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General John Manners, Marquess of Granby PC, (Kelhammarker, 2 January 1721 – 18 October 1770, Scarboroughmarker), Britishmarker soldier, was the eldest son of the 3rd Duke of Rutland. As he did not outlive his father, he was known by his father's subsidiary title, Marquess of Granby.

Early life

He was educated at Etonmarker and Trinity College, Cambridgemarker, and was returned as Member of Parliament for the family borough of Grantham in 1741. Four years later he received a commission as colonel of a regiment raised by the Rutland interest in and about Leicester to assist in quelling the Highland revolt of 1745. This corps never got beyond Newcastlemarker, but young Granby went to the front as a volunteer on the Duke of Cumberland's staff, and saw active service in the last stages of the insurrection. Very soon his regiment was disbanded, but he retained his rank and campaigned in Flanders in 1747. He had two illegitimate children by an unknown mistress at about this time:

During this period of his life, he acquired a reputation principally as a free-spending, gambling, sporting man. He married Lady Frances Seymour (1728–1761), daughter of Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset on 3 September 1750. They had six children:

In 1752, the Pelham ministry suggested to George II that Granby be appointed colonel of the prestigious Royal Horse Guards (Blues), in order to secure the parliamentary support of his family. The king denounced Granby as a sot and a bully, and initially refused to make the appointment. In the meantime, Granby advanced his parliamentary career, and was returned for Cambridgeshire in 1754. Though he despised faction in government, he allied himself with Viscount Royston, the other knight of the shire, a government whig. The king came to view him more favorably, and he defended the Newcastle ministry in the House of Commonsmarker. He was promoted major-general in 1755, and was at last made Colonel of the Blues in 1758.

Military success

The same year that saw Granby made colonel of the Blues, saw also the despatch of a considerable British contingent to Germany, in which Granby commanded a brigade. He succeeded as second-in-command of the expedition in October, and was promoted lieutenant-general in February 1759. Mindenmarker was Granby's first great battle. At the head of the Blues he was one of the cavalry leaders halted at the critical moment by Lord George Sackville, and when in consequence that officer was sent home in disgrace, Granby succeeded to the command of the British contingent in Ferdinand's army, having 32,000 men under his orders at the beginning of 1760. He also replaced Sackville as Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance. During Sackville's court-martial, Granby testified that Sackville had led the cavalry forward too slowly. Although he suggested Sackville had not been negligent, he could not prevent a verdict of "guilty", and Sackville was thereafter embittered against him.

In the remaining campaigns of the Seven Years' War the British contingent was more conspicuous by its conduct than the Prussians themselves. On 31 July 1760 Granby brilliantly stormed Warburgmarker at the head of the British cavalry, capturing 1500 men and ten pieces of artillery. Since his twenties, he had been almost entirely bald, but disdained to wear a wig; during the charge, he lost his hat, giving rise to the expression "going at it bald-headed". A year later (15 July 1761) the British defended the heights of Villinghausenmarker with what Ferdinand himself styled "indescribable bravery". On the following day, he led his troops in a counter-attack and helped drive the French from the field. His opponent, the duc de Broglie, was so impressed that he commissioned a portrait of Granby by Sir Joshua Reynolds. In the last campaign, at Gravenstein and Wilhelmsthal, Homberg, Gudensbergmarker and Casselmarker, Granby's men bore the brunt of the fighting and earned the greatest share of the glory. Lord Ligonier praised his conduct at Wilhelmsthal, where he cut off the French rearguard as "Il a manoeuvré comme un ange … no man ever acted with more courage or more like a commanding officer." His last field action was at Brückermühl, where he brought two brigades to the relief of General Zastrow.

Political career

While an excellent field commander, Granby lacked administrative skills, and he badly mismanaged the commissariat during the winter campaign of 1760–1761. His overly lenient discipline also brought criticism, and his contemporary Lord Frederick Cavendish felt it made him unsuitable for command. However, the public at large took little note of his administrative incapacities, and he was lionized both for his victories and his concern for his soldiers. A painting by Edward Penny, entitled "The Marquess of Granby Relieving a Sick Soldier" was both unconventional (in showing a general in an act of personal charity rather than victorious of the field) and vastly popular. His political support was assiduously courted, although Granby continued to try and steer a course independent of party politics. Despite his regard for Newcastle, he thought the terms of the Treaty of Paris sound and supported it. He personally trusted George Grenville, and was appointed Master-General of the Ordnance under his ministry on 1 July 1763.
Granby supported the government's issue of general warrants and prosecution of Wilkes, but in 1765 spoke against the dismissal of army officers for voting against the government in Parliament. In May 1765, Lord Halifax attempted to persuade George III to appoint Granby Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, in the hopes that his popularity would help quell the riot of the London silk weavers. The king refused, having promised the reversion of the post to the Duke of Cumberland, but obtained Granby's retention as Master-General of the Ordnance in the new Rockingham ministry, although Granby did not co-operate with the ministry and voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act.

