Ralph Payne, 1st Baron Lavington

British politician

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The Lord Lavington
Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of the Leeward Islands
In office
1799–1807
Member of Parliament (MP) for New Woodstock
In office
1795–1799
Member of Parliament (MP) for Plympton, Devon
In office
1780–1784
Clerk of the Board of the Green Cloth
In office
1777–1782
Member of Parliament (MP) for Camelford, Cornwall
In office
1776–1780
Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of the Leeward Islands
In office
1771–1775
Member of Parliament (MP) for Shaftesbury, Dorset
In office
1768–1771
Personal details
Born (1739-03-19)19 March 1739
St George, Basseterre, St Kitts
Died 3 August 1807(1807-08-03) (aged 68)
Antigua
Nationality British
Occupation Politician and businessman

Ralph Payne, 1st Baron Lavington KB PC (19 March 1739 – 3 August 1807) was a British politician and Governor of the Leeward Islands.

Early life and education[edit]

Payne was born in St George, Basseterre on the island of St Kitts in 1739 to Ralph Payne (died 1763)—the Chief Justice of St Kitts—and his wife, Alice.[1] His family was wealthy and originally came from Lavington in Wiltshire, hence Payne’s future peerage was as Baron Lavington. He was educated in England at Christ’s Hospital school in West Sussex. Following the completion of his time at Christ’s, Payne returned to St Kitts where he was “elected a member of the house of assembly and unanimously voted speaker.”[1][2]

First tenure as Governor of the Leeward Islands[edit]

Following his marriage, Payne embarked fully on his political career and became a member of parliament for the borough of Shaftesbury; holding this seat from 1768 to 1771. Payne was created a Knight of the Bath (KB) on 18 February 1771 and was also appointed Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of the Leeward Islands later in 1771. Payne had “inherited a considerable estate from his parents” on the islands.[1]

The islands endured a hurricane in 1772, leading Payne to become the first governor to tour the islands to work out how to resolve the devastation that was caused. It was during his time as governor that he became the patron of artist Thomas Hearne who painted several landscapes depicting events on the Leeward Islands. One of these—depicting Payne himself—is currently in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Sir Ralph left the post as governor in 1775.

Return to England[edit]

Sir Ralph had returned to England by 1762. He became MP for Camelford in Cornwall between 1776 and 1780. He then became MP for Plympton in Devon; holding this seat until 1784. He was also Clerk of the Board of Green Cloth between 1777 and 1782. He became a supporter of Fox following the end of the war in America, although his political career was restricted for a period due to the increasing influence of William Pitt who became prime minister in 1783. He left England in 1788 for another tour of Europe, returning to England in 1790 to contest the seat of Fowey in Cornwall but was unsuccessful.[citation needed]

He found it difficult to re-establish himself in the British political system with a sharply reduced income from his plantations on the Leeward Islands.

He switched allegiances to become a supporter of Pitt, throwing a party at his house on 15 August 1793 at which the prime minister, Pitt, was present.[citation needed]

He became Baron Lavington in the peerage of Ireland on 1 October 1795.[3] Payne was also elected as MP for New Woodstock in October 1795, retaining this seat until 1799. He did not vote on the abolition of the slave trade during this his fourth tenure as an MP.[citation needed]

Second tenure as Governor of the Leeward Islands[edit]

Lord Lavington was re-elected as Governor of the Leeward Islands in February 1799, arriving in Antigua on 12 August 1801. He was also sworn of the Privy Council later in 1799. Payne remained governor until his death in 1807.[citation needed]

Family[edit]

On 1 September 1767 at St George’s in Hanover Square, London, he married Frances Lambertine Christiana Charlotte Harriet Theresa de Kolbel, the daughter of a German nobleman, without issue. He owned Carlisle’s Estate in St George, Antigua, with over 300 slaves but he died almost destitute and the estate was bought by Reid and Dixon. Payne was involved in no claim for compensation at the time of abolition of slavery.[4]

