Chapter III: Opposing Grenville

                   Chapter III: Opposing Grenville, 1763-1765

The signing of the peace preliminaries in October 1762 sent most of the British generals rushing home, but Conway, who planned to attend the session of Parliament, was caught at Brussels just before sailing and ordered back to Germany to conduct the forces home.[1] Although he was the last general officer left on the Continent, Conway was vexed at this change of orders, and Horace Walpole came to believe that the ministry, fearing that Conway would oppose the treaty and knowing that he could not be bribed, gave him this “empty honour” in order to “prevent his return before the discussion of the preliminaries in Parliament.” [2] Considering his friends, the ministers had reason to be suspicious of Conway. Cumberland’s patronage made the opposition. Still, although his thirst for military glory had not been satisfied and he had complained of mis-management during the war, there is no evidence that Conway would have opposed the peace. In any event, he only returned after the opposition had been routed and the session completed. He passed the summer months at Park Place in virtual isolation while his great friends, Cumberland, Devonshire, and Grafton, were all planning an active opposition. As late as October Conway did not figure in their plans. A list, dated October 19, in the Duke of Newcastle’s papers placed Conway in the doubtful category although the Cavendishes and Colonel Fitzroy, Grafton’s brother, were “thought sure if properly applied to>” A few days later Newcastle did not include Conway’s name among those whom he felt should be invited to a pre-session dinner. By the end of the month the Duke had refined his calculations and listed Conway as “doubtful for” and only after the session opened was he counted as a “sure friend.”[3]

Not even Lord Hertford knew his brother’s mind on Wilkes and general warrants. During the summer Hertford became minister to France and before he left for Paris assured Grenville that Conway, despite his great friends in opposition, was favorably disposed towards administration.[4] Only Walpole knew of Conway’s determination to oppose the treatment of Wilkes. “Roused by the arbitrary treatment of Wilkes,” Walpole had decided to oppose general warrants in the upcoming session, and “earnestly desired that Mr. Conway should take the same step.” Walpole believed that he influenced Conway on this occasion, but by his own admission he found his cousin ”disgusted at the Warrants,” and “easily entered into agreement with him to oppose them.”[5]

On November 15, the first day of the session, Conway voted twice with the minority in support of Wilkes’ claim that privilege had been violated in his arrest as author of North Briton No. 45. “He did what he thought right,” Walpole informed Lord Hertford.[6] Conway was clearly following his own line for the opposition was divided on this issue. As long as Wilkes was associated with the cause it was, as Walpole admitted, “the worst cause they could have had.”[7] Cumberland and Devonshire, for example, were reluctant to raise the issue of parliamentary privilege, especially in behalf of Wilkes. Only William Pitt, no friend to the great Whigs, was determined to press the issue, but even supporters of that opinion like Newcastle and the young Marquis of Rockingham were reluctant to take a strong stand because of Pitt’s refusal to concert with the opposition.[8] As he had done in the past on other “popular” issues, Conway agreed with Pitt. He despised Wilkes but defended the cause he represented, a distinction many could not make. However despicable the Member might be, privilege was always the cause of the House of Commons. On November 24 Conway was in the minority when the House voted that privilege did not extend to the writing and publishing of seditious libels, and on January 19 he opposed he expulsion of Wilkes. [9] But at the same time “he did not oppose the censures past [sic] on that gentleman and his writings,” and expressed “the highest honour, respect and duty towards his Majesty; and the strongest detestation of the personal insult offered him.” [10]

