough also began a correspondence with Henrietta Howard, the mistress of the prince of Wales, later George II, whom Peterborough himself addressed in verse: ‘I said in my Heart, between Sleeping and Waking, / Thou wild Thing, that always art Leaping or Aching’ (British Journal, 67, 28 Dec 1723, 3). Later Peterborough and Lord Bathurst were involved in designing her garden at Marble Hill.

About 1726 Swift addressed a poem ‘to the Earl of P-b-w’, which concluded ‘Heroick Actions early bred in, / Ne'er to be match't in Modern reading, / But by his Name-sake Charles of Sweden’ (Poems of Jonathan Swift, 2.396–8). For three months in the spring of 1728, and perhaps at other times between 1726 and 1728, Peterborough was Voltaire's host at Parson's Green. During Peterborough's final years, however, he lived at Bevis Mount. In poor health from 1729 onwards, he became seriously ill in January 1733 and had to return temporarily to London from Bevis Mount. On 6 March 1734 Peterborough cancelled Mrs Robinson's lease on Bevis Mount and purchased it, making an agreement with the owner, Queen's College, Oxford, to exchange it for his estate Wakes at Clifton Reynes, Buckinghamshire. He purchased additional land adjoining Bevis Mount, and furnished the garden with ‘Statues, Vases, Marble Stone and other Ornaments’ that made it, in Pope's words, ‘beautiful beyond imagination’ (will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/674, fol. 122v.; Correspondence of Alexander Pope, 3.426) . Later, in the summer of 1734, Peterborough and Pope sailed around the Isle of Wight, stopping at various places to explore the island.

By the spring of 1735 Peterborough's death seemed imminent, and his doctor advised him to have an operation for the stone. Just before the operation Peterborough invited friends to the lodgings of his niece's husband, Stephen Poyntz, at St James's Palace and there publicly introduced Anastasia Robinson as the countess of Peterborough for the first time. Shortly afterwards a public marriage was performed in Bath, where Peterborough's operation took place. Immediately after the operation Peterborough went by coach to Southampton, where in September his friend Alexander Pope went to Bevis Mount ‘to take last leave of [him], at his setting sail for Lisbon: No Body can be more wasted, no soul can be more alive’ (Correspondence of Alexander Pope, 3.508–9).
(Webmaster's note - Bevis Mount as illustrated in "A Memoir of Charles Mordaunt Earl of Peterborough and Monmouth" by George Warburton, published 1853, with thanks to Allyson Hayes of the Bevois Mount History Southampton Facebook page

Initially intending to sail in his yacht for the south coast of France, but apparently with no firm objective in mind, Peterborough reached Lisbon and died shortly after his arrival there ‘of a Flux, by eating grapes’ (GM, 681) on 21 October 1735. On his deathbed he asked that the watch given to him by the duke of Savoy and carried with him on all his travels be given to his friend Alexander Pope. Peterborough was buried in the Mordaunt family vault under the church chancel at Turvey, Bedfordshire, on 21 November 1735. His grandson and namesake succeeded to all his titles. Peterborough left his lands in joint trust to several family members, particularly instructing them to preserve Bevis Mount, with its cottage and garden, as an heirloom. They survived for some time, but the cottage was eventually pulled down and the land became built-up sections of Southampton called Bevois Mount and Bevois Town.

For both contemporaries and historians, Peterborough's activities have seemed more fable than history. The traditional accounts of Peterborough's military adventures in the 1706 campaign were influenced by the excessive claims made for him by John Freind's account of 1707 and by an elderly soldier, Captain George Carleton, who may have consulted Freind's work in writing The Memoirs of an English Officer (1728). In politics Peterborough was a consistent whig for over forty years but in the 1690s his ambitions for high office put him at odds with the whig leadership, who appear to have had doubts about his capabilities, and eventually he turned to the tories. Irritating and inscrutable to some, a romantic hero to others, Peterborough became a notable figure in English political, military, naval, diplomatic, literary, and gardening history.

John B. Hattendorf

Sources warrants and commissions, TNA: PRO, ADM 6/8 · The Marlborough–Godolphin correspondence, ed. H. L. Snyder, 3 vols. (1975) · Letters illustrative of the reign of William III from 1696 to 1708 addressed to the duke of Shrewsbury by James Vernon, ed. G. P. R. James, 3 vols. (1841) · CSP dom., 1679–84; 1689–98; 1700–02 · CSP col., vol. 12 · The state letters of Henry, earl of Clarendon, 2 vols. (1763) · Correspondentie van Willem III en van Hans Willem Bentinck, ed. N. Japikse, 5 vols. (The Hague, 1927–37), vol. 2/1 · The correspondence of John Locke, ed. E. S. De Beer, 8 vols. (1976–89) · J. Ross, Tangers rescue, or, A relation of the late memorable passages at Tanger (1681) · Private diarie of Elizabeth Viscountess Mordaunt [1658–78] (1856) · E. Chappell, The Tangier papers of Samuel Pepys, Navy RS, 73 (1935) · Calendar of the manuscripts of the marquess of Ormonde, new ser., 8 vols., HMC, 36 (1902–20), vol. 6 · GEC, Peerage · Letter from the earl of Peterborough to General Stanhope in Spain (1834) · GM, 1st ser., 5 (1735) · The correspondence of Alexander Pope, ed. G. Sherburn, 5 vols. (1956) · J. Swift, Journal to Stella, ed. H. Williams, 2 vols. (1948) · Poems of Jonathan Swift, ed. H. Williams (1958) · The correspondence of Jonathan Swift, ed. H. Williams, 5 vols. (1963–5) · W. Coxe, Memoirs of John, duke of Marlborough, 2nd edn, 3 vols. (1818–19) · The letters and dispatches of John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, ed. G. Murray, 5 vols. (1845) · A supplement to Burnet’s History of my own time, ed. H. C. Foxcroft (1902) · R. Doebner, ed., Memoirs of Mary, queen of England (1886) · Calendar of the Stuart papers belonging to his majesty the king, preserved at Windsor Castle, 7 vols., HMC, 56 (1902–23), vol. 5 · The manuscripts of his grace the duke of Rutland, 4 vols., HMC, 24 (1888–1905), vol. 2 · H. T. Dickinson, ‘The earl of Peterborough and the capture of Barcelona’, History Today, 14 (1964) · H. T. Dickinson, ‘The earl of Peterborough's campaign in Valencia, 1706’, Journal of Army Historical Research, 45 (1967), 35–52 · H. T. Dickinson, ‘The recall of Lord Peterborough’, Journal of Army Historical Research, 47 (1969), 175–87 · G. M. Trevelyan, ‘Peterborough and Barcelona, 1705’, Cambridge Historical Journal, 3 (1929–31), 253–9 · C. B. Chase, The young Voltaire (1926) · The prose works of Jonathan Swift, 6: Political tracts, 1711–1713, ed. H. Davis (1951) · Memoirs of the secret services of John Macky, ed. A. R. (1733) · H. Horwitz, Parliament, policy and politics in the reign of William III (1977) · The diary of Henry Teonge, ed. G. E. Manwaring (1927) · A. D. Francis, The First Peninsular War, 1702–1713 (1975) · Report on the manuscripts of the marquis of Downshire, 6 vols. in 7, HMC, 75 (1924–95), vol. 1
Archives BL, corresp. and papers, Lansdowne MS 488 · BL, papers relating to arrest in Rome, Add. MSS 20292, 20312 · NRA Scotland, priv. coll., family corresp. | BL, letters to Lord Godolphin, Add. MS 39757 · BL, letters to duke of Marlborough, Add. MS 61169 · BL, corresp. with Lady Suffolk, Add. MS 22625 · Bodl. Oxf., corresp. with John Locke · CAC Cam., corresp. with Thomas Erle · CKS, letters to Alexander Stanhope, U1590/O34 · CKS, corresp. with James Stanhope and private papers, U1590/O136–145 · W. Sussex RO, letters to marquess of Huntly
Likenesses G. Kneller, oils, c.1689–1697, Ranger's House, London · P. van Gunst, mezzotint, 1705 (after G. Kneller), BM, NPG · J. Simon, mezzotint, 1705 (after G. Kneller), BM, NPG · P. Angelis, group portrait, oils, c.1713 (Queen Anne and knights of the Garter), NPG · G. Kneller, oils, 1715, NPG [see illus.] · G. Kneller, oils, Gov. Art Coll. · J. Simon, mezzotint (after M. Dahl), BM, NPG · oils, Burley House, Northamptonshire

Mordaunt Biographies

Carey Mordaunt (née Frazier) (1658/9 – 1705), countess of Peterborough and Monmouth
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

Carey Mordaunt (née Fraizer), countess of Peterborough and Monmouth (c.1658–1709), political wife, and correspondent of John Locke, was the daughter of Sir Alexander Fraizer, first baronet (1607?–1681), physician to Charles II, and his second wife, Mary Wylde, née Carey (d. 1695), later woman of the bedchamber to Catherine of Braganza. She was named after her maternal grandfather, Sir Ferdinando Carey. The Fraizers had followed Charles II into exile and Carey may have been born in Europe. After 1660 the Fraizers lived in Scotland Yard, London. With both her parents holding court office it is not surprising that, on 7 May 1674, Carey was appointed maid of honour to Queen Catherine. She soon gained a reputation for pride and ostentation. Her appearance at the queen's birthday ball of 2 November 1676 in a dress reportedly worth £300 was said to have frightened her suitor, Sir Carr Scroope, who apparently claimed ‘his estate will scarce maintaine her in clothes’ (Wilson, 29). Called ‘a haughty lass’ and ‘stately Carey’ (ibid., 240–41) in court lampoons, in December 1677 and again in 1679 she was accused of trying to become the king's mistress. In 1679 or 1680 Carey was secretly engaged to Charles Mordaunt, second Viscount Mordaunt (1658?–1735), became pregnant and consequently, in May 1680, was ‘marched off from court: how honorably time will try’ (ibid., 241). On 22 May it was reported that ‘the marriage between my Lord Mordaunt and Mrs Frazer will now be speedily consummated, the lady being discovered with child, and my lord seeming to own something of a contract’ (ibid.). The marriage was, however, not publicly acknowledged until December 1681.

The Mordaunts lived at Parson's Green, Fulham, and Turvey, Bedfordshire. Lady Mordaunt's first child, John, Lord Mordaunt, was probably born towards the end of 1680, and she had at least four other children in the 1680s, of whom a son, Henry Mordaunt (1681?–1710), and daughter survived. Charles Mordaunt was a supporter of the revolution and Lady Mordaunt was with him in The Hague in 1689, when she began a correspondence with John Locke. Welcoming Locke's friendship and commenting on the revolution, she wrote that James II had gone ‘out like a farding candele: and has given us by this convension an occasion not of amending the government: but of melting it downe and make all new’ (Correspondence of John Locke, 3.538). Embarrassed by her writing, she added, ‘i know my falts are so crose in wryting that tell i am convinct i hold you fast you shall have as feü of my Letters as is possibel’ (ibid.). Locke sent her advice on the education of her eldest son in 1690 and also recommended books for her own reading.

Countess of Monmouth from April 1689 and countess of Peterborough from June 1697, Carey was active in supporting her husband's political career, cultivating such friends as the earls of Shaftesbury and Sunderland, and the duke and duchess of Marlborough. She courted the Marlboroughs at first in hopes of a match for her son John, and later to help her husband, writing very complimentary letters to the duke and duchess, and encouraging the increasingly eccentric Lord Peterborough to remain on good terms with Marlborough. In 1707 Marlborough wrote to his wife that he had had an obliging letter from Lady Peterborough, which he would not send her ‘since the hand is so ill it would hurt your eyes’ (Marlborough-Godolphin Correspondence, 780). When her son John eloped in 1705 Lady Peterborough was, ironically given the circumstances of her own marriage, highly displeased. She wrote to Shaftesbury asking for help and threatening to leave John nothing in her will. ‘O that heaven had left him no hand to dispose of!’ she complained (Hayton, 923). For some time she remained unforgiving, and forbade John to go to Lord Peterborough, who was then overseas, but they were apparently reconciled before her death on 13 May 1709. She was buried in the family tomb in the parish church of Turvey.

S. M. Wynne

Sources J. H. Wilson, ed., Court satires of the Restoration (1976) · D. W. Hayton, ‘Mordaunt, John, Ld. Mordaunt’, HoP, Commons, 1690–1715 · The correspondence of John Locke, ed. E. S. De Beer, 8 vols. (1976–89) · parish register, London, All Saints' Church, Fulham, 28 April 1683, 17 Sept 1685 [baptisms]; 1 Nov 1684, 19 Sept 1685 [burials] · Countess of Peterborough, letters to the duchess of Marlborough, BL, Add. MSS 61164, fol. 109; 61458, fols. 193–4, 197–8, 213–14 · The Marlborough–Godolphin correspondence, ed. H. L. Snyder, 3 vols. (1975) · C. Ballard, The great earl of Peterborough [1929] · GEC, Peerage, new edn, vol. 10
Likenesses C. Richter, watercolour miniature on vellum (after P. Cross?); Bonhams, 22 April 2004, lot 113; version, miniature, Bonhams, 20 Nov 1997, lot 20 · P. Cross, miniature; Christies, 28 Oct 1980, lot 40 · P. Cross?, miniature, priv. coll.; repro. in G. C. Williamson, Portrait miniatures (1897), facing p. 44 · G. Kneller, oils, Royal Collection · J. Faber junior, mezzotint (after G. Kneller), NPG, BM · E. Byng, sketch, pen and brown ink with grey wash touched with white (after G. Kneller), BM

Mordaunt Biographies

Mary Howard (née Mordaunt) (1658/9 – 1705), duchess of Norfolk
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

Mary Howard [née Mordaunt; other married name Germain], duchess of Norfolk (1658/9–1705), noblewoman and divorcée, was the only daughter and heir of Henry Mordaunt, second earl of Peterborough (bap. 1623, d. 1697), and his wife, Lady Penelope (c.1622–1702), daughter of Barnabas O'Brien, sixth earl of Thomond. Her mother later served as groom of the stole to Mary of Modena.

