DERIVATION OF THE BECKFORD FAMILY – THE ELDER BECKFORD.
NOT far from Tewkesbury, in Gloucestershire, there is a parish called Beckford, from whence the family of that name, recorded in the present work, is generally supposed to be derived. Before the time of Edward the Confessor, the manor is said to have been the property of the English crown, and, antiquaries contend, was originally denominated Bekeford, or Beceford, after the name of a passage or ferry which once existed over the little river Carron, which passes through what is now called Beckford parish, and falls into the Shakespeare Avon, near Tewkesbury, where, it may be recollected, the Avon  falls into the Severn. Beke, or Bece, is said to signify a stream of water, an etymology not at all improbable, more particularly as the adjoining parish formerly had the name of Bekeshore, or the shore of the stream.
It would also appear that this manor once belonged to the Chamberlain of Normandy. About the time of Henry I., from becoming royal property in the time of the Conqueror, it was granted by the Chamberlain, to whom it afterwards fell, to the Abbey of St. Barbe en Auge. This was one of the alien priories, suppressed by Henry VI., presented to Eton College by that monarch, and subsequently, by Edward IV., to Fotheringhay priory or nunnery, according to Tanner's Notitiæ.
That a family named Beckford, or Bekeford, was settled in the county before the Norman conquest, as before stated, cannot be disproved. Robert de Bekeford is mentioned early in the twelfth century, as making certain grants in the vicinity. In the reign of Richard II. the name of Alexander de Beckford occurs in a grant  of lands in an adjoining parish, little more than fourscore years afterwards. A Sir William Beckford fought at Bosworth Field, where he is supposed to have fallen, combatting for Richard III.
From the day of the battle of Bosworth Field a cloud appears to hang over a family that had struggled in behalf of the unsuccessful against the successful usurper. The alternative of a peaceful obscurity was all that remained to the survivors to ensure their personal safety. Kindness to his foes, though vanquished, was not, any more than pecuniary generosity, a virtue of Henry VII., save when the argument of good policy overcame his naturally coarse and avaricious character, it is probable the lands of the Beckford family were thus irretrievably lost.
In the reign of Edward VI., the lands in the parish of Beckford were presented by the crown to Sir Richard Lee; nor are there any traces of the family from that time until the name of PETER BECKFORD occurs in 1702, in the reign of William III., as lieutenant-governor of Jamaica, the governor being William Selwyn. The battle of Bosworth Field was fought in 1485.  That there is a blank of two hundred and seventeen years in the history of the family to be supplied is thus clear, if it be the same family.
King William having appointed William Selwyn to be the governor of the island of Jamaica, he died soon after his arrival. The council of the island then elected Peter Beckford, Esq., to act as lieutenant-governor in Mr. Selwyn's room, and he governed the island at King William's death in 1702, and also proclaimed Queen Anne. He was president of the council and commander-in-chief of the army. Besides distinguishing himself against the French, his great opulence gained him a superiority over most of the planters. T. Handasyd, Esq., was sent out from England as lieutenant-governor soon afterwards. Mr. Beckford died suddenly, in a fit of passion, in 1710, and left behind him two sons, Peter, the elder son, Speaker of  the House of Assembly for the island, and Thomas. He was twice married. His first wife, BRIDGET, died in 1691; his second, ANNE BALLARD, in 1696 (the names of Colonels Ballard and Beeston occur in the island as early as 1662). PETER BECKFORD the son, who had become Speaker of the House of Assembly died in 1735; having married Bathsua, (daughter and coheir of Colonel Julines Hering,) who died in 1750, and he left issue:
CHARLES, who died an infant, 1677.
PRISCILLA, born 1675.
ELIZABETH, born 1678.
THOMAS BECKFORD was killed by a gentleman whom he had offended, in 1731. Thos. Beckford married, first, MARY TOLDERBY, and, secondly, MARY, heiress of Thomas Ballard, of whom mention will presently be made again.
PETER BECKFORD, the above Speaker of the House of Assembly of Jamaica, had thirteen children, viz.
PETER, who died unmarried in 1737, leaving his next brother, William, his heir.
WILLIAM (afterwards of Fonthill), Lord Mayor of London in 1762 and in 1770; father of the subject of these memoirs, who married, 1756, first, MRS. MARCH, widow of Francis March, Esq., by whom he had one child, a daughter; secondly, MARIA, daughter and coheir of the hon. George Hamilton, M.P. for Wells, who died 1798, leaving one son, who died 1844.
