Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stanhope, Philip (1633-1713)

STANHOPE, PHILIP, second Earl of Chesterfield (1633–1713), born in 1633, was the grandson of Philip, first earl of Chesterfield [q. v.], and son of Sir Henry Stanhope, by Catherine, eldest daughter of Thomas, lord Wotton [see Kirkhoven, Catherine]. His father died before he was two years old. At the age of seven he accompanied his mother to Holland, where he was educated under the tuition of Poliander, professor of divinity at the university of Leyden (whose son married his mother), spent a year at the Prince of Orange's college at Breda, and completed his education at the court of the Princess of Orange and at Paris (Memoirs prefixed to the Letters of Philip, second Earl of Chesterfield, 1835). In 1650 he travelled through Italy, and spent nine months at Rome (ib. p. 10; Bargrave, Alexander VI and his Cardinals, ii. 124). About 1652 Stanhope returned to England, married Anne Percy, eldest daughter of the tenth Earl of Northumberland, and lived for some time in retirement at Petworth. On his wife's death in 1654 he left England again, and paid a second visit to Rome, returning to England about 1656. The Protector, according to Chesterfield's account, offered him a command in the army, and the hand of one of his daughters, both of which he declined. A second proposed match between Chesterfield and the daughter of Lord Fairfax was broken off after they 'had been thrice asked in St. Martin's Church' (Letters, p. 19; cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1656-7, p. 349). By this time he had become notorious for drinking, gaming, and 'exceeding wildness,' and was engaged in love affairs with Barbara Villiers (afterwards Duchess of Cleveland) [q. v.] and Lady Elizabeth Howard, who subsequently married Dryden (Letters, pp. 86,95,97).

In February 1658 he was arrested for an intended duel with Lord St. John, and on 8 June the Protector committed him to the Tower for dangerously wounding Captain John Whalley in a duel (ib. p. 84; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1657-8 p. 290, 1658-9 pp. 52, 62). At the same time he dabbled in the royalist plots against the government, and was again committed to the Tower in September 1659 on suspicion of a share in Sir George Booth's rising, but released on giving security for 10,000l. (ib. 1659-60, pp. 164, 240; Cal. of Compounders, p. 1265). On 17 Jan. 1660 he killed a Mr. Woolly in a duel at Kensington, fled to France, obtained a pardon from Charles II, and returned in his train to England (Pepys, Diary, ed. Wheatley, i. 21; Chesterfield, Letters, p. 110).

From 24 Feb. 1662 to July 1665 Chesterfield held the post of chamberlain to Catherine of Braganza, and he was after his resignation a member of her council (Doyle). In 1660 he married Lady Elizabeth Butler, eldest daughter of James Butler, twelfth earl and first duke of Ormonde [q. v.] His neglect of his wife did not prevent him from being jealous, and in January 1663 he packed her off to Derbyshire, in order to put an end to the unwelcome attentions of the Duke of York (Pepys, 19 Jan. 1663). Another of her admirers was her cousin, James Hamilton, the history of whose amour with her is detailed in the 'Memoirs' of Grammont (ed. 1853, pp. 144, 158, 173-200). The countess died in July 1665 (Chesterfield, Letters, pp. 26, 131). On 13 June 1667 Chesterfield was appointed colonel of a foot regiment, but it was disbanded on the conclusion of peace with Holland (Dalton, Army Lists, i. 79; cf. Pepys, 9 June 1667). Towards the close of Charles II's reign he was again employed. He was a member of the new privy council appointed on 26 Jan. 1681. On 6 Nov. 1682 he became colonel of the Holland regiment of foot, but resigned his command two years later in consequence of a quarrel about precedence (Dalton, i. 298; Chesterfield, Letters, p. 252).

On 2 Dec. 1679 Charles appointed Chesterfield warden and chief justice in eyre of the royal forests south of the Trent (Doyle). This office had formerly been held by the Duke of Monmouth, and Chesterfield's offer to restore it to Monmouth, when the latter was restored to favour, earned him the ill will of the Duke of York. Nevertheless Chesterfield acted as lord sewer at the coronation of James II (23 April 1685), and held the post of chief justice in eyre till the following October, when he resigned on the plea of ill health (Letters, pp. 252, 292). He disapproved of the ecclesiastical policy of James, and placed his proxy in the hands of George Savile, marquis of Halifax [q. v.]; but Halifax found it extremely difficult to persuade him to more active measures of opposition (ib. pp. 297-310, 325). In like manner when the Revolution took place Chesterfield got together a hundred horse and escorted the Princess Anne from Nottingham to Warwick, but refused to take arms against James II, in spite of the solicitations of his old ally, Lord Danby (ib. pp. 47, 335). In the Convention he both spoke and voted against the proposal to declare the throne vacant and make the Prince of Orange king (Memoirs of Thomas, Earl of Ailesbury, p. 233). James sent over a commission appointing Chesterfield and three others regents of the kingdom, but he refused to accept it. He likewise refused William Ill's offers to make him privy councillor, gentleman of the bedchamber, and ambassador, and declined to take the association in support of William's title imposed by parliament in 1694. To William himself he explained his aversion to all such oaths, saying that if the oath of allegiance which he had taken could not bind him nothing would, and protesting his veneration for his majesty's person and his resolution not to act against the government.

Similar scruples and his increasing infirmities debarred Chesterfield from employment during the reign of Anne, at whose accession he was one of the few who refused the oath abjuring the Pretender (Letters, pp. 51-63; cf. Swift, Works, ed. Scott, xii. 243). He died on 28 Jan. 1713, in his eightieth year. Chesterfield was the friend of Charles Cotton and the patron of Dryden; to him Dryden dedicated his translation of the Georgics. Grammont describes Chesterfield thus: 'Il avait le visage fort agréable, la tête assez belle, peu de taille et moins d'air.'

By his second wife, Lady Elizabeth Butler, Chesterfield had a daughter Elizabeth, born in 1663, who married John Lyon, earl of Strathmore. He took for his third wife Lady Elizabeth Dormer, eldest daughter of Charles, second earl of Carnarvon. By her he had two sons and two daughters: (1) Philip, third earl of Chesterfield, who married Elizabeth Savile, daughter of the Marquis of Halifax, was father of Philip Dormer Stanhope, fourth earl [q. v.], and died in 1726; (2) Charles, who inherited the estate of the Wottons, changed his surname to Wotton, and died without issue; (3) Mary (1664-1703), wife to Thomas Coke of Melbourne, Derbyshire; (4) Catherine (1675-1728), wife to Godfrey Clarke of Chilcot, Derbyshire (, Peerage, ed. Brydges, iii. 425).

Chesterfield wrote an account of his own life, portions of which are printed in the biography prefixed to the collection of his letters published in 1835. The original is now in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 19253).

[Doyle's Official Baronage, i. 371; Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, vol. iii.; Letters of Philip, second Earl of Chesterfield, 1835.]

C. H. F.