Lord Liverpool

Sir Thomas Lawrence P.R.A (1769-1830), portrait of Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, KG, MP (1770-1828)  (Private Collection)

Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool  1770-1828

The two heraldic banners hanging in St Mary’s Church, Hawkesbury, for which conservation funding is being sought, carry the arms of Robert Banks Jenkinson (1770-1828), Baron Hawkesbury and 2nd Earl of Liverpool, one of Britain’s outstanding statesmen and the third longest-serving of all British Prime Ministers. The banners are the only two that survive from perhaps at least seven which once hung in the chancel of St Mary’s, each with a small pennant or pennoncel with St. George’s cross at its head. Brackets for the banners and pennants still survive in situ.

image from bannerThe larger banner has a field of sable, and in the centre are two large oval shields: the dexter one surrounded by the Garter (granted to Lord Liverpool in 1814 at the visit of the Allied Sovereigns to London) and bearing the arms of Jenkinson, the sinister one with the same arms in the centre between two impalements, on the dexter side Hervey, the arms of Lord Liverpool’s first wife, and on the sinister side, Bagot, the arms of his second wife. The motto is “Palma non sin pulvere  (‘Victory not without toil’). The smaller banner has the Jenkinson  crest, a seahorse assurgent Argent maned Azure supporting a Cross Pattée Gules surrounded by the Garter, beneath the Earl’s coronet.

Robert Banks Jenkinson was baptised on 29 June  1770, the eldest son of Charles Jenkinson (1729-1808) later Baron Hawkesbury and 1st Earl of Liverpool(1796) and Amelia Watts, daughter of the Governor of Fort William, Bengal and the colourful ‘Begum Johnson’ of Calcutta (d. 1812). Amelia died shortly after her only child’s birth and is buried in St. Mary’s, Hawkesbury. Charles Jenkinson was the close confidante of George III and had a successful career of public service in successive governments for over forty years, thus providing valuable experience and opportunity for his son to follow the same path.

Robert Banks Jenkinson was a descendant of Anthony Jenkinson (d. 1611), the famous seafarer, merchant and traveller, who undertook four diplomatic missions to Russia between 1558 and 1571, and whose son Robert Jenkinson purchased the Manor of Hawkesbury in 1621. The estate remained in the family’s possession until 2016, when it was purchased by the 11th Duke of Beaufort. Many members of the Jenkinson family are buried or commemorated in the chancel of St. Mary’s Church.

After education at Charterhouse  and Christ Church, Oxford, Robert Bankes Jenkinson  spent four months in Paris in 1789, witnessed the Fall of the Bastille, and in 1790-91 travelled to Italy and the Netherlands before taking his seat in Parliament as the Member for Rye at the age of 21. From then on he rose steadily in public office, and in 1795 married the Hon. Theodosia-Louisa Hervey, the third daughter of Frederick Augustus, Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry (1730-1803), creator of the immense neo-classical villa at Ickworth in Suffolk. In 1796 he succeeded his father as Baron Hawkesbury, and in 1801 became Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in which capacity he negotiated the Treaty of Amiens with France, and later became Secretary of State for War and the Colonies under Spencer Perceval (1809), having succeeded his father as Earl of Liverpool in 1808. Following the assassination of Perceval in 1812, he became Prime Minister, and remained in post throughout the rest of the Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812 with the United States, the Congress of Vienna and the period of domestic political instability following 1815.

After his first wife died in 1821, he married Lady Mary Chester, nee Bagot, whose arms also appear on his Garter Banner. In 1827 he suffered a severe stroke and retired from office, and died in December 1828 at his home in Kingston-upon-Thames. His corpse was brought, with his honours, to Hawkesbury for burial, and a memorial tablet erected to his memory many years later, with his banners, on the north wall of the chancel of St. Mary’s church. The two surviving banners appear in that position in early 20th-century photographs, but were removed to the south-west corner of the church at a later date, from where they have been removed for conservation assessment.

In the Gentleman’s Magazine’s obituary of Lord Liverpool in January 1829, the following assessment of him was published; ‘If the Earl of Liverpool was not a man of brilliant genius, or lively fancy, he was possessed of powerful talents, sound principles and unimpeachable integrity. He seemed born to be a statesman.’