As a member of Charles II's court Lady Mary Mordaunt played Psecas in Thomas Crowne's masque of 1675, ‘Calisto’. On 8 August 1677 she married Henry Howard (1655–1701), who became earl of Arundel in 1678 and seventh duke of Norfolk in 1684. Owing to the differences in their religion (he was a Catholic at the time, she a protestant, though their positions were later reversed) the wedding was private. As Lady Arundel she was lady of the bedchamber to Queen Catherine of Braganza. Like many women of the Restoration court she was the object of obscene satirical poetry. Her name was linked in particular to that of Charles Talbot, duke of Shrewsbury, which caused her to have a semi-publicized quarrel with Betty Felton over his affections.

In 1685 Mary, now duchess of Norfolk, was taken to France by her husband. The duke, who had conformed to the Church of England in 1679, left her in a convent, where she was required to convert to Catholicism. Although he may have been spurred to part with her by the discovery of her adultery she later maintained that the duke was moved by financial necessity, ‘to ease him in his charge and part; he frequently declaring, that when he should be more easy in his fortunes they should live together’ (A True Account of the Proceedings, 10). The separation, however, proved permanent. When the duchess returned to England in 1686 she took up residence at her estate at Drayton, Northamptonshire, and sued the duke for alimony of £400 a year, which he had promised in 1685 but never paid. She left England again in 1688, but returned again when her father (who had been imprisoned in the Tower after the revolution of 1688) fell ill. This time she took up residence in ‘Fox-hall’ (Vauxhall) under the assumed name of Lady Bateman, later explaining that she needed to remain incognito because she ‘had at that time nothing to live upon’, and ‘not able to appear in a condition answerable to her quality’ felt bound to retrench her expenses (A True Account of the Proceedings, 21).

In January 1692 the duke of Norfolk introduced the first of what were to be three bills in parliament to allow him to divorce his wife and remarry. A string of witnesses, mostly servants, attested before the House of Lords to the duchess's keeping company in 1685 and again in 1691 with the Dutch adventurer Sir John Germain (1650–1718). Divorces by act of parliament were at the time almost unprecedented and sparked a highly politicized debate over the relationship of church and state and the unreformed character of English canon law (which in contrast to continental protestantism permitted only separation from bed and board rather than full divorce).

The duchess of Norfolk mounted a vigorous defence in parliament. She drew attention to the irregular nature of the proceedings which, she said, violated Magna Carta and her rights as an English subject by creating new laws arbitrarily, she emphasized her status as a noblewoman descended from an ancient family, she threatened to prove the duke guilty of adultery, she pointed to the unfairness of making her ‘prove a negative’ of events that had happened so long ago, and she contended that the divorce proceeding was an attempt by the duke to pressure her into relinquishing her interest in Castle Rising, Norfolk, and other estates so that he could sell them to rescue his ailing fortunes. Her use of the press is especially striking. In response to ‘libellous pamphlets’ she published in 1692 A True Account of the Proceedings (printed again in 1693 as A Vindication of her Grace Mary Dutchess of Norfolk), a long tract which interspersed summaries of testimony with observations attacking the credibility of the duke's plebeian witnesses. Still conscious of maintaining a wifely image the duchess explained that she had initially intended to release her pamphlet after the Lords rejected the duke's first bill in February 1692, but had suspended publication ‘that there might be no offence to the Duke’. Given, however, that the duke had tried again with a suit in king's bench against John Germain and another bill for divorce in 1693, ‘it now may not be thought impertinent for this true account to appear to the world’ (True Account, advertisement). The jury in king's bench had found Germain guilty of criminal conversation with the duchess, but awarded her husband in damages a derisory 100 marks (£66) rather than the £10,000 that he had sought. Although the duke was unable to obtain the passage of his second bill the duchess was persuaded in April 1694 ‘after long agitation’ to convey to him the use of the manor of Castle Rising and her interest in ‘a considerable part’ of the manor of Sheffield in Yorkshire, ‘it being condicible to their respective quiets and ease’ (The Case of Mary Dutchess of Norfolk).

In December 1696 the duchess was called to testify before the House of Lords regarding the behaviour of her cousin Charles Mordaunt, earl of Monmouth, during the attainder proceedings against the Jacobite Sir John Fenwick. Monmouth had apparently used the duchess as a conduit to convey advice to her friend, Mary, Lady Fenwick, to the effect that her husband should save himself by accusing prominent members of William III's government of Jacobite plotting. Whether the duchess wished like Mary Fenwick to expose Monmouth's intrigues, or whether she simply could not avoid testifying, is unclear. James Vernon, under-secretary of state, who certainly relished Monmouth's embarrassment, praised the duchess's performance: ‘she behaved herself with great prudence and address; she appeared to be an unwilling witness, and yet left little room to suspect her sincerity’ (Letters Illustrative, 1.140). The result, in any case, was that Monmouth was humiliated, and blamed the duchess's malice. The duchess was also embarrassed in the proceedings by testimony that she had tried to recruit a widow, Mrs Norton, to discredit George Porter, the chief witness against Fenwick, by charging him with the murder of her husband.

The antagonism between the duchess of Norfolk and her cousin Charles, who had succeeded her father as earl of Peterborough in 1697, was further inflamed by a legal dispute over the manor of Drayton and other properties. Peterborough's enmity may well have contributed to the reversal of her fortunes when the duke of Norfolk once more brought a bill for divorce in February 1700. A new raft of witnesses came forth to prove her adultery, some of whom claimed to have been sent abroad by Germain to prevent their testifying in 1692. The duke also emphasized the danger of his estate's falling into the hands of his Catholic collateral heirs, or of Germain's not-yet-conceived bastard children begotten on the duchess, should he not be allowed to remarry. This time the bill passed both houses, although with the proviso that the duke pay the duchess back her £10,000 marriage portion.

(Webmaster's note: It must also be remembered that Charles's triumph, with the victory of William of Orange, was her father's ruin, who went from one of the most powerful men in England under James II to imprisonment in the Tower and impeachment for high treason under William. Little wonder she was unwilling to give her cousin any more than she had to, especially the family's main seat and manor)

The duke died in April the following year, and five months later Mary married Sir John Germain, baronet: the licence, dated 15 September 1701, was made out in the names of Lady Mary Mordaunt, spinster, and Sir John Germain, baronet (the title he had held since 1698). She died on 17 November 1705, aged forty-six, at her estate at Lowick, Northamptonshire, and was buried in the parish church there five days later. She had settled Drayton and other Mordaunt family property (according to one estimate worth £70,000) on her second husband: despite legal challenges by Peterborough he retained them until his death in 1718, when they passed to his second wife, Lady Elizabeth Germain, née Berkeley.

Rachel Weil

Sources The proceedings before the House of Lords between the duke and dutchess of Norfolk (1692) · A true account of the proceedings before the House of Lords from January 7 1691 to February 17 following … occasioned by two libellous pamphlets (1692) [Also published as A vindication of her grace Mary dutchess of Norfolk, 1693] · The proceedings upon a bill of divorce between his grace the duke of Norfolk and the Lady Mary Mordaunt (1700) · The tryal between Henry duke of Norfolk and John Jermaine, defendant (1692) · ‘Case of divorce’, in papers of Roger North, BL, Add. MS 32523, fols. 42–6 · J. H. Wilson, Court satires of the Restoration (1976) · Charles earl of Peterborow appellant. Sir John Jermaine, and Lady Mary Mordaunt his wife, respondants. The appellant's case (1702) · R. Weil, Political passions: gender, the family and political argument in England, 1680–1714 (1999) · L. Stone, Road to divorce: England, 1530–1987 (1990) · E. Boswell, The Restoration court stage (1660–1702): with a particular account of the production of ‘Calisto’ (1932) · Letters illustrative of the reign of William III from 1696 to 1708 addressed to the duke of Shrewsbury by James Vernon, ed. G. P. R. James, 3 vols. (1841) · JHL, 16 (1696–1701) [Dec 1696; Jan 1697] · GEC, Peerage

Mordaunt Biographies

Anastasia Robinson, countess of Peterborough and Monmouth
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

Anastasia Robinson (married name Anastasia Mordaunt, countess of Peterborough and Monmouth) (d. 1755), singer, was the daughter of Thomas Robinson (d. in or after 1723), a portrait painter who studied in Italy before his marriage. Her mother died when she and her sister Elizabeth were young; her father remarried and her relationship with her stepmother and younger stepsister Margaret was close. The family were Roman Catholics. Anastasia was given a good education, learned Italian from her father, and studied music with William Croft. She later had lessons in the Italian style of singing from Joanna Maria Lindehleim (the Baroness) and Pietro Giuseppe Sandoni. When increasing blindness destroyed her father's livelihood she began singing professionally, appearing in concerts at York Buildings and elsewhere. Encouraged by her reception, particularly by ‘some persons of high rank of her own sex’, her father took a house in Golden Square in London, where she sang at regular private assemblies attended by ‘all such as had any pretensions to politeness and good taste’ (Burney, Hist. mus., 4.246). Her career must have been well established by 1713, when she was the soprano soloist in Handel's ode for Queen Anne's birthday, performed at court on 6 February. She sang as Mrs Robinson in two concerts at the Queen's Theatre that June, the first for her benefit when she performed opera songs, duets, and cantatas with the castrato Valentini. She made her operatic début at the Queen's Theatre as the female lead in the pasticcio Creso (27 January 1714), and for her benefit that April the theatre was ‘as full as possible cou'd be’, according to the Opera Register (Sasse, 207). For the season of 1714–15 her father signed articles with the company manager, Johann Heidegger, for her to receive £500 plus a benefit, with a gold watch if Heidegger was ‘a gainer by the Operas’ (Milhous and Hume, Vice Chamberlain Coke, 228). However, the company lost money and she received a total of only £400. Anastasia Robinson created her first Handel role, Oriana in Amadigi, in May 1715. She remained in the opera company until its demise in June 1717 and for the following two years is only known to have appeared in concerts at the King's Theatre on 15 March 1718 and 21 February 1719.

Italian opera returned to London in the spring of 1720 with the establishment of the Royal Academy of Music. Mrs Robinson, her voice now lowered to contralto, sang in the academy's first five seasons. For Handel she created the roles of Zenobia in Radamisto (27 April 1720), Irene in the composite opera Muzio Scevola (15 April 1721), Elmira in Floridante (9 December 1721), Matilda in Ottone (12 January 1723), Teodata in Flavio (14 May 1723), and Cornelia in Giulio Cesare (20 February 1724). In the summer of 1721 Anastasia Robinson, the castrato Senesino, and the composer Giovanni Bononcini all lodged in the village of Twickenham, and Anastasia was to work more happily with the Catholic Bononcini than with Handel. The role with which she most identified was the patient wife Griselda in Bononcini's opera of that name, which received its première in February 1722. That autumn, in two letters to Giuseppe Riva, she sought advice on how to persuade Handel to make her role in Ottone more sympathetic: ‘my Life has shew'd me to be a Patient Grisell by Nature … those songs that require fury and passion to express them, can never be performed by me acording to the intention of the Composer’ (Dean and Knapp, 435). Handel obliged, replacing one aria and rewriting another. John Hawkins believed that Anastasia Robinson had a fine voice, but ‘wanted a nice and discriminating ear to make her a perfect singer’ (Hawkins, 5.303). According to the account of her which Mrs Delany gave to Charles Burney, Anastasia Robinson was ‘of a middling stature, not handsome, but of a pleasing modest countenance, with large blue eyes; her deportment easy, unaffected and graceful; her manner and address very engaging, and her behaviour, on all occasions, that of a gentlewoman’ (Autobiography … Mrs Delany, 1.72).

It was believed that Anastasia Robinson's appearance in Griselda ‘completed her conquest over the stout heart of the Earl of Peterborough’ (Burney, Hist. mus., 4.285). In the summer of 1723 she sang with success in Paris, accompanied by Bononcini. Charles Mordaunt, third earl of Peterborough and first earl of Monmouth (1658?–1735), then aged about sixty-five, was also in Paris. John Arbuthnot wrote in a letter to Alexander Pope shortly after Peterborough's return in early September that he had dined with him ‘& the Mrs Robinsons’ (Correspondence of Alexander Pope, 2.196), and that the earl had just spent a day moving the Robinsons' belongings. The ‘Mrs Robinsons’ were probably Anastasia and Margaret, ‘a very pretty accomplished woman’ (Autobiography … Mrs Delany, 1.73), who was to marry Arbuthnot's brother George in 1728. It has been assumed that Anastasia's secret marriage to Peterborough took place in 1722 after her father's death, but Thomas Robinson was still alive in October 1723, when Anastasia sent his regards in a letter to Riva (Lindgren, 16). In January 1724 Senesino offended Anastasia during a public rehearsal of Attilio Ariosti's Vespasiano; Peterborough caned the castrato and forced him, on his knees, to acknowledge her ‘a non pareil of virtue and of Beauty’. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu reported the incident, describing Anastasia as ‘at the same time a prude and a kept Mistriss’ who rode in triumph in Peterborough's coach and was allowed £100 a month by him (Complete Letters, 2.37).

Mrs Robinson's last stage appearance was in June 1724. According to Hawkins she then lived with Peterborough at Parsons Green, where she held musical evenings at which Bononcini, Maurice Greene, and others performed, and at Bevis Mount near Southampton. Pope, a friend of them both, made summer visits to Bevis Mount, where he enjoyed ‘much tranquillity, some Reading, no Politiques, admirable Melons, an excellent Bowling-green and Ninepin alley’ (Correspondence of Alexander Pope, 3.430) and worked at his poetry, including the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. Peterborough's determination, in view of his declining health, ‘to do right to the Person to whom he had Obligations beyond Expression’ by introducing her to his relations as his wife and marrying her publicly at Bristol was described by Pope in a letter to Martha Blount on 25 August 1735 (Correspondence of Alexander Pope, 3.487). The earl and countess of Peterborough travelled for his health to Lisbon, where he died on his yacht in September 1735. Anastasia later destroyed Peterborough's memoirs, which she considered detrimental to his memory. The dowager countess lived at Bevis Mount, where Pope helped her complete the design of the garden, made visits to Bath, and stayed with the duchess of Portland, whose mother was said to have been a witness to her secret marriage. Between 1745 and 1750 she spent long periods as a pensionnaire at the convent of English canonesses in Liège. She died in Bath in April 1755 and was buried on 1 May at Bath Abbey.