This conduct in an officer and a Groom of the Bedchamber was too delicate for the King and his ministers to bear. The day after the session opened the King wrote,
Gen. Conway’s conduct is amazing. I am hurt for Lord Hertford; I shall propose the dismissing instantly, for in this question I am personally concerned. [11]
Grenville was calmer and cautioned delay until Conway’s intentions became clear. The King agreed but after November 24, when Conway voted three times in an opposition which rose to 166, he pressed for Conway’s immediate removal from both his civil and military positions. [12] Grenville was still cautious but at the King’s urging agreed to meet Conway and
endeavour to make him explicit…viz. whether he did actually mean to join the Opposition, or that the votes he had given upon the late questions were merely from opinion, and that in other measures he would fairly and roundly support the King’s government. [13]
They met on December 4 in the worst of circumstances. Acting as an intermediary Horace Walpole had met Grenville the previous night, only a few hours after a mob had prevented the hangman from burning North Briton No. 45. According to Walpole Grenville was besides himself with rage and said some extravagant things, which were duly reported to Conway. Conway went into the meeting believing that after Walpole had convinced Grenville that he could not be bought the Minister had stated, “the King cannot trust his army in the hands of those who are against his measures.” [14] Moreover, he was aware that Grenville might insist upon a declaration of his future conduct, something which Walpole regarded as unconstitutional. Grenville himself, after the meeting with Walpole, tried to decline the conference but Conway persisted in order to reaffirm his independence. He told Grenville that he was
Determined to take that part I should choose hereafter without making myself responsible for it to any person whatever, and should only add that my obligations to some particular persons…who were understood to be in opposition, were such that if hereafter I should happen in any degree to differ from them, I should steer my conduct so as not to be in any shape the better for it… [15]
He was not in opposition but would do nothing to give the appearance of separating from his friends who were. This was delicate and it was easy for Grenville to misunderstand and believe that Conway’s attachment to his friends was “unbounded.” [16] Moreover, Conway’s refusal to give an explicit statement made it difficult for Grenville to resist the demands of the King and his fellow ministers, although he did succeed in putting off the dismissal until the end of the session. [17]

Before the House rose a number of dismissals, most notably general A’Court’s, were made and Conway was aware that some punishment was in store for him. Threats and rumors did not make him declare for administration but neither did they drive him into the arms of opposition. He refused to join the Dukes of Devonshire and Grafton in subscribing to the new opposition club at Wildman’s, and even gave a vote for the Court on the Cider bill. [18] His reluctance to be identified with an opposition became even clearer in the debates on general warrants, where rather than being influenced by the opposition, he and a few other independents were indirectly to bring the opposition together.

Although in near agreement on the issue, the opposition entered these debates in disarray. “Here are such materials,” Walpole noted in January, “that if they could once be put in operation together, the present administration would be blown up.” [19] There was a substantial core of members inclined towards opposition on this question but the difficulty lay in bringing its leaders together. Pitt was uncooperative, especially since Charles Yorke held back, and without them Charles Townshend would not dare take a chance. In the first stage of the attack on general warrants there was, therefore, little concert. Independents took the lead and only at the last moment did he opposition leaders come together. On February 3 after many members had left the House, Sir William Meredith, and independent, moved for the depositions on which the warrant against Wilkes had been granted. The ministry complained of a surprise and only carried adjournment by 76 to 60, but Walpole noted,
Had a surprise been intended…the minority would have been better provided with numbers; but it certainly had not been concerted. [20]
Three days later Sir George Savile, the most renowned independent in the House, moved for the warrant used to apprehend Wilkes. Conway’s speech in that debate was the first great shot in the assault, but judging by the reaction it struck many, even in the opposition, as a bolt out of the blue. Rising “on a sudden” after two hours of languid debate Conway startled the House with his warmth. He said,
I thought I lived in a free country. We have already chosen to give up our own privilege, and now we are afraid to inquire on what grounds it is taken from us.[21]
Walpole confessed that his partiality could not embellish the effect of this speech. “Imagine,” he told Lord Hertford,
fire, rapidity, argument, knowledge, wit, ridicule, grace, spirit; all pouring like a torrent, but without clashing. Imagine the House in a tumult of continued applause: imagine the ministers thunderstruck; lawyers abashed and almost blushing, for it was on their quibbles and evasions he fell most heavily, at the same time answering a whole session of arguments on the side of the court. No, it was unique…[22]
Not only did Conway’s speech stun the ministry, but it had, as Newcastle noted, “a most prodidgous [sic] good effect” on the opposition.[23] Lord George Sackville followed Conway in the debate and gave the first public indication of his desertion of the Court, and the heat of the moment even led Townshend to commit himself. Pitt and Yorke did not attend that day and the minority was still small, but for the first time the opposition entertained expectations of hope. Reporting from the House, George Onslow called it a “glorious day” and believed that Conway, Sackville, and Townshend had made a run on the ministry “which they will feel.” [24] The next day Newcastle told the ailing Legge,
General Conway spoke for the Question, with more strength and ability, than ever was known, as a Gentleman, as a Lawyer, and a great Parliament Man.[25]