 RICHARD BECKFORD M.P. for Bristol, a barrister, who died unmarried, at Lyons, in 1756. He was an alderman of London for the ward of Farringdon, and left his brother, William, his heir.
NATHANIEL BECKFORD, who died unmarried 1739.
JULINES BECKFORD of Stapleton Dorset, M.P. for Salisbury, who died 1765. He married Elizabeth, heiress of Solomon Ashley, of Ledgers Ashby, co. Northampton, who died 1762.
FRANCIS BECKFORD, of Basing, died 1768. Twice married, his fist wife, Albinia, daughter of the Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven, who died 1754; secondly, Susanna, daughter of Richard Love, of Basing.
ANNE BECKFORD, married to George Ellis, Chief justice of Jamaica, died 1745.
THOMAS, a twin with Richard, died young.
GEORGE died young.
PHILLIS and BATHSHUA, died unmarried.
ELIZABETH, died 1791; married first, Thos. Howard Earl of Effingham, who died 1763; secondly, Sir George Howard, K.B., field-marshal, died 1796.
 WILLIAM BECKFORD, jun., deceased in 1844, the only son of William, the lord mayor, by Maria Hamilton, married the daughter of the Earl of Aboyne, the Lady Margaret Gordon, who died in 1786, and left issue.
MARGARET MARIA ELIZABETH, married to Major-General James Orde. She died in 1818, leaving two daughters, Margaret Juliana Maria, born 1814; and Susannah Jemima Frances, born 1816.
SUSANNAH EUPHEMIA, married to the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, 1810, who had issue:
WILLIAM ALEXANDER, the present Duke of Hamilton and Brandon (1858), born 1811; and
SUSAN, born 1814, married to the Duke of Newcastle, and afterwards divorced.
This might suffice to exhibit the early position of the subject of this memoir; but the reader may be gratified by a brief mention of the descendants of the brethren of the celebrated lord mayor, as they stood a few years ago. The brothers, Peter, Richard, Nathaniel, Thomas, and George, died without issue. Julines, of Stapleton, left Peter Beckford, M.P. for Morpeth,  who died in 1811; having married Louisa, daughter of Lord Rivers, who died 1791. Peter Beckford left issue, a son and daughter; the latter, Frances, married Henry Seymer, of Handford, Dorset; the former, William Horace Beckford, of Stapleton heir presumptive to the barony of Rivers of Sudely Castle, who married Frances Hall Rigby, of Mistley Hall, Essex, and had issue, George and Horace Beckford; and two daughters, Frances and Harriet.
Francis Beckford, of Basing, had two sons, Thomas and Francis Love; and one daughter, Charlotte, married to John Middleton, of Weybridge. Thomas died unmarried. Francis married Joanna Leigh, of Northcourt, Isle of Wight, and had six sons and one daughter: Francis Love, born 1789; William, born 1790; John Leigh, born 1791; Carleton, born 1794; Charles Douglas, 1797; Thomas, who died young; and Harriet, married to Andrew Arcedecne.
Anne Beckford the lord mayor's sister, had issue George, John, William Beckford and Robert Julines Ellis; and a daughter, who died unmarried. George Ellis, of Jamaica, who died  in 1754, married, first, Susanna Charlotte Long, who, on his decease, married Sir D. Lindsey, Bart. John, who died 1782, married Elizabeth Palmer. William, who died about 1782, married Susanna Jackson, relict of William Addenbrooke. Robert Julines died unmarried. From George descended George Ellis, of Sunning Hill, who died in 1815. John, leaving John, born 1788, and Charles Parker, born 1794 and three daughters, Eliza, born 1791; Caroline, 1793, married to J. P. Carew, of Antony, Cornwall; and Antonetta, born 1803. John, who died 1782, also left C. Rose Ellis, of Claremont, Surrey, M.P. for Seaford, married the heiress of Lord Hervey, and died 1802, leaving issue, Charles, Lord Howard de Walden, born 1799; Augustus Frederick, born 1800 and Eliza Georgiana, born 1802. William Beckford Ellis had issue, William Beckford, who died unmarried; Robert, and Anne, who died 1782. Robert Julines and Bathsua Ellis died unmarried.
