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Conduit Street, London, (unknown number), designs for a house, offices, and a garden porch, for Sir John Hussey Delaval, 1st Baron Delaval, possibly executed, c1786 (11)

c1786
Sir John Hussey Delaval, 1st Baron Delaval, born 17th March 1728, (d. 17th May 1808), was the 2nd son of Francis Blake Delaval, MP and Rhoda Apreece of Washingley, Hampshire, the granddaughter and heir to Sir Thomas Hussey (2nd Bt. of Doddington). Educated at Westminster School and then at Eton College, and Cambridge, Delaval’s time at Cambridge was cut short upon the discovery that his live-in companion, a Captain Hargreaves, was in fact a woman. In 1750 he married Susanna, (nee Robinson, widow of John Potter), at Duke Street Chapel, Westminster. Susanna died in October 1783, and Delaval later remarried Susanna Elizabeth Knight on 5th January 1803.

In 1754 he stood for Berwick-upon-Tweed, successfully contesting the seat against John Wilkes, and again in 1765, against Wilmot Vaughan. Following both elections, the opposition accused Delaval of ‘notorious bribery’, with Wilkes petitioning against the return. Delaval subsequently stood for Berwick unopposed in 1780. He is recorded as voting with the administration regarding Wilkes in February and May 1769, and as voting in opposition to the Royal Marriage Bill on the 11th March 1772. Delaval and his wife Susanna were considered to be intimates of Henry Duke of Cumberland, and were seen to publicly support the Duke’s controversial marriage to Mrs Horton. Indeed, following the wide spread knowledge of the King’s disapproval of his brother’s union, Horace Walpole records how the Delaval’s ‘were the sole persons of rank above the vulgar that went near them’.

Delaval succeeded to the family estate at Seaton Delaval in 1771, upon the death of his brother Francis. Having previously rescued the estate, following disastrous mismanagement by his brother, Delaval had considerable success overseeing the family’s assets in coal mining, salt and glass production. Following his improvements to the harbour at Seaton Sluice, the surrounding area developed in to a prominent industrial centre, with Delaval’s Royal Northumberland Bottle Works as a driving force.

From 1784, Delaval was once again seen to alter his political allegiances, declaring himself for William Pitt. As a result, in 1786 he was rewarded with an English peerage and the title (1st) Baron Delaval. The title became extinct upon his death in 1808, as he had no surviving male heirs. He was buried in the chapel of St Paul, Westminster Abbey, along with his first wife Susanna and daughter Sarah (1763-1800).

Delaval’s principal residences were Ford Castle and Seaton Delaval in Northumberland. It is possibly through his association with Robert Adam’s prominent patron the Duke of Northumberland that he was introduced to Adam. Delaval himself would prove a useful patron. Alongside this commission for a townhouse in Conduit Street, London, he employed Adam for alterations to his house at 21 (later 23) Hanover Square and for the construction of his country villa Milburn in Esher, Surrey. Further to this there was an additional commission for Fenton Cawthorne, husband to Delaval’s daughter Frances (1759-1839), at Wyreside Hall.

This scheme for Delaval at Conduit Street, London, was for significant alterations to the townhouse, for the use of Delaval’s mistress, Elizabeth Hicks (d.1796). Following the death of his first wife Susanna in 1783, Delaval met Elizabeth Hicks in 1786, and is said to have spent lavishly on her. Although none of the designs are dated, King dates them to c1786, which coincides with Adam’s commission for Delaval’s country villa, Milburn in Esher, Surrey. Although Adam’s townhouse for Delaval does not survive, it is thought to have been executed, in concurrence with the scheme for Milburn, Esher.

The scheme for Conduit Street was of an interesting design. To the rear of the house a courtyard was proposed, with an additional building with an ornate façade. The building contained kitchen offices at ground storey, and with a dancing room at first storey, with bedrooms above. The two buildings were connected by a two-storey colonnaded link building, providing access from the house’s second drawing room to the dancing room beyond.


See also: 21 (later 23), Hanover Square; Milburn, Esher; Wyreside Hall

Literature:
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, volume II, Index p.36; D. King, The complete works of Robert and James Adam & unbuilt Adam, 2001, volume I, p.423; Walpole, Memoirs of the reign of King George the third, vol. IV, (1845 ed.), p.363; S.M. Linsley, 'Delaval, John Hussey, Baron Delaval (1728-1808), industrialist and politician' oxforddnb.com; westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/delaval-family; ‘DELAVAL, John (1728-1808) of Doddington, Lins. And Seaton Delaval, Northumb.’ historyofparliamentonline.org; nationaltrustcollections.org.uk (accessed March 2018)

Anna McAlaney, 2018
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