A return engagement today for Lord John Sackville, cricketer, politician and notorious rake about town. My post on his death touched on his somewhat scandalous ways and it is this that I return to today, to look a little more about the sort of behaviour that this particular member of the peerage were indulging in back in the Georgian era!
Lord Sackville was born the son of Elizabeth Colyear and Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset and an ambitious career politician. The young man enjoyed an excellent education at Westminster, where he fell in love with the game of cricket, and at the age of 21 became not only Member of Parliament for Tamworth but more importantly for him, captained the Kent team at Sevenoaks. His cricketing prowess raised him to celebrity status in the county but he was almost as famous for his personal life, which might be politely termed, flamboyant.
|Knole House, the Sackville family seat|
Apart from cricket, there was little that Sackville enjoyed as much as gambling and the company of women. He had numerous lovers and finally, perhaps inevitably, his gadding about led to trouble when, in 1743, fate dealt him a surprise hand.
In 1743, Sackville embarked on a passionate and scandalous affair with Lady Frances Leveson-Gower, daughter of John Leveson-Gower, 1st Earl Gower and Lady Evelyn Pierrepont, whose father was the 1st Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull. The affair resulted in pregnancy and as the couple retreated to Woburn, a scandal erupted around them. The parents of both Sackville and Evelyn were horrified to learn of the affair but there was little they could do, the child was well on its way.
Just two days after their child was born in 1744, the scandalous couple married one another. This did nothing to mollify their parents-in-law and when Sackville's allowance was slashed by his father, financial trouble beckoned for the scandalous newlyweds.
In fact, Sackville's cricketing chum, Frederick, Prince of Wales, stepped in at this point to save his friend from financial ruin. He gave Sackville a paid position on his personal staff, easily making up the shortfall in his allowance.
Although more trouble, gambling and ultimately madness would follow, for now life seemed settled and the couple adjusted to married life. Sackville never quite curbed his outrageous ways and his son would later follow his father's example, creating scandals of his own.