Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt

British diplomat

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The Earl Harcourt
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
In office
29 October 1772 – 7 December 1776
Monarch George III
Preceded by The Viscount Townshend
Succeeded by The Earl of Buckinghamshire
Personal details
Born 1714
Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, England
Died 16 September 1777 (aged 63)
Nuneham Park, Oxfordshire

Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt, PC, FRS (1714 – 16 September 1777), known as Viscount Harcourt between 1727 and 1749, was a British diplomat and general who became Viceroy of Ireland.[1]

The 1st Earl Harcourt.
Harcourt by Robert Hunter


Harcourt was born in Oxfordshire, the son of Hon. Simon Harcourt, M.P. for Wallingford and Abingdon, and Elizabeth Evelyn, sister of Sir John Evelyn, 1st Baronet. His father died in 1720, when Simon was still a small child. He was educated at Westminster School and in 1727 succeeded his grandfather Simon Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt as 2nd Viscount Harcourt. In 1745, having raised a regiment for service during the Jacobite Rebellion, the 76th Foot (Lord Harcourts Regiment), he received a commission as a colonel in the army.[2] The regiment was disbanded on 10 June 1746.

In 1749, he was created Earl Harcourt of Stanton Harcourt. He was appointed governor to the prince of Wales, afterward George III, in 1751; and after the accession of the latter to the throne, in 1761, he was appointed as special ambassador to Mecklenburg-Strelitz, to negotiate a marriage between King George and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Princess Charlotte), whom he conducted to England.[1][2]

He held a number of appointments at court and in the diplomatic service. He was the British ambassador to Paris from 1768 to 1772. He was promoted to the rank of general in 1772; and in October of the same year he succeeded Lord Townshend as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, an office which he held until 1777. His proposal to impose a tax of 10% on the rents of absentee landlords had to be abandoned owing to opposition in England; but he succeeded in conciliating the leaders of Opposition in Ireland, and he persuaded Henry Flood to accept office in the government. Resigning in January 1777, he retired to Nuneham Park.[2] He died there shortly afterwards by accidentally drowning in a well while trying to rescue his favourite dog, which had fallen into the well while the pair had been out for a walk.[1] He succeeded in rescuing the dog despite losing his life; several hours after going missing, Harcourt was found head first down the well with only his lower legs and feet visible above the water and the dog sitting on his feet.[3]

Personal life[edit]

He married, on 16 October 1735, Rebecca Samborne Le Bass (died 16 January 1765), daughter and heiress of Charles Samborne Le Bass, of Pipewell Abbey, Northamptonshire.[2] They had two sons and two daughters:[1]


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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 a{background:url(“//”)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 a,.mw-parser-output a{background:url(“//”)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 a{background:url(“//”)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(“//”)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} .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F} .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error, .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397}@media(prefers-color-scheme:dark){ .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error, .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397} .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F}}Burke, Sir Bernard, ed. (1883). A Genealogical History of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire (3 ed.). London: Harrison. pp. 261–263. ISBN 0-8063-0789-7.
  2. ^ a b c d  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Harcourt, Simon Harcourt, 1st Viscount“. Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 939.
  3. ^ “Deaths”. The Scots Magazine: 52. September 1777.
  4. ^ Knapton, George. “Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Harcourt, Lady Lee (d.1811)”. National Trust.
  5. ^ Oxfordshire, England, Church of England Baptism, Marriages, and Burials, 1538-1812
  6. ^ The Peerage of England, Scotland, and Ireland. W. Owen; L. Davis; and J. Debrett. 1790. p. 283. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
Political offices
New office Master of the Horse to Queen Charlotte
1761 – 1763
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Lord Chamberlain to Queen Charlotte
1763 – 1768
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
1772 – 1776
Succeeded by

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by

British Ambassador to France
1768 – 1772
Succeeded by

Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Earl Harcourt
1749 – 1777
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Viscount Harcourt
1727 – 1777