His wife was well connected and mixed in high social circles, including with Queen Charlotte. Payne therefore made good contacts for his political career through his marriage; however, his time with Frances was not a particularly happy one. He owned Carlisle’s Estate in St George, Antigua, with over 300 slaves but he died almost destitute and the estate was bought by Reid and Dixon. Payne was involved in no claim for compensation at the time of abolition of slavery.[4]

He died at Government House, Leeward Islands, on 3 August 1807. He was buried the next day at his plantation, Carlisles, and a marble monument to him was erected in the parish church of St John’s in Antigua. He died without children and in a dire economic situation, leaving his wife, Lady Lavington, to sustain herself on an annual income of just £300; an extremely low amount for the widow of a peer and relatively influential politician, although it would have allowed her to keep a servant. Lady Lavington died at Hampton Court Palace in London, UK on 2 May 1830. According to biographer W.P. Courtney, Lord Lavington’s “career mirrored the meteoric rise and downfall of absentee sugar planters in Britain.”[1]

Styles and honours[edit]

  • Mr Ralph Payne (1739–1768)
  • Mr Ralph Payne MP (1768–1771)
  • Sir Ralph Payne KB (1771–1776)
  • Sir Ralph Payne KB MP (1776–1784)
  • Sir Ralph Payne KB (1784–1795)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Lord Lavington KB (1795–1795)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Lord Lavington KB MP (1795–1799)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Lord Lavington KB PC (1799–1807)

References[edit]

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  1. ^ a b c d .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit;word-wrap:break-word}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output .citation:target{background-color:rgba(0,127,255,0.133)}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free.id-lock-free a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Lock-green.svg”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited.id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration.id-lock-registration a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription.id-lock-subscription a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg”)right 0.1em center/12px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:none;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#2C882D;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit}html.skin-theme-clientpref-night .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F}html.skin-theme-clientpref-night .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error,html.skin-theme-clientpref-night .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397}@media(prefers-color-scheme:dark){html.skin-theme-clientpref-os .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error,html.skin-theme-clientpref-os .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397}html.skin-theme-clientpref-os .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F}}“The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/21652. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ [citation needed] NOTE: The biographical sketch for Sir Ralph Payne (later Lord Lavington) in “The History of Parliament,” states that “On 1 Oct. 1795 Payne duly became Baron Lavington (after the Wiltshire home of his ancestors), though he had at first chosen the title of Bampton.” This has posed a double-problem for family researchers as traditions within the family maintain that they descend from the PAYN’s of Jersey, Channel Islands, from which island they had fled at the end of the Civil War. It is said that Sir Ralph’s ancestors fled the island and settled for a time in Devonshire (although no evidence for this has been located). Circa 1653, the family is believed to have left England for the St. Kitts and the Leeward Islands. It is therefore a bit of a mystery as to how “Bampton” fits into the picture, particularly when there appears to be very strong record evidence in support of the family tradition in regard to Jersey. The present head of this family (in Scotland), who is in possession of many family heirlooms, paintings, etc., as well as several secondary sources (J.B. Payn’s “An Armorial of Jersey; Burkes “General Armory”), trace Lord Lavington’s ancestry to Edouard PAYN (1554-19 Aug 1624) of St. Martin, Jersey, by his wife, Andrie (died 21 Jan 1620/1). Other researchers claim that records extant on the island further trace this ancestry back to the 13th-century. Perhaps other researchers can provide information on Lavington’s “Wiltshire” and/or “Bampton” connection.[original research?]
  3. ^ “No. 13821”. The London Gazette. 10 October 1795. p. 1052.
  4. ^ a b “Summary of Individual | Legacies of British Slavery”.

Government offices
Preceded by

Governor of the Leeward Islands
1771–1776
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Governor of the Leeward Islands
1799–1807
Succeeded by

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Shaftesbury
1768–1771
With: William Chaffin Grove
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Camelford
1776–1780
With: John Amyand
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Plympton Erle
1780–1784
With: Viscount Cranborne to November 1780
Hon. James Stuart from November 1780
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of Parliament for New Woodstock
1795–1799
With: Sir Henry Dashwood, Bt
Succeeded by