The Marquess of Hertford
|Lord Lieutenant of Ireland|
7 August 1765 – 1766
|Preceded by||Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath|
|Succeeded by||George Hervey, 2nd Earl of Bristol|
5 July 1718
|Died||14 June 1794(aged 75)|
Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford, KG, PC, PC (Ire) (5 July 1718 – 14 June 1794) was a British courtier and politician.
Hertford was born in Chelsea, London, the son of Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Baron Conway, and Charlotte Shorter, daughter of John Shorter of Bybrook. He was a descendant of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset. He succeeded to the barony on the death of his father in 1732. The first few years after his father's death were spent in Italy and Paris. On his return to England he took his seat, as 2nd Baron Conway, among the Peers in November 1739. Henry Seymour Conway, politician and soldier, was his younger brother.
In August 1750 he was created Viscount Beauchamp and Earl of Hertford, both of which titles had earlier been created for and forfeited by his ancestor Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector of England, following his attainder and execution in 1552. The Seymour family had inherited a moiety of the feudal barony of Hatch Beauchamp, in Somerset, by marriage to the heiress Cicely Beauchamp (d.1393). In 1755, according to Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, "The Earl of Hertford, a man of unblemished morals, but rather too gentle and cautious to combat so presumptuous a court, was named Ambassador to Paris." He appointed David Hume as his Secretary, who wrote of him, "I do not believe there is in the World a man of more probity & Humanity, endowd with a very good Understanding, and adornd with very elegant Manners & Behaviour". However, due to the demands of the French, the journey to Paris was suspended. From 1751 to 1766 he was Lord of the Bedchamber to George II and George III. In 1756 he was made a Knight of the Garter and, in 1757, Lord-Lieutenant and Guardian of the Rolls of the County of Warwick and City of Coventry.
In 1763 he became Privy Councillor and, from October 1763 to June 1765, was a successful ambassador in Paris. He witnessed the sad last months of Madame de Pompadour, whom he admired, and wrote a kindly epitaph for her. In the autumn of 1765 he became Viceroy of Ireland where, as an honest and religious man, he was well liked. An anonymous satirist in 1777 described him as "the worst man in His Majesty's dominions", and also emphasised Hertford's greed and selfishness, adding "I cannot find any term for him but avaricious." However, this anonymous attack does not seem to be justified.
In 1782, when she was only fifty-six, his wife died after having nursed their grandson at Forde's Farm, Thames Ditton, where she caught a violent cold. According to Walpole, "Lord Hertford's loss is beyond measure. She was not only the most affectionate wife, but the most useful one, and almost the only person I ever saw that never neglected or put off or forgot anything that was to be done. She was always proper, either in the highest life or in the most domestic." (Walpole visited Forde's Farm on several occasions from his residence at Strawberry Hill, Twickenham.) Within two years of the tragedy, Lord Hertford had sold Forde's Farm to Mrs Charlotte Boyle Walsingham, and a further two years later, she had re-developed the estate, building a new mansion which she called Boyle Farm, a name still in use today.
In July 1793 he was created Marquess of Hertford, with the subsidiary title of Earl of Yarmouth. He enjoyed this elevation for almost a year until his death at the age of seventy-six, on 14 June 1794, at the house of his daughter, the Countess of Lincoln. He died as the result of an infection following a minor injury he received while riding. He was buried at Arrow, in Warwickshire.
Lord Hertford married Lady Isabella Fitzroy, daughter of Charles FitzRoy, 2nd Duke of Grafton, on 29 May 1741. Her grandfather was Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton (1663-1690), an illegitimate son of King Charles II. By his wife he had thirteen children:
He is not known to have suffered himself from any mental abnormality, but a noted strain of eccentricity, even madness, appeared among his descendants: the debauched behaviour of his grandson, the 3rd Marquess, and the suicide of another grandson, Viscount Castlereagh, were both attributed to a strain of madness supposed to be hereditary in the Seymour Conway family.
Lord Hertford died in Surrey, England.