William Harbord (politician)

William Harbord (25 April 1635 – 31 July 1692), of Grafton Park, was an English diplomat and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1661 and 1690.

LifeEdit

Harbord was the second son of Sir Charles Harbord (1596–1679) of Charing Cross, who had been Surveyor General to Charles I, and his second wife Mary van Aelst, daughter of Jan van Aelst of Kent. He entered Parliament in 1661 as member for Dartmouth, and subsequently also represented Thetford and Launceston.[1]

In 1672, Harbord became secretary to the Earl of Essex, the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Essex praised him as "a very useful servant" and as a man of integrity who was also efficient in dispatching business. He lost the position on Essex's recall from Ireland in 1677.

In the parliamentary debates of 1676–8 Harbord spoke often against the alliance with France, and pressed for the removal of all papists from the King's person. He was notoriously intemperate in speech (he has been called one of the "angry men" of the Commons), and on one occasion he was warned not to disparage Charles II. Thereafter he took care to exclude the King from his attacks on the Government: "the King is the best man living, and the furthest from Popery". However he frequently attacked the future James II: embittered by the death of his brother Charles at the Battle of Sole Bay in 1672, he made the absurd claim that James, as Lord Admiral, had betrayed the English fleet, and was forced to withdraw the allegation.

He was a firm believer in the reality of the Popish Plot, and in concert with Ralph Montagu, whom he helped to get into Parliament, took an important part in the attack on the Earl of Danby. The revelation of Danby's secret dealings with France elated him to the point of hysteria: one historian has described his Commons speech on the subject ("poisoning and stabbing are in use....I am afraid that the King will be murdered") as "ravings".[2] His fear of assassination by the alleged plotters seems to have been genuine, and he briefly considered quitting England. In the parliament of 1679, in which he represented Thetford, he spoke against Danby's pardon, attacked John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale, and was eager for the disbanding of the army.[3] He was returned for the Oxford Parliament of 1681, and was expected to play a crucial role, but the King dissolved it after only a week.

Leaving England on the accession of James II, Harbord served as a volunteer in the Imperial Army at Siege of Buda in 1686. He accompanied William of Orange on his invasion of England in 1688, and the following year was made a Privy Counsellor , to the dismay of the Tory party, and Paymaster of the Forces in Ireland. He returned to the Commons as member for Launceston. By now he has been described as an angry, embittered veteran, whose eloquence might win a debate, but rarely prevailed on an actual vote. In one of his frequent lapses of political judgment, he moved that two of James II's judges be hanged for treason, a proposal which was crushingly rejected.[4]

Harbord was made Vice-Treasurer of Ireland in 1690. After a considerable delay he went to Ireland but returned without leave within a few months, pleading ill-health, having achieved nothing, according to his enemies, but in making a considerable profit at the Army's expense from his office as Paymaster General of the Irish Forces, and leaving the troops wholly out of pay. He was nominated by the King as Ambassador to Constantinople on 2 November 1691, although William had taken a very poor view of his conduct in Ireland ("in another country he would have been hanged" the King said severely). He left England on 9 November, arriving in Vienna on 8 March 1692 to mediate between Sultan Ahmed II and the Emperor Leopold I, but died in Belgrade of a malignant fever before reaching his posting in Belgrade on 31 July 1692.

FamilyEdit

Harbord married twice. By his first wife, Mary Duck, daughter of Arthur Duck, whom he married in 1661, he had three daughters,

  • Mary Harbord (d.1715), who married Sir Edward Ayscough (1650–1699),
  • Margaret Harbord, who married Robert King, 2nd Baron Kingston,
  • Grace Harbord, who married Thomas Hatcher;

and by his second, Catherine Russell, daughter of Edward Russell and Penelope Hill (and niece of the 1st Duke of Bedford), and had one daughter,

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ History of Parliament Online – Harbord, WIlliam
  2. ^ Kenyon, J.P. The Popish Plot Phoenix Press reissue 2000 p.149
  3. ^ "Harbord, William" . Dictionary of National Biography (1st supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1901.
  4. ^ Kenyon, J.P. Robert Spencer, 1st Earl of Sunderland 1641-1702 Gregg Revivals 1992 p.237
  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography (1930)
Parliament of England
Preceded by
John Frederick
John Hale
Member of Parliament for Dartmouth
1661–1679
With: Thomas Southcote 1661–1664
Thomas Kendall 1664–1667
Sir Walter Yonge, Bt 1667–1670
William Gould 1670–1673
Josiah Child 1673–1679
Succeeded by
Sir Nathaniel Herne
John Upton
Preceded by
Sir Allen Apsley
Sir Joseph Williamson
Member of Parliament for Thetford
1679–1681
With: Sir Joseph Williamson
Succeeded by
Henry Heveningham
William de Grey
Preceded by
Sir Hugh Piper
Lord Lansdowne
Member of Parliament for Launceston
1681–1685
With: Sir Hugh Piper
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh Piper
John Granville
Preceded by
Henry Heveningham
William de Grey
Member of Parliament for Thetford
Jan–June 1689
With: Sir Henry Hobart, Bt 1689
Sir Francis Guybon 1689
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Guybon
John Trenchard
Preceded by
John Granville
Sir Hugh Piper
Member of Parliament for Launceston
June 1689–1692
With: Edward Russell 1689–1690
Bernard Granville 1690–1692
Succeeded by
Lord Hyde
Bernard Granville
Preceded by
Sir Francis Guybon
John Trenchard
Member of Parliament for Thetford
Feb–May 1690
With: Sir Francis Guybon
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Guybon
Baptist May
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Ford
Chief Secretary for Ireland
1673–1676
Succeeded by
Sir Cyril Wyche