John George Lambton (1792-1840) – 1st Earl of Durham
Born in London in 1792, John George Lambton GCB PC was a reforming Whig politician who inherited the vast wealth created by the coal mining interests on his family’s Lambton estates when he was only five. Partly as a result of that privilege he became known as ‘Jog Along Jack’ after being quoted as saying that ‘a gentleman could jog along comfortably on £40,000 a year’.
He was MP for Durham by the time he was twenty and six years later, in 1828, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Durham. In 1830 he was appointed Lord Privy Seal when his father-in-law, Lord Grey, became Prime Minister during which time he helped draft the Reform Act of 1832 that did away with ‘rotten boroughs’ and other examples of electoral abuse. He was created 1st Earl of Durham in 1833 by William IV.
Between 1835-37 he was ambassador to the Imperial Court of Russia and became first Governor-General of Canada in 1838, an appointment that lasted only for around five months during which time he was known to the Canadians as Lord Durham and picked up his lasting epithet ‘Radical Jack’.
He died at Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 1840 and was laid to rest in the family church of St Mary and St Cuthbert in Chester-le-Street close to the family’s ancestral seat of Lambton Castle.
Penshaw Monument was constructed in 1844 to commemorate his life and achievements.