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

Sources E. L. Avery, ed., The London stage, 1660–1800, pt 2: 1700–1729 (1960) · J. Hawkins, A general history of the science and practice of music, 5 (1776) · Charles Burney, History of Music, vol. 4 pub. 1789 · The autobiography and correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs Delany, ed. Lady Llanover, 1st ser., 1 (1861) · K. Sasse, ‘Opera register from 1712–1734 (Colman-register)’, Händel-Jahrbuch, 5 (1959), 199–223 · The correspondence of Alexander Pope, ed. G. Sherburn, 2–4 (1956) · The complete letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, ed. R. Halsband, 3 vols. (1965–7), vols. 1–2 · O. E. Deutsch, Dokumente zu Leben und Schaffen (1985), vol. 4 of Händel-Handbuch, ed. W. Eisel and M. Eisel (1978–85) · Daily Courant (9 June 1713) · Daily Courant (20 June 1713) · Daily Courant (15 March 1718) · Daily Courant (21 Feb 1719) · Mist's Weekly Journal (18 Jan 1724) · London Magazine, 46 (1777), 494–6 · GM, 1st ser., 5 (1735), 558, 681 · GM, 1st ser., 47 (1777), 367–8 · H. Carey, ‘A satyr on the luxury and effeminacy of the age’, Poems on several occasions (1729), 28–37 · J. Milhous and R. D. Hume, eds., Vice Chamberlain Coke's theatrical papers, 1706–1715 (1982) · J. Milhous and R. D. Hume, eds., A register of English theatrical documents, 1660–1737, 2 vols. (1991) · J. Milhous and R. D. Hume, ‘Heidegger and the management of the Haymarket opera, 1713–17’, Early Music, 27 (1999), 65–84 · J. Milhous and R. D. Hume, ‘Opera salaries in eighteenth-century London’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 46 (1993), 26–83 · W. Dean and J. M. Knapp, Handel's operas, 1704–1726 (1987) · L. Lindgren, ‘Parisian patronage of performers from the Royal Academy of Musick (1719–28)’, Music and Letters, 58 (1977), 4–28 · G. Bertoni, ‘Giuseppe Riva e l'opera italiana a Londra’, Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana, 89 (1927), 317–24 · R. Trappes-Lomax, ed., ‘Records of the English canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre of Liège, now at New Hall, 1652–1793’, Miscellanea, X, Catholic RS, 17 (1915), 1–247 · W. B. Squire, The Handel manuscripts (1927), vol. 1 of Catalogue of the king's music library, ed. W. C. Smith (1927–9) · K. Lowerre, ‘Beauty, talent, virtue and charm: portraits of two of Handel's sopranos’, Imago Musicae, 9–12 (1992–5), 205–44 · BL, MS Harl. 7654 · N&Q, 2nd ser., 1 (1856), 326 · GEC, Peerage · A. J. Jewers, ed., The registers of the abbey church of SS Peter and Paul, Bath, 2, Harleian Society, Register Section, 28 (1901) · will, 4 Jan 1755, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/823, sig. 174 [copy in London, Family Records Centre]
Likenesses A. M. Zanetti, caricature, 1721, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, Italy · J. Vanderbank, oils, 1723, priv. coll. [see illus.] · J. Faber junior, mezzotint, pubd 1727 (after J. Vanderbank), BM, Harvard TC, NPG · H. R. Cook, engraving (after J. Vanderbank), BM, Harvard TC · W. Greatbach, engraving (after J. Vanderbank), repro. in G. Hogarth, Memoirs of the musical drama (1838) · C. Grignion, engraving (after J. Vanderbank), repro. in Hawkins, General history of music · engraving (after J. Vanderbank), repro. in London Magazine (Oct 1777) · engraving (after J. Vanderbank), repro. in Universal Magazine (Jan 1777) · engraving (after J. Vanderbank), BM, Harvard TC · oils, Royal College of Music, London
Wealth at death legacies of £1400; bequests to servants also: will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/823, sig. 174

Mordaunt Biographies

Hon. Harry Mordaunt
The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament Online website

Constituency: Brackley, 2nd january 1692 = 1698, February 1701 - 1702, 28th November 1705 - 1708. Richmond 1708 - 4th January 1720
Family and Education: Born 29th March 1663, 2nd son of John, 1st Viscount Avalon by Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Thomas carey, 2nd son of Robert Carey; brother of 1st Earl of Monmouth and 3rd Earl of Peterborough. Educated Moddle Temple 1674; Westminster (KS) by 1676; Christ Church, Oxford. 1680, BA 1684. Married (1) Margaret (d. 1706), illegitimate daughter of Sir Thomas Spencer, 3rd Baronett, of Yarnton, Oxon., 5 sons (2 d.v.p.) 2 daughters; (2) Penelope, daughter and heiress of William Tipping of Ewelme, Oxon., 1 daughter.
Offices Held: Ensign by 1689, captain 1st Dragoon Guards by 1693–Apr. 1694, colonel of aa regiment of foot April 1694 – August 1698, marines Aug. 1698 – May 1699, 1702 – May 1703, ft. May 1703–13; cpmmander in chief Guernsey 1697, 1702; treasurer of Ordnance 1699 – June 1702, 1705–12, December 1714 – death; brigadier general 1704, major General 1706, lieutenant general 1709. Conservator, Forest of Dean 1698–1712.

Biography: In pertness and wit Mordaunt did not lag behind his schoolfellow and college contemporary, Francis Atterbury. In 1682 he was selected by the university to deliver verses ‘in the commendation of Africa’ at a convocation in honour of a visiting ambassador from Morocco. In 1685 he joined as a lieutenant the company of Christ Church men formed by Lord Norreys (Montagu Bertie*) at the time of the panic over Monmouth’s rebellion, but at the Revolution he came out against King James, undertaking the part of proclaiming William’s declaration at a meeting in Oxford on 6 Dec. 1688 ‘before a great appearance of horse’ and at the request of the city corporation. His elder brother Charles had come over with William. After army service, part of it in Ireland, he was returned at a by-election for Brackley, probably at his brother’s recommendation. He was quick to point out, in this context, that his was a Northamptonshire family, beginning his maiden speech, ‘I will take the freedom to acquaint you with some things that my country I serve for think worthy of your advice and consideration.’ The occasion was a debate in committee on 21 Nov. 1692 on advice to be given to the King. In spite of his inexperience Mordaunt spoke vigorously and without restraint: he attacked the leading ministers, ‘a cabal of four or five’; complained that ‘most of the people that King James left behind him are continued in places of trust and profit’; condemned the employment of ‘foreigners’, especially as officers in the army, reserving his sharpest comments for Count de Solms, ‘who had been the cause of the loss of so many brave Englishmen’ at Steenkerk; rehearsed army grievances over arrears of pay; lambasted the allies – ‘those . . . we do have, must either come sooner into the field or, when they do come there, do better’; and even criticized the King himself. Not only did William have three kingdoms to govern, and the United Provinces, he was also responsible for the direction of the ‘confederacy’, and it was impossible for one man to carry out so many different, and perhaps conflicting, responsibilities. As a result the King risked neglecting the interests of ‘old England’. William was ‘too much in Holland, and Holland too much here’. Mordaunt’s closing remark – ‘I would have all those worthy foreign generals returned, though to our great loss’ – was greeted with ‘jeering’. At the reopening of the debate two days later Mordaunt began by admitting that: ‘I have been told by some that the last time . . . I was too hot and that I said more than was fit for a young man to say.’ His immediate reaction was to bluster: ‘I am sorry I was not plainer . . . if elder men will not, younger men must see to rectify abuses.’ He carried on, however, in a more muted strain, confining his criticisms to the ministers. In crossing swords with Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., on the question of army pay, he even conceded, ‘as for general officers, I would have no man discharged that has done well by the English officers. I have served under foreigners who did very well, and I hope they will be excepted.’ These remarks were still regarded as provocative, and in a third speech in this committee, on 30 Nov., he was obliged to justify himself once more:

    Some persons have made various reflections on what I said the last time. However, I can say what some cannot. His Majesty has my advice freely; it costs him nothing and shall always be the same . . . it is my opinion, give what advice you will, if the same men have the management of affairs you will have but little effect of your advice or your supplies.

He spoke on 14 Dec. in favour of the abjuration bill, ‘the national time of the day requiring it to obviate the designs of our enemies’; intervened on 21 Jan. 1693 in a debate on Blount’s King William and Queen Mary Conquerors, to welcome the acknowledgment made in passing by Hon. Heneage Finch I* that King William I had been king de jure and to taunt Finch with it, wishing ‘that all his [Finch] relations were of the same opinion’; and supported two days later a motion to have Bishop Burnet’s Pastoral Letter burned. He made four speeches in favour of the triennial bill: on 28 Jan., when he answered an objection ‘that by change from the Convention to this Parliament, there were not above 50 different’, by saying ‘that he wished . . . the opinions of the Convention and this Parliament had been the same’; on 1 Feb.; on 7 Feb., in committee, supporting the clause that provided for a meeting of Parliament every year; and on 9 Feb., at the report stage. He was closely involved with the inquiry into mismanagements in Ireland, which his brother-in-law James Hamilton of Tollymore, County Down, was active in promoting on the Irish side. On 22 Feb. he spoke in favour of calling in the Irish witnesses, and on 24 Feb., having backed a proposal to expel William Culliford, he endorsed the motion to agree that ‘great abuses and miscarriages’ had been committed in Ireland and was appointed to the committee to prepare an address to that effect. Twice more he spoke against Culliford: on 8 Mar., in favour of his expulsion; and on 14 Mar., after Culliford’s vindication of himself, when he broke the ensuing silence to ‘desire the order of suspension of him from his privilege might be continued’. Despite the fear he had expressed in the House in his speech of 23 Nov. 1692 that he would ‘not long continue’ in the army, he retained his commission, being classed for this reason as a placeman in Grascome’s list and in another list from 1693. Grascome also listed him as a Court supporter, which he may have been becoming. He made a careful speech in the debate of 1 Feb. 1694 on the King’s answer to the Commons’ representation:

    I question whether the answer called ‘gracious’ yesterday be so today. I think it doth not answer the intention of the gentlemen that drew the representation, neither doth it answer the body, but I am of opinion that it answers the prayer at the ending thereof. I would willingly have a better answer, but not by jangling and farther representing, which will show we did not well at first. But I would have us stay and observe what the King will do for the future.

Later that month, on 23 Feb., he was given leave of absence to recover his health. In April 1694 he obtained his brother’s regiment when Monmouth was deprived of it, and although his pay was slow the effect of the commission was to cement his connexion with the ministry. He voted on 3 Dec. with Hon. Thomas Wharton* and other Whigs in a division on the triennial bill, when what was at issue was party advantage, but was classed as a supporter of the government in a list of 1694–5, and acted as a teller with Lord Coningsby (Thomas), on 2 Feb. 1695, on an amendment to the land tax bill. On 27 Feb. he was again granted leave of absence on health grounds.2

Chosen again in 1695, he obtained leave of absence on 25 Jan. 1696 for his health, but was none the less included in the forecast for the division of 31 Jan. on the proposed council of trade, as likely to vote with the Court, and on 24 Feb. was sent with a message to the Lords to desire a conference on the King’s disclosure of the Assassination Plot, a conference for which he was also appointed one of the managers. He signed the Association, voted in March in favour of fixing the price of guineas at 22s., and on 15 Apr. acted as a teller against adjourning the report of the committee on the bill confirming the Earl of Torrington’s (Arthur Herbert†) grant in the Bedford level. Involved by Wharton in planning the Court’s parliamentary tactics in the Sir John Fenwick† affair, it was he who by prior arrangement ‘broke up the committee’ on the corn bill on 6 Nov. 1696, so that Fenwick’s ‘papers’ could be laid before the Commons. Then, when the motion for a bill of attainder was introduced, he ‘stood to it resolutely’. He intervened on several occasions during the proceedings on the bill. On 9 Nov. he ‘fell upon’ his former antagonist, Sir Edward Seymour, who had quoted the declaration of a ‘Roman . . . in the case of Catiline’ that ‘he had rather ten guilty persons should escape, than one innocent should suffer’. Mordaunt pointed out ‘that the Roman who made that declaration was suspected of being a conspirator himself’. His other speeches, on 13 and 17 Nov., concerned procedural matters, and were designed to expedite the bill’s passage. Surprisingly, he was not listed among those who voted for it on 25 Nov. Named as commander-in-chief on Guernsey in 1697, he appears to have been at his post there in September but was back in London by late November when he talked of impeaching Lord Sunderland. On 8 Jan. 1698 Mordaunt intervened in the debate on the size of the establishment of ‘guards and garrisons’, which concerned him directly. Having first, ‘by his presence of mind and adroit manner’, succeeded in extricating Charles Montagu* from a minor embarrassment, he addressed himself to the main topic, arguing that ‘the militia [had been] settled too late’ for it to be a practical solution to defence problems, and that with a substantial settlement of guards and garrisons ‘the loans will come in better, insurrections [will be] suppressed’. Following talk that his regiment was to be disbanded, he put in for the place of master of the jewel office, but despite the ‘interest’ at his disposal and the ‘affection’ in which the King was said to hold him, was passed over in favour of his friend Charles Godfrey, a disappointment which sent him sulking into the country and even when he returned to town kept him away from the House for a while. Although his regiment was saved, being transferred to the naval establishment, as a ruse to prevent its having to be disbanded, he suffered a further indignity in July 1698 when, even with the support of Wharton, who now enjoyed a powerful interest at Brackley, he lost his election. Nor, by an unhappy combination of circumstances, was Wharton able to bring him in elsewhere. Strenuous efforts were made: a recommendation at Cockermouth failed; and at Malmesbury Mordaunt was treated ‘very cavalierly’ by Wharton’s steward and could not even set himself up as a candidate. Once the elections were over the campaign to find him a bolt-hole assumed an air of panic. James Vernon I* approached Lord Stamford with a scheme for Bere Alston, where a likely vacancy existed, and also asked the Trelawnys for their interest in any available Cornish borough. The most persistent attempts were made to persuade Lord Cutts (John) to put him up at Newport, Isle of Wight, first by Wharton and later by Vernon, who was even empowered to write to Cutts on the King’s behalf that ‘his Majesty, being desirous to do what he can towards bringing Mr Mordaunt into the House, would have him proposed at Newport’. All failed. Mordaunt was listed as a supporter of the Court ‘left out’ of the new Parliament, and his peculiar talents seem to have been missed. Walter Moyle*, viewing the disarray of the Court party in February 1699, asked: ‘Have they lost . . . their wit with Harry Mordaunt?’ Worse was to follow. When the disbanding bill was under consideration in January 1699 it was reported that his regiment would be broken, the device of placing it on the naval establishment having been exposed for what it was, and the vote on the naval estimates in the following month made this certain. In compensation the King, pressed by Wharton and Shrewsbury, promised him the treasurership of the Ordnance, a promise eventually made good, despite some suspense, in May, shortly after his regiment was disbanded. That the appointment was made as a favour to the ministerial Whigs was clear from Lord Peterborough’s comment, who himself avowed it to be ‘no mark of good disposition towards him, for his brother was one who would cut his throat if they would have him, and he had not come near him these two years’. It was thought odd that Mordaunt should have accepted a place worth only £500 p.a., and he did indeed succeed in having himself continued on the half-pay list as well.