At last the opposition began to organize. On Friday, Feb. 11, with the great question on the legality of general warrants due to come up on Monday, the leaders at Wildman’s resolved to write to as many of their friends as possible. On Saturday eighteen friends of Devonshire, Grafton, Newcastle, and Rockingham met at Savile’s to prepare the question, although Pitt, Yorke, and Townshend stayed away. Neither did Conway attend this meeting, but despite his refusal to concert he played an important role that week in the debates. On February 14 Sir William Meredith moved the illegality of general warrants. Due to the lateness of the hour the opposition moved to adjourn but Grenville, who was willing enough to adjourn the general question, insisted on immediately pressing the acquittal of the officials who had executed the warrant on Wilkes. Conway followed Pitt in objecting to this procedure, observing that
If the accused were acquitted first, the general question would not be left entire; for could the House vote that general warrants were illegal, after it should have voted that they who executed these warrants were blameless. [26]
He was supported by Townshend and Sackville, both Horace Walpole told Lord Hertford, “strangely firm, now they are got under the cannon of your brother.” [27] The opposition failed to carry adjournment by 197 to 207, a stunning blow to the ministry. After this success Pitt, Yorke, and Townshend assumed more of the burden of opposition especially when the great question—that a general warrant for seizing the author, printer, etc., of a seditious libel is not legal—came on two days later. The administration was determined not to put this question to a direct vote and, at first, offered amendments tending to obscure it. Opposition leaders disagreed on whether to risk their strength contesting these amendments. From the House George Onslow reported,
We have been and still are employed in forming the Question…We have had some Rubbs in the course of it; such as C. Yorke’s differing totally with Conway, and in some measure at one time with Mr. Pitt; but by great Prudence and very good behaviour of C. Yorke, all that is quite over.[28]
Conway spoke strongly against the amendments particularly that which added “treasonable” after “seditious.” Again following Pitt in the debate he
Showed how totally the original question and the proposed alteration of it differed…that if anything could authorize a general warrant, it was treason. By inserting that word, the Ministers betrayed the badness of their own cause; he feared they were a little tender; that they could not bear the last division. He honoured the lights of the law, but feared the House had a little too much of them: yet could these learned men prove that treason and sedition were the same?...Separate the questions, and vote, if you can, that the warrant was legal. [29]
Yorke, the leading lawyer among the opposition, favored giving in on the amendments and his judgment prevailed. This may have been more politic but in any event the opposition found itself jockeyed, for administration then moved to adjourn the whole question, amendments and all, for four months on the pretext that a decision would prejudice cases pending in the lower courts. Opposition came down hard on this evasion. Conway called for an immediate decision for “he that gives a power of tyranny gives tyranny” but he spoke, “with so much rapidity that he confounded himself first, and then was seized with such a hoarseness that he could not proceed.” [30] But his work was done. By this time Pitt, Yorke, and Townshend had taken the lead, and it was not Conway’s fault that a minority of 218 was beaten in the final division.
The opposition reached its high point that evening and thereafter, although some expected the ministry to fall or at least negotiate, it began to decline. Some blamed the death of Lord Hardwicke, which incapacitated Yorke, or the subsequent of a Chancellor Cambridge, which diverted Newcastle and Townshend, but the opposition faltered mainly because it had no issue to match general warrants, and because the King stood firmly behind his ministers. After the close of the session in April the King dismissed Conway from the Bedchamber and took away his regiment. The loss of the Bedchamber came as no surprise, but Conway and his friends in the opposition were shocked and angered by the military punishment. Conway confessed his hurt in a letter to his brother written immediately after his dismissal.

