Records of the Lumleys of Lumley Castle Chapter X The Second Earl is in Records of the Lumleys of Lumley Castle.
Records of the Lumleys of Lumley Castle Chapter X The Second Earl His Tragic Death
We know nothing more of Lord Scarbrough (53) till his tragic death. The first account of this is quoted from William Ernst's "Memoirs of Lord Chesterfield," published in 1893 : "At the beginning of the year 1740 Lord Chesterfield (45) had the misfortune to lose one of his earliest and dearest friends, Richard, Earl of Scarborough (53), who died by his own hand on the 29th January. Writing on the 15th February to the Rev. Dr. Chenevix, who had been, on the recommendation of Lord Scarborough, his chaplain at the Hague, Lord Chesterfield says : 'We have both lost a friend in Scarborough; nobody can replace him to me; I wish I could replace him to you; but as things stand, I see no great hopes of it.'"
Horace Walpole (22), younger brother of the Minister, writing to Robert Trevor on February 1st-12th, 1739-40, says: "During the debate about 8 o'clock Sir Thomas Saunderson and Lord Chesterfield who attended us were sent for out of the House, on account as it was immediately rumoured of Lord Scarbrough's being dead or at the extremity by a fit of an apoplexy; but the next morning the various accounts that had been given late the night before to those who sent or came to know how he did, the great caution taken not to let anybody into the house, not even his nearest relations, and other circumstances, gave an occasion to extraordinary surmises about the nature of his death, and nobody cared to talk about it but by whispers. The silence and caution continues still, but tete-a-tete among friends I believe nobody doubts his having been his own executioner, and it is said he did it with a pistol clapt so close to his mouth, that it did not make a great noise, at least it did not alarm the house, nor did the bullet go through his head. He had been out that morning, had dined at home alone had ordered his chair to carry him at six in the afternoon to Lady Harvey's to spend the evening, and bespoke his own supper; and his not calling to go out his valet de chambre went into his room and found him stone dead and cold. I believe this is a true account, but I must beg you not to mention it.... His will has been opened having not been made above a fortnight since and left in Sir Thomas Saunderson's custody, who 'tis said is greatly disappointed, for all the Scarbrough estate he has left to Mr. James Lumley (34), his youngest brother, charging it with; £20,000 to Sir Thomas Sanderson." After other details already given he concludes thus: " The said Mr. Lumley is made sole executor and has the absolute disposal of the whole estate besides, both real and personal."
The next account given is from Dr. Maty's " Memoirs," p. 94 : Lord Chesterfield "wished that all mention were dropped of past jealousies, since it now appeared that the division had not been between one party and another, but between the whole nation and the ministry. But, though he was supported in these sentiments by the earl of Scarborough, as well as by the dukes of Argyle and Bedford, he could not succeed in his endeavours, and this disappointment proved a fatal omen of what was to happen during the remainder of the session.
"Lord Scarborough's conduct, in this as well as in all other debates, cannot but inspire us with the most exalted ideas of his candor, delicacy and moderation. Strongly attached by principle to the government, and by inclination to the king, he supported the ministry a long time against the efforts of those he was most intimately connected with, and lived for many years upon the best terms both with Sir Robert Walpole and with Lord Chesterfield. [Note — As Sir Robert's and lord Chesterfield's houses were situated opposite to each other in St. James's Square, lord Scarborough was often seen going directly from the friend to the minister; and such was the opinion entertained by both of his integrity, that he never met on this account with the least controul or censure from either.) Forced at last by conviction to deviate from his former course, and to express his disapprobation of the late public measures, he did it with a becoming frankness and generosity, wishing earnestly to reconcile both parties at this interesting period and to unite them against the common enemies of their country. This attempt, however, was ill received; heads of parties seldom allow a latitude of thinking, and in affairs of state, still more than in matters of religion, intolerance is by every side disavowed, but too constantly practised by all.]
"Unfortunately a nobleman equally beloved by the nation and by his friends could not long resist the struggle between his former engagements and his present feelings. A turn to melancholy, which shewed itself in his countenance, joined to an ill state of health [Note — He had two shocks of apoplexy or palsy, which, in the opinion of lord Chesterfield, considerably affected his body and his mind], hurried him to an act of violence upon himself. The morning of the day on which he accomplished this resolution, he paid a long visit to lord Chesterfield, and opened himself to him with great earnestness on many subjects. As he appeared somewhat discomposed, his friend pressed him in vain to stay and dine with him; which he refused, but most tenderly embraced him at parting. It happened in the course of the conversation that something was spoken of which related to Sir William Temple's negociations, when the two friends not agreeing about the circumstances, lord Chesterfield, whose memory was at all times remarkably good, referred lord Scarborough to the page of Sir William's memoirs where the matter was mentioned. After his lordship's death, [Note — His body found surrounded with several books, which he had brought into the room, and piled about him, with the pistol in his mouth,] the book was found open at that very page. Thus he seems in his last moments to have been still attentive to his friend, and desirous that he should know he was so. This fatal catastrophe was universally lamented, tenderly censured, and entirely excused by those who considered the unaccountable effects of natural evils upon the human mind. But what must lord Chesterfield's situation have been upon his being informed of this unfortunate event? His excellent lady does not even now without the greatest emotion speak of the manner in which his lordship, on her return home at night, acquainted her with his loss of that amiable nobleman; and he ever after lamented that he did not detain him at his house, saying he might perhaps have been saved, if he had not been left to himself that day. [Note — I have sufficient authority to contradict the reports that were spread about the cause of this fatal resolution. The friend who knew him best, considered it merely as the effect of some distemper. Suicide never had an advocate in lord Chesterfield, but he was temperate in his censures, and ready to make allowances for it."]
