LORD MARCUS HILL MP FOR EVESHAM 1837-1852 – 3RD BARON SANDYS AND OWNER OF THE WICKHAMFORD ESTATE FROM 1860 TO 1863
One of the MPs to represent the Evesham constituency in the 1800s was Lord Marcus Hill. He was born in London on 28th January 1798, the third son of Arthur 2nd Marquis of Downshire and his wife Mary, née Sandys, Marchioness of Downshire and Baroness Sandys, a title she took in 1802 having been the niece and heiress of 2nd Baron Sandys of Ombersley. He was baptised Arthur Marcus Cecil but was always known as Marcus Hill, Hill being the family name of the Marquis of Downshire whose Irish residence was Hillsborough Castle.
Marcus was educated at Eton and Edinburgh University. He entered the Diplomatic service aged 18 and his first posting was to Madrid where the Ambassador was his second cousin, Sir Henry Wellesley. It was an unpaid position but in 1818 he was made an Attaché at the embassy and was in receipt of a salary. He left this post in 1821 and then commenced at the Foreign office as a precis writer, a position that entails keeping brief records for the Secretary of State so that he can take the records with him when he leaves office. He also served in various European cities including Vienna, Paris, Florence and Venice. In 1825 he was in Lisbon employed as secretary to the Extraordinary Embassy in Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro. The purpose of the Extraordinary Embassy was to secure peace between Portugal and its rebellious former colony Brazil following its unilateral declaration of independence and the King of Portugal’s son declaring himself Emperor. In 1826 Marcus was included in the mission sent to meet the Emperor of Brazil. Whilst there he was presented with the Order of the Knight Commander, a Portuguese honour and was given a gift of a gold snuffbox. Between August 1826 and July 1827 he was in London and was unemployed. He was, however, in 1827 sent on a special mission to Russia. George 1V had made the Tsar Nicholas a Knight of the Garter and the Marques of Hertford was given the task of investing the honour. Marcus was among the entourage that left Sheerness on 6th June. Whilst there he was presented to the Tsar and was given another gold snuff box and a portrait of Catherine the Great.
In December 1828, he was still unemployed and running out of money and, as Marcus had come from a long line of politicians going back at least four generations on his father’s side of the family, he decide to turn to politics. His first election was in 1830, for the constituency of Carrickfergus in the north of Ireland. He stood against his brother George, who won the election. Not disheartened by this first defeat in 1832 he decided to run for parliament in Newry, another constituency in the north of Ireland and was elected as the MP in the elections of 27th December 1832 and 18th December 1834, but he decided not to stand at the 1835 elections.
Marcus had connections with Worcestershire. His mother owned both the Ombersley Estate and also the Wickhamford Estate that she had inherited as heiress to the Sandys’ Estates and they amounted together to approximately two thousand five hundred acres. It is likely that because of this connection Marcus decided to stand in the 1837 election for Evesham. The election took place in January and Marcus, as the Whig party candidate, was defeated by George Rushout Bowles, the Tory candidate, by 25 votes.
On 12th April 1837 Marcus married Louisa Blake and not long after a general election was called on the death of William 1V. Marcus decided to contest the Evesham constituency again in a three-way contest for two seats. The election took place in July 1837 and the Wickhamford Estate tenants took a keen interest. The result was George Rushout Bowles (Conservative) 168, Peter Borthwick (Conservative) 166 and Marcus Hill (Whig) 156. However after a few months Borthwick and Rushout Bowles were accused of bribery at the election. Rushout Bowles was cleared but Borthwick was charged of bribery by both himself and his agents. He was found guilty and Marcus was declared elected. After deselection Borthwick gave a speech using unflattering language against his fellow conservative. The language Borthwick used caused Rushout Bowles to challenge him and on the 8th May 1838 the duel took place at Wormwood Scrubs. After a second discharge, Borthwick withdrew the offensive expressions he had used, and no blood was spilt. This was one of the last duels to take place in this country.
Marcus represented Evesham for the Whig party for fourteen years and was a popular MP despite the fact that he probably only visited the constituency once a year. In 1841 he topped the poll at the election and was appointed Comptroller to Queen Victoria’s household and made a privy councillor. In 1846 he was returned unopposed and in 1847 he topped the poll and was appointed treasurer of the Royal Household. He announced his retirement before the 1852 general election. He was asked in 1855 if he would stand again for Evesham but refused as he felt he was not able to physically perform the duties required.
Marcus was well known for his love of food and even had his own book of recipes. Lea & Perrins of Worcester credit Marcus for the production of their famous Worcester Sauce. Legend has it that he travelled to Bengal and enjoyed the fish sauce so that on his return he asked John Wheeley Lea and Henry Perrins, dispensing chemists of Broad Street, Worcester, if they could recreate it. Their attempt ended up inedible and it lay in the barrels fermenting and forgotten. Reputedly after 3 years it had become what we now know as Lea and Perrins Worcester Sauce and was first marketed in 1837 and is still produced to this day in Worcester. However, in the Sandys’ family considerable archives there is no correspondence or evidence to prove that Marcus ever travelled to Bengal, so perhaps we will never know the truth.
Marcus must have enjoyed his time representing Evesham. When he had his portrait painted in 1853 by Frederick Richard Say he had the Bell Tower and spire of All Saints Church included in the portrait.
Marcus succeeded to the Sandys title in 1860, becoming the 3rd Baron Sandys and inheriting the Ombersley and Wickhamford Estates on the death of his brother Arthur, who was always known as ‘Atty’, who had become the 2nd Baron Sandys of the second creation on the death of his mother, and who had died without issue. Marcus and Louise had ten children. He died in London on 10th April 1863 and his body was brought back to Ombersley and he was buried in the Old Chancel. Louise died on 6th April 1886, aged 71, and was buried in Brompton Cemetery.
Valerie Harman, January 2020
Thanks to The Executors of the late Lady Sandys for allowing the inclusion of the photos in this article and to Martin Davis, Ombersley Court Archivist, for all the information he has supplied on the Sandys family.