I never gave a single vote against the Ministry, but in the questions on the great constitutional point of the warrants…I refused being of the opposition club, or to attend any one meeting of the kind, from a principle of not entering into a scheme of opposition…my overt acts have been only voting as any man might from judgment, only in a very extraordinary and serious question of privilege and personal liberty; the avowing my friendship and obligation to some few now in opposition, and my neglecting to pay court to those in the administration; that seemed to me both an honest and an honourable part in my situation, which was something delicate. [31]
His friends came to his assistance but he would not accept aid. Walpole offered him part of his fortune, rewrote his will in his cousin’s favor, and composed a pamphlet in his defense. Devonshire made a generous offer but again Conway was too independent to accept, and insisted that his friends owed him nothing. He told the Duke,
Your Grace is really too good in having a single uneasy thought on my account…I never felt my heart more perfectly light in the whole course of my life; because I am quite sure I have nothing, not even a thought to reproach myself with, and then one can never be in a situation to give one’s friends uneasiness.[32]
Conway’s dismissal, however, did more than anger a few friends for it gave the opposition a new issue—the dismissal of officers for parliamentary conduct—and confirmed some latent fears. Growing in the minds of the leaders in opposition were three related notions. First, that the best men in the kingdom, “the first families, the most tried friends to the present Royal Family, and to the Constitution,” were being totally excluded from government. Second, that the influence of a royal favorite, the Earl of Bute, had replaced that of the great Whig families. Third, that the responsible ministers of the Crown had no control over this influence and were in fact controlled by it. [33] When men complained of Conway’s punishment they invariably pointed to his unblemished character, to his long record of service to his Majesty and his grandfather, and to the quality of his connections. Moreover, ministers denied any responsibility in the affair, and while there was some truth in this, it only led Conway and others to blame Bute. He told his brother,
I don’t exactly know from what particular quarter the blow comes; but I must think that Lord Bute has at least a share in it, as, since his return, the countenance of the King, who used to speak to me, after all my votes, is visibly altered, and of late he has not spoke to me at all.[34]
Such suspicions led Conway, a few months later, to tell Grenville in Parliament that “he did not take him for the minister.”[35]
Prompted by Conway’s dismissal Devonshire, Rockingham, Conway, Townshend, and Sir George Savile dined at Newcastle’s on May 4 to discuss the future of the opposition. The specific crimes of the administration were the warrants, the dismission of officers, and its ineptitude in foreign and colonial affairs, but the real problem went deeper.[36] The administration now appeared, to use a word Conway first applied to it, “profligate.” [37] Subservient to influence and acquiescing in measures not its own, it was no longer a ministry merely to be opposed when it did bad things, but a bad ministry which must inevitably do wrong, and which must always be opposed. Furious at Conway’s dismissal Devonshire set the tone of the meeting.
Our duty to our Country, and our regard to the honor, and true interest of the King, made it incumbent upon us to try, and to attempt the removal of an Administration which had conducted the King’s affairs in the manner they had done.[38]
Conway agreed with the others that a concerted, sustained attempt must be made to destroy the administration, and Newcastle remarked that he acted “the most spirited part, that ever man did” supporting “strong measures, that is, perseverance.” [39] Earlier Walpole had predicted that Conway’s resentment, “if his profession were touched, would be as serious as such spirit and abilities could make it,” and events bore him out. [40] For the first and only time in his career Conway appeared in what might be called a regular opposition committed to attack administration consistently.

The scruples of Conway and his friends made this an unusual opposition for they took great pains to avoid even the appearance of faction, that is, a false temporary union based neither on friendship nor principle, but solely on private ambition or interest. We see here not only the birth of the Rockingham party—for the Marquis was to assume the lead on Devonshire’s death in October—but also the very idea of party which Edmund Burke developed three years later in Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents. This opposition was a group of men naturally associated by friendship, connection, and shared principles working together in what they believed to be the public interest. In 1767 Rockingham reiterated the “two fundamental principles” on which they had “set out,”
Our first principle was, that L. Bute’s Power was dangerous etc. and therefore to be resisted. Our second arose from Mr. G. Grenville’s conduct as a Minister, whose measures and opinions we opposed, and afterwards corrected. [41]
Although this opposition was committed to mounting a vigorous opposition in behalf of these objectives, they were determined to maintain their characters by resisting support, no matter how helpful, from certain odious quarters. They refused of course to consider treating with Bute or his friends even though the latter had reason of their own to be dissatisfied with Grenville. Newcastle told Legge that Devonshire “is deaf, and so, I am sure, you and I shall be, to any accommodation, or terms, with my Lord B.” [42] Despite Newcastle’s agreement here Devonshire and his brothers consistently favored a narrower Whig bottom than the old Duke. In hope of splitting the administration the Cavendishes advocated a reconciliation with the Duke of Bedford, then Lord President, because of his antagonism to Bute, and one suspects because he was a relation with good Old Corps credentials. Newcastle, an old enemy of Bedford’s, feared such overtures would drive Pitt away, but the Cavendishes were never close to Pitt and were willing to go on without him. Finally, it was pressure from the zealots, including the Cavendishes, that led the opposition to veto the idea of cooperation with the Tories on the Cider Act. On all these points Conway agreed with the Cavendishes, the element in the opposition most willing to sacrifice numbers for principle and character. [43]