Dr. Maty has take the kinder way to consider the tragedy, but it is to be feared that the reports may have been correct. Both sides of the question are given in Elwin's edition of Pope's works. In " 1740, a Poem" (line 78), Pope says:
Brave S.... w lov'd thee and was ly'd to death;!
and Croker's note on this gives the more charitable version of the reason for his act: "Richard Lumley, Lord Scarborough who died by his own hand, 29th January, 1740. His friends, and Lord Chesterfield particularly, who wrote a most amiable character of him, affected to be unable to account for his suicide; but it seems from this hint of Pope's that the act was committed under the influence of despondency rising out of some scandalous imputation against him" (vol. iii., p. 499).
The darker, but more probable, reason appears in a later volume of the same work. In a letter to Pope from Lord and Lady Orrery, written on February 23rd, 1739-40, occur these words : "The fatal catastrophe of the E[arl] of Sc[arbrough] has reached these Greenland territories." Elwin's note on this passage is as follows : "Richard Lumley, second Earl of Scarborough, committed suicide at his house in London, Jan. 29, 1740. A melancholy temperament and two attacks of apoplexy were the causes to which his friends ascribed the act. Lord Orrery had heard a different explanation. The earl was to have been married next day to the Duchess of Manchester (34), and in the confidence of love he told her a state secret which was confined to himself, the King, and Sir Robert Walpole (63). The lady disclosed the secret to her grandmother, the Duchess of Marlborough (79), who whispered it to Pulteney (55), and he to everybody. The Duchess of Manchester having sworn to Lord Scarborough that she had not betrayed her trust, he was emboldened to protest before the king that he had never mentioned the secret to anyone; but hearing the truth from the duchess, on the day of the suicide, he went home and shot himself, from the consciousness that his breach of faith, and false asseverations would inevitably be known to the king, the minister, and the public. Reports to his disadvantage were certainly afloat; for Pope says in his '1740, a Poem,' that 'he was lied to death,' which is improbable. Conscious of rectitude, he would hardly have been goaded into suicide by lies " (vol. viii., p. 409).
It is said that when the King sent for him, he said : "Lumley, you have lost a friend and I a good servant."
This Duchess of Manchester (34), who was the probable cause of the tragedy, was Isabella, eldest daughter of John, Duke of Montagu (50), and of Mary (50), fourth daughter of John Churchill, the great Duke of Marlborough. She married first William Montagu, who became 2nd Duke of Manchester in 1722, and died on October 21st, 1739, without heirs; and secondly Edward Hussey (19), afterwards Lord Beaulieu.
Another view of the matter is given in a second letter from Francis Hare, Bishop of Chichester, to his son, Francis Naylor : "I told you in my last what I had just heard of the sudden death of Lord Scarbrough. It is now certain as I presume you have long since heard, that he shot himself, and the ball was found in his head, for his brother had him opened intending at first to dispute his will, but I hear since the caveat had been withdrawn. It is said he was to be married in a week to the Duchess of Manchester, with whom he had for a year or two past been in great intimacy, so that he was gone too far to retract, and yet could not resolve to go on, and therefore took this short way to put an end to difficulties. He was a strange mixture of a man, fond of popularity, and yet of nice honour, of good parts, and yet without solidity of judgment to adhere steadily to anything. But it is in the blood to fall into those sort of disorders, father and mother and uncle (the general) all fell into the deep melancholy way before they died."
He was buried on February 4th, in what is now called Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street. In a MS. book in the British Museum, compiled by Robert Hare of Caius College, Cambridge, a great antiquarian, among a page of epitaphs is the following (Cole's MS., 5832, f. 165, b) :
"On the Earl of Scarborough, who shot himself thro' the Head the morning he was to have been married to the Duchess Dowager of Manchester, 1740:
With the best virtues of a private state. With the best Talents of the truly great : In courts he liv'd, without one slavish Fear, Nor lost the Briton, in the British Peer. Honour'd and lov'd by all the world beside One man accused him, and, the base one lied."