Elizabeth Beckford, married to Lord Effingham, had issue, Thomas, Richard, Elizabeth, Anne, Maria, and Frances Hering. Thomas  died, governor of Jamaica, 1791. Richard, the last earl, died, s. p., 1816. Elizabeth married Reginald Courtenay, Bishop of Exeter, and died 1815 Anne married Christopher Carleton, died 1787; Maria married Guy Carleton, Lord Dorchester, who died 1808; Frances Hering died unmarried.
Of the six children of Elizabeth, the sister of the Lord Mayor Beckford, only two left issue; Elizabeth, who married the Bishop of Exeter, and Maria, who married Lord Dorchester. The descendants of Elizabeth by the bishop were William, M.P., born 1777, who married Harriet Leslie, daughter of Sir Lucas Pepys, Bart., and had male issue, William Reginald, Henry Hugh, and Charles Leslie: Thomas Peregrine, M.P., born 1782, married Anne Mayow, and had issue, Thomas Peregrine, born 1810; Reginald, 1813; George Henry, 1814; Francis, 1816 Anne Mayow, 1807; Elizabeth Howard, 1808; and Mary, 1811. Elizabeth, a maid of honour to Queen Charlotte, born 1779; Catherine, married to the Rev. E. Berens, born 1781; and Anne, born, 1784. Francis Charlotte, married to the Rev. K Bouverie.
 Maria had, by Lord Dorchester, Guy and Thomas Carleton, who died s. p.; Christopher, who died in 1806, married Priscilla Belford, and left issue, Arthur Henry, Lord Dorchester, born 1805; Maria, who married Lord Bolton; George, killed at Bergen-op-Zoom, 1814, who left issue by Henrietta King, of Askham Hall; Guy Carleton, and others. Frances, who married the Rev. J. Orde, and died in 1812, leaving issue. Charles, Dudley, and, lastly, Richard, married to Frances Louisa Horton, of Catton.
It will be recollected that Peter Beckford, from whom all the foregoing are descendants, had a brother named Thomas, who was killed in 1731, having married, first, Mary Tolderby, of the island of Jamaica, and, secondly, Mary, daughter of Thomas Ballard. By this last-named lady he had Ballard, who died in Jamaica, 1760, having married Anne, daughter of John Clark, governor of New York; Thomas, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Pollnitz Byndlosse, of Jamaica, brother-in-law to the buccaneer, Sir H. Morgan; he died 1746 and, lastly, Charles, born 1712. Of these, Ballard, who died in 1764, married Frances Buckner,  and left one daughter, Mary, who married James Johnstone. Thomas Ballard, the son of Thomas, died 1747, s. p.; Philip, the second son, died without issue; Matthew died without issue; Jane Mary, married T. Hay, Esq., and died 1754. Mary Ballard, sole heiress of Thomas Beckford, married, first, John Palmer, of Jamaica, and died 1757, s. p.; and, secondly, Edward Long, of Aldermaston, Berks; she died in 1797, leaving three suits, Edward Beeston, born 1763 married Mary daughter of J. Tomlinson, M.P. for Steyning, and left two sons, Edward Noel and Henry Lawes, and a daughter named Mary; Robert Ballard; Charles Beckford, of Woolhampton, born 1771, who married Fanny Monro Tucker, having issue, Charles Edward, born 1796; Catherine, who married Richard Dawkins, by whom she had issue, Edward James, Juliana Charlotte, Emily, and Caroline. Charlotte, who married Sir G. Pocock, Bart., of Hart, by whom she had George Edward, Edward Osborne, Mary Anne Sophia, Charlotte Catherine Elizabeth, and Augustus. Elizabeth, who married Lord Molyneux Howard, brother of the Duke of Norfolk, by whom she had Henry Long, of Greystock  Castle; and four daughters, Henrietta, Isabella, Charlotte, and Juliana.
It is unnecessary to pursue these details to a later period. It is to be feared that from 1655, when the expedition of Penn and Venables conquered Jamaica under Cromwell, to the decease of Peter Beckford, Lieut-governor of the Island in 1702, nothing more can be now known than is here detailed. Whether Lieut-Governor Beckford went out with a colonel's commission from England, or had his parentage in the island from one who had proceeded there from home afterwards, cannot be ascertained. One thing is certain that the affairs of the island were very irregularly carried on during the last half of the seventeenth century. The island became the rendezvous of the most profligate and lawless adventurers that ever roved over the ocean. It was there they disposed of the spoils of robberies and murders, dissipated the proceeds of their cruel piracies in every species of profligacy, and were so little exposed to reprobation, that one of the most atrocious monsters in human shape, whose adventures are detailed in the well-known "History of the Buccaneers," was knighted by  Charles II., and was thrice Lieutenant-Governor of the Island; the first time in 1675, the second time in 1678, and lastly in 1680. The crimes of the man thus preferred make the blood run cold to read them. From hence may be inferred the character of some whom the colonists harboured during the first half a century after the conquest of the island, and by whose lavish waste they were enabled to enrich themselves.