Throughout the summer and fall Conway consistently resisted Walpole’s proposals for a broader opposition base. At one point Walpole tried to unite Pitt and Conway by suggesting to Lord Temple that Pitt needed a second in the House and that no one would be “so confidential, trusty, or creditable” as Conway. Temple responded coldly and Conway criticized his cousin for going too far. “Mr. Pitt should come to him; he would not go to Mr. Pitt; nor liked to be thought to court anybody.” Walpole responded that “we must either form as strong a party as we could, or give up the game,” but Conway disagreed:
For himself he was independent: he could wait; and supposed, if not soon, something would turn up at last. That he would oppose occasionally, but did not think it reasonable to say, It shall do now, or I will not try.
To Walpole this was “a tame, middling, now-and-then opposition” and he accused his cousin of acting by “system.” That is, Conway felt himself honor bound to act with one and only one set of men. He always dwelled on his obligations to Devonshire and Grafton, whereas Walpole “could not content himself with so narrow a bottom.” [44]

In October Devonshire’s death struck the opposition as a near fatal blow. Less zealous than his brothers, men looked to him as the only one capable of bringing Pitt and Yorke to concert with the Whigs. By the opening of the session Conway was the only front-line speaker that the Whigs could rely on in the Commons. [45] Opposition seemed hopeless. Cumberland declined pressing it, and Newcastle, Rockingham, and Conway had doubts about opposing without the great speakers in the House. [46] Nevertheless, if their “zealous friends” pressed on, they would have to be supported. Newcastle wrote,
If we should discourage the warmth and zeal of our friends; and even refuse to concur with them…we should certainly forfeit all our credit with them; and what is more to be regarded, dissolve the Whig party, for aught I know, for ever. [47]
The session opened on January 10 and Conway lost little time in laying into Grenville. Using as a pretext the Minister’s explanation of Spain’s failure to pay the Manilla ransom, he delivered a general attack on the Ministry. A surprised Walpole reported,
He exhorted everybody to support the King’s government, ‘which I, ‘said he, ‘ill-used as I have been, wish and mean to support—not that of ministers, when I see the laws and independence of Parliament struck at in the most profligate manner.’
Conway censured general warrants, “the disgrace thrown upon the army by dismissions for parliamentary reasons,” and declared himself “an open enemy” who “detested men who smiled in his face and stabbed him.” He would have parted with ten regiments, “to obey his conscience,” and would never be hindered nor intimidated from speaking the language of Parliament.” [48] In the debate on the Army estimates two weeks later Conway again rose to attack the dismissal of officers. Walpole said that his speech “filled the whole town with his praises,” and predicted that it would bring Pitt up to town, “lest his presence should be no longer missed.” [49] Conway had become the biggest gun in the opposition arsenal. On January 29 Sir William Meredith revived his motion to declare general warrants illegal but as in the previous session an amendment designed to confuse and weaken the motion was offered by government. Conway asked if the amendment was “serious,” calling it a “mockery of Parliament,” and was called to order by Grenville. [50] The Speaker allowed Conway to continue, and even though the amendment was adopted, 185 members still voted for Meredith’s weakened motion. Before this debate Walpole argued that Meredith’s motion was more agreeable “to principle than to prudence,” for it was bound to be defeated by a greater margin than in the previous session. [51] Before the session was out it was clear that principle rather than prudence lay behind the actions of the opposition.
Conway was one of the few who criticized the Stamp Act, speaking on February 15 for receiving petitions against the bill. Grenville opposed receiving any petitions on the ground that the House did not customarily entertain petitions on money bills. Conway answered that since the Americans had no representatives in Parliament, they had the right to petition directly against an attempt to tax them. [52] Jared Ingersoll, agent for Connecticut, reported that Conway “denied the right of Parliament to tax,” but he was not present at the debate and no other account of Conway’s speech mentions such a denial. [53] Conway did say that Americans could not even be considered to be virtually represented in Parliament, but did not draw from that any denial of Parliament’s right to tax. Indeed, he said that he could not think of a more “absolute acknowledgement of your Right” than a petition from America against the tax. The great constitutional point was hardly raised on this occasion and Conway and the few others who opposed the measure dwelt mainly on its imprudence. [54] Although Conway’s position on America assumed great importance a year later, in this instance he only spoke in behalf of an Englishman’s right to petition when normal avenues of redress were closed.

