Obituary of John Rolle


Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. XVIII, August 1842, p. 201-2

     June 3. At Bicton House, near Exeter, in his 86th year, the Right Hon. John Rolle, Baron Rolle, of Stevenstone, co. Devon, and Colonel of the South Devon Militia.
     Lord Rolle was the representative of an ancient Devonshire family, which was once before elevated to the peerage in the person of his uncle, Henry Lord Rolle, so created in 1748, but who died without issue in 1750. He was born Oct. 16, 1750, the only son of Denys Rolle, esq. by Anne, daughter of Arthur Chichester, esq. of Hall (she died in 1781.)
     He was first returned to Parliament for the county of Devon in 1779, (only three years after Mr. Coke, the late Earl of Leicester, was first elected for Norfolk) and he succeeded to his estates on the death of his father in 1797. He was a zealous adherent of Mr. Pitt and the Tory party, was a strenuous opponent of Mr. Fox's India Bill in 1783, and took so warm a part in the discussion of the Regency Bill of 1789, that he proposed an amendment in the marriage clause, stigmatizing by name as unlawful the Prince of Wales's union with Mrs. Fitzherbert.
     He was raised to the dignity of a Peer by patent dated June 20, 1796. He seconded the address to the King on the opening of the Parliament of 1807. He voted in the majority against the Reform Bill, which caused the temporary resignation of Earl Grey's ministry, May 7, 1832; and he continued to the last a firm Conservative.
     In his own county Lord Rolle was chiefly distinguished by his princely liberality to public and charitable purposes. He gave 1000£ to the fund for the relief of the Irish clergy, 1000£ towards establishing a chaplaincy in the Devon and Exeter Hospital, 500£ to the Lunatic Asylum, &c. &c. When a new church was erected in a distant part of the parish of Ilfracombe, called Lea, besides presenting a handsome screen his Lordship had subscribed 200£ and when the church was completed, being informed that 900£ was required for an endowment previously to its consecration, of which little more four hundred pounds were subscribed, his Lordship, without further solicitation or consideration, asked for pen and paper, and gave a check for the difference. The beautiful church at Exmouth is another monument of his Christian piety and well applied munificence.
     On the 21st Dec. 1838, the corps of Royal Devon Yeomanry assembled to present to Lord Rolle, their venerable Colonel, a valuable piece of plate. It was a duplicate of an ewer which had been make for the Queen, from a beautiful design by Benvenuto Cellini.
     At the celebration of Lord Rolle's 90th birth-day by his tenantry at Beer, in 1840, the Vicar, who presided, pronounced the following eulogium on this honoured and venerable nobleman: "Every one present must know something of the great and amiable virtues by which his private and public life has been adorned, but they only who have had the happiness to associate with him in the domestic circle, can fully appreciate the excellency of his character. As a magistrate he has ever been just, active, and impartial; as a landlord, kind and indulgent; as a friend and neighbour, disinterested, generous, and constant; as a politician, consistent and unshaken amidst the many political convulsions that have agitated this country during the eventful period of his long life. As one endowed with great influence, from the enjoyment of wealth and a high position in society, he has ever stood forth the champion of sound religion, and moral principle."
     Lord Rolle enjoyed a green and vigourous old age. When in London he was constantly seen about on horseback; and when, on his 89th birth-day, his lady brought him unexpectedly to see a tower erected in Bicton Park, he insisted upon mounting to the top, a height of 100 feet, which he did without assistance.
     He was twice married: first, on the 22nd Feb. 1788 to Judith Maria, only daughter and heir of Henry Walrond, of Bovey, co. Devon, esq. who died Oct. 1, 1820; and secondly, Sept. 21, 1822, to the Hon. Louisa Barbara Trefusis, 3rd daughter of Robert-George-William 16th Lord Clinton, who survives him. He has died without issue, and the peerage has become extinct.
     His portrait has been published among Ryall's Conservative Statesmen, folio. His bust, by E. B. Stephens, is in the present exhibition at the Royal Academy.