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Simon, 1st Earl of Harcourt (1714-1777) and then by descent to
The Harcourt Collection; Sotheby's London, 10 June 1993, lot 86 and 87
Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt
Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt (1714-1777) was the only son of the Hon. Simon Harcourt (d. 1720), barrister and MP, and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John Evelyn of Wotton, Surrey. Educated at Westminster School, Harcourt embarked, with a tutor, on a four year grand tour, before returning to England in 1734.
On the death of his grandfather Simon, Viscount Harcourt, in 1727, he succeeded to the family titles and estates, marrying, in October 1735 Rebecca (d. 1765), only daughter and heir of Charles Sambourne Le Bas, of Pipewell Abbey, Northamptonshire, and Mary Moyer. Rebecca brought a dowry of £60,000 to the marriage, and they had four children.
Harcourt served many political roles, first in 1735 as a lord of the bedchamber to George II before being created, on 1 December 1749, Viscount Nuneham of Nuneham Courtenay and Earl Harcourt of Stanton Harcourt. Later Harcourt was appointed governor to the Prince of Wales, the future George III. He also served as ambassador to Mecklenburg, master of the horse for Princess Charlotte, and, in 1763, Lord Chamberlain to the Queen.
In June 1772 he became Irish viceroy, replacing Lord Townshend. Harcourt largely succeeded in pacifying Ireland, for the most part by making judicious concessions. Despite patriot opposition, Harcourt was able to secure Irish parliamentary support for the American War of Independence, and he gained permission to send 4,000 troops for service abroad. After his sojourn in Ireland he retired to Nuneham.