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Mr Frederick Augustus Hervey

Who was Frederick Augustus Hervey?

Frederick Augustus Hervey, also known as the 4th Earl of Bristol, was a prominent British nobleman and clergyman born on August 1, 1730, and passed away on July 8, 1803. His life was marked by a multifaceted blend of ecclesiastical and political endeavors, as well as his significant contributions to architecture and travel.

Hervey's upbringing was steeped in privilege and education. He was the eldest son of John Hervey, the 3rd Earl of Bristol, and was educated at Westminster School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Hervey originally intended to have a career in law, however he abandoned law and took holy orders. His ecclesiastical career began early; he was ordained as a deacon in 1752, became a priest in January of 1755 and became the Bishop of Cloyne in Ireland in 1767. Subsequently, he became a royal chaplain to King George III in 1763, and was appointed the Bishop of Derry in 1768.

Life and Work:

Despite his ecclesiastical responsibilities, Hervey was known for his extravagant lifestyle, a stark contrast to the ascetic norms expected of a clergyman. He was passionate about architecture and art, and during his travels through Europe, he developed a keen interest in classical architecture and the fine arts. This fascination greatly influenced his ambitious architectural projects.

One of his most renowned undertakings was the construction of his seaside residence, Downhill House, located in Northern Ireland. Designed by the celebrated architect Michael Shanahan, this grand edifice reflected Hervey's eclectic taste and appreciation for classical Roman architecture. The property featured extensive gardens, stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, and incorporated various architectural styles, including elements reminiscent of ancient Rome.

Beyond his architectural pursuits, Hervey was known for his political involvement. He held a seat in the House of Lords as the Earl Bishop of Derry, where he was recognized for his independent and occasionally controversial stance on political issues. His support for Catholic emancipation and his opposition to the penal laws in Ireland were among his notable stances.

However, Hervey's flamboyant lifestyle, combined with his unorthodox beliefs and political positions, often drew criticism and controversy from his contemporaries. Despite this, his contributions to architecture, his patronage of the arts, and his efforts towards social and political reform left a lasting legacy.

Lord Bristol held the Irish viceroyalty for less than a year, and instead travelled extensively throughout Europe.

While on his way to Rome on 8 July 1803, Hervey suddenly died. His body was interred at Ickworth Park.


  1. Newman, Roger. "The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster." Penguin, 2003.
  2. Lennox-Boyd, Christopher. "A Passion for Collecting: Decorating with Art and Antiques." Thames & Hudson, 1994.
  3. Kerr, A. J. "Downhill, Co. Derry: The End of the Line." Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1980.
  4. "Hervey, Frederick Augustus." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press.

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