Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Edgcumbe, Richard (1680-1758)

EDGCUMBE, RICHARD, first Baron Edgcumbe (1680–1758), only surviving son of Sir Richard Edgcumbe of Mount-Edgcumbe, M.P. for Cornwall, was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge (M.A. 1698), and in 1697 wrote some elegant Latin verses on the occasion of the return of William III to England (printed in the collection entitled ‘Gratulatio Academiæ Cantabrigiensis de Reditu Serenissimi Regis Gulielmi III post Pacem et Libertatem Europæ feliciter Restitutam, Anno MDCXCVII’). In 1701 he was returned for Cornwall; in Dec. 1701 for St. Germans; and in 1702 for Plympton, for which borough he sat until 1734, when he was returned for both that constituency and Lostwithiel. He chose the latter, but was re-elected for Plympton in 1741 and held the seat until his elevation to the peerage next year. On 22 June 1716 Edgcumbe was made a lord of the treasury, and again on 11 June 1720. On 3 April 1724, with Hugh Boscawen, viscount Falmouth, he accepted the offices of vice-treasurer, receiver-general, treasurer of war and paymaster-general of his majesty's revenues in Ireland. Edgcumbe was one of Walpole's most trusted subordinates. He managed the Cornish boroughs for him; and in 1725 Lord Carteret made, through Edgcumbe, overtures to the premier which were accepted (Coxe, Walpole, ii. 488–90). On the fall of Walpole he was raised to the peerage to prevent his being examined by the secret committee concerning the management of the Cornish boroughs (Horace Walpole's Letters, ed. Cunningham, i. 156), the actual date of his creation being 20 April 1742. Edgcumbe was appointed chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster in December 1743, and in the following January lord-lieutenant and custos rotulorum of the county of Cornwall, and sworn of the privy council. On the outbreak of the rebellion of 1745 he was one of the twelve noblemen who were commissioned to raise a regiment of foot at the public expense. He was made major-general in Feb. 1755. On 24 Jan. 1758, having resigned the office of chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, he was appointed warden of the king's forests beyond Trent. He died on 22 Nov. 1758, and was succeeded by Richard, his eldest son by his wife, Matilda, daughter of Sir Harry Furness. Though he was corrupt with the political corruption of the age, Edgcumbe seems to have been in other respects a worthy person, and Horace Walpole laments him as ‘one of the honestest and steadiest men in the world’ (ib. iii. 193). He is said to have been popular with George II because he was shorter than that diminutive monarch (Lord Hervey, Memoirs, ed. Croker, i. 93n.)

[Collins's Peerage, 5th ed. vii. 353–4; Boase and Courtney's Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, i. 130, iii. 1167.]

L. C. S.