Tag Archives: nugent buckingham

21 January 1806. “How absorbing politics are of every other feeling”

Lady Maria Nugent writes a note in her diary after dining at the Marquess of Buckingham’s house in Pall Mall, where the talk was of the illness of William Pitt the Younger. Mr Pitt, Prime Minister, died two days later.

Dine again in Pall Mall. A sociable and agreeable, though a rather melancholy party, poor Mr. Pitt being at the point of death, and almost the sole subject of conversation. Came home, reflecting much upon the lives of politicians, and how absorbing politics are of every other feeling.

“How absorbing politics are of every other feeling,” Maria wrote. Days after this was written, Richard Temple was to join the new government, though his father, the Marquess, did not take a formal role due to ill health.

The cartoon below by James Gillray shows the Grenville government being kicked out by George III. Richard Temple is head first in the water at the front with the label: “Last Stake of the Broad-Bottomed Family”.the_pigs_possessed_500

5 February 1783. The new Order of St Patrick

On 5 February, 1783 a royal warrant was issued to George Grenville (who then signed himself Nugent Buckingham) authorising him to arrange for letters patent under the great seal of Ireland to create a new Order of St Patrick. Although the patents were apparently not issued, the order received the Royal signature on 28 February and the first Chapter was held on 11 March, at which Nugent Buckingham invested himself Grand Master.

John_Keyse_Sherwin_order_st_patrick_cropped_500Portrait of investiture by John Keyse Sherwin

The aim of the order was reward those in high office in Ireland and Irish peers who supported the government. It served as the national Order of Ireland, similar to the Garter in England and the Thistle in Scotland.

The original number of Knights of St Patrick was fifteen plus the Sovereign. This was increased to 22, plus the Sovereign, on the visit of George IV to Ireland in August 1821. The Knights wore mantles of sky-blue satin, and the star of the Order was embroidered in silver on the right breast.

The original Knights were:
Nugent Buckingham (the Lord Lieutenant is a Knight by virtue of office)
Prince Edward, fourth son of George III
William Robert, Duke of Leinster
Henry, Earl of Clanricarde
Randal William, Earl of Antrim
Thomas, Earl of Westmeath
Murrough, Earl of Inchiquin
Charles, Earl of Drogheda
George de la Poer, Earl of Tyrone
Richard, Earl of Shannon
James, Earl of Clanbrassil
Richard Colley, Earl of Mornington
James, Earl of Courtown
James, Earl of Charlemount
Thomas, Earl of Bective
Henry, Earl of Ely

The Order lapsed nearly two hundred years later in 1974 with the death of the last surviving recipient, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester.

The Myth of the Grenville Diptych

In the centre of the ceiling of the Gothic Library at Stowe is an amazing work of heraldry: The Stowe Armorial.


The Library was commissioned by George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, 1st Marquess of Buckingham (often called Nugent Buckingham). It was built to a design by Sir John Soane between 1805 and 1807. The armorial is a 1.4m diameter heraldic painting of the 719 quarterings of the Temple, Nugent, Brydges, Chandos and Grenville families, including ten variations of the English Royal arms, the arms of Spencer, De Clare, Valence, Mowbray, Mortimer and De Grey. The painting is signed and dated P. Sonard 1806 (see Stowe House, Michael Bevington 2002).

Somewhere, sometime in a book and certainly on the Internet, this fascinating work has been renamed the Grenville Diptych. That, to put it colloquially, it ain’t. The OED tells us that a diptych is “an altar-piece or other painting composed of two leaves which close like a book.” (http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/53277). The Stowe Armorial does not have two leaves, neither can an immovable object in a ceiling be folded.

This myth is widespread and on eBay and on Amazon you can buy prints of the “Grenville Diptych”. They are lovely images but  they are not  images a diptych.