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Bathurst, Earls

BATHURST, EARLS. Allen Bathurst, 1st Earl Bathurst (1684-1775), was the eldest son of Sir Benjamin Bathurst (d. 1704), by his wife, Frances (d. 1727), daughter of Sir Allen Apsley of Apsley, Sussex, and belonged to a family which is said to have settled in Sussex before the Norman Conquest. He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, and became member of parliament for Cirencester in May 1705, retaining his seat until December 1711, when he was created Baron Bathurst of Battlesden, Bedfordshire. As a zealous Tory he defended Atterbury, bishop of Rochester, and in the House of Lords was an opponent of Sir Robert Walpole. After Walpole left office in 1742 he was made a privy councillor, and in August 1772 was created Earl Bathurst, having previously received a pension of £2000 a year chargeable upon the Irish revenues. He died on the 16th of September 1775, and was buried in Cirencester church. In July 1704 Bathurst married his cousin, Catherine (d. 1768), daughter of Sir Peter Apsley, by whom he had four sons and five daughters. The earl associated with the poets and scholars of the time. Pope, Swift, Prior, Sterne, and Congreve were among his friends. He is described in Sterne's Letters to Eliza; was the subject of a graceful reference on the part of Burke speaking in the House of Commons; and the letters which passed between him and Pope are published in Pope's Works, vol. viii. (London, 1872).

Henry, 2nd Earl Bathurst (1714-1794), was the eldest surviving son of the 1st earl. Educated at Balliol College, Oxford, he was called to the bar, and became a K.C. in 1745. In April 1735 he had been elected member of parliament for Cirencester, and was rewarded for his opposition to the government by being made solicitor-general and then attorney-general to Frederick, prince of Wales. Resigning his seat in parliament in April 1754 he was made a judge of the court of common pleas in the following month and became lord high chancellor in January 1771, when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Apsley. Having become Earl Bathurst by his father's death in September 1775, he resigned his office somewhat unwillingly in July 1778 to enable Thurlow to join the cabinet of Lord North. In November 1779 he was appointed lord president of the council, and left office with North in March 1782. He died at Oakley Grove near Cirencester on the 6th of August 1794. Bathurst was twice married, and left two sons and four daughters. He was a weak lord chancellor, but appears to have been just and fair in his distribution of patronage.

Henry, 3rd Earl Bathurst (1762-1834), the elder son of the second earl, was born on the 22nd of May 1762. In April 1789 he married Georgiana (d. 1841), daughter of Lord George Henry Lennox, and was member of parliament for Cirencester from 1783 until he succeeded to the earldom in August 1794. Owing mainly to his friendship with William Pitt, he was a lord of the admiralty from 1783 to 1789; a lord of the treasury from 1789 to 1791; and commissioner of the board of control from 1793 to 1802. Returning to office with Pitt in May 1804 he became master of the mint, and was president of the Board of Trade and master of the mint during the ministries of the duke of Portland and Spencer Perceval, only vacating these posts in June 1812 to become secretary for war and the colonies under the earl of Liverpool. For two months during the year 1809 he was in charge of the foreign office. He was secretary for war and the colonies until Liverpool resigned in April 1827; and deserves some credit for improving the conduct of the Peninsular War, while it was his duty to defend the government concerning its treatment of Napoleon Bonaparte. Bathurst's official position caused his name to be mentioned frequently during the agitation for the abolition of slavery, and with regard to this traffic he seems to have been animated by a humane spirit. He was lord president of the council in the government of the duke of Wellington from 1828 to 1830, and favoured the removal of the disabilities of Roman Catholics, but was a sturdy opponent of the reform bill of 1832. The earl, who had four sons and two daughters, died on the 27th of July 1834. Bathurst was made a knight of the Garter in 1817, and held several lucrative sinecures.

His eldest son, Henry George, 4th Earl Bathurst (1790-1866), was member of parliament for Cirencester from 1812 to 1834. He died unmarried on the 25th of May 1866, and was succeeded in the title by his brother, William Lennox, 5th Earl Bathurst (1791-1878), member of parliament for Weobley from 1812 to 1816, and clerk of the privy council from 1827 to 1860, who died unmarried on the 24th of February 1878.

Allen Alexander. 6th Earl Bathurst (1832-1892), was the son of Thomas Seymour Bathurst, and grandson of the 3rd earl. He was member of parliament for Cirencester from 1857 until he became Earl Bathurst in February 1878, and died on the 2nd of August 1892, when his eldest son, Seymour Henry (b. 1864), became 7th Earl Bathurst.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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