Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Bookplate of Sir Paul Methuen, P.C., K.B.

Sir Paul Methuen, P.C., K.B. (b. 1672 - d. 1757)
The son of John Methuen (c.1650-1706), P.C., M.P., Lord Chancelor of Ireland who was also Envoy to Portugal in 1692-97 & 1702 and Ambassador Extraordinary, in 1703, to conclude the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty signed in December and which became known by his name. The famous Methuen Treaty established that in return for the admission of English woollens into Portugal, England was granted favorable duties favoring the importation of Portuguese wines into England. With time this came to replace French wines for the famous Port and to favour the establishement of a large community of British merchants in Portugal who came to gain control of the Port Wine export trade. It is still matter of controversy among historians the effects of the Treaty had on Portugal's development.

Sir Paul was also Envoy Extraordinary (1697-1705) and Ambassador to Portugal (1706-08). In 1706 was appointed one of the Lords of the Admiralty and eight years later became Lord of the Treasury and a Privy Counsellor. In 1716 he was principal Secretary of State and ten years after was made a Knight of the Bath.
A keen patron of the Arts, he spent part of his wealth bying fine paintings of the XVIth-XVIIth centuries of Continental Old Masters.
He died unmarried and for his services to the nation he was buried at Westminster Abbey near his father's tomb.
A kinsman and godson - Paul Methuen (1723- 1795) , inherited his vast fortune and fabulous picture collection having acquired Corsham Court and redesigned and enlarged it in order to display Sir Paul Methuens's collection. The former's grandson also Paul Methuen (1779-1849), MP, was created Baron Methuen, Corsham, Co. Wilts, in 1838.
The Picture Collection at Corsham Court was considerably enrichened by another Paul Methuen (1886-1974), 4th Baron.

Arms: Argent, three wolves' heads erased proper.
Crest: A wolf's head couped proper.
Supporters - Ttwo fiery lynxes reguardant proper, collared and chained or.
According to Lord de Tabley, the bookplate was executed c. 1720.

His portrait at http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/person.asp?LinkID=mp64747

On the significance of the Methuen Treaty of 1703 and the role of Sir Paul Methuen and his father John Methuen, cf. Sir Richard Lodge, LL.D., Litt.D., «The Treaties of 1703», in «Chapters in Anglo-Portuguese Relations», ed. by Prof. Edgar Prestage, Voss & Michael, Ld., Watford, 1935, pp. 152-170

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