However the foregoing circumstances may really have occurred, it is certain that the family of Beckford had large possessions in Jamaica, and were opulent and influential there before the commencement of the last century. Beckford Town, in the county of Cornwall, in Westmoreland parish, near Savannah le Mar, was the property of Richard Beckford. Esher was one of the estates of William Beckford, situated in Ballard's valley, and two estates named the Whitehall and Frontier estates, were the property of Ballard Beckford. Of the large possessions of most of the family in Jamaica, therefore, there can be no question, and they appear to have belonged to it at an early period after the oc-  cupation of the island by England. Peter Beckford left behind him great wealth. Besides mortgages and similar investments, he had no less than twenty-four plantations and twelve hundred slaves of his own in the island. He was father of the member for the city of London.
It will now be proper, following the direct course of narration, to return to William Beckford the elder, of Fonthill, second son, and Speaker of the Jamaica House of Assembly, previously to going at some length into the more immediate subject. He was scarcely less remarkable in his day, particularly as a public character and supporter of the greatest minister that ever ruled the destinies of the British Empire, if boldness, eloquence, and success, be qualities attached to an individual fulfilling that high character, at a moment when the liberty of the subject was perilled, and England continually wade the victim of the notorious predisposition of the House of Hanover for its paternal domains.
He was sent from Jamaica to England at the age of fourteen, and was immediately put to  school at Westminster, where he devoted himself to his studies so ardently as to obtain repeatedly the applause of Dr. Friend, the chief master, a teacher in those days of considerable reputation. At this school young Beckford formed an acquaintance with many individuals who became noted in after-life for talent or genius. His intimacy began here with Lord Mansfield, Dr. Johnson, Bishop of Gloucester, and Lord Kinnoul, the three last then known in the school as "the triumvirate," from being the best scholars and makers of extempore verses. Here young Beckford translated several of the classical authors, which he wrote out in a fair hand, and preserved until they were consumed by the fire at the old mansion of Fonthill.
It is probable that being a second son, and his next younger brother, Richard, being a barrister, he was not without some professional pursuit from the time he left school to his father's decease. The latter died in 1737, only two years before his elder brother, to whom William became heir, as well as of his brother Richard, M.P. for Bristol. By the latter he obtained ten thousand a-year. It appears he remained in  Europe, and was here at the time of his father's decease. He perhaps acted as his agent. It is certain he was in Europe for a good part of the time, if not all, from a singular event in the history of his life. He was induced to visit Holland, where he was deeply smitten with a beautiful girl, the daughter of a shopkeeper of Leyden. He was well aware that his family would not consent to his marriage with the object of his affections, towards whom there can be no doubt of his sincere regard, and of his determination to marry her the moment it was in his power to do so. He had a son by her, which he kept a secret until his father's decease, having brought her over, and placed her in an establishment suitable to his rank and fortune. His arrangements had not long been completed, when he was obliged to go to Jamaica in consequence of his father's death, to arrange his family affairs, He was detained above a year. At the expiration of that time he returned to London, intending to marry the object of his cherished affection, all obstacles to a union being removed. On his arrival he made the painful discovery of her unfaithfulness. It was no com-  mon example of feminine infidelity that struck him down. His beloved mistress whom he intended to make his bride, he discovered to be far gone in the family way by a mulatto page, in his service, only sixteen years of age. This incident so much affected him, that it was thought at one time he would not recover from the state of despondency into which he was thrown by this discovery. Fears were even entertained for his life. He ultimately recovered, settled an annual sum of money upon the unfaithful one, and sent her back to Holland.
Mr. Beckford was chosen member of parliament both for London and Petersfield in 1747. He preferred sitting for London, but presented four hundred pounds to Petersfield for the purpose of aiding to pave the streets, in the way of acknowledgment. In 1753 he managed to get his brother, Richard, returned for Bristol, in the face of a strong Opposition; Richard happened to be in Jamaica at the time.