The Stamp Act passed with little difficulty and in the next few weeks opposition went nowhere. During this time Conway was looked to as something of a floor leader for the weak and divided opposition. He still favored an active opposition but worked against futile gestures, and urged his friends to stick to the great points. For this reason, he agreed to put off the dismissal of officers until Pitt’s health permitted him to come to town. In the meantime, he urged an attack on Grenville’s conduct of foreign affairs. On March 12 Newcastle wrote him,
I hear you are of opinion, that some other business, the affair of the Manillas, the Canada bills, etc., should be brought on, in the mean time, to keep up the spirits of our friends; in which I entirely concur.
The opening of the Budget, and the new loan of 1,500,000 for the discharge of the Navy bills…will furnish very good matter of debate…I hope you will be so good, as to turn your thoughts a little that way. [55]
Conway’s province was never finance and the opposition dwindled from inactivity, the final blow coming when it became clear that Pitt had grown cool on the dismissal of officers. Conway and Lord John Cavendish finally agreed to drop that question acquiescing in Cumberland’s opinion that a defeat would only endanger other officers. [56]
Chance, however, provided the opposition with one last opportunity. During the session the Kind had been ill and on recovering he asked ministers to bring forward a Regency bill. Subsequent events exposed the King’s growing lack of confidence in those ministers, as well as their fears that Lord Bute’s influence was undermining their position. Yet the Regency bill also had a divisive effect on the opposition; the more zealous seeing in the King’s desire to keep the name of the Regent to himself an attempt to maintain Bute’s influence. [57] After a meeting at Newcastle’s house on April 25 Horace Walpole found
The young warm men against the bill…the listlessness of the party was now converted into blind zeal: and a direct opportunity of reviling the Princess and Lord Bute seemed already…a triumph over them.[58]
Walpole was among those who wished the opposition to lie low on this question and leave the ministers to quarrel with Bute’s friends. This quarrel came to the surface when the bill passed through the House of Lords with the Dowager Princess of Wales excluded from eligibility from the Regency. This was quite enough for Cumberland who, growing reconciled with his nephew, advised against further meddling with the bill. [59]  Nevertheless when it came to the Commons, the zealots pleaded “they should lose their characters if they did not oppose.” [60] They felt bound in principle to attack Bute’s influence even if it meant insulting the King’s mother by voting against her inclusion in the bill. Silence might lead the world to accuse them of inconsistency and self-interest. Conway believed that Parliament should name the Regent and that in reserving the naming to the King, a regrettable precedent would be set. [61] He felt that some opposition to the bill was necessary but wished to avoid direct personal attacks on the Princess, and so acted as a brake on the rashness of some of his friends.
On May 6 he prevented Lord John Cavendish from hastily attacking the bill in its first reading, and persuaded him to wait for the commitment before moving to name the Queen as Regent. [62] The next day he spoke against the provisions of the bill but supported commitment “out of respect.” [63] However, it soon became known that an amendment would be made in committee to declare the Princess eligible for the Regency. With horror Walpole saw that animus to Bute might draw the opposition and his cousin into a vote against the Princess and he urged Conway to stay away from the committee. Walpole found that Conway did not agree. [64] To Walpole’s charge that a vote against the King’s mother will force “your friends to abandon you” and “demolish the party at once,” Conway replied that “he desired no place, and liked very well to act with a few.” This was characteristic of Conway who earlier had “wished the opposition was reduced to six or seven, who could depend on one another.” [65] Conway’s insistence on maintaining character at all costs infuriated Walpole who urged that on this matter the country would be served “better by silence than by speaking.” Bu Conway “preferred his character and the Cavendishes’ to his country.” To maintain character Conway had to oppose Bute’s influence to the end. Walpole wrote,
‘Why,’ said Mr. Conway, ‘if the Ministers should break, to which division would you go?’ ‘Certainly,’ said I, ‘to Lord Bute and Mr. Pitt, rather than to the Bedfords.’ He declared he should prefer the latter.
Conway attended the Committee on May 9 and spoke and divided with 66 others for naming the Queen Regent. However, he gave Walpole the satisfaction of leaving the House with him and a few others before the motion for including the Princess in the list of eligible came on. He told Walpole,
They would not vote in the question of the Princess, but on the third reading of the bill, when their vote would not be personal to her. [66]
On his way to the House the next day Walpole discovered, however, that the zealots planned to oppose the report of the Committee, which would indeed be personal to the Princess. Walpole refused to enter the House but Conway was already inside and his principles gave him little choice but to oppose the report with the Cavendishes. [67] That day he remained in the minority on three other divisions against the bill, the last of which was a desperate attempt to adjourn where opposition numbered only 24—a very few indeed. [68]
The opposition in 1765 resembled and eighteenth century novel—a comedy of errors with a miraculously happy ending. Devotion to principle and refusal to broaden its base by compromise led opposition to decline to the point where it failed to make capital even out of the Regency bill. The King no longer had any reason to fear this opposition and for that reason he could now turn to it to free him from ministers who were forcing his hand.

