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Manners, John James Robert (DNB12)

MANNERS, Lord JOHN JAMES ROBERT, seventh Duke of Rutland (1818–1906), politician, born at Belvoir Castle on 13 Dec. 1818, was second son in the family of three sons and four daughters of John Henry Manners, fifth duke of Rutland, by Lady Elizabeth, daughter of Frederick Howard, fifth earl of Carlisle [q. v.]. His elder brother was Charles Cecil John Manners, sixth duke of Rutland [q. v.]. After education at Eton, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, as a fellow-commoner on 17 Oct. 1836 and graduated M.A. in 1839. Neither at school nor at college did he show much promise, but at Cambridge he was an active member of the Camden Society, which had for its object the 'restoring of English churches on Gothic principles,' and inclined to advanced Anglicanism. On leaving the university he travelled with his elder brother in France, Switzerland, Italy, and in Spain. In the last country he visited Don Carlos, with whose cause he was in sympathy. The impressions made on him by this journey he set forth in verse under the title of 'Memorials of other Lands.' These 'Memorials' appeared in 1841 as part of a volume called 'England's Trust and other Poems,' which was dedicated to Lord John's friend, George Augustus Smythe, afterwards seventh Viscount Strangford [q. v.]. A couplet in the chief poem:

Let wealth and commerce, laws and learning die,
But leave us still our old nobility,

obtained permanent currency, and exposed its author to much ridicule. The ingenuous lines did an, injustice to Lord John's real beliefs and aspiration. In spite of conservative temperament and firm faith in aristocracy, he entertained no selfish claims to privilege of caste, and was ambitious, before all things, of helping to improve the condition of the poor. He continued his endeavours in patriotic poetry in a second volume, 'English Ballads and other Poems' (1850), and also published in early life 'Notes of an Irish Tour' (1849) and 'A Cruise in Scotch Waters on board the Duke of Rutland's yacht "Resolution" in 1848 (folio, 1850), illustrated by John Christian Schetky [q. v.]. Although he thenceforth only published occasional political speeches and lectures, he cultivated literary tastes till the end of his life.

Meanwhile, in 1841, in his twenty-third year. Manners entered parliament as conservative member for Newark. Gladstone, still a tory, was his colleague, and he described Manners as an excellent candidate, a popular and effective speaker, and a good canvasser by virtue of his kindly disposition (Morley's Gladstone, i. 238). With Gladstone Manners's personal relations, despite the divergence of their political views, were always close, and he was one of the pall-bearers at Gladstone's funeral in Westminster Abbey in 1898. In parliament Lord John at once associated himself with George Smythe, Alexander Cochrane-Baillie (afterwards first Baron Lamington), and Benjamin Disraeli, and was prominent in the literary and artistic society which Lady Blessington gathered about her. As in the case of his friends, a love of history and literature was combined with zeal for the regeneration of the labouring classes. Disraeli exerted a powerful influence on him, and largely under Disraeli's guidance Manners and his political friends gradually formed themselves into the 'Young England party.' The party sought to supplant whig and middle-class predominance in politics and society by setting the aristocracy at the head of a movement for raising the condition of the proletariat intellectually and materially. The church too and the government of Ireland were to be recovered from Whig influences. During 1843 and 1844 the party played an active part within and without the House of Commons, and was free in its criticism of Peel's administration. Manners mainly identified himself with the Young England party's advocacy of social reform. In 1843 he supported Viscount Howick's motion for an inquiry into the condition of England and the disaffection of the working classes. He sought to establish public holidays by Act of Parliament, publishing 'A Plea for National Holidays' in 1843. In 1844 he associated himself with Lord Ashley, who was devoting himself to factory reform, in endeavouring to secure a ten hours' day for labour {Hansard, 22 March 1844). The measure, which the Manchester school stoutly opposed, became law in May 1847. Manners urgently advocated the allocation of waste lands for the use of the agricultural population, and of a general system of allotments such as already existed on the Belvoir property. In the autumn of 1844 he accompanied Disraeli and Smythe on a tour through Lancashire and other manufacturing districts with a view to promulgate the principles of the party, and to ascertain the facts of current industrial depression. At Birmingham on 26 Aug. 1844 he declared that his friends and himself were seeking to 'minister to the wants, direct the wishes, listen to the prayers, increase the comfort, diminish the toil, and elevate the character, of the long-suffering, industrious, and gallant people of England.' On 3 Oct. he was on the platform with Disraeli at the Manchester Athenæum when that stateman gave a famous lecture on the acquirement of knowledge, and both he and Disraeli spoke at Bingley in Yorkshire on 11 October.

