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Richard John Warburton Lytton FRS ( Warburton; 26 August 1745[1] – 29 December 1810)[2] 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.


Early lifeEdit

He was the son of William Warburton, of Yarrow, Queen's County, Ireland, and his wife, Barbara Lytton.[3][4] He was baptised 5 September 1745 at St Anne's Church, Soho in London.[1] He was educated at Harrow School under Robert Carey Sumner, where he knew Sir William Jones and formed a friendship with Samuel Parr,[5] associating also with William Bennet.[6]

He inherited Knebworth House in 1762 from his uncle John Robinson-Lytton, and added Lytton to his own name.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9][10]


Lytton was elected to the Royal Society in 1772.[11] A letter he wrote in 1774 to Samuel Parr stated that he had been canvassing for Thomas Halsey, the Hertfordshire Member of Parliament.[12] He attended the Greek tragedy presented by Parr's pupils at Stanmore in 1775/6, an innovation.[13] 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.[10][14]

According to a surviving journal, Lytton associated in the 1780s with Granville Sharp and Andrew Kippis.[15] Thomas Day the abolitionist was a university friend.[16]

Later lifeEdit

After the French Revolution, Lytton was in France where he owned an estate at Boulogne, and there associated with French thinkers.[17] He left in a hurry as war broke out, and his house was confiscated.[18] He sheltered French exiles, including the Abbé Béliard, who became a teacher at the school run in Enfield by John Clarke.[19] Lytton had been introduced to Clarke by Joseph Priestley.[20] Charles Cowden Clarke, John Clarke's son, described a visit to Lytton, who was then living in Enfield. He later moved to Ramsgate.[21]

Lytton died on 29 December 1810 and was buried 5 January 1811.[22] A monumental inscription to him is in the south aisle of St Laurence, Ramsgate.[23]


Bookplate of Richard Warburton Lytton, with signature of his daughter Elizabeth Barbara Lytton

Lytton married in 1768 Elizabeth Jodrell, daughter of Paul Jodrell, Member of Parliament for Old Sarum, who survived him, dying 1 November 1818.[3][24][25] 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.[26] 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.[27]

Their daughter Elizabeth married William Earle Bulwer,[28] and was the mother of Henry Bulwer, 1st Baron Dalling and Bulwer and Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton.[29]

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.[30][31] He based the character Austin Caxton in The Caxtons, an unworldly scholar, on his grandfather Richard.[32] In an earlier novel, Pelham, Bulwer-Lytton's character Clutterbuck is also supposed to be based on Lytton.[33] Lytton, who is said to have written and then destroyed a drama in Hebrew, has been called eccentric.[34]