[1] Lieut. –General Sir Reginald Savory, His Britannic Majesty’s Army in Germany during the Seven Years War (Oxford, 1966), 446.
[2] Walpole, George III, I, 165. For Conway’s vexation see Conway to Devonshire, Dec. 10, 1762, Devonshire MSS.
[3] Add. MSS 32952, ff. 43, 123, 391; 32953, f. 20. Newcastle to Rockingham, Oct. 24, 1763, Add. MSS. 32952, f. 71.
[4] George Grenville to Conway, Dec. 4, 1763, The Grenville Papers, ed. William James Smith (4 vols; London, 1852-3) II, 177.
[5] Walpole, George III, I, 269-271.
[6] Walpole to Hertford, Nov. 17, 1763, Toynbee, V. 385.
[7] Walpole to Hertford, Jan. 22, 1764, ibid., 439.
[8] For Cumberland see Derek Jarrett, “The Regency Crisis of 1765, “ E.H.R. , April, 1970. For the views of Devonshire, Newcastle and Rockingham see Newcastle to Cumberland, Oct. 29, 1763 and Newcastle to Devonshire, Nov. 4, 1763, Add. MSS 32952, ff. 120 and 201-2.
[9] For the debate of November 24 see Grenville Papers, II, 229, and for the vote on expulsion see James Grenville to Hester Pitt, Jan. 20, 1764, Chatham Correspondence, II, 274.
[10] Walpole, The Question of Some Late Dismissions, truly stated by a Friend to the Army and the Constitution, in answer to An Address to the Public (London, 1764), 12-13.
[11] George III to Grenville, [Nov. 16, 1763], Grenville Papers, II, 162.
[12] George III to Grenville, [Nov. 25, 1763], ibid., 166.
[13] Grenville diary entry for Dec. 2, 1763, ibid., 231.
[14] Walpole’s account of this interview is in George III, I, 271-4; and in Walpole to Thomas Pitt, June 5, 1764, Toynbee, VI, 68-77.
[15] Conway to Hertford, Dec. 5, 1763, WSL.
[16] Walpole to Thomas Pitt, June 5, 1764, Toynbee, VI, 73.
[17] Grenville diary entry for Dec. 5, 1763, Grenville Papers, II, 236.
[18] Conway to Hertford, Jan. 22, 1764, Toynbee, V, 439.
[19] Walpole to Hertford, April 23, 1764, Cunningham, IV, 229.
[20] Walpole to Hertford, Feb. 3, 1764, ibid., 450.
[21] Walpole, George III, I, 284.
[22] Walpole to Hertford, Feb. 6, 1764, Toynbee, V, 451.
[23] Newcastle to [Cumberland], February 12, 1764, Add. MSS 32955, f. 448.
[24] George Onslow to Newcastle, [Feb. 6, 1764] Add. MSS 32955, f. 366.
[25] Newcastle to Legge, Feb. 7, 1764, Add. MSS 32955, f. 381.
[26] Walpole, George III, I, 290.
[27] Walpole to Hertford, Feb. 15, 1764, Toynbee, VI, 4.
[28] Onslow to Newcastle, [Feb. 17, 1764], Ad. MSS 32956, f. 19.
[29] Walpole, George III, I, 294-5.
[30] Walpole to Hertford, Feb. 19, 1764, Toynbee, VI, 9-10.
[31] Conway to Hertford, April 23, 1764, Cunningham, IV, 229.
[32] Conway to Devonshire, June 24, 1764, Devonshire MSS.
[33] For these Whig apprehensions see A.S. Foord, His Majesty’s Opposition, 310-315. For the relationship between Conway’s dismissal and these apprehensions see Newcastle to Lord Albemarle, April 28, 1764, “the Administration is mad to remove Genl. Conway…It must be taken up with spirit; it is necessary for the support of the civil Constitution and the reputation of the Army.” Ad. MSS 32958, f. 238. Charles Townshend spoke of the “outrage, done to our Constitution in the person of such an officer.” Townshend to Newcastle, April 28, 1764, Add. MSS. 32958, f. 226. Richard Rolt, the contemporary biographer of Cumberland, noted that “the act of ministerial power was considered by the impartial public as an attempt to destroy the freedom and independency of parliaments,” Historical Memoirs of …William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland…(London, 1767), 522.
[34] Conway to Hertford, April 23, 1764, Cunningham, IV, 230.
[35] Walpole to Hertford, Jan. 16, 1765, Toynbee, VI, 165.