The speeches of Mr. Beckford in the House Of Commons were energetic and full of spirit upon all those questions in which he felt an interest. He always made a boast that he was  no courtier, and that he disdained being a hanger-on upon the smiles of a throne.
When the Hessian and Hanoverian hireling soldiers were so unconstitutionally introduced into England by the ministry, in 1755, Mr. Beckford supported the elder Pitt in the speeches he made in opposition to that measure. In 1759, he spoke against the German war, plainly declaring it was more onerous to the country than the yoke of an enemy. It was clear he had a well-founded horror of the connections we have ever so unfortunately formed with German states. "We pay for every thing, too, at a most exorbitant rate. Here, in these last accounts, I see a charge for a drawbridge valued at eighty thousand pounds. I have in my pocket a letter from one who understands such matters, who declares, that, between man and man, it is at the utmost worth no more than seven thousand. However, the overplus will be a tolerable perquisite [sic] in the pocket of the hungry foreigner. God help us! we must pay for all!"
During the election of 1761, the public papers were filled with encomiums upon this patriotic  member. The following epigram was largely circulated on the occasion: –
" Augusta, see! behold Pitt's generous friend,
Whom all the patriot virtues recommend;
Hear every tongue proclaim him good and great,
Rendering the hero and the man complete!
He was opposed to every distinction between the natives of these islands, and did not approve of those who carried the invidious marks too far. This had reference more particularly to the Scotch, to whom he was somewhat partial, while several of his political friends were of an opposite feeling, owing to the selfish intrigues of Lord Bute.
The vast fortune of the Lord Mayor Beckford permitted him to provide for many Londoners, whom he sent over to Jamaica, where they advanced to opulence though before they were well nigh destitute. In fact, his entire career was no less singular than active. He reconciled many characters in himself which seemed almost incompatible. He was a planter, member of parliament, magistrate and alderman; yet he was a man of excellent taste, a  country gentleman, and somewhat dissipated. He possessed few of the external graces, as far as expression and manner were concerned. His understanding was sound, and his knowledge of British politics, especially as they affected trade and commerce, was very extensive. He was stedfast in his principles, and never to be charged with inconsistency. His manner was not agreeable, but this did not arise so much from ill-temper, or a bad disposition, as from the ardent and impetuous turn of his mind, to the fervour of which he was accustomed to give way. This impetuosity was accompanied by a voice no way harmonious, and by a vehemence of action, which interfered with his delivery as a public speaker, and even inflicted its mischief upon his private conversation, so that it did not afford the pleasure which the communications of one possessing his knowledge and abilities might be supposed to confer. In the House of Commons he sometimes provoked risibility, and at other times was tedious, from no other cause than a neglect of digesting and well arranging the matter he delivered. Notwithstanding such disadvantages in the se-  nate, he never spoke without conveying sound information to the House upon those subjects on which he ventured to address it. He had no power of touching the heart, or moving the passions - he could not put an opposing member to the hush, though he did sometimes contrive to silence an opponent.
Up to this time the office of the chief magistracy of the city of London had been, for the most part, filled by merchants, and individuals of high weight and influence in the commercial community; and but a few cases had occurred comparatively when it was otherwise. The residence of the leading mercantile men had been within the city walls, while those who possessed residences in the country had them, for the most part, too far beyond the suburbs to go to business and return the same day to dinner. Great was the hospitality then displayed by the wealthy citizens. The leading Sir Balaams of the Exchange had but a few of them began to move to the westward, until the reigns of the first Brunswicks; Bloomsbury and Soho being then the fashionable squares. Grosvenor was only building between 1730 and 1740.  The characters of the city men in office were many of them highly respectable in business and connections. The chief magistrate had been sometimes a privy councillor of the crown; and some of the aldermen had sat in parliament for other commercial cities. The traditions of the court and royalty within the walls had then some weight in estimating civic importance not only within, as now, but beyond Temple Bar. The traditions of ages do not become oblivious without the lapse of a considerable interval of time; fragment after fragment fall and disappear, and the long shadows of the ruins themselves are no longer seen in the sunset of their age. The influence of the city had been once deservedly great in public affairs. Many of the nobility had had residences within the civic limits; and while it remained eminent for its trade it was the haunt of the high-minded, and the great merchants and bankers, in place of being merely the place of their offices. London proper, now dwindled to a circumference of offices and shops, with a decreasing resident population of no mark, serves only to exhibit the importance that tradition can bestow on the  fleshless skeletons of perishing recollections. The great merchants and bankers and the wealthy speculators, have no craving for the honors coveted by their class in the days of the Henrys and the maiden queen. The honors have fallen into the hands of those who, in the social and commercial scale, are of no note, but at the entertainments to which, from the memory of the past, the ministers of the crown attend us if to take a convenient opportunity for saying something desirable through the newspapers. This, attended with some compliment to the host for his cheer once or twice in a season, comprises all that can now recal [sic] the civic glory of the past. The real city occupies not more than a sixteenth of the ground on which the metropolis of England stands; and the sway of its chief magistrate is limited to a spot where the dwellings are continually metamorphosing into warehouses and similar conveniences; so, that, while the stranger would talk of the vastness of London, - and the foreigner is astounded at its riches and magnitude, - he is little aware of the increasing insignificance of London so named; and that its elective  monarchy excites no regard beyond limits comparatively as insignificant as its power.
