Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol

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Frederick Augustus Hervey, (August 1, 1730 - July 8, 1803), bishop of Derry, who became 4th earl of Bristol, was educated at Westminster School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, graduating in 1754.

Entering the church he became a royal chaplain; and while waiting for other preferment spent some time in Italy, whither he was led by his great interest in art. In February 1767, while his brother, the 2nd earl, was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he was made bishop of Cloyne, and having improved the property of the see he was translated to the rich bishopric of Derry a year later. Here again he was active and philanthropic.

While not neglecting his luxurious personal tastes he spent large sums of money on making roads and assisting agriculture, and his munificence was shared by the city of Londonderry. He built splendid residences at Downhill and Ballyscullion, which he adorned with rare works of art.

As a bishop, Hervey was industrious and vigilant; he favored complete religious equality, and was opposed to the system of tithes. In December 1779 he became earl of Bristol, and in spite of his brother's will succeeded to a considerable property. Having again passed some time in Italy, he returned to Ireland and in 1782 threw himself ardently into the Irish volunteer movement, quickly attaining a prominent position among the volunteers, and in great state attending the convention held in Dublin in November 1783.

Carried away by his position and his popularity he talked loudly of rebellion, and his violent language led the government to contemplate his arrest. Subsequently he took no part in politics, spending his later years mainly on the continent of Europe. In 1798 he was imprisoned by the French at Milan, remaining in custody for eighteen months. He died at Albano, and was buried in Ickworth church.

Varying estimates have been found of his character, including favorable ones by John Wesley and Jeremy Bentham. He was undoubtedly clever and cultured, but licentious and eccentric. In later life he openly professed materialistic opinions; he fell in love with the countess Lichtenau, mistress of Frederick William II of Prussia; and by his bearing he gave fresh point to the saying that God created men, women and Herveys. In 1752 he had married Elizabeth (d. 1800), daughter of Sir Jermyn Davers, Bart., by whom he had two sons and three daughters (of whom the best-known is Lady Elizabeth Hervey, who married secondly her long-time lover the Duke of Devonshire).

His elder son, Augustus John, Lord Hervey (1757-1796), had predeceased his father, and he was succeeded in the title by his younger son Frederick. He was succeeded in the Elizabethan-era title of Baron Howard de Walden (inherited from a distant cousin) by his great-grandson the 2nd Baron Seaford, who was the son of the only daughter of his eldest son.

Preceded by:
Augustus John Hervey
Earl of Bristol Followed by:
Frederick William Hervey

Reference

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