With Wharton’s support Mordaunt regained his seat at Brackley at the next election. Henceforth he acted as one of the Junto’s ‘chief lieutenants’ in the Commons. On 29 Jan. 1702 he presented a petition from Wharton’s agents at Malmesbury and took an active part in this electoral dispute. His regiment was reconstituted in April 1702, and on 2 May he spoke in opposition to the motion for an address against ‘foreign officers’, defending in particular the Huguenots, of whom there were a number under his command: ‘though he loved his own countrymen very well’, he said, ‘he could not but own that these Frenchmen had behaved themselves very well, nay, better than the English’. His regiment was once more despatched to Guernsey, about which he joked in his speech of 2 May that ‘of late he had been disbanded from London’, and in June the new Tory government relieved him of his Ordnance office. Although transferred from the marines to the land establishment in March 1703, the regiment stayed where it was, and Mordaunt himself is known to have been at his station in July of that year. In 1704, however, he was probably back in England. The satirical ballad ‘An Address to our Sovereign Lady’, published in April 1704, has been attributed to him, one of a number of such Whig squibs in which he may have had a hand. The 1704 volume of Poems on Affairs of State listed him among ‘the greatest wits of the age’. Now, with the High Tories out of favour, his prospects improved. In April 1705 he received his commission as brigadier-general, back-dated a year, and very soon after was restored to the treasurership of the Ordnance, estimated this time to be worth some £800 p.a.4

Although a group of Brackley burgesses had pledged loyalty to Mordaunt in order to encourage him to put up again, he did not contest this seat in 1705. Instead he stood on the Wharton interest at Cockermouth, albeit unsuccessfully. He was eventually returned for Malmesbury at a by-election in November, as a nominee of the Earl of Bridgwater, courtesy of the Duchess of Marlborough who had interceded for him. He spoke twice in debates on the regency bill in January 1706: on 10 Jan., on the clause making it treason to oppose the Queen’s right to the throne, or the Hanoverian succession, ‘by preaching, teaching or advised speaking’, when he took sideswipes at those who cried that the Church was ‘in danger’, and at the clergy generally, commenting, ‘the best teaching where no preaching’; and five days later, regarding the arrangements for summoning Parliament on the Queen’s death, when with heavy sarcasm he announced his pleasure at hearing Tories so ‘zealous [for the] succ[ession]’ and inquired of those who cavilled at some stipulations, ‘Are we in earnest or no?’. He voted with the Court over the ‘place clause’ on 18 Feb. An unsuccessful applicant in October 1706 for Charles Churchill’s* post as lieutenant-governor of the Tower, he received a promotion the following May to the rank of major-general. Meanwhile he had spoken in the House on 7 Feb. 1707 in reply to remarks by Sir John Pakington, 4th Bt.*, on the Anglo-Scottish union as it affected the status of the Established Church in each country. Pakington had questioned whether it was not impossible to reconcile the claim of both to exist jure divino, to which Mordaunt answered that ‘he knew of no other jure divino than God Almighty’s permission, in which sense it might be said that the Church of England and the Kirk of Scotland were both jure divino’. He rejected a proposal to refer the question to Convocation: ‘it would be derogatory from the rights of the Commons of England to advise on this occasion with an inferior assembly, who had no share in the legislature.’ Classed as a Whig in a list of early 1708, he introduced a private bill in December for the sale of part of the estate of his deceased brother-in-law James Hamilton, and was heard again on 24 Feb. 1708 in the debate on the conduct of the war in Spain. Referring to recent ministerial changes, he observed that ‘if a late, modest scheme had taken effect, we should neither have had troops abroad nor generals at home’. He was in characteristically facetious mood on 16 November 1708 in supporting the nomination of Sir Richard Onslow, 3rd Bt., as Speaker, beginning with ‘his usual pleasantry’ by recommending instead the clerk of the House, ‘who having been assistant to good Speakers, to indifferent ones, and the worst, seems to be as well qualified for this station as anybody’. Having ‘had his jest’, he proceeded to extol the merits of Onslow, who ‘being possessed of a good estate . . . did not lie open to the temptations that might bias persons who had their fortunes to make against the interest of their country’. Despite an ‘impudent’ speech in March 1709 on a subject offensive to the Queen, an address urging her to remarry quickly, which with unseemly levity he proposed ought to be presented ‘only by Members who had not yet reached their thirtieth year’, he was raised to the rank of lieutenant-general in May. He voted for the naturalization of the Palatines in 1709, and for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710. He opposed Tory objections to the articles of impeachment on 9 Jan. On 23 Jan., other Whigs having abandoned their plans to address for the removal of Mrs Masham, in the face of a House ‘too full’ for their purpose, Mordaunt nevertheless offered ‘some broad hints’ against ‘giving any further supplies, unless some certain persons were removed from the Queen’s presence’. Although he had been added to the list of Commons’ managers for the impeachment on 10 Feb., he took no part in Sacheverell’s trial on account of ill-health. Tories gleefully suggested that he and another absent manager should be thanked ‘for their faithful management in never appearing’. Mordaunt did his best to make up for lost time in the aftermath of the trial. On 22 Mar. a resolution demanding ‘judgment’ was moved, upon which he was ‘according to custom . . . very pleasant . . . thinking the Lords had done the doctor a kindness by keeping him from exposing himself for so long a time, and giving him a sinecure for high crimes and misdemeanours’. He ‘begged leave to conclude with a misconstrued text of Scripture, as the reverend divine had set the example . . . “’Tis the Lords’ doing, but not marvellous in our eyes”’.5

Mordaunt was marked as a Whig in the ‘Hanover list’ of 1710, following his return on the Wharton interest for Richmond. He reacted to the transformed complexion of the Commons in his usual style: ‘I must go into the court of requests’, he loudly stated on entering the House, ‘to try if I can meet a face I know, for by [God] I know not one here.’ On 26 Jan. 1711 he made ‘a witty and comical speech, taking notice of . . . the reflections which daily passed upon the last Parliament . . . and that he heard a saying that those that dealt with sharpers must lose if they played upon the square . . . and gave many instances even of the justice of this Parliament’. He retained his Ordnance treasurership for a surprisingly long time, but it was being applied for by Tories from the beginning of May 1712, and was taken away from him a month later. He also lost his place as conservator of the Forest of Dean, and the following year his regiment was broken. In the Worsley list of 1715 he appeared as a Whig who had often voted with the Tories in the old Parliament and might do so again in the new. Restored to the Ordnance by George I, he figured as a Whig in a list of the Members re-elected in 1715.6

Mordaunt died on 4 Jan. 1720, leaving property in Berkshire and Surrey. In his will he declared that his second wife, ‘with whom I had no fortune’, he yet ‘valued . . . of all things for her personal good humour and temper’. A pamphlet which appeared not long afterwards, and which has been attributed to Bernard Mandeville, arguing for the social usefulness of state-organized prostitution, and dedicated to ‘the gentlemen of the Societies for the Reformation of Manners’, was purported to have been written ‘by the late Colonel Harry Mordaunt’.

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton

Mordaunt Biographies

John Mordaunt, Viscount Avalon (1681?–1710), army officer
The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament Online website

Constituency: Chippenham, 1701 - 1705, 26th November 1705 - 1708.
Family and Education: Born c.1681, 1st son of Charles, 1st Earl of Monmouth and 3rd Earl of Peterborough, by his 1st wife; brother of Hon. Henry Mordaunt. Education: travelled abroad (Holland) 1699; Christ Church, Oxford. matriculated 7th December 1699, aged 18. Married c.September. 1705, Lady Frances (d. 1715), daughter of Charles Powlett, 2nd Duke of Bolton.
Offices Held: Captain and lieutenant colonel, Grenadier Guards, 1703 - August 1704; Colonel, 21st Foot (Scote Fusiliers) August 1704 - June 1706, September 1709 - death, 28th Foot June 1706 - September 1709; brigadier general 1710.

Lord and Lady Peterborough repeatedly sought the advice of their friend John Locke about their elder son’s education. Another mentor from this circle was the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (Anthony, Lord Ashley) who regarded Mordaunt as ‘my good friend and pupil’. It was probably through the connexion with Shaftesbury that Mordaunt spent some time in Holland before going up for a year to Oxford at his father’s insistence. These strong Whig influences did not prevent Mordaunt from following Peterborough’s turn to the Tories in 1701; indeed, an imperfect understanding of the complexities of Shaftesbury’s political philosophy may have played a part in exaggerating his opposition to the ‘modern Whigs’. He stood at Chippenham in the first election of 1701 as an independent Whig, against two associates of the Junto. Helped by Peterborough’s personal canvassing, he was returned, and survived a petition alleging, among other things, that he was still a minor. According to Shaftesbury he ‘never gave’ the Whigs ‘one vote’ in this Parliament, and he was blacklisted as one who had opposed the preparations for war. By the time of the November election, however, it would appear that he had come to a satisfactory arrangement with the other Whigs at Chippenham, for he was re-elected unopposed. Robert Harley classed him with the ‘doubtfuls’ in his list of this Parliament, and it is likely that his maiden speech, on 26 Feb. 1702, in the debate on the impeachments and the Commons’ rights and privileges (a contribution thought highly of by Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt.) was made on the Whig side. Meanwhile in January 1702 he had fought a duel with one John Morley, and Peterborough had had to use all his influence to quieten matters, the two protagonists being brought under warrant to the secretary of state’s office and there ‘engaged to prosecute this quarrel no further’. At about this time he seems to have contemplated moving out of his father’s house, but was dissuaded by Shaftesbury. Returned again at Chippenham in 1702, he told on 7 Dec. 1703 against the occasional conformity bill. Not all shared Shaftesbury’s golden opinion of him as a young man of ‘tenderness and piety . . . joined with . . . spirit, gallantry and bravery’: in July 1703 the Marlboroughs rejected him as a suitor for their daughter Mary. ‘I have heard’, wrote the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill), ‘that he is what they call a rascal, which can never make a good husband.’ The following year, he showed his mettle in the field, first at the storming of the Schellenberg, leading the ‘forlorn hope’, and then at Blenheim, in Marlborough’s own regiment, where he lost his left arm. Marlborough personally commended his conduct to Peterborough, and in a later poem John Oldmixon sang his praise:

    Early he fought for liberty and Anne,
    And grew a hero sooner than a man

He did not vote for the Tack (Webmaster: I don't know what this was either} on 28 Nov. 1704, and in 1705 was listed as a placeman (Webmaster: A person appointed to a position, especially in government service, for personal profit and as a reward for political support}.

The 1705 election saw Mordaunt venture away from the safety of Chippenham to stand for knight of the shire in Northamptonshire. Although he mounted a vigorous campaign, his military reputation was of little help, and he narrowly failed to defeat the Tory candidates. Fortunately a vacancy arose at Chippenham even before the new Parliament opened, following the death of a Whig Member. Mordaunt was slow to put up, and moreover had now deeply offended his father and thus forfeited his support, but was still able to beat his Tory opponent, Henry Chivers. He subsequently voted for the Court in the proceedings on 18 Feb. 1706 over the ‘place clause’ in the regency bill. Lord Peterborough’s ‘resentment’, which the Countess shared, had arisen from his marriage, which had evidently taken place without the consent of either set of parents. Lady Peterborough, of whose reaction Mordaunt was ‘terribly afraid’, pleaded with Shaftesbury to bring him to his senses. This ‘unhappy marriage’, she said, had shown the deepest ‘ingratitude’: ‘O that Heaven had left him no hand to dispose of!’ She observed that he could expect nothing from his wife’s family, no financial arrangements having been made, and even threatened to settle her own estate away from him. Shaftesbury’s peacemaking proved fruitless and in June 1706 Mordaunt launched an initiative of his own, persuading Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney) to ask Marlborough to order his new regiment for service in the Peninsula, so that he might be able to ‘pay his duty’ to his father there, which otherwise Lady Peterborough had prevented him from doing. In a covering letter Godolphin explained to Marlborough that he had been unwilling to refuse Mordaunt, considering ‘his circumstances, which, I doubt, nothing can make very easy’, and hinted too that Marlborough might be happy to see the back of him. This was partly true, since Mordaunt had been neglecting his duties in order to attend ‘his lady, who is at Ghent’, but the Duke was equally uneasy at ordering the regiment away. ‘The truth is’, he told Godolphin, ‘they do not care to go with their colonel, who has never been with them since he has had the regiment.’ The Duchess of Marlborough, however, had taken Mordaunt’s part, and so the regiment was sent to Spain. Peterborough was not pleased. As he informed James Stanhope, another to intercede for Mordaunt, ‘though I cannot but say the Duchess of Marlborough’s part [and] my lord treasurer’s in that, and all that concerns me, is very obliging, yet I own I could have spared that favour’. When father and son were reconciled is unknown. Mordaunt did not remain long in the Peninsula. By the time of Almanza he was ‘absent in England by leave’, and he was still absent in July 1707, ‘his leave near expired’. While quartered with his regiment at York in April 1708 he provoked a protest from the city magistrates by exceeding his legal authority, and received a reprimand by the Queen’s order. Classed as a Whig in early 1708, he did not put up at the 1708 election.

