Manuscripts and Special Collections

Biography of Thomas Pelham-Holles, 4th Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (1st Duke of 3rd creation) and 1st Duke of Newcastle under Lyne (or Line) (1693-1768)

Thomas was the elder son of Sir Thomas Pelham, Baron Pelham of Laughton and brother of the statesman, Henry Pelham. He was educated at Westminster School and Clare Hall, Cambridge, though, as was the case with most contemporaries of his social station, he left before taking a degree.

In 1711, Thomas Pelham, as he was then styled, inherited the Holles and Clare estates in the counties of Middlesex, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire from his uncle, the 3rd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne. To mark this inheritance he assumed the additional surname Holles, but because he was not a direct male descendant, he did not inherit his uncle's dukedom.

He did inherit one title, however - that of Baron Pelham of Laughton on the death of his father in 1712. This inheritance brought him further wealth in the form of the Pelham family estates. By this stage he held land in eleven different counties, including Sussex, and as a result had a significant influence in a number of parliamentary constituencies. In 1714 he was created Earl of Clare and in 1715, as a mark of appreciation for his electoral support of the Whigs in the general election, George I elevated him to the titles of Marquess of Clare and Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne.

The duke was a committed Whig politician and held a number of important offices of state including Lord Chamberlain of the Household (1717-1724), Secretary of State for the South (1724-1748) and for the North (1748-1754). He also played the roles of de facto foreign minister and defence minister between 1730 and 1754, presiding over affairs such as the Treaty of Vienna, war with Spain, and the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. With his brother Henry Pelham (1696-1754) in the House Commons as First Lord of the Treasury (Prime Minister) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1743-1754), the two brothers were the dominant forces in British politics during much of the reign of George II. When Henry Pelham died in 1754, the duke followed him into the post of First Lord of the Treasury, holding it from 1754-1756 and again from 1757-1762.


Portrait of 1st Duke of Newcastle under Lyne

1st Duke of Newcastle under Lyne by Sir Godfrey Kneller

Portrait of Henrietta, Duchess of Newcastle upon Tyne

Henrietta, Duchess of Newcastle upon Tyne

Family and title

In 1717 he married Henrietta Godolphin (d 1776), daughter of the 2nd Earl of Godolphin. The duke was devoted to her but she had poor heath and they had no surviving children.

With the prospect that the dukedom of Newcastle upon Tyne would become extinct once again, George II also created him Duke of Newcastle under Lyne (or Line) in 1756, with a special remainder for inheritance through his nephew Henry Fiennes Clinton, Earl of Lincoln. In addition, in 1762 he was also created Baron Pelham of Stanmer, with inheritance to his cousin and male heir, Thomas Pelham. Thus on his death in 1768, the title Baron Pelham of Stanmer, together with the bulk of the Pelham estates in Sussex and the duke's private papers, were left to Thomas, who was later created 1st Earl of Chichester. The Holles/Clare estates, meanwhile, together with his Newcastle dukedom, were inherited by the Earl of Lincoln, from whom he had by then become estranged.

Archive Collections

  • The Henry Pelham papers, part of the Newcastle (Clumber) Collection, held in the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collection include some of the duke's and his wife's correspondence.
  • The official papers of Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle under Lyne held at the British Library
  • Details of other collections are available through the National Register of Archives

Published Sources

  • Browning, R., The Duke of Newcastle (London, 1975)
  • Coxe, William, Memoirs of the Administration of the Right Honourable Henry Pelham, 2 vols (London, 1829, photographic reprint 1971)
  • Kelch, Roy, Newcastle a Duke Without Money: Thomas Pelham-Holles 1693-1768 (London, 1974) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 508.V38 NEW]
  • Kulisheck, P.J., The Duke of Newcastle 1693-1768 and Henry Pelham 1694-1754 (Westport, Conn., 1997) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 508.V2 KUL]
  • Lodge, R. (ed.), Private Correspondence of Chesterfield and Newcastle, 2 vols (London, 1930)
  • McCann, Timothy J. (ed.), The Correspondence of the Dukes of Richmond and Newcastle 1724-1750, Sussex Record Society Volume 73 (Lewes, 1984) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 508.V38 NEW]
  • Owen, John B., The Rise of the Pelhams (London, 1971)

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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