Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Edgcumbe, Richard (1764-1839)
EDGCUMBE, RICHARD, second Earl of Mount-Edgcumbe (1764–1839), only child of George, the first earl [q. v.], was born on 13 Sept. 1764. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, of which university he was created a D.C.L. in 1793. As Viscount Valletort he represented the borough of Fowey in the tory interest from 1786 to 1795, when, on the death of his father, he was elevated to the peerage. At the same time he was appointed to succeed his father as lord-lieutenant and custos rotulorum of the county of Cornwall. In March 1808 he was appointed captain of the band of gentlemen pensioners, and was sworn of the privy council. He held the captaincy until 1812.
Mount-Edgcumbe was a man of artistic tastes. Cyrus Redding, in his ‘Fifty Years' Recollections,’ harshly and unjustly describes him at p. 175 of vol. i. as ‘a mere fribble, exhibiting little above the calibre of an opera connoisseur, with something of the mimic.’ He seems, indeed, to have been in great request as an amateur actor (Leslie and Taylor, Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds, ii. 76, 77, 508, and the Journal and Correspondence of Miss Berry, ii. 110, 114, who preserves a clever prologue written by him for the theatricals at Strawberry Hill in 1800). He also wrote, at first for private circulation, some amusing and discriminating ‘Musical Reminiscences of an Old Amateur; chiefly respecting the Italian Opera in England for fifty years, from 1793 to 1823.’ The second edition, published anonymously, appeared in 1827; the third, to which he appended his name, in 1828; and the fourth, ‘continued to the present times, and including the Festival at Westminster Abbey,’ in 1834. The merits of the little book are recognised in the ‘Athenæum’ of 22 Nov. 1834. Mount-Edgcumbe records the interesting fact that he composed an opera on the ‘Zenobia’ of Metastasio, which was performed on the occasion of Banti's benefit in 1800 (pp. 82–3 of the fourth edition), but the score has not been preserved.
Mount-Edgcumbe died, 26 Sept. 1839, at Richmond, and was buried in Petersham churchyard (Brayley, History of Surrey, iii. 132). He married on 21 Feb. 1789 Lady Sophia Hobart, third daughter of John, second earl of Buckinghamshire, who died on 17 Aug. 1806, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Ernest Augustus, third earl of Mount Edgcumbe, born in 1797, died in 1861, the author of some interesting ‘Extracts from Journals kept during the Revolutions at Rome and Palermo’ (1849, 2nd edit. 1850).
Reynolds painted Mount-Edgcumbe's portrait in 1774; the original is now in the Mount-Edgcumbe collection, and was engraved by Dickinson.[Boase and Courtney's Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, i. 131, iii. 1168; Gent. Mag. xii. 540 (1839).]