Earl of Harewood

Henry Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, National Portrait Gallery


(25th December 1767 - 24th November 1841)

The family of Harewood is of honor and antiquity in the county of York ; being noble in the time of the first Edward, more than five hundred years ago. The name, however, fell to females; and though a long descent of respectable ancestry has brought down the present high title from that stem, it was only of a comparatively modern date, that the wealth and influence of the house justly raised it to the rank of an Earldom of Great Britain. DANIEL LASCELLES, of Stank and Northallerton, was sheriff of York, soon after the accession of George the First ; and from that period the name will be found conspicuously in the rolls of Parliament. His grandson, Edwin, by his first wife, was elevated to the peerage, in 1790, as Lord Harewood; but died in 1795, without issue, so that the barony expired with him It was revived, however, in the ensuing year. 1796 in the person of Edward Lascelles, also a grandson of Daniel Lascelles. by his second wife : who married, in 1761, Miss Chaloner. of Guisborough, the mother of Henry. the present peer. In September. 1812. he was advanced to a Viscounty and Earldom and died on the 3rd of April 1820. The titles he bequeathed are—Earl of Harewood.Viscount Lascelles, and Baron Harewood, of Harewood, in the county of York.

Henry, Earl of Harewood, whose Portrait it is the object of this brief Memoir to illustrate, was born on Christmas Day, 1767, and married, in 1794, Henrietta, eldest daughter of Lieutenant-General Sir John Saunders Sebright, Bart., by whom he has a numerous family of sons and daughters, the
senior of whom is Edward, Viscount Lascelles, born in July, 1796. The next two sons have married daughters of the Marquis of Bath, and of the Earl of Carlisle.

The first public act of Lord Harewood, which we find in the usual records of passing events, occurred in 1803, when he seconded the motion of Sir William Scott, for the election of Mr. Abbot to be Speaker of the House of Commons, in the 'United Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland. He had, however, previously obtained distinction as a sound and valuable member of the lower House ; and afforded a fair presage of the weight he was destined to attain in that assembly, as the representative of a great county, and as possessed of all those qualities of good sense, independence, loyal patriotism, and straight-forwardness of purpose, enforced by plain and forcible reasoning, which his after-career in Parliament so beneficially

From this period, though not a continual speaker in the Haase, as if the nation could not go on without his perpetual advice, (the horror or rather the burlesque of the present day,) LasceIles was at his post upon all really important occasions. and possessed  no slight effect in checking the inroads of power on one hand, and in preserving the constitution from wild innovation on the other. Indeed, the administration of Mr. Pitt, during the great crisis, in which, not only England but Europe was involved, was cordially approved of by Mr. Lascelles ; and all the early years of the present century saw him giving an efficient support to that minister. As a debater, he grappled even with the energy of Fox, and never rose in the House of Commons, without commanding that attention which is, there, only rendered to superior attainments, or acknowledged political integrity. On the death of Mr. Pitt, the station held by Mr. Lascelles, by common consent, was indicated by his being the mover of the resolution, (January 27, 1806.) " That an humble address be presented to his Majesty, that his Majesty will be graciously pleased to give directions, that the remains of the Right Honorable William Pitt be interred at the public expense, and that a monument be erected in the collegiate church of St. Peter, 'Westminster, to the memory of that excellent statesman, with an inscription expressive of the public sense of so great and irreparable a loss ; and to assure His Majesty that this House will make good the expense attending the same." This motion, though opposed, alas ! by Windham, Ponsonby, Fox, and others, was carried by 258, to 89 votes. A few days after, Mr. Lascelles moved, and carried without a division, that £40,000 should be voted for the payment of the debts of that man who had distributed all the rich patronage of England for so many years, and who had died a beggar ! This alone would have been, and to posterity will be, the most splendid " inscription" that could express the public sense of his rare qualities and of his loss.

Mr. Lascelles was a stanch friend of the Pitt Club; and we have seen him preside with great urbanity and dignity at its anniversary.

As it would be uninteresting to detail the continued application to public business by which, as Mr. and Lord Lascelles, our subject distinguished himself through succeeding sessions of that Parliament, to which he was a light and an example, combining all the virtues of an independent country gentleman with the authority of a county member, and the influence of natural and cultivated intelligence, we shall merely notice, that Lord Lascelles moved the congratulatory address to the Prince Regent, on the peace with France in 1814.

Since his elevation to the House of Lords, on the decease of father in 1820, we have little to record of the senatorial efforts of the Earl of Harewood It is remarkable how many able and efficient commoners retire into the silent performance of their duties. when they become members of the upper house. No doubt this may in a  great measure be accounted for from the circumstance. that few questions can arise in that place, to affect represented interests, or demand individual exertion, beyond an honest vote ; but still it is curious to behold the most active members of the House of Commons become, as it were, suddenly obliviated by removal into another sphere of usefulness. Far are we from wishing that the same ardour for debate were felt in both ; and we simply notice the fact as a corollary to our sketch.

We will add, that whether among Lords or Commons, the kingdom will have cause to rejoice, if it can number among the majority, men half so consistent, able, and honest as the Earl of Harewood.