Restored to his old regiment and then raised to the rank of brigadier-general, Mordaunt fell victim to the same epidemic that carried off his brother Henry. On 20 Apr. 1710 Godolphin reported to Marlborough a request for his regiment, ‘the little man’ being ‘at this time sick of the smallpox’. In fact Mordaunt had already died, v.p., at Winchester on 6 Apr. Administration, describing Mordaunt as ‘late of Middlethorpe, Yorkshire’, was granted to a creditor in August 1711.

Author: D. W. Hayton

"The History of the Grenadier Guards" website describes his actions at the battle of the Schellenburg (2nd July 1704) in these colourful terms

    "Thus Glorious are the memories of the services of the First Guards in the great campaigns of Marlborough, from 1702 to 1711. While a detachment took part in the expeditions to Cadiz and Vigo, the regiment itself fought in the splendid operation in the Low Countries in 1702 and 1703. Marlborough himself became its Colonel in 1704. The fine strategic march on the Danube, that most brilliant conception of the great captain's genius, brought the First Guards with the forces, to Danauwerth and to the foot of the lofty fortified heights of Schellenberg, where the French and Bavarians, under D'Arco, were posted in a position of colossal strength. Fifty grenadiers of the First Guards under Captain Mordaunt, an impetuous son of a famous father, the great Earl of Peterborough celebrated in our military annuls, led the way as a forlorn hope, and in the terrific fire of grape, 40 of them fell dead or wounded. A withering hail met the advancing Guards, with Orkney's and Ingoldsby's regiments, and D'Arco, perceiving that line wavered ordered a sally. The First Guards stood like a rock to receive the downward charge for a few moments almost alone, but help coming, a furious onslaught was made, and the enemy fled to his lines. Happily some Baden troops made a diversion, and very soon the Englishmen, with an impetuous rush, poured over the entrenchments and drove the enemy in panic from his works. At the decisive victory at Blenheim 6 weeks later (August 13th) the Guards again fought with the greatest intrepidity in the attack on the village palisades. Dormer, in command was killed; Mordaunt lost an arm; others were seriously wounded."

Mordaunt Biographies

Henry Mordaunt(1681?–1710), naval officer
The details in this first biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

Henry Mordaunt (1681?–1710), naval officer, was the second son of Charles Mordaunt, third earl of Peterborough (1658?–1735), soldier and statesman, and Carey Fraizer (c.1658–1709). On 9 April 1703 he became captain of the Mary Galley; subsequently he commanded the Pendennis and Medway. In 1705 he was returned to parliament for Malmesbury; at this time he was said to be ‘a very pretty gentleman, sober and well bred’ (Ormonde MSS, new ser., 8.191). In 1706 he was captain of the Resolution (70 guns) in the Mediterranean.

On 13 March 1707, with the frigates Enterprise and Milford in company, Mordaunt sailed from Barcelona for Genoa, carrying as passengers his father and an ambassador from the titular king of Spain to the duke of Savoy. On 19 March he fell in with a French squadron of six ships of the line, newly out of Toulon, which came up fast with the English. The earl and the ambassador went on board the Enterprise, which, with the Milford, made her escape. By daybreak on 20 March the enemy's ships were well up with and engaged the Resolution, which defended herself stoutly. In the afternoon, when she was much shattered, Mordaunt ran her ashore near Ventimiglia. The French then sent in their boats to burn her, but these were beaten off.

During the night an 80-gun ship succeeded in getting within range, and as the Resolution was by this time full of water, and her magazine waterlogged, it was decided to set her on fire and abandon her. This was done during the morning of 21 March; her men were all landed, and by eleven o'clock the ship was burnt to the waterline. Mordaunt was severely wounded in the thigh, and obliged to return to England, which he did overland, through France, on a passport readily given on his father's request. On 25 November 1709 he was tried by court martial for the loss of his ship, and acquitted, the court resolving that he had behaved with ‘great courage and conduct’.

Mordaunt died, unmarried, of smallpox on 24 February 1710 at Bath, at a time when he was intending to return to sea, having just recovered from the wound received on the Resolution. He was buried at Turvey, Bedfordshire on 1 March.

J. K. Laughton, rev. J. D. Davies

Sources HoP, Commons, 1690–1715 [draft] · Calendar of the manuscripts of the marquess of Ormonde, new ser., 8 vols., HMC, 36 (1902–20), vol. 8, p. 191 · W. L. Clowes, The Royal Navy: a history from the earliest times to the present, 7 vols. (1897–1903); repr. (1996–7), vol. 2, pp. 515–16 · NMM, Sergison MSS, SER/136 · J. Charnock, ed., Biographia navalis, 3 (1795), 274–7 · parish register (burials), 1710, Turvey, Bedfordshire
Likenesses G. Kneller, oils; in possession of F. Milner in 1894

The details in this second biography come from The History of Parliament online published by the Oxford University Press

Constituency: Malmesbury
Dates: 1705 - 24th February 1710

Family and Education:
Born c.1682, 2nd son of Charles, 1st Earl of Monmouth and 3rd Earl of Peterborough, by his 1st wife. Carey, daughter of Sir Alexander Fraser, 1st Bt., of Dores, Inverness; bro. of John Mordaunt, Lord. Mordaunt, and nephew of Hon. Harry Mordaunt. Unmarried.

Offices Held: ?Sewer, Queen’s household by 1691–4; Lieutenant, Royal Navy c.1695, Captain 17032

Biography: A ‘very pretty gentleman, sober and well-bred’, Mordaunt was recommended to the Malmesbury electors in 1705 by Lord Wharton (Thomas) as ‘honest’. Though he was marked as a ‘Churchman’ in a list of this Parliament, his election was counted as a gain by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer)*. Absent on active service at the time of the division on the Speaker, 25 Oct. 1705, he was recorded as supporting the Court over the ‘place clause’ in the regency bill on 18 Feb. 1706, and was listed as a Whig in two lists of early 1708. He was not an active Member, his naval duties too often calling him away. In March 1707 his gallantry in one exploit brought him notice. Commanding a small squadron of frigates to convoy his father from Spain to Genoa, he was attacked by a superior French force off the Italian coast and sacrificed his own ship to draw the enemy and enable Peterborough to reach his destination. He had, however, sustained a thigh injury himself as a result of cannon-fire, and was unable to accompany his father back to England, Peterborough later obtaining a pass for him to travel home separately through France. His wound proving ‘much more dangerous than was at first apprehended’, he ‘found it necessary to retire from the service till his cure should be effected’. Meanwhile, at a court martial in November 1709, he was acquitted of any charges arising from the loss of his ship, and it was declared that he had shown ‘great courage’.

Mordaunt ‘designed to go to sea again’, but succumbed to smallpox before he could resume active duty. Having ‘languished for several days’, he died at Bath on 24 Feb. 1710 and was buried in the family vault at Turvey. An anonymous tribute described him as ‘a gentleman of singular accomplishments, and of an affable and generous disposition’.

* Webmaster's note: Perhaps a reader can explain this. It shows how complicated to modern thought that religious thought was in those times. Apparently, "Churchmen," those who were trustworthy good church-going protestants, were suspicious of Whigs. Since previously it was the the Tories who were otherwise thought untrustworthy and Jacobite and the Whigs who had led the overthrow of James II, I am confused.

Mordaunt Biographies

Henrietta Gordon (née Mordaunt), Henrietta, duchess of Gordon (1681/2–1760)
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

Henrietta Gordon [née Mordaunt], duchess of Gordon (1681/2–1760), Jacobite sympathizer, was the daughter of Charles Mordaunt, third earl of Peterborough and first earl of Monmouth (1658?–1735), and his first wife, Carey (d. 1709), daughter of Sir Alexander Fraser of Durris, Kincardineshire, physician to Charles II, and his wife, Mary Carey, maid of honour to Catherine of Braganza.

Her father was a whig and a protestant, but the Mordaunt family had been prominent Roman Catholics, and this may have recommended her to Alexander Gordon, marquess of Huntly, later second duke of Gordon (c.1678–1728), whose marriage contract with her was signed on 7 October 1706 and 5 February 1707; they married on 13 February 1707. Her husband, a Jacobite, was present at the battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715, surrendered later, and spent eight months in captivity. On his release he took no further part in public affairs but, kindly and affable, lived with Henrietta in great state at Gordon Castle to which he succeeded, with the dukedom, in 1716. A woman of energy and decision, she was interested in agricultural improvement and was credited with bringing ploughmen and their ploughs from England. On 1 June 1720 she was paying William Strachan in Aberdeen £8 for the freight of 300 lime trees, and on 4 September 1734 she gave a joiner £3 4s. for ‘6 big chairs to the garden’ (Gordon Castle muniments, NA Scot., GD44/51/379/13/10).

By that time Henrietta was running the estates for her eldest surviving son, Cosmo, third duke of Gordon, for her husband had died on 28 November 1728, leaving her with five young sons and seven daughters. Henrietta had been raised as a protestant and was determined to bring up her own children as protestants too. In 1730 the general assembly of the Church of Scotland sent a letter congratulating her on this resolve, and in 1735 the government granted her a pension of £1000 a year. Letters from the 1730s show her protecting the Gordon tenants against a harsh exciseman, persuading people to vote for Alexander Udny as MP for Aberdeenshire in 1734 (he was unsuccessful), and discussing the settlement of the estate boundaries with Sir Robert Menzies of Weem.

When the young duke reached the age of eighteen in 1738, Henrietta decided to move out of Gordon Castle and purchased Prestonhall House, near Dalkeith in Edinburghshire, at a judicial sale for the sum of £8877. She went to live there with her younger children but the mansion was dilapidated, and she commissioned the architect William Adam to convert it into a much larger handsome structure three storeys high, with a wing at either side. About 1750 she sat for her portrait, probably to Philippe Mercier. Rather plump by this time, she is shown with a large, dominating nose, strongly marked eyebrows, and a firm mouth. Although seated in an armchair, she appears to be wearing a riding habit of somewhat masculine cut. In her right hand is Adam's plan for Prestonhall, and she points to it proudly with her other hand.

Despite her protestantism, Henrietta shared her late husband's Jacobite sympathies, and when Prince Charles Edward arrived in Scotland she supported his cause. Charles Edward defeated the government forces at Prestonpans, established himself in Edinburgh, and then marched south into England. Learning that he would pass her gates on the way, Henrietta ordered a breakfast to be prepared for him and laid out by the side of the road. When the government heard of this gesture, it cancelled her pension. Henrietta died at Prestonhall on 11 October 1760, at the age of seventy-eight, and according to the index of genealogies, birth briefs, and funeral escutcheons in the Lyon office in Edinburgh was buried in Nairn church, Moray. However, the accounts of the treasurer of the kirk session at Elgin, where her husband's vault was, record the payment of £25 4s. ‘at the Dowager Duchess's burial’ (Records of Elgin), suggesting that even if she was not buried there the Elgin kirk session paid some of the funeral expenses, and there is a monumental inscription to her in Elgin Cathedral.

Rosalind K. Marshall

Sources Scots peerage, 4.551–2 · GEC, Peerage, 6.4; 10.502 · The records of Elgin, 1234–1800 (1908), 344 · F. J. Grant, Index to genealogies, birthbriefs and funeral escutcheons recorded in the Lyon office, Scottish RS, 31 (1908), 21 · R. Douglas, The peerage of Scotland, 2nd edn, ed. J. P. Wood, 1 (1813), 655 · NA Scot., Clerk of Penicuik MSS, GD 18/5405 · miscellaneous MSS, NA Scot., GD 1/337/28; GD 1/636/1 · Gordon Castle muniments, NA Scot., GD 44/33/18/2; GD 44/51/379/13/10 · J. M. Simpson, ‘Aberdeenshire’, HoP, Commons, 1715–54, 1.381 · E. Cruickshanks, ‘Aberdeen burghs’, HoP, Commons, 1715–54, 1.395–6
Archives NA Scot., papers | NA Scot., Gordon Castle muniments · NA Scot., Clerk of Penicuik MSS
Likenesses J. Alexander or C. Alexander, oils, 1742; sold from Gordon Castle in 1938 · attrib. P. Mercier, oils, c.1750, priv. coll. · Lely, oils (as a child), priv. coll. · black and white negative (after portrait by P. Mercier?), Scot. NPG; repro. in R. K. Marshall, Women in Scotland, 1660–1780 (1979)

Mordaunt Biographies

John Mordaunt(1696/7 – 1780), army officer
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

Sir John Mordaunt, 1696/7–1780), army officer, was the eldest son of Lieutenant-General Harry Mordaunt (1663–1720), MP and treasurer of the ordnance, a brother of Charles Mordaunt, third earl of Peterborough, and his first wife, Margaret (1674–1706), illegitimate daughter of Sir Thomas Spencer, third baronet, of Yarnton, Oxfordshire. He entered the army in 1721, and became captain in the 3rd dragoons in 1726 and captain and lieutenant-colonel in the 3rd foot guards in 1731.

About this time Mordaunt also began a parliamentary career, as MP for Pontefract from February 1730 to 1734, in the interest of John Monckton, first Viscount Galway. He later (from 1735) represented Whitchurch, Hampshire, in the gift of John Wallop, Viscount Lymington, and from 1741 Cockermouth, where he acted as political guardian for a succession of young heirs to the Lawson family, into which his sister had married. A staunch whig, Mordaunt was a strong supporter of Robert Walpole, and was especially active during army debates. By June 1744 he had risen to the rank of colonel of the 18th foot, and was sent to Flanders as part of the British force assembled to meet the French invasion of the Netherlands. The allied army, commanded by William Augustus, duke of Cumberland, suffered defeat at Fontenoy in May 1745. Having been recalled in November and promoted brigadier-general, Mordaunt was sent against the Jacobite rising in Scotland. At Falkirk, Mordaunt rallied the scattered battalions and corps after the defeat of the government forces.

During the decisive battle of Culloden in April 1746 Mordaunt commanded the reserve. After the battle he was detached with 900 volunteers to pursue the fleeing rebels. For these actions Cumberland later presented him with Charles Edward Stuart's coach, on condition that he drove to London with it: ‘That I will, sir,’ he replied, ‘and drive on till it stops at the Cocoa Tree’—a well-known tory haunt (Walpole, Corr., 9.35).

