Richard Warburton Lytton
Richard John Warburton Lytton FRS (né Warburton; 26 August 1745 – 29 December 1810) was an English landowner and Fellow of the Royal Society. A member of the prominent Lytton family, he was the father of Elizabeth Barbara Lytton and grandfather of Henry Bulwer, 1st Baron Dalling and Bulwer and Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton.
He was the son of William Warburton, of Yarrow, Queen's County, Ireland, and his wife, Barbara Lytton. He was baptised 5 September 1745 at St Anne's Church, Soho in London. He was educated at Harrow School under Robert Carey Sumner, where he knew Sir William Jones and formed a friendship with Samuel Parr, associating also with William Bennet.
He inherited Knebworth House in 1762 from his uncle John Robinson-Lytton, and added Lytton to his own name. The inheritance was the subject of a chancery case of 1793, in which it was stated that it was only on the death in 1790 of Leonora Lytton (née Brereton), widow of his uncle, that Lytton came into full possession of Knebworth House and Park.
Lytton was admitted to University College, Oxford, as Richard Warburton (rather than Christ Church, Oxford, as tentatively suggested in his grandson's memoir). There he knew Richard Paul Jodrell. Lytton fell for Jodrell's young sister Elizabeth, and they were married.
Lytton was elected to the Royal Society in 1772. A letter he wrote in 1774 to Samuel Parr stated that he had been canvassing for Thomas Halsey, the Hertfordshire Member of Parliament. He attended the Greek tragedy presented by Parr's pupils at Stanmore in 1775/6, an innovation. Thomas Maurice may have known of him, as Bulwer-Lytton suggests, but was at University College some time later. He was another connection of Parr, and translator of Oedipus Rex, still at university at that time.
After the French Revolution, Lytton was in France where he owned an estate at Boulogne, and there associated with French thinkers. He left in a hurry as war broke out, and his house was confiscated. He sheltered French exiles, including the Abbé Béliard, who became a teacher at the school run in Enfield by John Clarke. Lytton had been introduced to Clarke by Joseph Priestley. Charles Cowden Clarke, John Clarke's son, described a visit to Lytton, who was then living in Enfield. He later moved to Ramsgate.
Lytton married in 1768 Elizabeth Jodrell, daughter of Paul Jodrell, Member of Parliament for Old Sarum, who survived him, dying 1 November 1818. The couple separated permanently after about three years, with one child. Elizabeth went to live in Upper Seymour Street, London, while Richard lived in various provincial locations, not at Knebworth House. At age 21, in 1766, he had come into much of the estate left to him, but not the Mansion House which remained with his aunt Leonora or Eleonora.
Legacy and literary referencesEdit
Edward Bulwer-Lytton inherited Richard Warburton Lytton's library, and was influenced by it in particular by access to German philosophy. He based the character Austin Caxton in The Caxtons, an unworldly scholar, on his grandfather Richard. In an earlier novel, Pelham, Bulwer-Lytton's character Clutterbuck is also supposed to be based on Lytton. Lytton, who is said to have written and then destroyed a drama in Hebrew, has been called eccentric.
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