The Dastardly Duke intent on stopping Parliamentary reform.
Henry was the fourth Duke of Newcastle, a title he inherited at the age of ten. He was educated at Eton and had all the advantages of nobility of the late-Regency period: money, houses, connections and a seat in the House of Lords.
Throughout his tenure the Castle was largely vacant or rented out, first as a boarding school then later apartments, with the Duke spending his time at Clumber Park or Portman Square in London. The last tenants at the Castle left around 1825.
He was a vehement opponent of electoral reform and, in 1831, he led the defeat in the House of Lords of a bill to extend the vote to more people and end corrupt voting practices.
When the news reached Nottingham that the bill had been defeated, the town erupted into riot. Houses and shops were attacked, and the Castle stormed by a mob – its remaining furnishings were stripped, statues destroyed, and a great fire lit in the basement that consumed the whole building. That night, the people of Nottingham came out of their homes to watch as the Palace burned like a giant bonfire.
As a silent rebuke to the town, the Duke left the ruined shell of the building un-repaired for this rest of his life and it would remain a blackened ruin for the next 45 years.
Connection: His actions precipitated the burning down of the castle in 1831.
Born: 31st January 1785
Died: 12th January 1851
Did you know? No one has ever been found guilty of burning down the Castle. Three men, John Armstrong, George Beck and George Hearson, were hanged for the destruction of a mill in Beeston and others were transported to Australia but not for attacking the Castle. The Duke of Newcastle also received £21,000 in compensation – far less than he had hoped!