The following year (1747) Mordaunt was appointed major-general and colonel of the 12th dragoons, and he distinguished himself at the battle of Laffeldt in July. In 1749 he was made colonel of the 4th Irish horse, and moved later that year to the 10th dragoons. Following the end of the war Mordaunt was appointed KB, and he became one of the inspecting generals. In 1752 he was appointed governor of Sheerness. In peacetime Mordaunt revealed his relaxed nature—James Wolfe, then a lieutenant-colonel and in love with Mordaunt's niece Elizabeth Lawson, described a stay at Mordaunt's home, Freefolk, near Whitchurch, in July 1754: ‘Sir J. Mordaunt's civility, good breeding and good humour make his house easy and pleasant to his guests’ (Willson, 237).

The outbreak of the Seven Years' War in January 1756 immediately brought intelligence of a plan for an invasion of England, and with it the chain of events which would lead to the expedition against Rochefort which would define Mordaunt's lasting reputation. A number of army camps were set up in southern England to meet the threat, with Mordaunt commanding the camp at Blandford. In this situation, and with the war in North America going badly, it was felt that Great Britain needed to deliver a powerful counterstroke to regain the initiative. In the earliest phase of the war the prime minister, Thomas Pelham-Holles, duke of Newcastle, had proposed a diversionary raid, mentioning a number of possible objectives including Minorca, Corsica, St Domingo, Luxembourg, or the French coast itself. In November 1756, following the formation of the ministry of William Cavendish, fourth duke of Devonshire, with William Pitt as secretary of state for the southern department, the cabinet wished to support Cumberland's campaign in Germany without engaging additional British troops in the field. Sir John Ligonier, lieutenant-general of the ordnance and most senior army officer after Cumberland, had earlier in the year received a report from Lieutenant Robert Clerk, an engineer, which drew attention to the meagre defences of the naval base at Rochefort. On a visit in 1754 he had judged that the French town had inadequate fortifications, only an incomplete rampart about 25 feet high with a dry ditch protecting the town. The idea of a diversionary attack on Rochefort was supported by Pitt, who took the lead in arranging the flotilla. An additional factor which further favoured the choice of Rochefort was Ligonier's belief that there were a number of disaffected Huguenots in the area.

By the summer of 1757 a cabinet committee attended by Ligonier had accepted Clerk's report. Mordaunt was personally selected by George II to command the expedition, supported by Henry Seymour Conway and Edward Cornwallis. Both Mordaunt and Conway doubted whether the attack on Rochefort could succeed, and their fears were shared by the naval commanders Admiral Sir Edward Hawke and Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Knowles. Ligonier endeavoured to overcome Mordaunt's doubts, acknowledging that where ‘neither the country nor the number of troops you are to act against is known with any precision a good deal must be left to fortune’ (Whitworth, 221). However, he was confident that there were only 10,000 or fewer defending the western coast of France, and that the expedition was unlikely to be overwhelmed. Mordaunt and Conway remained unhappy—a ‘tip and run’ strategy held no appeal for contemporary army officers who preferred the set-piece tactics in progress in Germany—but with the political will behind the scheme they, Hawke, and Knowles eventually accepted the plan.

Pitt's instructions stated that the force was to take Rochefort if practical, and that it might venture to attack other French ports on its return. It was required to return by the end of September. Following the news of the defeat of Cumberland at Hastenbeck on 26 July, and the deployment of forty French battalions in Flanders, a French invasion was viewed as a real threat. After numerous delays the force, which consisted of thirty-one warships, forty-nine transports, and ten battalions of soldiers, sailed from the Isle of Wight on 6 September, and reached the Basque Roads on the 21st. The fleet was at first becalmed, but two days later captured the Île d'Aix, which guarded the mouth of the River Charente on which Rochefort lay. The two services were generally in agreement about where to land along the Bay of Chatelaillon, but a factor unconsidered in London now arose: shallow water would prevent the troop transports and naval vessels from approaching within a mile and a half of the shore. Mordaunt called a council of war on board the Neptune on 25 September. The meeting, which lasted all day, included a further report from Clerk, now a lieutenant-colonel, which suggested that Rochefort's defences could have been improved since 1754. Neutral ships also reported French preparations for British attack. The assembled senior officers of both services declared unanimously that an assault on Rochefort was ‘neither advisable nor practical’ (London Magazine, 651–2). Time was running out for the expedition as the equinox was expected to bring a prevailing westerly wind, which could generally delay or impede the fleet's movements. After two more days' reconnaissance and offers from General Conway to attempt a feint towards the Île de Ré or lead a real assault against the Île d'Oleron or Fort Fouras, Mordaunt summoned another council of war on the Ramillies on 28 September. This meeting unanimously decided to make a night attack on the forts at the mouth of the Charente. Mordaunt placed himself in the first embarkation. At the last moment naval officers called off the operation, as a strong wind from the shore threatened to hamper the longboats and prolong the embarkation. The tensions inherent in a divided command surfaced on the following day, when Hawke declared in a written note his intention of immediately sailing for England in default of any further military plans. A meeting of the land officers could only concur. The fleet set sail on 1 October and began arriving in Portsmouth on the 6th—with no new incursions upon the French coast.

The news of the failure of the expedition was received with fury by Pitt. The common council of the City of London demanded an inquiry. The cost of the expedition had been upwards of a million pounds. Mordaunt found he was in disgrace at court and also pressed for a formal hearing. George II instituted a board of three senior army officers: Charles Spencer, third duke of Marlborough; Lord George Sackville; and John Waldegrave. Witnesses included Mordaunt, Conway, and the expedition's quartermaster-general, James Wolfe. However, the board's report found ‘It does not appear to us that there were then, or at any time afterwards either a Body of Troops or Batteries on the Shore sufficient to have prevented the attempting a Descent’ (Report of the General Officers, 60). The board added that it rejected the notion that Rochefort's defences could have been so improved to have prevented any assault.

The findings of the general officers inevitably entailed a court martial. Mordaunt's trial took place from 14 to 20 December 1757. He remained confident of acquittal. His initial instructions had left much to his discretion. The charge of disobedience was unsustainable and he was unanimously acquitted. George II reluctantly confirmed the verdict. Nevertheless, the following July he struck the names of Mordaunt, Conway, and Cornwallis from the staff. Mordaunt also lost his post as governor of Sheerness.

Mordaunt remained in the army, but after Rochefort never again held a senior command in the field. He retired from the Commons in 1768. He became a full general in 1770 and was governor of Berwick from 1778 until his death. He died at Bevis Mount (his home from the mid-1750s), near Southampton, on 23 October 1780, aged eighty-three. He never married. He was buried on 28 October 1780 at St Mary's, Southampton. At the time of his death he was second general in the army list.

Clive Towse

Sources J. S. Corbett, England in the Seven Years’ War: a study in combined strategy, 2 vols. (1907) · H. Walpole, Memoirs of King George II, ed. J. Brooke, 3 vols. (1985) · [C. S. Marlborough and others], The report of the general officers, appointed … to inquire into the causes of failure of the late expedition to the coasts of France (1758) · Proceedings of the general court martial (1758) · A. Collins, The peerage of England, ed. B. Longmate, 5th edn, 8 vols. (1779) · W. K. Hackmann, ‘The British raid on Rochefort, 1757’, Mariner's Mirror, 64 (1978), 163–75 · R. Middleton, The bells of victory: the Pitt–Newcastle ministry and the conduct of the Seven Years' War, 1757–1762 (1985) · R. Whitworth, Field Marshal Lord Ligonier: a story of the British army, 1702–1770 (1958) · R. R. Sedgwick, ‘Mordaunt, John’, HoP, Commons, 1715–54 · The life and letters of James Wolfe, ed. H. B. Willson (1909) · Walpole, Corr. · L. B. Namier, ‘Mordaunt, Sir John’, HoP, Commons, 1754–90 · GM, 1st ser., 50 (1780), 495 · London Magazine, 26 (1757), 651–3 · W. A. Shaw, The knights of England, 1 (1906), 169 · parish register, Southampton, St Mary's, 28 Oct 1780 [burial]
Archives BL, letters to Sir Thomas Robinson, Add. MSS 23827–23829
Likenesses B. Dandridge, oils, 1735, Althorp, Northamptonshire

Mordaunt Biographies

Sir John Mordaunt, 5th baronet (1643? - 1721) of Walton D'Eille, Warwickshire, Massingham Parva and St James's, Westminster
The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament Online Website.

Consituency: Warwickshire 1698 - 1715
Family and Education: Born before 1649, 2nd son of Sir Charles Mordaunt, 3rd Bt. (d. 1648), by Catherine, daughter of Sir Lionel Tollemache, 2nd Bt., of Helmingham, Suffolk. Married. (1) 13 June 1678, aged 21, Anne (died 1692), daughter of William Risley of the Friary, Bedford, 1 daughter. d.v.p.; (2) 8 June 1695, Penelope (died 1733), daughter of Sir George Warburton, 1st Bt., of Arley, Cheshire, 2 sons, 4 daughters. (2 d.v.p.). succeeded brother as 5th Bt. 24 April. 1665.
Offices Held

The Warwickshire Mordaunts were originally a Norfolk family who could trace their descent from the 15th-century barons Mordaunt and earls of Peterborough. The Massingham and Walton lands were acquired in the next century through Robert Mordaunt’s marriage to an heiress, and their grandson L’Estrange Mordaunt was created a baronet in 1611. Contemporary sources often confuse the surname of Sir John, the 5th Bt. and MP, with that of Sir John Morden, 1st Bt., a Turkey merchant who became an excise commissioner in 1689. In 1683 Mordaunt, as one of Warwickshire’s only two deputy-lieutenants then serving in office, was involved in supervising searches for arms in the county’s principal towns following the Rye House Plot. In April 1686 Lord Brooke (Fulke Greville) chose him to replace the recently deceased Lord Digby (Simon) as Member for Warwick, his residence at Walton lying just five miles from the town. On notifying Secretary of State Lord Sunderland, Brooke emphasized Mordaunt’s local seniority, referring to him as ‘the first baronet of the county’, but less accurately as ‘a near relation’ of Lord Peterborough. No writ for the vacancy was ever issued, however, and Mordaunt was never again considered for election at Warwick. Twelve years later the prospect of becoming knight of the shire presented itself. At the 1698 general election both outgoing Members for the county stood down allowing Mordaunt to stand. He was returned unopposed, and afterwards was classed as a ‘Country’ supporter and forecast as likely to oppose the Court on the standing army.

Mordaunt’s surviving correspondence, which covers the late 1690s and 1700s, reveals a blend of family and political concerns. He was fixed in connubial contentment with his second wife and was a doting father. He once gently chided his wife, Lady Penelope, for having written something in a letter to him ‘wherein you seem to mistrust the power you have with me; I would not have you think that King, Lords and Commons have so much, for you may prevail with me beyond ’em all as to possession’. He also showed a considerable preoccupation with the state of his health, so much so that in the election of January 1701 his Whig rivals were able to cast doubts on his ability to continue to serve the county in Parliament. In the 1690s he divided his time between Norfolk and Warwickshire. At Massingham, in the former county, he was a near neighbour and friend of the Walpoles of Houghton, and helped Colonel Robert Walpole I to find a wife for his son and namesake (Robert Walpole II). The elder Walpole died in 1700, but Mordaunt’s friendship with the younger Robert does not seem to have outlasted the early 1700s, possibly because the political disparities between them became clearer as they pursued their very different parliamentary careers, but also, quite feasibly, on account of Mordaunt’s part in bringing about Walpole’s unhappy marriage with Catherine Shorter. After 1700, Mordaunt’s visits to Norfolk in any case seem to have become rarer. As a close friend of William Bromley II, he was one of Bromley’s chief informants on Warwickshire’s electoral affairs. A Country Tory by nature, Mordaunt relished presenting himself to his electors as the embodiment of disinterested parliamentary service. Among his papers there survives the text of an undated election speech in which there is no allusion to current political issues, only to his conception of his role at Westminster:

    I esteem it a particular happiness that I have this opportunity of making my public acknowledgments . . . to you my lords and all these gentlemen and also for this additional and present favour in proposing the same service to me again . . . if you are pleased so far to approve of me as to recommend [me] to the choice of the freeholders at this ensuing election and as I never yet came into Parliament with any other thing in view than to do what I really thought was for the true interest of the public, you may be assured I shall continue to vote according to that rule if you think fit to send me hither again.

Despite his various ailments he was indeed a conscientious servant of his county’s interests and during the course of his 17 years in the House undertook a number of legislative tasks. The first was a bill to revive an Act for ascertaining the tithes of hemp and flax, which he managed through its stages during January - March 1700. The bill was ordered on Mordaunt’s presentation of a petition wherein the county’s hemp and flax dressers complained that with the recent expiry of the old Act, ‘parsons, vicars and impropriators’ had reverted to making unreasonable demands on them for tithes.

At the end of December 1700, illness prevented Mordaunt from leaving London to make preparations for the impending election. His colleague, Sir Charles Shuckburgh, 2nd Bt., wrote anxiously to him on the 28th, warning of signs of opposition activity on behalf of one of the sons of Sir Richard Newdigate, 2nd Bt. The Newdigates, he reported, had spread rumour that Mordaunt was ‘sickly and infirm’ and incapable of a further parliamentary term. However, Mordaunt seems to have responded almost immediately to Shuckburgh’s plea for a clear indication of his capacity, and probably appeared in person at the election meeting of county gentlemen. The election came at a time of personal difficulty for Mordaunt. In addition to ill-health, including toothache, he was grieving the loss of a baby daughter, though realizing, as he advised his wife, that ‘we should patiently submit to God’s dispensations, and be thankful unto him for preserving the rest and blessing us with such fine children’. In the new Parliament he was forecast in February 1701 as likely to vote with the Court in agreeing with a supply resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’. Shortly before the second 1701 election he was blacklisted as an opponent of the preparations for war with France, but his name also appears among those listed in a Tory pamphlet as rejecting these accusations. Returned at the election, he was classed by Robert Harley as a Tory. On 17 Jan. 1702 he was one of the Members ordered to prepare a bill to prevent bribery at elections, a measure favoured by Country Members. He followed his party line in supporting the motion of 26 Feb. vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of King William’s Whig ministers. On 7 May Mordaunt was mildly upbraided by Speaker Harley for breaching rules of procedure over the reporting of a conference with the Upper House the previous day concerning amendments to the abjuration bill. His clumsy interruption of Sir Rowland Gwynne’s formal request for the conference to proceed, with an announcement that it had already taken place, was much frowned upon by ‘the old Members that keep to order’. On the 21st he acted as a teller in a minor question in connexion with Irish forfeitures.