Never had the city of London, and its political consequences, been regarded by the court otherwise than with that respect which naturally arose from its traditions, and the honourable part it had taken in behalf of the constitutional government of the country. Under the two first princes of the house of Brunswick, support was given to princes who conceded to the free principles of the country they had come to rule, all that could be desired; things went on peaceably, and the citizens had no collision with the throne, for there was no attempt made to encroach on the popular freedom. On the accession of George III., a prince of arbitrary ideas, obstinate in disposition, and labouring much longer, than was generally suspected, under mental delusion, he at once placed public affairs in the hands of Lord Bute, whose gratitude consisted in endeavouring to carry out the royal will against the feeling of the nation; and thus the crown, for the first time after the Hanover succession, came into collision with the citizens and their authorities. Lord Chatham, who had  raised his country to a higher pitch of glory than any minister had done before him, had resigned; and the ministry involved itself in the most impolitic and unjustifiable collision with the people. It was at this period that Mr. Beckford had the audacity to make a stand in the city against the northern favorite of George III.
From that time the courtiers and city authorities grew more shy of each other. The later entertainments given by Beckford were most distinctly marked by their party bearing and the consequence was, the further insulation of the citizens from the crown as the latter undervalued, or contemned, all that partook of a popular character. Persisting in the same perverse principles, the American war was followed up, and stimulated by every effort of the king to reduce the colonists to servitude; the monarch having declared, he would sooner lay down his crown than make peace with America as an independent state.
The publication of the correspondence of the king with Lord North, subsequently proved that the latter was less to blame than was before  supposed. The Earl of Chatham and his friends, early resisted the taxation of America, which led to the unhappy war, but in vain. The old constitutional nobility of England was buried under an avalanche of new creations by George III., to the number of fifty-nine in twenty-five years; more than one quarter of the then existing House of Lords. The prerogative and executive power of the crown was thus endeavoured to be raised paramount over all other interests.
The political dispositions of the city and the court may be thus accounted for, as well as the cessation of cordiality between the ministry and the authorities there. Beckford, an alderman of Billingsgate, and his brother Richard, of Farringdon - one in parliament for London, the other for Bristol - were both political connections. Chatham. and his friends were supported against the court; and the court leading the people of fashion, its friends deserted the Mansion-house entertainments. The great day of civic glory may be said to have departed soon after that period. The Beckfords and Harleys were political partizans, and the city  became the rendezvous of their respective colors. The old prestige of queens selected from the daughters of citizens, and princes dwelling within the walls, had long ceased to be a stimulus to hope or to ambition.
It was in 1758 that Beckford served the office of sheriff for the city, being at the same time one of its representatives in parliament. His entertainments were splendid as sheriff. When he was elected Lord Mayor, the first time against his own consent, he was contented with his influence in the city. The civic chair could add neither dignity nor reputation. He had been member of parliament for London from 1747, He gave no less than four entertainments, having been sworn in Lord Mayor Nov. 9, 1762 these had not been equalled in the city before, from the time of Henry VIII., in splendour and extent of hospitality. He entertained on one occasion the Emperor of Germany and the King of Denmark accompanied by the Dukes of York and Cambridge. The costly magnificence he displayed astonished the public. He was himself remarkably moderate in eating and drinking, always living with great  temperance, and hence somewhat out of place in city epicurism.