Under the Chatham Ministry, Granby was appointed commander-in-chief on 13 August 1766. Despite rumors of his retirement, he vigorously electioneered during the 1768 season, and increased the Rutland interests seats to seven, at some expense. With the resignation of Chatham, he found himself somewhat isolated in the Grafton Ministry. While he had opposed the attempts of the government to expel Wilkes from his seat in Middlesex, his personal dislike of Wilkes overcame his principles, and he voted in favor of the expulsion on 3 February 1769 and for the seating of Henry Luttrell afterwards. It was to prove a capital political mistake. Junius had written his first attack on the ministry at the end of January, not excluding Granby, whom he condemned for servility towards the court and personal corruption. Granby's great popularity might have let him ride out the affair, but his reversal on Wilkes provided new ammunition. Worse still, a reply to Junius by his friend Sir William Draper, intended in his defense, essentially validated the charge that the hard-drinking and personable Granby was easily imposed upon by less scrupulous acquaintances.

Ultimately, it was not the attacks of Junius, but the return of Chatham that brought about his departure from politics. Granby had always respected Chatham, and through the intermediation of John Calcraft, was eventually persuaded to break with the ministry. On 9 January 1770, he announced that he had reversed himself once more on the propriety of expelling Wilkes, and shortly thereafter resigned as commander-in-chief and master-general of the ordnance, retaining only the colonelcy of the Blues.
An Inn in Lincolnshire, named after him

Once out of office, Granby found himself hard-pressed by his creditors, and the loss of his official salaries had weakened his financial position. In the summer of 1770, he unsuccessfully campaigned for George Cockburne at the Scarborough by-election. He remained to recuperate from illness, but died on 18 October 1770 from a seizure precipitated by "gout in the stomach". He had been made a privy councillor in 1760, Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire in 1764, and LL.D. of Cambridgemarker in 1769.

Granby was a popular subject for portraits: Sir Joshua Reynolds and his studio painted him at least 16 times. In these portraits Reynolds shows him hatless and wigless, as Granby wanted to be seen — as the bald-headed general who really went at it and fought hard among private soldiers. The portrait commissioned by de Broglie, his admiring opponent at Villinghausen, shows him in the uniform of the Blues and leaning on his horse. This painting is now in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Artmarker, Sarasota Florida, and an autograph copy is in the British Royal Collection. Another Reynolds portrait of Granby, in a similar pose but dressed as Master-General of the Ordnance and leaning on a mortar, is in the National Army Museummarker, London.

Granby's contemporary popularity is indicated by the number of inns and public houses which took his name and had his portrait as sign-board. Reputedly, this was in part due to his personal sponsorship of his disabled non-commissioned officers as publicans.


Granby died at Scarboroughmarker, Yorkshire, in 1771, stunning family and friends alike. The outpouring of grief was real and sustained. His friend and associate Levett Blackborne, a Lincoln's Innmarker barrister and Manners family adviser who frequently resided at Belvoir, was away at the time, visiting a family relation of Manners' and received the disturbing news on his return to Belvoir. He wrote to George Vernon at Clontarf on 12 February 1771, bemoaning Granby's proclivities that had brought him to ruin:

"You are no stranger to the spirit of procrastination. The noblest mind that ever existed, the amiable man whom we lament was not free from it. This temper plunged him into difficulties, debts and distresses; and I have lived to see the first heir of a subject in the Kingdom have a miserable shifting life, attended by a levee of duns, and at last die broken-hearted."



  1. This mistress was likely connected to Lincoln's Inn barrister Levett Blackborne, grandson of Sir Richard Levett, Lord Mayor of London, who was one of John Manners's closest advisers, as well as frequently in residence at Belvoir Castle.[1] Following the Marquess of Granby's death, Levett Blackborne wrote to Lord George Vernon, brother of the deceased Marquess of Granby: "Indeed my dear Sir this hath been a terrible stroke to the family.... I had been spending a week with my sister Chaplin at Tathwell when an itinerant clergyman... mentioned at dinner news of what happened at Scarborough the preceding Thursday.... The next morning brought me a letter from Tom Thoroton (Col. Thomas Thoroton, Levett Blackborne's stepbrother) confirming the whole and insisting on my speedy return to Belvoir, where I arrived the night after poor Lord Granby's remains had been deposited at Bottesford."[2] Other observers also confirmed that a close relationship existed between the families of Thoroton and the Manners, Dukes of Rutland. In her diary, Abigail Gawthem of Nottinghamshire commented that the woman-in-question was "mistress to the old John, Duke of Rutland, and mother to old Mrs. Thoroton of Screveton." The unexplained conjugal connection helps explain the close relationships between the Suttons, Manners, Thorotons, Levetts, Chaplins and other families. Who the woman-in-question was remains to be solved. Contemporary legal accounts confirm the illegitimacy of at least one of the Manners offspring.[3] And the subsequent lawsuit of Thoroton v. Thoroton, which arose over disputed rights of illegitimate heirs, was a landmark of case law in the field.
  2. The Manuscripts of His Grace the Duke of Rutland, Preserved at Belvoir Castle, Charles Manners Rutland, Richard Ward, John Horace Round, Robert Campbell, Published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1889
  3. Some Account of the Military, Political and Social Life of the Right Hon. John Manners, Marquis of Granby, Walter Evelyn Manners, Macmillan & Co. Ltd., London, 1899
  4. Blackborne had served Granby's father during the Duke of Rutland's term as Lord Steward of the Household as his Steward of the Court of the Board of Green Cloth.

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