Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/342

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Le Couteur

in 1708, filled the office of solicitor-general 1714-18, and in 1718 became attorney-general, privy councillor, and chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. He was one of the managers appointed in 1710 to conduct the impeachment of Dr. Sacheverell [q. v.], and he also was engaged in the trial of Lord Derwentwater and the rebel Scottish lords at Westminster after the rising of 1715. He ceased to be attorney-general in 1720, but held the chancellorship of the duchy for life. He was raised to the peerage by George I in September 1721 as Lord Lechmere of Evesham, Worcestershire. A ballad on his quarrel with his neighbour, Sir John Guise, said to have been written by Gay or Swift, and called 'Duke upon Duke.' was published about 1725 (cf. Swift, Works). In 1727, when Lechmere waited on George H in the discharge of his official duties, he was denied an immediate audience because the king was engaged in an interview with Bolingbroke, who had been introduced through the influence of the Duchess of Kendal with the connivance of Walpole. As soon as Bolingbroke left the royal chamber Lechmere rushed in and unceremoniously reviled both Walpole and Bolingbroke, under the wrong impression that the latter was about to join the ministry. The king took the incident good-humouredly, and jestingly asked if Lechmere were prepared to become prime minister himself (Coxe, Walpole, i. 264). Lechmere was a frequent debater both in the lower and the upper house of parliament, and is said to have been 'a good lawyer, a quick and distinguished orator, much courted by the whig party, but of a temper violent, proud, and impracticable.' His last recorded appearance in the House of Lords was on 19 April 1727, when he protested against an appropriation clause in the Excise Act. In the 'Diary' of his nephew, Sir Nicholas Lechmere, he is described as 'an excellent lawyer, but violent and overbearing.' In No. 25 of the 'Examiner' Swift refers to Lechmere as a possible champion of Tindal, Collins, Toland, and others of the freethinking school. He married the Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Charles, third earl of Carlisle, but died issueless, from a sudden attack of apoplexy, while seated at table, at Campden House, Kensington, on 18 June 1727, when his peerage became extinct. He was buried at Hanley Castle, where there is a tablet inscribed to his memory. There are portraits of him at The Rhydd, Worcestershire, and at the seat of Mr. Ogle at Steeple Aston, Oxfordshire.

It appears from a letter of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu that in 1725, after deep losses at play, Lady Lechmere attempted suicide. Pope probably refers to her under the name Rosamunda in his 'Moral Essays,' Ep. ii. She remarried Sir Thomas Robinson, and died at Bath 10 April 1739.

[Burke's Extinct Peerage, 1883; Haydn's Book of Dignities, 1851; Collins's Peerage of England, by Sir E. Brydges, 1812, ix. 431; Nash's Worcestershire, i. 561; Hanley and the House of Lechmere, by E. P. Shirley, 1883; Aitken's Life of Steele, ii. 5; Gent. Mag. 1739, p. 216; Luttrell's Brief Relation, vi. 302, 551 sq.; Rogers's Protests of the Lords, vol. i. passim; Elwin and Courthope's Pope, iii. 101-2, viii. 229; Prior's Life of Malone, p. 253; Swift's Works, ed. Scott, i. 182, 220, 229, iii. 365, iv. 237.]

E. W.

LE COUTEUR, JOHN (1761–1835), lieutenant-general, born in 1761, was a member of a Jersey family, and at an early age was made captain and adjutant of the Jersey militia. In 1780 he obtained an ensigncy by purchase in the old 95th foot (disbanded in 1783), and served with the corps under Major Pierson in the defence of Jersey in January 1781. The same year he was promoted lieutenant in the old 100th foot, and went out with that regiment to India. He was present in the naval action in Porto Pray a Bay, Cape Verdes, and in some of the operations against Hyder Ali, during which he led two forlorn hopes, and was appointed brigade-major to Colonel Humberston [cf. Humberston, Thomas Frederick Mackenzie]. When Humberston went to Bombay, Le Couteur served with General Mathews in Malabar, and was with Mathews when he shut himself up in Nagar (Bednore) with six hundred Europeans and one thousand sepoys, while Tippoo Sahib, with two thousand French and one hundred thousand sepoys, besieged him. After losing five hundred men, Mathews surrendered, and on 28 April 1783 the garrison marched out with all the honours of war, the officers retaining their personal effects. Mathews was, however, accused by Tippoo of having appropriated and divided the contents of the military chest, and was soon afterwards poisoned with nineteen officers (cf. Mill, Hist. of India, iv. 267, 269 notes). Another party of thirtv-four officers, subalterns, among whom was Le Couteur, were sent as prisoners to Chittledroog, where they were treated with great cruelty. Like the prisoners at Seringapatam [cf. Baird, Sir David], they were released at the peace in March 1784. Le Couteur became captain-lieutenant that year, and captain in 1785, when the 100th was disbanded, and he was put on half-pay. In 1793 he was brought on full pay in the 11th foot, and made brigade-major of the Jersey militia. In 1797 he became major in the 16th foot, but remained on the staff in Jersey