Loyal Address

In past years on the Life & Times board, there were two thoughts on whether Sir William gave his speech at St James or at Meryton when the King was visiting. Here is information that supports the view Sir William traveled to London:

Here is an obituary from the December 1813 edition of the Gentleman’s:

At Fareham, Hants aged 79, Sir William Bennett. He lived and died beloved by his family, and in peace with all mankind. He was the senior magistrate of the county and in that, and other public characters he was respected for his incorruptible integrity and punctual attendance to the duties of his office. As a man the goodness of his heart and the affability of his manners, gained him the affection of all and his life was justly considered as a bright example of moral excellence. He served the office of high sheriff in 1760 and received the honour of knighthood on presenting a congratulatory Address from the County on his present Majesty’s accession (George III-ed) to the throne.

P 626, Gentleman’s Magazine (1813)

Now I’m not saying that this man was the role model of Sir William Lucas, but I wonder if JA knew of him. He certainly seems to have been a prominent member of Hampshire society. (N.B.The High Sheriff was the Sovereign’s representative in the County for all matters relating to the Judiciary and the maintenance of law and order.) Certainly, this is quite a fulsome obituary for someone in this Magazine. Most are along these lines:

At Gibraltar in his 32nd year J Ramsay, esq. merchant.

This is the first time I have seen in a contemporary source regarding the giving of a loyal address. We have all made educated guesses about it, but here is evidence that these types of addresses actually took place.

I now think my scenario (that they took place at St James Palace) might be given some weight by this notice: it would appear that Sir William traveled to St James to give the address ‘from the county’, presumably with other high sheriffs from around the country. Poor old George III probably had to sit through many such speeches.

In any event this is an interesting addition to our thoughts about Sir William Lucas and what form his loyal address took. Travelling to St James to make the address could have happened and have given him his experience of court (which rather went to his head).

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