Letter – Thomas Wentworth Beaumont to Charles Grey – 29 Aug 1823

Document Type: Letter
Date: 29 Aug 1823
Correspondent: Thomas Wentworth Beaumont
Recipient: Charles Grey
Archive Source: DUL JGL A40 8-11
  • Transcription
  • Notes
  • Comments (0)
  • Change font
    If columns/tables do not appear straight, change font
To the Right Honourable Earl Grey.

                         							Bradley, August 29 1823

Dear Lord Grey, 

      I cannot prevent this letter appearing to you very extraordinary, but its necessity has been brought on by Lady Swinburne’s conduct.

      Almost immediately after her daughter’s acceptance of my proposals, in which she and Sir John seemed cordially to concur, I was struck by the unkindness of Lady Swinburne to me, and the continual endeavours she was making to hinder Elizabeth from giving her affections to me.  This, will easily imagine. Alarmed me considerably, for besides the usual respect of well-disposed children to their parents, I observed a confidence little short of idolatrous in Elizabeth toward Lady S. - The peculiarity of some of their habits and education has contrived this.  I resolved instantly to give up all other considerations, and to use all the advantages which my familiarity with the family and approaching marriage afforded me, for investigating to the bottom, the cause of this unnatural behaviour.

      Circumstances soon occurred to shew me, that Lady S had not much regard for her husband, for whom, however, she constantly expressed the strongest attachment.   I may now pass over a variety of things which brought me to suppose that she had entertained, if she had not still, a passion for herself, which had at some time or other, probably many years ago been gratified.  Having this idea, I went on to examine its truth by repeated conversations, which fully confirmed it.

      Now, my Lord, I beg you will not consider that I took up this matter as my own, and would for my own sake have wounded the feelings of either yourself or Lady S.

      I had opportunities of seeing General Grey with her, and was brought to a similar suspicion respecting him.  Nor did it entirely stop here, so unbridled and unprincipled her conduct appeared to me.   This gave sufficient ground for her conduct in all respects.  For, seeing my affection for Elizabeth, if she could secure her daughter’s blind devotion to herself, she had reason to believe that my eyes also might be shut.  Luckily, I had too strong a conviction of her guilt, and too firm a reliance that such wickedness would not be allowed to be triumphant, for such a hope  ever go be realised.

      The first step I took (this was in London, a few weeks before their return to the country) was to expostulate with Lady S, upon her behaviour to me, in such general terms, as to leave no doubt in her mind of the full extent of my intention, without compromising myself by an explanation to a particular line of conduct.   This language, however, was met on her part by reproaches, and an assurance that she was conscious of having done no wrong.   Emily was by chance in the room during this conversation, and was at that time totally ignorant of what I meant.  Her mother appeared to me to suspect that she knew it, and treated her with much cruelty in order to force from her, what, in fact, she did not know.  It is needless, at this time, to go into further details.

      Sir John was, at different times, induced to conduct himself towards me in a manner that could only be the result of great misrepresentation.  Lady S’s conduct upon my determination to take Elizabeth abroad immediately after our marriage, with, many other occurrences in London and at Capheaton, as well as what I have heard took place on the journey, gave me continual proofs that she could not be induced to give up her attempts to alienate her daughter from me.

      In consequence of a quarrel with my mother, I found it necessary to think of retiring from the representations of the county, and consequently from residence in it, which I rather state, in order that I omit. I thing if importance, which I recollect to have occurred in this singular affair, than from any precise bearing it appears to have upon the object of this letter. Still I had no idea of making my thoughts on this subject known to Sir John Swinburne, or his son Edward, although I had been compelled to acquaint Elizabeth and Emily with them before they left London.  From the uncommon excellence and purity of Elizabeth’s mind, and her most amiable disposition, such an explanation seemed to me possible to be avoided.  About ten days, however, after my arrival at Capheaton, our affairs took a new and extraordinary turn, which compelled me to a different conduct.

      On Sunday the 10th instant, after some prayers had been read at home (it was a wet morning), selected from a book of Bishop Hoadley’s, and in which, as well as in a sermon of Sydney Smith’s, I was struck by the absence of all acknowledgment of the atonement of our Saviour, and the misrepresentation of the principal object of his coming upon earth, to die for the sins of mankind, I declared to Edward Swinburne my opinion respecting g his mother, and named yourself, General Grey, and her own butler.

      I think it is also my duty to mention, that I felt myself urged to the course I took, by circumstances of an extraordinary character, which, after a most calm and dispassionate examination, I believe to be out of the usual source of events.   Into a further account of these it appears to me totally unnecessary for me here to enter, as I do not rely upon them for my justification with your Lordship in troubling you with this letter.

      After my conversation with Edward Swinburne, we went together to Sir John, to whom I was going to make the same communication, when he became out of temper and would hear nothing.   I accordingly left him, and retired immediately with Mr Bird, who arrived almost at that moment from his living at Chollerton, to Bradley, where I have remained since that time.

      Three weeks have now nearly elapsed, and although an offer has been made to me of forgiveness, if I would apologise to Lady S, which was of course rejected, I do not find that any steps have been taken by Sir John S.  Last night, a note which I sent to Edward, at Ovingham, to ask what had been done, and enquire after the health of Elizabeth and Emily, was returned to me unopened, and my groom was desired to tell me, that after what passed, he could receive no letters from me.

      I do not know, therefore, what it is his intention to do; - he is aware that I shall remain at Bradley, - and to be prepared for any thing, I have written by this morning’s post, to request a friend, who is in Yorkshire, to come and pass a few days with me.  I have had sufficient evidence of the hardness of Lady S to make me believe she would not hesitate to risk her son’s life, if she thought to accomplish her own object by that means.

      Your Lordship will do me the justice to believe me, when I say, that it has not been the least in my thoughts to screen myself from a duel by this letter, - but I look for your own acknowledgment to restore happiness to that of the family, which is most deserving of it, and to confound their most unworthy and abandoned mother.

      I beg to be understood as not asking in this any  favour for myself, although my happiness is so entirely involved in that of her daughter, that what affects one, must also affect the other.

      During the whole of this affair, I have acted from a conscientious conviction of my duty, and I look for no recompense, but in the execution of it, for its own sake.            

      I remain, my dear Lord Grey,

                     T W Beaumont 

PS To prevent the delay of this letter in London during Sunday I have sent it by my servant, who will wait for your Lordship’s reply

[This postscript did not appear in the printed version.]
JGL A40/9. This is principally a manuscript volume of fair copies of original correspondence, together with some loose leaves of other copied correspondence, all relating to the Beaumont-Swinburne-Grey affair of 1823-4. Markings on the copies indicate which parts were to be printed in a broadsheet and those letters and sections to be excluded. A copy of the broadsheet is also folded into the front of the volume. The collection was presumably drawn up by J.G.Lambton in the wake of the 1826 General Election campaign in Northumberland, and issued at its close, from where sections were picked up for republication in the press.

Leave a comment

We welcome further information or corrections on topics and incidents mentioned in individual letters. It might take a while before your comments are checked for adding to public view within the website. We cannot undertake further research in response to questions.

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


General Discussion
Suggested correction or addition


  Return to search results or refine/create new search
The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467