In July 1702, Mordaunt believed the general election would not be determined in Warwickshire without a ‘dispute’, but as the weeks went by neither he nor his ‘brother’, Shuckburgh, received any challenge. In February 1704 he took charge of the latter stages of a private bill revising the estate settlement of William Keyt, father of the future MP for Warwick, Sir William Keyt, 3rd Bt. The following month Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) noted him as a likely supporter in the event of an attack concerning the government’s handling of the Scotch Plot. Forecast in October as a probable supporter of the Tack, he voted accordingly on 28 Nov. in spite of being lobbied by Harley to oppose it. A private estate bill on behalf of his wife’s nephew, Sir George Warburton, 3rd Bt., preoccupied him between December 1704 and February 1705. His letters at this time show that he particularly objected to clauses in the so-called ‘aliens’ bill, designed to pressurize Scottish politicians into resuming negotiations towards union with England, which allowed the Protestant freeholders of ‘the six northern counties’ to arm themselves against possible attack from Scotland, and voted against the bill when put to a division on 11 Jan. At the 1705 election he faced serious opposition from the Whig contender, George Lucy of Charlcote, but his own campaigning was interrupted by an urgent summons to London to attend his dying spinster sister. None the less, both he and Shuckburgh were re-elected by a wide margin of votes. In a printed analysis of the new Parliament Mordaunt was categorized as ‘True Church’, reflecting the pro-Tack stance he had taken the previous November. On 25 Oct. he naturally voted against the Court candidate for Speaker, and in support of Bromley, while on 19 Dec. he is recorded as having spoken at the second reading of the regency bill, though the substance of his intervention is unclear. He was given leave on 22 Jan. 1706 to introduce a bill for improving the effectiveness of laws made at the end of William III’s reign ‘for the more effectual punishment of vagrants, and sending them whither, by law, they ought to be sent’, which he presented a week later. Its provisions appear to have caused some contention in the House since at the report stage it was necessary to recommit the bill, though it finally passed on 8 Mar. A month later, however, the Lords returned it with an amendment to which the Commons disagreed, but after a conference to explain their reasons to the Upper House, in which Mordaunt was inevitably involved, the Lords waived the offending alteration and the bill was enacted. The same session he was also entrusted by Lord Digby (William*) with a bill for the building of a new church at Birmingham. Digby sent him a petition on 12 Feb. containing ‘heads for a bill’, and urged him to employ a ‘skilled’ lawyer to draft it in full. It was probably Mordaunt who presented the petition on 17 Feb., and he introduced the bill on the 28th, Digby having already thanked him for minimizing the legal expenses entailed: ‘you have been a very good husband of the town’s money’. From its committee stage onwards, responsibility for the measure passed to Andrew Archer, but it failed to emerge from the Lords. In March of that year he managed the latter stages of a bill for repairing the highway between Old Stratford in Northamptonshire and Dunchurch in Warwickshire. The analysis of the House compiled early in 1708 identified Mordaunt as a Tory.

Quietly re-elected in 1708, Mordaunt took charge of the pre-committee stages of a second Birmingham church bill in February 1709. Before the 1710 general election he was noted as an opponent of the impeachment proceedings against Dr Sacheverell. When Lord Northampton, the lord lieutenant of the county, made it known in August that he sought a parliamentary seat for his son and heir Lord Compton (James), Mordaunt offered his own, despite (or perhaps because of) his strong reservations about the likelihood of a dissolution. However, his colleague Andrew Archer’s subsequent decision to retire allowed Mordaunt to secure re-election. He was classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’ of the new Parliament. On 28 Feb. 1711 he was a teller in favour of amending a supply bill to remove the drawback on iron and steel. During the same session he appeared as a ‘worthy patriot’ who detected the mismanagements of the previous Whig ministry, and as a ‘Tory patriot’ opposed to the continuance of war, becoming at about the same time a member of the October Club. In August 1712 he took charge of a private estate bill, begun in the Lords on behalf of Hon. Algernon Greville, the former MP for Warwick. Returned in 1713, he was subsequently classed in the Worsley list as a Tory. He took charge of a private divorce bill in the 1714 session, chairing the committee of the whole on 25 June. Mordaunt stood down at the next dissolution, and died at Kensington on 6 Sept. 1721. His eldest son, Sir Charles, elected for the county at a by-election in February 1734, served uninterruptedly until 1774.

Author: Andrew A. Hanham

Mordaunt Biographies

Sir Charles Mordaunt, 6th baronet (1697? - 1778) of Walton D'Eille, nr. Kineton, Warwickshire and Little Massingham, nr. King's Lynn, Norfolk.
The details in this biography come from The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970, and The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J Brooke, 1964, available from Boydell and Brewer.

Consituency - WARWICKSHIRE 6th February 1734 - 1774.
Family and Education - Born. ?1697, 1st son of Sir John Mordaunt, 5th bart., M.P., of Walton D'Eiville and Little Massingham by his 2nd wife Penelope, daughter of Sir George Warburton, 1st bart. of Arley, Cheshire. Education. New College. Oxford, 8th June 1714, aged 16; Lincoln's Inn 1718. Married. (1) 1st December 1720, Dorothy (d. Mar 1726), daughter of WJohn Conyers, M.P. of Walthamstow, Essex, 2 daughters; (2) 7th July 1730, Sophia, daughter of Sir John Wodehouse, 4th bart., of Kimberley, Norfolk, 2 sons. Succeeded father 6th September, 1721.

A wealthy and influential Tory, the head of a family settled in Warwickshire since the sixteenth century, Sir Charles Mordaunt was returned for the county without a contest for 40 years. Presumably he was the Mr. Mordaunt of Warwickshire whose name was sent to the Pretender early in 1721 as a probable supporter in the event of a rising. He was one of the Tories who withdrew on the motion for the removal of Walpole in February 1741. In May 1742 he was included in the opposition list for a proposed committee on the public accounts. In the 2nd Lord Egmont’s electoral survey, c.1749-50, he is described as being ‘well inclined to us. He has a great weight among the Tories. An estate of £2,500 p.a.’ In the same Lord Egmont’s lists for a new government on the Prince’s accession he is put down for a place on the Treasury or Admiralty boards. He was one of the ‘heads of the Tories’ who came to consult Egmont after the death of the Prince.

On 18 Nov. 1754 he opened the debate on the Oxfordshire election for the Tory side.1In March 1755 he took part in the Tory meetings at the Horn Tavern over the Mitchell election petition, and on 14 Jan. 1757 in the meeting of country gentlemen arranged by George Townshend to discuss the line to be adopted over the Minorca inquiry. At the beginning of George III’s reign great efforts were made by both Opposition and court to win him, as one of the Tory leaders. James West wrote to Newcastle on 12 Oct. 1762: ‘I do not find my neighbour Sir Charles Mordaunt at all determined as to his own or friends’ conduct’; and on 2 Nov. Newcastle noted that the Duke of Cumberland ‘had heard that Sir Charles Mordaunt and several of the Tories would not support this Administration’. On 26 Nov. Newcastle wrote to Hardwicke:

    Sir Charles Mordaunt and Bagot told Mr. Legge, that they found themselves in a very disagreeable situation—that if they were proscribed (meaning by us) was it to be expected that they should assist in running down the present ministers for whom they did not show any great regard? Legge wanted to have power to assure them that there was no such intention.
Hardwicke thought Mordaunt and his friends ‘the sounder part of the Tories’, and saw no objection to the proposed assurance.

But more substantial offers came from the court. Bute wrote to Fox on 16 Dec.: ‘I have seen Sir C. Mordaunt who expressed himself in the handsomest manner, declined at his age entering into employment, but expressed his wishes to see his son in his Majesty’s bedchamber.’ John Mordaunt was appointed a groom of the bedchamber, and his father was won for the court. But he remained an independent country gentleman. On 24 Feb. 1763 he attended a meeting ‘consisting of 60 or 70 persons, Tories and others’, to discuss the new army establishment. According to a document in the Newcastle papers Mordaunt said that he ‘loved the King, had no suspicion relating to him, but the increase of corps was an increase of expense’. However, wrote the King to Bute, Mordaunt ‘in the handsomest manner yielded to what is proposed’.

He supported the Grenville Administration, and voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act. On 27 Feb. 1767 he voted against the Government on the land tax. In the Parliament of 1768 he appears in only one division list, the minority list of 6 Feb. 1772 on the petition of the clergy against the 39 Articles—which is surprising in view of his High Church connexions. On the royal marriage bill Robinson classed him as ‘doubtful’, but in his survey of 1774 as ‘pro’. No speech by Mordaunt is known. At the general election of 1774 his son stood for Warwickshire but was defeated.

He died 11 Mar. 1778.

Author: Shirley Matthews (1715 - 1754) and John Brooke (1754 - 1790)

Mordaunt Biographies

Sir John Mordaunt, 7th baronet (1734 - 1806) of Walton, Warks.
The details in this biography come from The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986, available from Boydell and Brewer.

Consituency - WARWICKSHIRE 30th March 1793 - 1802.
Family and Education - Born. 9th May. 1734, son and heir of Sir Charles Mordaunt, 6th bart., of Walton by his 2nd wife Sophia, daughter of Sir John Wodehouse, 4th bart., of Kimberley, Norfolk. Education. New College. 1752. Married. 3rd January, 1769, Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Thomas Prowse of Compton Bishop, Somerset, 2 sons & 6 daughters. Succeded father as 7th bart. 11th March 1778.
Offices Held - Captain, Warwickshire Militia; 1759-63. Groom of the bedchamber 1763-93.

As an Oxford undergraduate, Mordaunt toured the north of England and Scotland with his friend William Ralph Cartwright. He served with the militia at the scene of the naval mutiny in 1797 and against the Irish rebels a year later. He ruined his health in Ireland and went to Portugal to recuperate in 1803, but suffered from asthma for the rest of his life. In 1804, only two years after his father’s retirement from the county representation, he obtained the same honour on a vacancy. Opposition melted away and, unlike his father, he was not regarded as specifically responsible for the interests of Birmingham, though he discovered that he could not afford to ignore them.

Mordaunt spent much time in the gallery of the House while his father was county Member and reported debates to his family, his Household place detaining him in London. His interest in politics met with a rebuff in 1774 when he was defeated in a bid to succeed his father as county Member. He was returned unopposed in 1793, but by then had no ambition to cut a figure at Westminster. He was regarded as spokesman for the interests of Birmingham, which had rejected him in 1774. He esteemed Pitt and gave a general support to administration. On 9 May 1793 he supported the bill to enable Hemlingford Hundred (which included Birmingham) to raise a loan towards the damages due to victims of the Birmingham riots of 1791. Letters to his wife show that he was an anxious man and a conscientious attender; he reported to her the debates of 21 and 31 Jan. and 10 Mar. 1794. At that time, his colleague being injured, he was left to attend to all the Warwickshire business. On 25 Nov. and 3 Dec. 1795 he disparaged the petition from Birmingham against the treason bills presented by Sheridan: if it had not been coupled with a prayer for peace, it would have received scant support. On 18 Feb. and 15 Mar. 1796 he voted for the abolition of the slave trade.

Mordaunt attended the opening of Parliament, but obtained five weeks’ leave of absence on 8 Nov. 1796 for the recovery of his health. He took the ministerial side on the county petition of June 1797. In April 1799 he re-emerged in the House as a member of the copper trade committee and on 18 June explained that the copper manufacturers sought relief from duties. He was in the chair of the committee on the copper trade regulation bill, 4 Apr. 1800. On 18 Nov. 1800 he obtained leave to amend the Poor Law of 1782. He did not seek re-election in 1802 and died 18 Nov. 1806.

Author: R. G. Thorne

Mordaunt Biographies

Charles Henry Mordaunt(1756 – 1814), 5th Earl of Peterborough etc.


On SUNDAY 26th JUNE 1814

“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, and that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour;
The paths of glory lead but to the grave”.

The immense preparations for this magnificent funeral reflect the most unqualified praise upon the tasteful conception and masterly arrangements of its judicious conductor, who engaged on its respective departments the most celebrated artists and assistants of Bath, whose transcendent talents were conspicuously exerted in that effective and superior style of decoration, which excited the universal admiration of thousands of spectators who had assembled from all parts of the country to witness this unrivalled spectacle.

The awful magnificence of the scene astonished and appalled the beholder as he entered the State Room, the spacious and lofty dimensions of which presented its entirety lined with super fine black cloth interspersed with banners and escutcheons, enriched with appropriate mottos; in the centre a raised platform, richly adorned with elegantly disposed draperies of black satin, attracted the eye and the encumbered coffin covered with crimson velvet and displaying a highly ornatmentive silver-gilt furniture bearing inscriptions. The partially enveloping pall in massive enfoldments afforded a contrasting background to the blushing coronet placed upon the breast of the deceased. This gorgeous badge of nobility, studded with mingling gems and rich crimson mounted with gold, singularly beautiful in form and splendid in effect, heightened the solemn grandeur of the scene, emitting its sparking radiance. An extensive disposition of waxed lights of each side of the bier, supported by stands of highly wrought silver. The state canopy suspended over the corpse formed a superb cupola, and displayed an elegant arrangement of black stain and velvet, decorated with deep Parisian fringes and tassels; on the centre of the dome of full-plumage of ostrich feathers; the heads of the canopy, surmounted by an admirably executed transparency representing the ancestral honour of the family. The mourners chain on each side of the bier occupied and attended by eight mutes, clad in sable robes, inculcated in silent eloquence the ultimatum of all human greatness, to which the muffled minute bell vibrating upon the air, whispered in sights along the echoing wall, rebuking every unhallowed passion and excluding the more cheerful imagery of alluring world.

On entering the Church, Melancholy appeared in regal state, and Solemnity discovered its grave brow in contemplating Death’s black banners, rendered more terrific from the local gloom of the centre aisle, where an awful pre-eminence to receive the coffin reared its sable plumes, and the pulpit, the communion, and the family pews contributed their pompous obsequies to these gloomy mansions of the illustrious dead, invested sixth deep hanging of fine black cloth, supported by corresponding plumes and suitable embellishments. The whole was strikingly impressive and highly appropriate.

