ANNESLEY, George, Visct. Valentia (1770-1844), of Arley Hall, Bewdley, Worcs.
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Family and Education
b. 4 Dec. 1770, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Arthur, 1st Earl of Mountnorris [I], by 1st w. Hon. Lucy Fortescue Lyttelton, da. of George Lyttelton†, 1st Baron Lyttelton, and h. of her bro. Thomas Lyttelton†, 2nd Baron Lyttelton. educ. Rugby 1784; Brasenose, Oxf. 1787. m. 3 Sept. 1790, Hon. Anne Courtenay, da. of William, 2nd Visct. Courtenay, 2s. d.v.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Mountnorris [I] 4 July 1816.
Gov. co. Wexford 1816; capt. Mountnorris inf. 1816.
In May 1796 Valentia obtained £2,000 damages from John Bellenden Gawler for crim. con. with his wife. Gawler had aggravated his offence by threatening, if Valentia sought legal redress, to charge him with a crime ‘as false as it was horrid, and thus drive him from human society’. Gawler resumed his activities when Valentia set off for India in 1802 to study natural history.1 On his return in 1806 he published an account of his travels.2 His father possessed a strong interest in Wexford, which he transferred to Valentia early in 1807, wishing to see him in Parliament. But he did not contest the county and came in instead, on the Worsley Holmes interest, for Yarmouth. Meanwhile his brother-in-law John Maxwell Barry* had been urging the ministry to find him a seat, and the Irish secretary warned the Treasury that government stood to lose the Mountnorris interest in Wexford if the requirement was not met.3 The seat for Yarmouth was evidently the fulfilment of this expectation.
Valentia took no part in debate, but he made himself useful to Perceval in the Duke of York’s case in 1809 and later claimed that Perceval had promised to help him recover the interest he had inherited from his mother at Bewdley.4 He voted with ministers on the address, 23 Jan. 1810, and on the Earl of Chatham’s conduct over the Scheldt expedition, 5 Mar., being listed by the Whigs an adherent of the Marquess Wellesley. (He paired in favour of Catholic relief, 21 May 1810.) He looked to Wellesley to provide him with a foreign appointment, for which he applied in February 1810. As he wished to go to the Mediterranean, there were difficulties. In June 1810 Perceval informed Charles Philip Yorke that he was anxious to delay Valentia’s going out of town, wishing for his vote:
As to the arrangement with regard to his seat I understood from you that it was to be consequential on his going abroad in some diplomatic character to the Mediterranean, and till his employment could be arranged for him I did not imagine the other question would arise.
He had doubted as to ‘there being any opening for his lordship where he wants to find it’. Valentia arranged to winter abroad willy nilly for reasons of health, and allowed ministers to delay the vacation of his seat until November when a new writ was issued. On 14 Dec. 1810 he wrote to Yorke from Malta, whence he was proceeding to Sicily, to ask for the governship of the Ionian islands if they should be annexed. He promised to be ‘a licensed spy’ and vowed that if the Whigs came to power he would not return to England as long as his father lived.5
Valentia recovered his health in Sicily, where he ‘indulged himself openly in propensities of which he was only suspected at home’. When in June 1812 Wellesley hoped to form an administration, it was his wish to be appointed minister at Palermo, or at least chargé d’affaires during Lord William Bentinck’s absence; or failing that, to obtain a place at home which might enable him to maintain his family—for he was on short commons while his father lived.6 On his return he concentrated on the representation of county Wexford. In 1816, the year of his father’s death, his application to share the patronage of the county with his uncle Sir Frederick Flood* was turned down by the Irish secretary. His heir, for whom Flood made way at the election of 1818, failed in his bid for the county seat; nor could government do anything to restore the family interest at Bewdley.7 Like his father, Mountnorris laid claim to the English earldom of Anglesey (1819), but failed in that too. He died 23 July 1844.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: P. A. Symonds / R. G. Thorne
- 1. Morning Chron. 20 May 1796; Edinburgh Advertiser , 8-11 June 1802.
- 2. Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt 1802-06 (4 vols. 1809).
- 3. Fortescue mss, Mountnorris to Grenville, 5 June; Wellington mss, Wellesley to Long, 12 Dec. 1807.
- 4. Add. 38283, f. 241.
- 5. Add. 19423, jnl. p. 2; 37309, f. 335; 45036, f. 78; 45043, ff. 127, 131.
- 6. Add. 37310, f. 51; 37297, f. 73; Buckingham, Regency , i. 200.
- 7. Add. 38458, f. 208; 40188, f. 156; 40263, f. 312; 40290, f. 115; 40292, f. 158; see COUNTY WEXFORD.