[36] See Newcastle to Cumberland, May 5, 1764, Add. MSS 32958, ff. 308-11, for a report of the meeting.
[37] On January 10, 1765, the opening of the session, Conway called it a “profligate administration” and Walpole noted that “the epithet was his, but I believe will remain theirs.” Walpole to Mann, Jan. 13, 1765, Yale Walpole, XXII, 274.
[38] Newcastle to Cumberland, May 5, 1764, Add. MSS 32958, f. 309.
[39] Ibid., f. 310.
[40] Walpole to Hertford, Jan. 16, 1765, Toynbee, VI, 165.
[41] Rockingham to William Dowdeswell, Sept. 9, 1767, Wentworth Woodhouse MSS (Sheffield City Library), from a microfilm copy in the Fordham University Library.
[42] Newcastle to Legge, July 10, 1764, Add. MSS 32960, f. 235.
[43] Speaking of Devonshire in July 1764 Newcastle wrote, “His Grace is very constant in his attendance at Wildman’s every week; but… a Huzza at Wildman’s, once a week, will not do alone; Tho’ a very good thing…there must be a constant union, and concert, of reputable, and efficient people in both houses, who must conduct affairs…” Newcastle to Legge, July 20, 1764, Add. MSS 32960, f. 332. For Devonshire’s attitude to Pitt see Lord Hardwicke to Charles Yorke, July 26, 1764, Albemarle, Rockingham, I, 174. The decision to reject the Tory overtures was Cumberland’s but pressure from the zealous Whigs was the determining factor. Albemarle to Newcastle, Oct. 24, [1764], Add. MSS 32963, f. 364. Among the zealots Newcastle always included the Cavendishes who, especially after their brother’s death, were determined to bring on an opposition and run the risk of offending some friends. Newcastle to Rockingham, Nov. 14, 1764, Add. MSS 32963, f. 377.
[44] Walpole, George III, II, 20-23.
[45] Newcastle to Albemarle, Oct. 26, 1764, Add. MSS 32963, f. 51.
[46] Newcastle to Rockingham, Nov. 14, 1764, Add. MSS 32963, f. 377.
[47] Newcastle to Rockingham, Dec. 12, 1764, Add. MSS 32964, f. 258.
[48] Walpole to Hertford, Jan. 10, 1765, Toynbee, VI, 165-6.
[49] Walpole to Hertford, Jan. 27, 1765, ibid., 178.
[50] Walpole, George III, II, 41.
[51] Ibid., 37.
[52] Prologue to Revolution, ed. Edmund S. Morgan (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1959), 34-5. Morgan reprinted an extract of a letter from London, dated Feb. 16, 1765, which contained an account of Conway’s speech and which was printed in a number of American newspapers.
[53] Jared Ingersoll to Governor Thomas Fitch, March 6, 1765, The Fitch Papers, Correspondence and Documents during Thomas Fitch’s Governorship of the Colony of Connecticut, 1754-1766 (2 vols.; Hartford, 1920), Ii, 334.
[54] All the sources cited above agree on this point.
[55] Newcastle to Conway, March 12, 1765, Add. MSS 32966, f. 47.
[56] Albemarle to Newcastle, [March 10, 1765], Add. MSS 32966, f. 39.
[57] For a recent summary of the Regency affair see Derek Jarrett, “the regency Crisis of 1765,” E.H.R., April, 1970.
[58] Walpole, George III, II, 77.
[59] Newcastle to Albemarle, May 2, 1765, Add. MSS 32966, f. 300.
[60] Walpole, George III, II, 77.
[61] Ibid., 100.
[62] Ibid., 91-2.
[63] Ibid., 95.
[64] Ibid., 95-8. Walpole to Hertford, May 12, 1765, Toynbee, VI, 225 ff. gives much the same account of Walpole’s talk with Conway.
[65] Walpole, George III, II, 92.
[66] Ibid., 102.
[67] Walpole to Hertford, May 12, 1765, Toynbee, VI, 227-8.
[68] Grenville to George III, May 11, 1765, The Correspondence of King George the Third from 1760 to December, 1783, ed. Sir John Fortescue (6 vols.; London, 1927), I, 89-91.

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