Considerable praise is due to the superintendents of the different avenue leading to the state rooms, in affording every facility to gratify the public’s curiosity and in regulating their ingress and egress at opposite doors.


Six Marshal-men with brass capped truncheons to clear the way
Sixty tenants with satin hat bands and scarves, two and two
Two conductors on horseback

Eight mutes on horseback
Chariot and four with two clergymen, four pages attending
Two banner bearers on horseback, with satin hatbands
The Page of Honour in full Court dress, mounted upon a stately charger, led by two grooms and bearing the coronet upon a crimson velvet cushion, enriched by double rows of deep gold fringe and tassels, two attendant gentle-men ushers preceding with banners flying
Two coaches and six with pallbearers
Two coaches and six, four pages to each
A majestic plume of feathers interspersed with streamers


In a hearse and six with superb plumes, escutcheons etc
Four under-bearers on each side
Two coaches and six with chief mourners
Eight coaches and six etc, beside private carriages, closed the line escorted by attendant pages etc

This immense cavalcade moved in slow and solemn pace “whilst the Bell of Death beat the dolorous, and flung to the hollow gale its sullen sound” through part of the domains of the late earldom contagious to the mansion, describing an ellipsis of nearly two miles in extent, one half of which it covered, occasionally seen through groves of chequered firs, on presenting an uninterrupted line of coaches carriages and horsemint displaying the various heraldic ornaments of costly trappings, flanking and horses, innumerably variegated fold and silver streamers waving in freest of nodding plumes, trilbies, hatchments and escutcheons, besides the numerous tenancy assistants, pages, mutes and attendants arrayed in various and distinctive habits produced an effect of solemn taste and collective splendour that few had equalled and none excelled.

Title of the Deceased

Charles Henry Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough and Monmouth, Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon, Baron Mordaunt of Reigate, Baron Mordaunt of Turvey. Born 11 May 1758, succeeded father, Charles the late Earl, August 1779. Died 16 June 1814. This peerage is become extinct in consequence of the death of the last surviving heir (the late Earl) of this noble house, which attests an ancient line of gallant achievements and hereditary greatness in bravery patriotism and virtue, as any recorded in history of our country.

Mordaunt Biographies

Sir Charles Mordaunt, 8th baronet (1771 - 1823) of Walton, Warks. and 6 Portman Square, Middx.
The details in this biography come from The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986, available from Boydell and Brewer, and The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009, published by the Cambridge University Press.

Consituency - WARWICKSHIRE 1st October, 1804, - 7th October, 1820.
Family and Education - Born. 5th January. 1771, only surviving son of Sir John Mordaunt, 7th bart., of Walton and Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Thomas Prowse of Compton Bishop, Somerset. Education. Eton 1779-88; Christ Church, Oxford. 1788. Married. 31st January, 1807, Marianne, daughter of William Holbech of Farnborough Hall, Warwickshire, 1 son & 2 daughters. Succeded father as 8th bart. 18th November, 1806. Died. 30th May, 1823.
Offices Held - Captain, (Volunteers) Warwickshire Militia; cornet, Warwickshire yeoman cavalry, 1798, captain 1801, Major 1802. Recorder, Stratford-upon-Avon 1807,

As an Oxford undergraduate, Mordaunt toured the north of England and Scotland with his friend William Ralph Cartwright. He served with the militia at the scene of the naval mutiny in 1797 and against the Irish rebels a year later. He ruined his health in Ireland and went to Portugal to recuperate in 1803, but suffered from asthma for the rest of his life. In 1804, only two years after his father’s retirement from the county representation, he obtained the same honour on a vacancy. Opposition melted away and, unlike his father, he was not regarded as specifically responsible for the interests of Birmingham, though he discovered that he could not afford to ignore them.

He was at once listed a supporter of Pitt, but raised doubts about this after voting in the majorities against Melville, 8 Apr., 12 June 1805. On 3 Mar. 1806 he was in the minority against Ellenborough’s seat in Lord Grenville’s cabinet. Eight days later he presented the Warwickshire maltsters’ petition for relief from malt duties and on 9 May opposed the iron duty bill to please his Birmingham constituents. He was an infrequent speaker from ‘sensitive shyness’. Like his father he was friendly to the abolition of the slave trade. On 17 Feb. 1807 he was given leave to bring in a bill for the recovery of small debts in Birmingham, but defaulted early in March. On 21 Mar. 1808 he took a month’s leave after serving on the Malton election committee. His only known vote against the Portland ministry was on the allegation of ministerial corruption, 25 Apr. 1809. On 11 May he had his moment of glory when, with Cartwright, he led the opposition to Madocks’s bid to turn the question into a reform issue, but it has been snatched from him by the misattribution of his speech.2 In supporting Perceval’s ministry on the address, 23 Jan. 1810, he behaved like his colleague Dugdale, with whom he was in the opposition majority on 5 Mar., but apparently reverted to government on 30 Mar. on the Scheldt question. The Whigs listed him ‘doubtful’ at that time. He voted against parliamentary reform, 21 May. Like Dugdale, he deserted ministers on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811.

Mordaunt’s conduct over the orders in council, which were so much resented by his Birmingham constituents, did not give them satisfaction. On 17 Apr. 1812, presenting their petition against them, he allowed himself some levity, though he said he would support a committee of investigation and conceded (28 Apr.) that the manufacturers’ distress was a burden on the poor rates. His only other known gesture in the House that session was to support inquiry into conditions at Lincoln gaol, 25 June. At the dissolution attempts were made by his Birmingham critics to conjure up an opposition to him at the general election, but they failed.

He was listed a Treasury supporter after the election and suggested as a seconder of the Speaker’s re-election in October 1812.3 Unlike his colleague, he supported Catholic relief on 13 and 24 May 1813. He had been absent ill early in March but was present by 17 Mar., when he opposed the fire-arms bill on behalf of Birmingham manufacturers. On their behalf, too, he supported the fire-arms improving bill, 28 May. He also spoke in committee on the amendment of penalties for treason, 9 Apr. He was in the majority favourable to Christian missions to India, 22 June. He supported the repeal of the obsolete apprentice laws, ‘the strongest possible fetters upon ingenuity and industry’, 13 May 1814. In 1815 and 1816 he sympathized with his constituents’ opposition to the renewal of the property tax: he called for delay so as to enable them to muster against it, 26 Feb. 1816, and three days later called on ministers to give it up, in view of the public outcry against their breach of faith. He voted against the army estimates, 8 Mar. That day he presented his county’s petition for retrenchment. He was in the majority against the property tax, 18 Mar. He also opposed the leather tax, 9 May. He seems to have vacillated on Catholic relief, opposing it in 1816 and reverting to support of it in 1817. His seat, like that of his colleague, was said to be in danger unless he opposed ministers at this juncture; but, like Dugdale, he voted for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817. Unlike him, after being invited to Fife House to hear the ministerial point of view, he joined opposition to the ducal marriage grant, 15 Apr. 1818. His constituents pressed him to support Mackintosh’s motion on bank-note forgery, 21 Apr., and on 14 May he presented their petition on the subject. He also complained of the delays in trials on the midland circuit, 26 May.

Mordaunt was spared a contest in 1818, having doubtless satisfied many of his critics of his independence. He opposed alteration in the coal duties, 2 Feb. 1819, and was one of the midland Members who lobbied the prime minister on the issue on 8 Feb. On 2 Mar. he supported Mackintosh’s motion for a committee on criminal law reform, stating his preference for one general committee over a ‘family’ of them. He supported ministers against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819. In October 1820 he vacated his seat, being expected to expire ‘with a groan that the whole county will hear’. He lingered until 30 May 1823.

Despite his failing health Mordaunt, a pro-Catholic Whig who had long adapted his politics to appease his constituents, stood again for his county at the general election of 1820 and was returned unopposed. He apologized on the hustings for his absence from Parliament throughout 1819 and explained that, if present, he would have supported the Bank Act and the repressive legislation after Peterloo. He added that he would 'exert all the power he possessed' in the new Parliament to combat the depression in trade and agriculture. Although his name appears in no surviving division list, he was not entirely inactive in his last parliamentary session. He supported inquiry with a view to curbing emissions from industrial furnaces, commended the ‘ingenious’ and ‘effectual’ device used by John Parkes at his Warwick factory, where the furnaces 'consumed their own smoke' and was named to the committee, 2 May 1820. The next day he and his colleague Dugdale Stratford Dugdale requested an interview with Lord Liverpool on behalf of a Birmingham deputation seeking inquiry into the causes of distress in manufacturing. He was named to the select committee on restricting the use of capital punishment for felony, which he had long advocated, 9 May 1820.

Mordaunt, whose devoted wife (d. 1842) conceded that he was 'never perhaps sufficiently attached' to the duties of public life, preferring 'enjoyment of nature' and 'domestic affection;', fell so grievously ill later that year that he resigned his seat.' It was supposed that the candidature of the radical Richard Spooner at the ensuing by-election would 'send him without more delay out of the world with a groan that the whole county will hear', but his preferred candidate, the pro-Catholic Whig Francis Lawley, prevailed. Mordaunt died at Walton in May 1823, worth an estimated £90,000 at probate, having entrusted the care of his 15-year-old son John (1808-45), his heir in the baronetcy and estates in Warwickshire, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Kent, to his widow and her brothers. Sir John Mordaunt represented Warwickshire South as a Conservative, 1835-45.

Author: R. G. Thorne (1790 - 1820) and Margaret Escott (1820 - 1832)

Mordaunt Biographies

Miss Mordaunt (Louisa Cranstoun MacNamara later Mrs Nisbettt, later still Lady Boothby)
The details in this biography come from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography published by the Oxford University Press

Nisbett [née Macnamara; other married name Boothby], Louisa Cranstoun (1812–1858), actress, was born on 1 April 1812 in Balls Pond, Hackney, Middlesex, one of the three daughters of Frederick Hayes Macnamara and his wife, Jane Elizabeth, née Williams. Her aunt was Lady Cranstoun and her paternal grandfather was a merchant in St Kitts, West Indies, who spent three fortunes. On his marriage her father quit the 52nd foot and tried work as a merchant, but soon decided for the stage under the name of Mordaunt. He played in private theatres, such as those in Wilmington Square and Berwick Street, where his daughter is said to have joined him, as Miss Mordaunt, at an early age. Before she was ten she appeared at the Lyceum (then the English Opera House) for her father's benefit, and then undertook parts beyond her years, such as that of Edward IV's mistress Jane Shore, which was considered unsuitable. In 1826 she played Lady Teazle at Greenwich, then joined the elder Macready's company at Bristol, and afterwards moved to Cardiff and Stratford upon Avon, where her parts included Portia, Lady Macbeth, Young Norval, and Edmund in The Blind Boy. Plays in Northampton, Southampton, and Portsmouth followed, and on 26 October 1829 she was at Drury Lane as Widow Cheerly in Andrew Cherry's The Soldier's Daughter, where her aunt visited her in the green room and her success was assured. During the next two years she played a large variety of parts, some original, at Drury Lane and the Haymarket. In 1831 she left the stage, costing her father £1500 for breach of contract at those two theatres, to marry John Alexander Nisbett of Brettenham Hall, Suffolk, a captain in the first Life Guards, whom she described as ‘never a husband, always a lover’. He was killed on 2 October of that year falling from his horse. His affairs were thrown into chancery, and some years elapsed before Mrs Nisbett obtained any provision under his will. Consequently she returned to Drury Lane to play comedy parts, and went on to act in various provincial towns.

In December 1834, at a salary of £20 a week, Mrs Nisbett became the nominal manager of the little Queen's Theatre in Tottenham Street, London, where it was difficult to see the stage owing to the large fashionable bonnets of the women in the audience. In February 1835 she played Esther in Douglas Jerrold's Schoolfellows, supported by her two sisters. The same year she took some time out at other theatres, the Strand and the Adelphi, where on 21 December she was the original Mabellah in Jerrold's Doves in a Cage. She also played at the Queen's, where she reopened with five light pieces, in three of which she herself appeared. Her greatest triumph was at the Haymarket, where Webster engaged her to play a part written especially for her, that of Constance in The Love Chase by Sheridan Knowles, at a very liberal salary. This play ran for nearly a hundred nights and evoked verses about her from a member of the audience. After the close of the season Mrs Nisbett visited Dublin's Hawkins Street Theatre, and on 30 September 1839 she was at Covent Garden with Madame Vestris in Love's Labours Lost. On 4 March 1841 she gave an unequalled performance as the original Lady Gay Spanker in Boucicault's London Assurance. On the collapse of the Covent Garden management in 1842 she returned to the Haymarket, but was back at the Garden later in the year. On 1 October she was Rosalind to W. C. Macready's Jaques at Drury Lane, where her playing was said by Macready to be inadequate. By this time her financial affairs were settled and she owned a chariot and pair and an elegant little suburban villa. On 15 October 1844 she married Sir William Boothby, bt, of Ashbourne Hall, Derbyshire, at the Episcopal Chapel, Fulham; he died on 21 April 1846. During her short time in Derbyshire she was reputed to have gained the affection of all classes, particularly the poor.

Lady Boothby returned to the stage again as Constance in The Love Chase at the Haymarket on 12 April 1847, and in December of that year she took part in a Shakespearian night at Covent Garden with other well-regarded actors, when £800 was raised for the purchase of Shakespeare's birthplace. In 1849 she was included in the company about to start at the Olympic when it was burnt down on 29 March. She then moved to Drury Lane, which was opened by James R. Anderson on 26 December. With her sister Jane Mordaunt she played at the Marylebone on 21 November 1850, and remained there until transferring back to Drury Lane, where she made her last appearance on the stage, as Lady Teazle, on 8 May 1851. Her health had broken down and she retired to St Leonards, Sussex. She was, however, able to take drives in the surrounding countryside, and J. R. Planché met her with her mother, brother, and a sister with two children at a picnic at Bodiam Castle in 1857. All these relatives died within six months and were not long survived by Lady Boothby, who died, at Rosemount, St Leonards, of a stroke on 16 January 1858. She was tall, with a long neck, a lithe figure, an oval face, lustrous eyes, and dark hair. Many writers especially mention her magical laugh, and she was called one of the most entertaining, spirited actresses ever seen on the London stage.

Joseph Knight, rev. J. Gilliland