Archive for the ‘Hudson’ Category

The weight of family tradition

October 9, 2014

 

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70) as a young man, attributed to Thomas Hudson (1701–79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 2900098. ©Cheffins

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70) as a young man, attributed to Thomas Hudson (1701–79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 2900098. ©Cheffins

We have just purchased this portrait at auction at Cheffins in Cambridge. Attributed to the painter Thomas Hudson, it depicts Charles Yorke (1722-70), second son of the 1st Earl of Hardwicke and father of the 3rd Earl. The portrait has now joined the other Yorke family portraits, a number of which are also by Hudson, at Wimpole Hall.

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70), at the time he became Solicitor-General in 1756, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207788. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70), at the time he became Solicitor-General in 1756, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207788. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Charles Yorke might be seen as a paradigm of the pressures of family expectation. A good potted biography of him can be found on the History of Parliament website. From an early age he was expected to do well in the law profession. His mother’s uncle, Lord Somers, had been Lord Chancellor, and his father had held the same post for nearly twenty years.

Portrait of Sir Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690-1764), by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207887. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of Sir Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690-1764), by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207887. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Charles was indeed clever, was called to the bar and became a Member of Parliament. But he seems to have been indecisive and over-analytical, and those traits became more pronounced as his career progressed.

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Yorke (1725–60), Lady Anson, sister of Charles Yorke, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Shugborough Hall, inv. no. 1271067. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Yorke (1725–60), Lady Anson, sister of Charles Yorke, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Shugborough Hall, inv. no. 1271067. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

In Parliament he was constantly veering between the Government and the opposition and couldn’t make up his mind when offered posts. Nevertheless he did become Solicitor-General in 1756 and Attorney-General in 1762 and again in 1765.

Portrait of Catherine Freman (1736/7-59), who married Charles Yorke in 1755, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207789. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of Catherine Freman (1736/7-59), who married Charles Yorke in 1755, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207789. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

When in January 1770 the Duke of Grafton finally did offer Yorke the Lord Chancellorship he felt caught out between his ambition and family tradition, the apparent instability of the Grafton administration, and his ties to friends and relations (including his brother) who were associated with the opposition. He ultimately accepted the post but the stress had so affected him that he died just three days later.