  1. ^ a b England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975
  2. ^ "Lytton, Richard Warburton (1745–1810), of Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, The National Archives". Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b Burke, Bernard (1865). Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire. Harrison and sons. p. 711. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  4. ^ Burke, Bernard, Sir; Burke, John (1848). "The Royal Families of England, Scotland, and Wales: with their descendants, sovereigns and subjects". Internet Archive. London: E. Churton. pp. Pedigree LXXII. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  5. ^ Parr, Samuel; Johnstone, John (1828). The Works of Samuel Parr ...: With Memoirs of His Life and Writings, and a Selection from His Correspondence. Longman, Rees. p. 83. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  6. ^ Collins, William Lucas (1867). The Public Schools: Winchester—Westminster—Shrewsbury—Harrow—Rugby; Notes of Their History and Traditions. W. Blackwood and sons. p. 283. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Parishes: Knebworth, British History Online". Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  8. ^ Brown, William; Thurlow, Edward Thurlow Baron; Rosslyn, Alexander Wedderburn Earl of (1820). Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the High Court of Chancery, During the Time of Lord Chancellor Thurlow: And of the Several Lords Commissioners of the Great Seal, and Lord Chancellor Loughborough, from 1778 to 1794. H. Butterworth. p. 444. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  9. ^ s:Alumni Oxonienses: the Members of the University of Oxford, 1715-1886/Warburton, Richard
  10. ^ a b Lytton, Edward Robert Bulwer (13 February 2014). The Life, Letters and Literary Remains of Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton. Cambridge University Press. p. 16. ISBN 9781108069564. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  11. ^ Thomson, Thomas (1812). History of the Royal Society, from Its Institution to the End of the Eighteenth Century. Robert Baldwin, 47, Paternoster-Row. p. 54.
  12. ^ Parr, Samuel; Johnstone, John (1829). Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Samuel Parr, LL.D. Bohn. p. 84. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  13. ^ Clarke, Martin Lowther (2 January 2014). Classical Education in Britain 1500–1900. Cambridge University Press. p. 50. ISBN 9781107622067. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  14. ^ Johnson, Samuel (14 July 2014). The Letters of Samuel Johnson, Volume III: 1777–1781. Princeton University Press. p. 170. ISBN 9781400862139. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Eighteenth-Century Materials in the Cadbury Research Library – University of Birmingham". Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  16. ^ Biographia Britannica: Or, The Lives Of The Most Eminent Persons Who Have Flourished in Great Britain And Ireland From The Earliest Ages, To The Present Times: Collected From The Best Authorities, Printed And Manuscript, And Digested In The Manner Of Mr. Bayle's Historical and Critical Dictionary. Bathurst. 1793. p. 21.
  17. ^ Hansen, Helynne Hollstein (1998). Hortense Allart: The Woman and the Novelist. University Press of America. p. 77. ISBN 9780761812135. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  18. ^ s:Englishmen in the French Revolution/Chapter X
  19. ^ Tompson, Richard S. "Clarke, John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/47384.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  20. ^ Motion, Andrew (7 July 2011). Keats. Faber & Faber. p. xii. ISBN 9780571266043. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Recollections of Writers, Ch 1". Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  22. ^ "Richard Warburton-Lytton, Lord Byron and His Times". Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  23. ^ "St Lawrence, Laurence, Ramsgate, Thanet – Churchyard M.I.'s 265MB". Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  24. ^ Burke, John Bernard (1845). A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire. H. Colburn. p. 554. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  25. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle. E. Cave. 1818. p. 572.
  26. ^ Escott, Thomas Hay Sweet (1910). "Edward Bulwer, first baron Lytton of Knebworth, a social, personal, and political monograph". London: G. Routledge and Sons, Ltd. p. 23. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  27. ^ Brown, William (1795). Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the High Court of Chancery: Trinity term, 32 Geo. 3. to Hilary term, 34 Geo. 3. E. Lynch, R. Moncrieffe, G. Burnet, C. Jenkin, J. Exshaw, R. Burton, L. White, P. Byrne, H. Whitestone. p. 680. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  28. ^ A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire. Henry Colburn. 1839. p. 146.
  29. ^ Lee, Sidney, ed. (1893). "Lytton, Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-" . Dictionary of National Biography. 34. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  30. ^ Huckvale, David (30 November 2015). A Dark and Stormy Oeuvre: Crime, Magic and Power in the Novels of Edward Bulwer-Lytton. McFarland. p. 23. ISBN 9780786499489. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  31. ^ Powell, John (2001). Biographical Dictionary of Literary Influences: The Nineteenth Century, 1800–1914. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 61. ISBN 9780313304224. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  32. ^ Snyder, Charles William (1995). Liberty and Morality: A Political Biography of Edward Bulwer-Lytton. P. Lang. p. 6. ISBN 9780820424712.
  33. ^ Rintoul, M.C. (5 March 2014). Dictionary of Real People and Places in Fiction. Routledge. p. 631. ISBN 9781136119323. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  34. ^ Nisbet, John Ferguson (1891). "The Insanity of Genius and the General Inequality of Human Faculty: physiologically considered". Internet Archive. London: Ward & Downey. p. 128. Retrieved 29 June 2017.