1837 (February 22). single sheet, folded. Remnants of wax seal. Written in a light brown ink in a slanting, delicate cursive. Item #17597
The Homble | Geo: Agar Ellis | Spring Gardens
My dear Sir
My friend Mr. Hyde Villiers means to plead his cause in the House of Commons this evening respecting his return from Hedon. The most eminent Lawyers considering that his plea is founded on Law & justice he is anxious for a full hearing and I shall esteem it a particular favor if you would be present and if you convincd by his statement and argument (not otherwise) afford him your support.
I remain ever my dear Sir
14 Regent St.
Feby 22nd, 1827
A unique example of political intrigue. While this letter is vague, the date and individuals involved point towards three possibilities. The first possibility concerns actions on February 8, 1827 according the Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. 82, Villiers responded to a petition from Robert Farrand dated December 4, 1826 that complained of “an undue Election and Return of the said Thomas Hyde Villiers.” Hyde responded with his own petition that refuted Farrand’s claim. The second option is petition from a group of Hedon tradesmen, artisans, and laborers issued on February 19, 1827 requesting that the Commons not interfere with the corn laws, which were tariffs and trade restrictions placed on imported food and grain (i.e. corn) in Great Britain between 1815 and 1846 (The History of Parliament). As the representative of Hedon, Hyde could have presented the petition on the group’s behalf. Lastly, the letter could refer to the widely discussed topic in Parliament dealing with Catholic Emancipation. On the date in question, February 22, 1827, according to the Journals of the House of Commons, there were many petitions put forth regarding the rights of Catholics in England. Nash, Hyde, and Agar-Ellis were all liberal in their politics and leaned towards removing many of the restrictions placed on Catholics since the Reformation. There are not names attached to all the petitions oultined in the Journals, but it still stands as a possibility.
John Nash (1752–1835) was the English architect responsible for the design and execution of many of London’s most well-known areas including Regent Street, Regent’s Park, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square. His most prominent patron was the prince regent, George IV. It is not clear from the letter how Nash and “Mr. Hyde Villiers” became acquainted, but George IV is a potential mutual contact.
Thomas Hyde Villiers (1801–1832) was the son of George Villiers, a courtier and royal favorite of the prince regent. George’s mishandling of his official accounts left the family in substantial debt, however, his proximity to George IV mitigated the issue. The prince continued to assist the family, and helped Hyde to secure a position as a colonial clerk in Corfu. Hyde eventually returned to London and soon was elected to represent Hedon in Yorkshire in the general elections in June 1826. It is during this first stint in politics that he likely met the addressee of the letter, George Agar-Ellis.
George Agar-Ellis (1797–1833) was a politician and well-respected art patron. He sat on the board of the National Gallery of Art and the British Museum. It is likely through his dealings in the London art culture that he formed a relationship with Nash. He had served in Parliament previously, but like Hyde, Agar-Ellis was also successful in June 1826 and was elected to represent Ludgershall.