Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt - Life and Work

Life and Work

Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt, was educated at Westminster School. He succeeded his grandfather Simon Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt in 1727. In 1745, having raised a regiment for service during the Jacobite Rebellion, the 76th Foot (Lord Harcourts Regiment), he received a commission as a Colonel in the army, The regiment was disbanded on 10 June 1746.

In 1749 he was created Earl Harcourt of Stanton Harcourt. He was appointed governor to the prince of Wales, afterwards George III, in 1751; and after the accession of the latter to the throne, in 1761, he was appointed as special ambassador to Mecklenburg-Strelitz, to negotiate a marriage between King George and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Princess Charlotte), whom he conducted to England.

He held a number of appointments at court and in the diplomatic service. He was the British ambassador to Paris from 1768 to 1772. He was promoted to the rank of general in 1772; and in October of the same year he succeeded Lord Townshend as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, an office which he held until 1777. His proposal to impose a tax of 10% on the rents of absentee landlords had to be abandoned owing to opposition in England; but he succeeded in conciliating the leaders of Opposition in Ireland, and he persuaded Henry Flood to accept office in the government.

Resigning in January 1777, he retired to Nuneham Park, where he died on 16 September, apparently by drowning in a well while trying to rescue his dog. He married, on 16 October 1735, Rebecca Samborne Le Bas (died 16 January 1765), daughter and heiress of Charles Samborne Le Bas, of Pipewell Abbey, Northamptonshire, by whom he had two daughters, Lady Elizabeth (18 June 1739 - 21 January 1811, buried at Hartwell), married on 20 June 1763 Sir William Lee, 4th Baronet, of Hartwell (12 September 1726 - 6 July 1799) and Lady Anne (1741–1746), and two sons, George Simon and William, who succeeded him as 2nd and 3rd earl respectively.

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