The chivalrous and romantic mould in which Manners's political views were oast led George Smythe when dedicating to him his 'Historic Fancies' in 1844 to described him as 'the Philip Sidney of our scneration.' Disraeli authoritatively defined the principles of the 'Young England party' in 'Coningsby,' also in 1844. In that novel Manners figured as Lord Henry Sydney, who was shocked at the substitution of the word 'labourers' for 'peasantry' and who was charged by his critics with thinking to make people prosperous by setting up village maypoles. In Disraelli's 'Sybil' (1845) and in 'Endymion' (1880) many of Lord John's views are placed on the lips of Egremont and Waldershare respectively.

The 'Young England party' was not destined to five long. Religious and political differences led to its dissolution. Manners, like many of his colleagues, while strong in his attachment to the Church of Eagland, was disposed to sympathise with Newman and the 'Tractarians.' Frederick William Faber [q. v.] became his intimate friend, and strongly influenced his views. He gave no sign of joining the Church of Rome, but he advocated a generous treatment of the Roman priesthood in Ireland, the maintenance of friendly relations with the Vatican, and the dis-establishment of the Irish Church. In 1845 he supported the proposed grant to Maynooth College; Smythe voted with him, but Disraeli and other of his friends opposed the grant. The 'Young England party' was thereby divided. In the same year Faber with James Hope, afterwards Hope-Scott [q. v.] of Deepdene, and others followed Newman into the communion of Rome, and Manners's friendships and sympathies were further shaken.

A larger disturbance of social and political ties attended Peel's change of attitude towards the Corn Laws. Manners was no thick and thin supporter of protection. Although his first cosiderable speech in parliament was delivered against a motion by C. P. Villiers for the total repeal of the Corn Laws (18 Feb. 1842), he made no emphatic profession of opinion. He 'did not say that the Corn Laws might not be improved . . . but he felt that hon. members were wrong in attributing distress enirely to the Corn Laws' (Hansard, lxt711). On Peel's sudden adoption of the principle of free trade he maintained that since Sir Robert had come into office professing contrary principles, there ought to be a special appeal to the constituencies upon the issue. He told the electors of Newark that he would in that event seek their suffrage as a free trader. When it became evident that no such reference was to be made, Manners by way of protest joined the protectionist party. George Smythe accepted free trade: Disraeli allied himself with Lord George Bentinck in opposition to free trade, and the 'Young England party' was thereupon dispersed.

Manners, at the general election in Aug. 1847, retired from Newark, where as a protectionist he had no chance of re-election, and stood for Liverpool without success. In 1849 he was again defeated in the City of London by Baron Lionel de Rothschild; but in 1850 he was returned for Colchester in the protectionist interest. This seat he exchanged for North Leicestershire in 1857, and he represented that constituency until 1885; after the Redistribution Act, he sat for the Melton Division of the county until he succeeded his brother in the dukedom in 1888. Manners quickly filled a prominent place in the conservative party and in the House of Commons. His parliamentary gifts were not those of an orator but of a dexterous and resourceful debater. His wisdom in council was of greater value than his capacity for action.

In February 1852, when Lord Derby formed his first administration, Manners became first commissioner of works, with a seat in the cabinet, and was made a privy councillor. The government only lasted till 16 Dec. During the administrations of Lord Aberdeen (1852–5) and Lord Palmerston (1855–8) he took his share in the opposition's criticism of the conduct of the Crimean war and the Indian Mutiny campaign, but he refrained from seeking party advantage in national troubles, although he fell under that suspicion through a question which he put with a view to fixing upon government the responsibility for Lord Dalhousie's annexation of Oude (Feb. 1866; Hansard, cxl. 1856).