Beckford's election to the civic chair the first time was when Lord Bute had succeeded in undermining the most successful administration that had ever wielded the destinies of England. Justice was never done to Beckford's zeal and merit in behalf of the freedom of the subject. Having no pursuit in the way of trade or commerce, and fond of the society of his friends, he felt his election to the civic chair a sacrifice both of leisure and private feeling. The solution of his acceptance of it at all was the desire to serve his friends to the utmost, and to direct towards their interests in the state the important influence of the city. His close intimacy with Mr. Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, as well as with Earl Temple was ardent and enduring. Three times returned for the city to parliament, he uniformly gave his support to the popular minister, it being notorious at this time that the court found its great supporters among place-hunters, and those who had anything to gain, the wealthier individuals supporting the independent interest, or the country, rather than the court.
 Rich, independent, and professing liberal opinions, he was thus constantly found in opposition to the favourites of George III. During his parliamentary services, it was always conceded to him, that his views were those of a man of high integrity: there was no shuffling or evasion in his character. He would never canvass his London constituency. Upon his second election he addressed the London livery as follows:
“ Friends and Fellow Citizens -
"You have again been pleased to elect me one of your representatives, with three very worthy gentlemen, in order to transact your business in parliament. I look upon this as the greatest honor that could be conferred upon me. I never have desired nor ever shall desire any other honor or title, than to be a private gentleman, acting as one of your representatives, a free and independent part in parliament.
"I look upon this honor the more, because, as you are sensible, I have never personally solicited your votes and interest. I can assure you, gentlemen, it was not through any want of respect towards the livery of London; for there is no  man living that regards and reverences it more than I do; but I thought it more becoming and respectful in me, to leave to the independent livery the free choice of its members.
"I have been sensible, gentlemen, that many things have been alleged against me. From mistaken notions I have been represented as a man of arbitrary and despotic principles. I therefore take this opportunity of declaring, in the face of the livery of London, that my principles have ever been, and ever will be, to support the civil and religious liberties of this country - you see, gentlemen, I speak my mind freely. A decent freedom is the first privilege of a member of parliament, and thereby I hope I gave no offence. I am sure I never intended to give any, yet I am certain that while I have sat in parliament, I have given offence. I declare thus publicly in regard to this point, that I never said anything against men, I spoke only against measures. The opposition I have sometimes made, was wholly to measures, and not to men. I have felt, as you all know, for the three first days' poll, that resentment operated much stronger than friendship; but I found that  the friendship of the livery was even stronger than the resentment I encountered - the poll shows it.
“It will be an honor to me to proceed in the same manner I have already done, declaring publicly to every man, that I have no kind of enmity whatever to any particular persons, who, I daresay, have made their opposition to me from a conviction that I have been wrong. You belong, gentlemen, to the first city in the kingdom; you are in point of riches, and in point of influence, superior. Other nations will take an example from your city, I therefore hope that the same independence which you have shown upon every former occasion, will continue to exist, and that you will set an example to all the other cities and boroughs of the kingdom, of that independence and that uncorrupted conduct for which you have always been renowned.
"In some other places we have had frequent experience that the art of canvassing has been very different from what it is in London, and therefore I repeat it, I hope the livery of London will not take it amiss in me that I have not made to them a personal application. I declare  this and would willingly repeat it - I never did it in my former election, in the election before this - I have not done it in this election, but it was not out of want of respect, but for reasons quite the contrary.
"Gentlemen, as our constitution is deficient only in one point, that little pitiful boroughs send members to parliament on an equality with great cities; and this is contrary to the maxim, that power should follow property; therefore it becomes you of the livery of London to be extremely upon your guard, as you have been upon the present occasion, to choose members that are entirely independent; and I do most heartily congratulate you upon your present choice of the other three members. As to myself, I have nothing to say.
"You have upon all occasions, gentlemen, whenever an attack was made upon the constitution of this kingdom, readily stepped forth and stood in the breach; you have supported the liberties of the nation with firmness and resolution. We are now come to times, gentlemen, when there is no occasion for that firmness, or that resolution; for we have now - praise be to  God for it - we have now a young monarch upon the throne, whose qualities are amiable, and whose resemblance is exact, in every feature of body and mind, to that great and amiable young prince, Edward the Sixth. You have a truly patriot king, and therefore have no occasion to exercise that firmness and resolution which has been demanded on many other occasions. You have likewise a patriot minister, say a 'patriot' minister, and therefore it will be your own fault if you are not the happiest people in Europe.
"I will not, gentlemen, trespass more upon your good nature and indulgence; I will conclude with a most sincere prayer and hearty wish, that freedom and independence, and all happiness, may attend this city now and for evermore."