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Harcourt, Simon Harcourt, 1st Viscount

Harcourt, Simon Harcourt, 1st Viscount (1661–1727). Of an Oxfordshire gentry family at Stanton Harcourt, Simon Harcourt studied law and, returned for Abingdon in 1690, supported the Tories. His fortunes closely followed those of his schoolfriend Robert Harley. In 1702–8 he was solicitor-general and then attorney-general, resigning with Harley. In 1710 he defended Sacheverell at his impeachment, speaking to great acclaim. During the subsequent Tory ministry, he was lord keeper and then lord chancellor, obtaining a barony in 1711. On George I's arrival, he was dismissed. He then seems to have acted as political go-between, joining Walpole in 1720 and raised a step in the peerage in 1721. But he spoke in favour of Harley (Oxford) and took a part in persuading Walpole to allow Bolingbroke's return in 1723. He was on close terms with Pope, Swift, Gay, and Prior. Though his legal knowledge was said to be moderate, his oratorial ability was outstanding.

J. A. Cannon

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