In Feb. 1858, on the formation of the second Derby ministry. Manners resumed his former office. He thus superintended the unveiling in St. Paul's Cathedral of Stevens's monument to the duke of WeUing- ton, for which preparations had been begun under his authority in 1862. The government survived little more than a year, and Lord John was again in opposition until July 1866, when he returned for the third time to the office of works under Lord Derby, and retained the post under Disraeli (Feb.-Dec. 1868). In spite of his tory principles, he accepted Disraeli's reform bill of 1867, when General Peel, Lord Carnarvon, and Lord Cranborne (Lord Salisbury) retired rather than support the measure. The government resigned after their defeat at the general election of 1868 (Dec. 2), and Lord John was in opposition with his party until Feb. 1874.

Throughout Disraeli's second government (1874–80) Manners held the office of postmaster-general, again with a seat in the cabinet. It was the most important political post that fell to him. He returned to it during Lord Salisbury's short first administration (June 1885 to Feb. 1886). No important reforms distinguished his career at the post office, but under his regime the minimum telegram charge was reduced from a shilling to sixpence (Oct. 1885). During his first tenure of the postmastership he was chairman of the copyright commission (1876–8).

Meanwhile Manners, while staunch to the essentials of the conservative faith, showed no unreadiness to consider impartially the practical application of some democratic principles. In 1875, while he opposed Sir George Trevelyan's abortive household franchise (counties) bill, he based his opposition on the argument that an extension of the electorate would diminish the opportunity for the entry into the House of Commons of men of small or moderate means, and would render it more accessible to men of wealth and influential local position {Hansard, ccxxv. 1119). During the controversy over the liberal government's proposals for an extension of the franchise, 1884–5, Manners only resisted the proposals as originally set forth on the ground that no extension of the franchise was equitable in the absence of a scheme for the redistribution of seats (Hansard, ccxciii. 1468).

Lord John's last period of office was from 1886 to 1892, when he joined the cabinet as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster during Lord Salisbury's second administration. In March 1888 he succeeded to the dukedom on the death of his brother, and he was made K.G. in 1891. When Lord Salisbury's government left office in the summer of 1892, Lord John's official career came to an end. But he never ceased to take an interest in public affairs. In 1903 he welcomed Mr. Chamberlain's new policy of tariff reform, and declared his allegiance anew to his early principles.

The duke was not deeply interested in sport, but he held for a time the hereditary mastership of the Belvoir hounds, the private pack of the dukes of Rutland which was instituted in 1720, and has since been in their ownership. For a short period Lord Edward Manners (d. 1900) was field master under his father; since 1896 Sir Gilbert Greenall has hunted the hounds with a subscription.

The ducal property lay principally in Leicestershire and Derbyshire, and the duke had a London house in Cambridge Gate, Hyde Park. In 1892 he sold his Choveley estate, near Cambridge, to Harry Leslie Blundell McCalmont [q. v. Suppl. II.], giving as his reason the injurious consequences of a system of free trade. On 17 June 1896 he was granted the additional title of Baron Roos of Belvoir.

The duke was made LL.D. of Cambridge in 1862; D.C.L. of Oxford in 1876; and G.C.B. in 1880. He was master of the Shipwrights' Company; chairman of the Tithes Redemption Trust; high steward of the borough of Cambridge; and hon. colonel of the 3rd battalion of the Leicestershire regiment.

He died at Belvoir on 4 Aug. 1906, and was buried there. He married twice: (1) on 10 June 1851 Catherine Louisa Georgiana (d. 1854), only daughter of Colonel George Marlay, C.B., of Belvedere, co. Westmeath; and (2) in 1862 Janetta (d. 1899), eldest daughter of Thomas Hughan of Airds, Galloway. By the first marriage he had one son, Henry John Brinsley, who succeeded him as eighth duke. By his second wife the duke had five sons and three daughters.

A kit-cat portrait by J. R. Herbert and a full-length by Sir Hubert von Herkomer are at Belvoir, together with two other paintings. Cartoon portraits appeared in 'Vanity Fair' in 1869 (by 'Ape') and in 1881.

[The Times, Standard, Manchester Guardian, and Leicester Post, 5 Aug. 1906; W. F. Monypenny's Life of Lord Beaconsfield; Gathorne Hardy's First Earl of Cranbrook, 2 vols. 1910; Croker Papers, 1884, vol. iii.; Sir W. Fraser, Disraeli and his Day, 1891; private sources. A life by Mr. Charles Whibley is in preparation.]

R. L.