Brydges, James, first Duke of Chandos 1673-1744, eldest son of James, eighth lord Chandos (of Sudeley), was born 6 Jan. 1673. His father was sent as ambassador at Constantinople in 1680, and died 16 Oct. 1714. The son was elected member for the city of Hereford in 1698, and sat for the same place until the accession of George I, when (19 Oct. 1714) he was created Viscount Wilton and Earl of Carnarvon. On 30 April 1719 he was created Marquis of Carnarvon and Duke of Chandos. In 1707 he was appointed paymaster-general of forces abroad, a lucrative office which he held until 1712. He employed his wealth in building a splendid house at Canons, near Edgware, and began another, of which only two pavilions were finished, in Cavendish Square. The last was discontinued upon his buying the Duke of Ormonde's house in St. James's Square. Three architects were employed and the Italian painters Purgotti and Paolucci. One of the ablest accountants in England was appointed to superintend the expenses, which are said to have amounted to 200,000l. Alexander Blackwell [qv.] laid out the gardens. There was a magnificent chapel, in which was maintained a full choir. Handel spent two years at Canons; he composed twenty anthems for the service, and there produced his first English oratorio, Esther. In December 1731 Pope published his Epistle to Lord Burlington, in which occurs the famous description of Timon's villa, and Timon was at once identified with the Duke of Chandos. It was added that Chandos had made a present of 500l. to Pope. In the year 1732 appeared a spurious edition of the epistle, to which Hogarth prefixed a caricature representing Pope bespattering the duke's coach. Pope indignantly denied the report in a letter to Gay, signed by his friend William Cleland [qv.], and published in the newspapers of the day. He denied it also in his private correspondence to Lord Oxford, Caryll, and Aaron Hill (see Elwin's Pope, vi. 330, vii. 444, viii. 292; Aaron Hill's Works, i. 67; and Epistle to Arbuthnot, v. 375). He inserted a compliment to Chandos in the epistle on the Characters of Men, first published in February 1733:—Thus gracious Chandos is beloved at sight.
In spite of certain inapplicable details, there can be no doubt that Pope took some hints from Canons, and should have anticipated the application. There is, however, no reason to suppose that he had received any favours from Chandos. A refusal to answer the charge would have been better than a denial which rather strengthened the general belief. The point is discussed in Mr. Courthope's introduction to the Epistle to Burlington (Pope, Poetical Works, iii. 161-6). Warburton, in the edition of 1751, stated that some of Pope's lines were fulfilled by the speedy disappearance of Canons—thus, by an odd oversight, confirming the application which he denied.
Defoe, in his Tour through Great Britain (1725), describes the splendours of Canons in terms which recall Timon's villa. He says that there were 120 persons in family (though Pope tells Hill that there were not 100 servants), and says that the choir entertained them every day at dinner. A poem called Canons; or, the Vision (by Gildon), was published in 1717, and another, on the same subject, by S. Humphreys, in 1728. Chandos got into difficulties by speculative investments, and in 1734 Swift, in his verses on the duke and the dean, says that all he got by fraud is lost by stocks. He accuses Chandos of neglecting an old friend on becoming beduked. He had asked Chandos (31 Aug. 1734) to present some Irish records formerly belonging to Lord Clarendon (lord-lieutenant in 1685) to the university of Dublin. The failure of the request probably annoyed him. Swift, in his Characters of the Court of Queen Anne, had called Chandos a very worthy gentleman, but a great complier with every court.
In April 1721 the duke was appointed governor of the Charterhouse, and on 25 Aug. lord-lieutenant of Herefordshire and Radnorshire. He was re-appointed in 1727 on the accession of George II, but resigned the lord-lieutenancy of Herefordshire in 1742. He was chancellor of the university of St. Andrews. He was thrice married: first, on 27 Feb. 1697, to Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Lake of Canons; secondly, to Cassandra, daughter of Sir F. Willoughby; and thirdly, to Lydia Catharine, daughter of John Vanhattem, widow of Sir Thomas Davall, M.P. He died 9 Aug. 1744. He was buried under a gorgeous monument at Stanmore Parva, in the church which he had rebuilt in 1715.
The house was sold by auction for the materials on the duke's death. One William Hallet (Gent. Mag. lii. 45) built a house with some of them on the vaults of the old one. The staircase was re-erected in Chesterfield House, and the statue of George I helped, till 1873, to make Leicester Square hideous.
Chandos was succeeded in the dukedom by his second son, Henry, five sons having died before him. The second duke married Mary Bruce, who died 14 Aug. 1738, and in 1744 Anne Wells. The story is told that he bought her from her former husband, a brutal ostler at Newbury, who happened to be offering her for sale as the duke was passing through the town (Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vi. 179).
Collins's Peerage (1779), ii. 137-9
Hawkins's History of Music, p. 832
Lysons's Environs of London, ii. 670-3
Thorne's Environs of London (1876), pp. 72-4.
Contributor: L. S. [Leslie Stephen]